Most of us have heard the story of David and Goliath. There were two mighty armies lined up against each other, the army of the Philistines, a formidable force focused on conquering the peoples around them, and the Israelites who were also a pretty competent military force, having entered the land and systematically pushed out the people already residing there. The two armies faced each other. It was not unusual for each side to choose a champion who would square off against each other and the winner would take all. A rather efficient way of waging war if both sides were relatively equal. The winner was free to face the next enemy without the army decimated. The champion of the Philistines was Goliath, a truly formidable warrior. He was over nine feet tall, at a time when the average height was less than five feet. His armour alone weighed 125 pounds. The iron spear point attached to the thick wooden shaft of his spear was 15 pounds. He stood in the neutral ground between the armies, taunting the Israelites and daring them to send out a champion to meet him. No one was foolhardy enough to take up that challenge until the young man, David, just arrived to bring supplies to his soldier brothers, accepted the challenge.
This was not an idyllic job of watching the fluffy sheep in the green meadows
David was the shepherd to the family’s sheep. This was not an idyllic job of watching the fluffy sheep in the green meadows as they peacefully ate. This was a dangerous job that required training that would put a survivalist to the test. Those sheep were very attractive to both lions and bears who were not going to let a mere shepherd stand between them and a tasty meal. David would have had to have the skill to defend himself and the sheep with a sling and a thick wooden rod as his weapons. Lions and bears are ferocious. Both of those simple weapons, are effective in the hands of a skilled person. The shepherd would have spent hours each day practicing and perfecting those skills. Not only the sheep, but his life depended on it.
That fateful day, Goliath was expecting a warrior to face him, in armour, ready to fight with spear and sword to the death. That was the convention. The Israelites, in fact, did put armour on David and supplied him with a sword, but David removed the armour and gave back the sword. He choose to fight the way he had faced danger successfully in his young life, with his sling. David changed the rules of the game, and although a sling seems like a singularly inadequate weapon against spear and sword, in fact a betting man of the time would have put money down on the man skilled with the sling. The sling was a deadly accurate and a highly effective weapon in these circumstances. From the moment David stepped out on that field with his sling, Goliath did not stand a chance. The outcome was inevitable.
God had given David the wisdom and courage to know his skills
This is a story of God at work in the world. God had prepared David for this pivotal event for many years. God had given David the wisdom and courage to know his skills and to do what he needed to do, despite the pressure of the ‘experts’. Often, when God is ready to make a move, God moves aside human convention to accomplish what God would have done. Many times we are unaware of God preparing us for some role God has in mind for us. Our human story is littered with the stories of small, common people facing a Goliath with courage, determination and God given wisdom, having been prepared unknowingly with the skills needed to accomplish God’s work in the world. David’s story is not unique, it is our story. Goliath takes many forms in this broken world and God calls out to the David in each of us.
Messy Church this month is February 12 at St. George’s and we will be exploring the story of David and Goliath. The doors open at 5:00 pm.