David & Goliath


Today's Reading: 1 Samuel 17:12-58

Like the story of Noah, or Daniel in the Lion's Den, or Jonah, David & Goliath is a story that we love to tell our kids but is also much darker and more serious than we often let on.

Israel is once again taking on the Philistines.  The two sides meet in a field, line up in battle formations, and then from the Philistine side comes a man initially described as being nearly 8-feet tall.  He's a mountain of a man, that no one has ever beat  in battle.  The proposal is that both sides send out their best fighters, let them duke it out on the field, and the side who's man manages to stay alive is declared the winner.

Typically when we tell this story, we focus in on the fact that David, a boy of probably 10ish (In Judaism, 13 is considered adulthood and David is consistently described as a boy), was victorious and defeated this unbeatable Goliath with nothing more than a sling-shot.  It's a great story that lends itself well to the idea that with God we can overcome our "Goliath's," no matter the odds.

I don't want to take too much away from that message, as there are other places in the Bible that bring a similar message, such as Philippians 4:13.  But I also have a tendency to constantly ask, "Is that really what this is about?"

Maybe the idea of overcoming enormous odds is there, and I can mostly accept that.  But this time through, something new jumped out at me that I hadn't ever noticed before.

Israel's role and place in the Bible is pretty special, and Israel often stands-in for a lot of of different things.  In the OT world, Israel represented God and his Kingdom and everything connected to it.  When Goliath comes out on the field every morning and mocks Israel, he's not just mocking a rival army, he's mocking and attacking God himself.  David hears it, and his response is telling: "Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living God?"  Unlike the vast majority of Israel, for David, this is all about God's own reputation; David is angry that God is being defied and disrespected!

At 10 years old, David stands up and fights.  Not because he wants the gold or the girl, but because he wants to defend God (and not that God needs David or anyone else to defend him).  God rewards him - does great things through him.

On one hand, I can look at this story and see it as an example of how we can defeat our "Goliath's" with God's help.  But this morning, I'm seeing a story that shows me what God promises if I will faithfully stand-up for him when the world attacks.  Will I speak truth when God's kingdom is not being upheld?  Will I cower in fear of what may happen to me if try to defend the Kingdom?  Will I be bold in proclaiming - through word and deed - the good news of the Kingdom?  Do I believe that God will bless those efforts?