What's So Great About Michelangelo's David

I am by no means an art buff but this is my explanation about what is so moving about Michelangelo’s David 500 years after it was made.

When I first saw him at the Accademia in Florence, Italy it immediately struck me how large he is. At a height of nearly 17 feet, it’s immediately impressive, but that’s not what pulled me in.

The most striking thing about this David is that we don’t know if the scene is before or after killing Goliath.

Imagine for a moment that this is before the fateful moment—here he stands facing down an overwhelming force in Goliath. He shows courage, determination, composure, and vulnerability (literally standing there naked) knowing that all he has is his wits.

That feels like life sometimes. We all have conflicts and problems. I get a clear sense of David’s interiority and see a piece of myself in there.

Then the realization hit me and I couldn’t help welling up inside. Let me try to explain.

Michelangelo encodes a humanist message here. David is massive in stature. He is facing a giant but what you feel looking at him is how immense he is. And that’s precisely the message—we are all David, confronting our hidden Goliath and we too can face it because we too are giant.

What remains is an incredible sense of hope that is impossible to capture in words. That’s why Michelangelo’s David is great.