The Small, the Mighty, the Chosen


(Spectrumbot) #1

I find myself reflecting on the story of David and Goliath this week. It is a story that captivated me as a young child, as I think it does most children. In this story, we find David, a young shepherd, thrust into a situation much bigger than himself, both literally and figuratively. It is not a situation he thought he’d be in, and yet, here he is, taking a stand for his beliefs and his people against a giant.

The Bible, like any other history book, is written by the victors. As such, I find myself wondering about Goliath, the defeated. But let’s talk about David first. We know David was chosen by God. He wasn’t the biggest, the fastest, or the strongest. He wasn’t well-known or even well-liked among his brothers (1 Samuel 17:28), and yet he was chosen and he received God’s blessing.

David knew he held God’s favor, and it was with this assurance that he went out and fought Goliath. He didn’t even fight Goliath. He threw a stone, one stone, and took down a giant.

I think about this story and I think about Goliath. The Bible is full of stories of heroes and villains and it’s easy to look at individuals we don’t agree with, whether in Bible times or today, and strip them of their humanity. “They don’t agree with me, they don’t hold the same beliefs that I do, they don’t share the same lifestyle, they don’t look or talk or act the same way as me,” and we vilify them. They become less than human in our minds, and so it’s easy when we proclaim they are wrong.

And so, I keep thinking back to Goliath. He went into that war and he was just as sure of his beliefs and his faith and his rightness as David was. He walked out there and challenged the Israelite army day after day, fully believing that he had the blessing of his gods, and that he was going to win that war.

Then he sees David, this young man, this youth (1 Samuel 17:42), walking toward him and he didn’t give David any credit. He didn’t take David seriously. And can we blame him? Goliath was a giant among men, fully confident in his own abilities, his own power, and his own rightness. What can a little boy do against a giant? Quite a lot, as it turns out.

It’s easy to vilify Goliath. It doesn’t take much work to strip him of his humanity; to say he is the villain of this story. But I think it’s important to remember, he was not the villain of his story. Goliath fully believed he was in the right. And he was just as human; he contained just as much humanity, as David did.

I think that’s what we forget in any of these stories of the Bible: whether hero or villain, they were all human. There was humanity on both sides and on both sides, there was the fervent belief in the power of one’s own rightness. Yet, there was only one winner in the battle of David and Goliath. Only one received the blessing of God. And that blessing went to the small. To the overlooked. To the lesser. It went to the least of these. It went to David. And he brought a giant to his knees.

“So David prevailed over the Philistine with a sling and with a stone, and struck the Philistine and killed him. There was no sword in the hand of David.” (1 Samuel 17:50)

The Bible says that Saul did not know who David was; he did not recognize him. (1 Samuel 17:55-58). But we know who David was. He was a young man, a youth, chosen and blessed by God to lead his people to victory.

It can be hard to tell as a story’s unfolding who is in the right; who has received God’s blessing. And in the process of drawing battle lines, we do our best to showcase our own humanity and rightness, while minimizing that of our perceived opponent. Is it any wonder then, that we are so often surprised to look back and realize (or even admit) when we discover we’re wrong? That while we were blinded by our confidence in our own rightness, God was quietly working behind the scenes, bestowing His blessing upon an unlikely hero.

As I read the story of David and Goliath today, as an adult, I see it as more than a story of the Israelite army triumphing over the Philistines. More even than a story of a young man defeating a giant. It is a reminder that it is not always clear as the story’s unfolding who holds God’s blessing within their hearts, and so it would be wise for us to remember each other’s humanity even in our disagreements, even in our fervent belief in our own rightness.


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/6690

(Thomas J Zwemer) #2

O.K. But how does that translate to Adventism vrs. Rome, or the coming battle on WO. Or is the point - debate on this site shouldn’t require a webmaster? This coming Sunday, I will be teaching the story of Jonah. here was a commoner/foreigner facing a king. how do you compute David and Jonah. how does one face sin with Grace in every encounter? For your argument, I would have chosen the story of Jonah. But I agree with you that we should have an ecumenical view toward our neighbor. But I hold that there is salvation in none other than Christ. yet I also believe that will be redeemed those who never heard the name. Let us God be God and man man. Tom Z


(Steve Mga) #3

Philistines.
This was a group of maritime peoples [made their living plying the seas with cargo]. Buying from one group of people on the North and East shores of the Great Sea, and selling on the opposite ends. All the way from Turkey, Greece, to “Palestine”, North Africa, Spain. They were living on the Palestine coast long before the Israelites. Did they make it to Antarctica? The Greeks had a map of the land mass of Antarctica before its Ice Age.
It is interesting to think about the Philistines. They were continually Israel neighbors. They kept bumping into Israel’s God. Had campfire tales of the Israelite God. A god more powerful than the Fish God, Dagon.
WHY was it that God never shoo-ed the Philistines back to Crete, back to Greece? WHY was it God FORCED the Philistines to live their lives and be irritating neighbors of the Israelites?
The Bible is silent on this. Nobody cared to write about it. All we have is thundering voices and lashing out at the Philistine cities, cities and a civilization that will be destroyed by the BIG POWER coming from Assyria-Babylon. [But before that we have Jonah. Jonah delivered to Assyria, to Nineveh, to the king by the sea god, the fish god, Dagon!] Did the story of Jonah reach the Philistines? Perhaps some became believers in their own way.


