Today’s Russian icon is an easy one, and you should have no trouble reading the title inscription of the fellow depicted. The only problem is a small one — the abbreviation Пр (Pr.) before the name. It can abbreviate Prepodobnuiy (roughly “Venerable”) or it can abbreviate Pravednuiy (“Righteous”), but here it abbreviates Prorok (“Prophet”), because this is an icon of King David, and in Eastern Orthodoxy David is listed among the prophets. So the inscription in full would read Svyatuiy Prorok David — “[the] Holy Prophet David.”
The scroll texts on icons of the prophets can be a real bother, because one never knows what text a painter will choose. And if a text is hastily written, or if the spelling is too far off, it can be quite a trial at times to decipher. Fortunately the text on today’s icon presents no major difficulties because we have seen it before. If you want to see where, go to this posting:
The text on the scroll of today’s icon is:
Изъ чрéва прéжде денни́цы роди́хъ тя́. Кля́тся Госпóдь и не раскáется: [ты́ иерéй во вѣ́къ по чи́ну Мелхиседéкову.] It is taken from Psalm 109:3-4 in the Slavic Bible, which is Psalm 110:3-4 in the KJV. It reads slightly different than the KJV in the Slavic and Septuagint versions:
“I have begotten you from the womb before the morning. The Lord swore, and will not repent: [You are a priest for ever, after the order of Melchisedek.“]
This is interpreted in Eastern Orthodoxy as referring to the birth in eternity of Jesus as the Logos — the Word — from God the Father, not to the earthly birth of Jesus in Bethlehem.
The image of the Prophet David is found in a number of other icon types, among them the traditional Resurrection icon and icons of Mary called “The Praise of the Most Holy Mother of God” — and of course in the Prophets’ tier of the iconostasis in Russian Churches.
This is a good time for me to again take a look at readership of this site. Obviously there are a lot of readers of the site now, surprising as it may seem (as the old saying goes, recognizing your problem is the first step toward overcoming it). So if you are one of those who read here regularly, please send me a note and tell me who you are and why you are here — even if you have written to me before. I already know there is much variety in the readership, including art restorers, museum staffers, and even — much to my surprise — a number of icon painters and clergy, even though this is not a “religious” site and does not take a “religious” approach to icons, seeing them rather as cultural and historical art objects.
So take a moment and send me a few words and tell me who you are and why you like to read the information I provide on the rather esoteric subject of icons. I am always curious why people are here. I appreciate your presence, whoever you are and whatever your reason. And of course I am always open to suggestions for subject matter. Just click on the comment button at the bottom of this or any message, and your note will get to me privately (comments on this site are all seen only by me, unless otherwise requested).
And by the way, quite a number of people from various countries read here, so don’t hesitate to write if your use of English is unusual or very basic. I will probably understand anyway.