The pitting of David and Goliath in the First Reading for Proper 7 (Year B) has been depicted in various forms of art throughout the centuries – and for good reason. The writer of 1 Samuel 17 depicts a giant “whose height was six cubits and a span, (who) had a helmet of bronze on his head, and armed with a coat of mail. The weight of the coat was five thousand shekels of bronze. He had greaves of bronze on his legs and a javelin of bronze slung between his shoulders. The shaft of his
Now, this is a most frightening sight that would scare anyone. That was exactly what happened to Saul and the Israelites as they faced the prospect of battle with the Philistines. “They were dismayed and greatly afraid”.
In the midst of this deep fear an unlikely voice sounds hopeful.
David, “a youth, ruddy and handsome in appearance” – the exact opposite of the giant – declares to the adversary, “You come with sword and spear and javelin; but I come in the name of the Lord of hosts”. He goes on to say, “the Lord does not save by sword and spear; for the battle is the Lord’s…”
I don’t know about you but I have heard those words many times. There are those times when one is facing impossible odds. I have seen people struggling against addictions and having cried and tried all they could, they come to realize that the battle is not of swords and spears.
Recently, a dear friend died after a long battle with cancer. In those years of struggle she reminded everyone around her that it was not her battle, but the Lord’s. Yes, she finally died – as everyone must one day – but she was not afraid and she was not defeated. Furthermore, she strengthened everyone around her.
Even in times of tragedy, fear does not have to have the upper hand.
We live in a world that puts trust in swords and spears and javelins. We have built a mindset of strength through weaponry – just like Goliath and the Philistines. Yet, it is true now as it was in David’s time that fear only breads more fear.