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Musical instruments of David HaMelech


Rabbi Ari Shvat

Tammuz 4, 5780
1. What musical instruments did King David play? 2. What direction did king David face when he played musical instruments, and what direction did he sleep? Thank you
Already from the Bible's detailed introduction if Kings David as a youth, he's described as one who "knows how to play (music)", in addition to his intelligence, bravery, war-skills, handsomeness and that God was with him (Shmuel I, 16, 18). King David played the "Kinor" (ibid, 23) identified in English as a lyre, which is a small harp carried in the hand, like a guitar. The Talmud (Brachot 3b) teaches that David had his lyre hanging over his bed and a northern wind would blow and it would play on its own (from that wind) at midnight, or, as in Eicha Rabba (2), David slept with his lyre under his head, and himself played it at midnight. Other individual versions of that midrash (Ruth Rabba 6, 1, Midrash Tehilim 22), in addition to his Kinor, also mentions a "Nevel" (usually identified as a larger harp, set on the ground), that David or the wind played at midnight. There are some commentaries on Tehilim (57, 9) that explain that David himself played both, the lyre and the larger harp. We don't know in what direction King David slept or played.
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