The Philistines have challenged Israel to a fight, and the stakes are high. The winners will take the losers as slaves. The Philistines have chosen Goliath, a nine-foot warrior to represent their side. He is a terrifying sight to behold. Saul is to be Israel’s deliverance, but … Saul and his entire army are scared spitless.
David suddenly appears, on an errand for his father Jesse, bringing supplies for David’s brothers. He realizes that Saul and his army are filled with fear, and volunteers his own services, a laughing matter for all concerned. David has previously explained that in his job as sheep protector, he has fought victoriously against lions and tigers and bears. Oh, my! God has provided David with the courage to face these fears and dangers.
Picture with me David donning King Saul’s armor, and then trying in vain to walk in that heavy metal. I can imagine David tripping all over himself, waddling, clanking, and squeaking, trying to get his body to support the weighty armor so that he can at least walk.
David proclaims a central truth for the entire gospel: “The Lord does not save by sword or spear,” or by armor, for that matter. David casts aside the armor and takes the weapons with which he is most familiar: his shepherd’s staff, five smooth stones, and his sling. Following a verbal confrontation with Goliath, David kills the giant by striking him on the forehead with a stone hurled from his sling.
When you find yourself in a trying time, when you feel weak, marginalized, or powerless, remember David. In our lives, there will be times when we know fear. In these times, a space opens in us that allows God to pursue us and to draw close to us. David realizes that human power does not ultimately save.
We respond to threats with fight, flight, or fright. The lion fights, the deer flees in terror, and the opossum plays dead. We are called to a life free from fear. Hopefully, we can react as David does, with a calm awareness.
What armor are we wearing in life to protect us, or to hide behind? We may find it to be much more of a burden than a shield from our troubles. Can we recognize and remove the armor that impedes us, and use instead the gifts, graces, and guidance that God gives us? This is God’s saving grace.
A contemporary hymn that complements this text, and which I believe David the musician would have loved, is “You Are Mine” by David Hass. The refrain begins with the words “Do not be afraid, I am with you.” Please take five minutes to listen at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sgm9lkTNQmcif you are unfamiliar with this song.
©2013 Liberal Lectionary resources