(Daneen Akers) #4

Thanks Alisa for this reflection.


(2nd Opinion) #5

“It can be hard to tell as a story’s unfolding who is in the right…” Nor is it always clear as to who should be identified with whom; that is, who is the boy and who is the giant. There are those in the church who believe the church is the boy, facing a menacing cultural giant that must be overcome. There are others marginalized within the church who believe they are the boy, facing a religious giant who must be brought to its knees. So who is the boy and who is the giant?

This story as metaphor, of course, is only thinly veiled by the author. Events of this week at Andrews University might suggest that a small group of marginalized LGBT students, led by a youthful hero, stood up to a towering giant blinded by its own rightness, and that it was brought down with just a few key strokes. However, there are those on the other side who might tell a different story, of a relatively small Christian institution that stood up to a formidable and well-organized LGBT lobby that seeks to shout down and bully anyone who does not ally with its views and practices–which it also sees as right. They might even turn the story just a bit to say that it was the boy who called in the giant.

So which is it, and who is who? Let’s just say that we all fancy ourselves as the boy, just as we all want to believe that we are right. What really matters is how we put ourselves into the story. And might I suggest that it is helpful for all of us to consider that we are both boy and the giant, and that God wants to speak into our lives simultaneously from both sides of the ravine.


(Patti Cottrell Grant) #6

2ndOpinion, great analogy, stimulating thoughts. Let us be always on the side of Jesus, and Love One Another.


(Rheticus) #7

I really like the understanding of this story given in Joseph Heller’s “autobiography” of David - God Knows.

Heller has David being much smarter than the Arthur Maxwell version. David has a plan. He knows Goliath has only short range weapons, and is wearing heavy armor. David rejects Saul’s armor, not only because it is to big, but because it violates his plan.

His plan is to go down into that valley, carrying a long distance weapon. He will never get close to Goliath - instead if the stone from his sling doesn’t work he will simply outrun Goliath back out of the valley.

It is a great plan. It works.


(Thomas J Zwemer) #8

the current president of Andrews University is one the most esteemed academic leaders in the nation. Certainly the best at that institution since Griggs. no one is against care for the homeless or marginalized and that is not the issue at Andrews. The student is merely attempting to reframe the issue in his favor. The issue should be framed as aid without advocacy. Tom Z


(Steve Mga) #9

Tom
Perhaps Prs. Andreasen was ill-advised.
To me all I saw was the 80 asking for square footage of space to Sell which was in an area with lots of traffic of people willing to part with their money.
I saw no request to “Partnering” with the 80.
What I read was the Administration wanting to control the 80s Bank Account and Check Signing.
Does this Autocratic Behavior also include the way the funds of other campus organizations are handled?
Re: Partnership. It would be the PURCHASER of the Bake Sale Goods who would Partner with the 80s.
NOT the Administration or the SDA church.
If the Administration had a problem, all that would have been necessary would have been “A Disclaimer” posted.
The Administration put Themselves in this situation, put the Seventh day Adventist church from the GC, the North American Division and all the Local Seventh day Adventist churches in cities and towns.
I wonder what Christian Century and Christianity Today will have to say?


(Sirje) #10

This is one message within the “spectrum”. Another, more controversial perhaps, is that we do have to take a stand. Within our present political climate, Saul would have sent an emissary to meet the enemy with a bouquet of olive branches. It’s complicated.


(Thomas J Zwemer) #11

Steve Not so, if you read the President’s response. He is 100% for aid and the same against advocacy. I don’t agree with the theology of Adventism. I do respect Adventism"s aid to the needy regardless of life style.

Since the third grade, I have been a supporter of aid to the needy without regard to status of style. I have never seen a change in that approach at Andrews. Tom Z


(Steve Mga) #12

Tom
Are you saying that President Andreasen probably DID Believe that he had a RIGHT to Control of the 80s Bank Account and Check Signing?
I wonder if under the table Administration does this much Control of other campus groups that Fund Raise?
I still consider that a “Disclaimer from the University” posted at the Bake Sale area would have been sufficient.
It is the Purchaser who becomes in a Partnership Relationship with the 80s. Not the Univ, or SDA church.
What was done on both sides is done. There is no way to retract words in print.


(doug gow) #13


so often it’s not as simple as it appears…as one of the youth said in YSS " D vs G never was a fair fight".


(Bille) #14

Please think a little deeper about this, Steve.

Do you think that “a disclaimer” would stop any of those engaged in Spectrum conversation who are adamantly against any degree of “softness” towards those of the LGBTQ group?

Are you aware of the flack that Andrews administrators get for even allowing “gays” to register and attend classes at Andrews?

Are you aware that in spite of this, some Andrews faculty members are members of the Gay Alliance and display those decals in their office windows as a sign to newcomer LGBTQs that this is a “safe place” where they may discuss their issues and questions about their sexuality without fear of any harassment or reprisal… even if the individual seeking shelter is being harassed by another gay?

Andreasen has been a bulwark standing between the oppressed and the oppressors… and not merely on this one issue alone. I think we should go much easier on him than what people have tended to do here… and balance this one act that seems from a distance as being insensitive with all of the sensitivity he has regularly shown to all concerned.