'King David Playing the Harp'(Gerard van Honthorst)

In the annals of biblical kings, David stands out. A humble shepherd, he slew Goliath, wrote poetry, dethroned his predecessor, and reigned in Israel for 40 years. His heroics inspired artists throughout history from Michelangelo to Shakespeare to Leonard Cohen. But David’s achievements in helping unite the Jews did not come without costs—he had innocent people killed, looked away at violence among his children, bedded married women.

In David: The Divided Heart, out from Yale University Press’s Jewish Lives Series, Rabbi David Wolpe takes a look at this Jewish hero—warts and all. Wolpe joins Vox Tablet host Sara Ivry to discuss the first time Wolpe encountered this legendary figure, the importance of looking at David’s flaws alongside his triumphs, and why the world’s most famous underdog wasn’t really facing such great odds when he drew his slingshot.