Saturday, March 22, 2014

The Parallels of King David and Robin Hood

I was sitting in a Panera talking with my friend, Renée, when she told me that she saw many similarities between the life of King David of Israel and the story of Robin Hood. Skeptical and surprised, I listened as she began to lay out the parallels and earnest excitement radiated from her deep brown eyes as she attempted to convince me.  I was been astounded, and a swirl of thoughts and possibilities rustled through my mind. The similarities were clear and I saw potential blog material. Before long she cried out with animation, "Your face! You're not sure what you just heard!"
"No, you're right!" I stuttered out, and continued, "My blog is all about comparisons. I was thinking about maybe you could do a guest post for my blog."
Fortunately she was excited with this idea, and so I am pleased to present the first ever guest post on Lore and Literature:

The Parallels of King David and Robin Hood
By Renée Du'Quatre

 Ever since I was a child, I have loved the story of Robin Hood. It has always been one of my favorites. It’s a fun, adventurous, romantic story with memorable characters that you immediately grow to love. When I was little I would take my toys, assign them a character from the story, and play for hours.

Growing up in a Christian home I also learned all about the Bible at a young age. Biblical History was one of my favorite subjects in school and even now as an adult I still love and enjoy studying the Word of God.

 Over the years I’ve seen many different versions of Robin Hood and read over the history of King David many times. As I learned more and studied each of them individually, I couldn’t help but notice the similarities between the two legendary, historical heroes. 

I believe it started when I was still in either elementary or middle school and we had to read a novelized version of the life of King David called The Fugitive King by Elizabeth Rice Handford. It struck me then how similar David’s life (before he was crowned king) was to that of Robin Hood.

 Now, I don’t know if this is just me and how my strange, overactive mind works, but personally I don’t believe it takes a lot of imagination to see all the similarities here. 

Granted, with Robin Hood most of the details in the characters and the story line vary depending on the version you read or watch. But I think most of the details listed below are ones that most adaptations generally stick to and are traditionally accepted by those who enjoy or are familiar with the story. 

After a few days of researching I was able to compile this list:

Robin, or Sir Robin of Locksley, was a knight who was pursued by the oppressive ruler Prince John.
David was a shepherd, (who as a young man was anointed to be the next king of Israel, 1 Samuel 16:1-13), who became appointed as head over the king’s men of war, (1 Samuel 18:5) and was later resented and hunted by King Saul. (1 Samuel chapter 19.) 

Both were honorable men with titles and a promising future. Both were declared fugitives and were savagely pursued by the active rulers of their land and forced into hiding for years. (1 Samuel 26:1; 27:1.)

Both were noted as being excellent warriors. (1 Samuel 18:5-7.)

Robin is famous for using his bow and arrow.
David is known for using his sling and a smooth stone. (1 Samuel 17:40, 49.)

Both had high respect and loyalty to their kings. Robin was known for being dedicated to King Richard. David, even though he was pursued by King Saul, still refused to kill him or even do him harm. (1 Samuel 24:1-22, 26:1-25.)

Robin is known for taking down his foe, Sir Guy of Gisbourne, (in some adaptations an assassin, in others a fellow nobleman) who was sent to kill him.
David is known for taking down the giant, Philistine champion, Goliath. (1 Samuel chapter 17.)

Robin had his ‘Merry Men.’
David had his ‘Mighty Men.’ (2 Samuel 23:8-39.)

Robin’s best friend was ‘Little John.’
David’s best friend was Prince Jonathan. (1 Samuel 18:1-4, 19:1-20:42.)

Jonathan and David used a bow and three arrows as a signal in I Samuel 20:18-23; something Robin and Little John would be accustomed to do. (In 2 Samuel 1:17-27 David wrote The Song of the Bow in mourning over the death of Jonathan.) 

Robin was in love with Maid Marian who (in certain versions) was a relative (or ward) to the king (in early adaptations she is a shepherdess).
David’s first wife, Michal, was the second daughter of King Saul. (1 Samuel 18:17-30.) 
Both women were used by the callous rulers, (the men whose responsibility it was to protect them) as bait/a snare in order to trap the men they loved. (1 Samuel 18:17-30) However, instead of trapping them they proved to be helpful assets in their escape. (1 Samuel 19:15-17.)

Robin and his ‘Merry Men’ liked to sing and are known through ballads.
David was a musician who wrote many songs and poems.

Both were God-fearing men, (David was a man after God’s own heart [1 Samuel 13:14, Acts 13:22]) who were associated with godly men. 

Robin was good friends with Friar Tuck.
David was anointed by the prophet Samuel (1 Samuel 16:1-13) and goes to him for safety when hunted by King Saul in 1 Samuel 19:18. Later when he is king, David is rebuked by Nathan the prophet for sinning with Bathsheba (2 Samuel 12:1-14) and by the prophet Gad for an unspecified sin in 2 Samuel 24:1-17.  (Possibly his sin was taking a census of the people, an act of pride instead of relying wholly on God.) Gad is also referred to as David’s Seer in 2 Samuel 24:11. 

Robin would occasionally disguise himself like a beggar or farmer to spy on his enemies or extract information from them.
David pretended to be insane before Achish the king of Gath when he was in fear of his life. (1 Samuel 21:10-15.)

Although they are both highly acclaimed heroes and usually praised for their valiant efforts, they are also notoriously remembered for their faults. Robin was an outlaw and a thief. David was an adulterer and a murderer. 

I’m sure there are probably more similarities to the two heroes that I missed.

Overall, my reason for pointing out these similarities is purely out of love and respect for both legendary heroes. It was fun for me to consider, and then take the time to do some personal research on each man.  

I hope you enjoy reading as much as I enjoyed researching. 

Note: I put Biblical references to David but no references to Robin, because the Bible is literal, factual history whereas the stories of Robin Hood (as I previously mentioned) are mostly based off ballads and traditions that vary; most of which are listed on the Wikipedia website and can be referenced there if desired.


  1. I am glad to hear that I am not the only person that has been suspect to the similarities between king David and Robin Hood. I thought it may have just been through the eyes of see God and the Bible in almost everything. Your similarities I can easily see. Thank you for writing this article.

  2. Great post. I am preaching the same message tonight and was surprised that someone else had the same idea. Thanks for the article.

  3. Great post. I am preaching the same message tonight and was surprised that someone else had the same idea. Thanks for the article.

  4. I too have always seem similarities between David and Robin Hood. The other day, it even made me wonder whether the story of Robin Hood was based off the life of King David (which is how I ended up on this blog!) As I've been reading through the life of David, it almost seems like every Robin Hood film I've ever seen is just the story of David with all references to God removed (unfortunately. Imagine someone making a biblically accurate movie of David's life! Wouldn't that be an exciting movie!) There are two other simularities that I spotted:
    1 Samuel 22:2 says, "Everyone who was in distress, and everyone who was in debt, and everyone who was bitter in soul, gathered to [David]. And he became commander over them. And there were with him about 400 men." All of the outcasts and those who were discontented with Saul's leadership gathered to David. And later, in 1 Samuel 23, David and his "clan of rebels" even rescued the city of Keilah from the Philistines. Later in the same chapter, David and his men were hiding from Saul in the wilderness of Ziph at Horesh. My ESV footnotes say that Horesh was probably a grove of trees nearby. Of course I immediately made the parallel with Robin Hood and his merry men hiding in the forest. :)
    Anyways, great article!