Daily Dose, June 4 — Summer Blockbusters: Big Bible Stories

    David said to Saul, “Let no one’s heart fail because of him; your servant will go and fight with this Philistine.” Saul said to David, “You are not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him; for you are just a boy, and he has been a warrior from his youth.” But David said to Saul, “Your servant used to keep sheep for his father; and whenever a lion or a bear came, and took a lamb from the flock, I went after it and struck it down, rescuing the lamb from its mouth; and if it turned against me, I would catch it by the jaw, strike it down, and kill it. Your servant has killed both lions and bears; and this uncircumcised Philistine shall be like one of them, since he has defied the armies of the living God.” David said, “The LORD, who saved me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, will save me from the hand of this Philistine.” So Saul said to David, “Go, and may the LORD be with you!” Saul clothed David with his armor; he put a bronze helmet on his head and clothed him with a coat of mail. David strapped Saul’s sword over the armor, and he tried in vain to walk, for he was not used to them. Then David said to Saul, “I cannot walk with these; for I am not used to them.” So David removed them. Then he took his staff in his hand, and chose five smooth stones from the wadi, and put them in his shepherd’s bag, in the pouch; his sling was in his hand, and he drew near to the Philistine. The Philistine came on and drew near to David, with his shield-bearer in front of him. When the Philistine looked and saw David, he disdained him, for he was only a youth, ruddy and handsome in appearance. The Philistine said to David, “Am I a dog, that you come to me with sticks?” And the Philistine cursed David by his gods. The Philistine said to David, “Come to me, and I will give your flesh to the birds of the air and to the wild animals of the field.” But David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with sword and spear and javelin; but I come to you in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This very day the LORD will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you down and cut off your head; and I will give the dead bodies of the Philistine army this very day to the birds of the air and to the wild animals of the earth, so that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel, and that all this assembly may know that the LORD does not save by sword and spear; for the battle is the LORD’s and he will give you into our hand.” When the Philistine drew nearer to meet David, David ran quickly towards the battle line to meet the Philistine. David put his hand in his bag, took out a stone, slung it, and struck the Philistine on his forehead; the stone sank into his forehead, and he fell face down on the ground. So David prevailed over the Philistine with a sling and a stone, striking down the Philistine and killing him; there was no sword in David’s hand. (1 Samuel 17:32-50) Do you sometimes root for the underdog? Do some of you remember the cartoon character who was actually called Underdog? I’ll admit, there are times when I definitely root for the underdog because…well…they’re the underdog. Underdog stories often transcend their location or circumstance, because they speak to something common in us all…something elemental, maybe even something spiritual. The biblical story of David and Goliath is a story that has transcended its time and location. It’s in some ways the prototypical underdog story, as well! We hear it referenced in the sacred and secular alike. It’s alluded to in sporting events, in the business world, in the movies, etc. Perhaps your image of David has do to with Michelangelo and his famous statue that still stands in Italy. I remember being in Italy and gazing on the famous artist’s rendering of David with the shepherd’s sling. What surprised me was its scale and proportions. David was rendered out of a huge piece of rock, and he was chiseled to have a physique that any professional athlete would be proud of. Michelangelo’s version is -- as we would expect of an artist -- a romanticized version of the underdog that is described in the Scriptures. The Bible’s description of David is certainly not that of a chiseled, seasoned fighter or athlete. It is that of a simple, young, yet-to-develop shepherd boy. We can learn some basic lessons from David’s underdog story. When faced with the seemingly hopeless task of defeating the titan called Goliath, notice what David does. In contrast to the armies of Israel, what does David do to prepare? Does he train more? Does he prepare more? Does he garner public opinion? Does he study the moves of other prominent fighters? NONE OF THE ABOVE! David, in fact, chooses the non-standard weapon of a sling and stone, and he removes the “proper” fighting gear placed on him. Is it possible that sometimes we need to do what David did? When all “traditional” approaches -- all “conventional wisdom -- would have us do one thing, maybe God is asking us to react in a different way. The way of faith will sometimes defy the way of conventional wisdom! David -- the ultimate underdog -- responded by putting his faith in God! -- Rev. Brad Greene