Monday, July 30, 2018

King David 4


2 Samuel 11
July 29, 2018

Just a minute about theology here before we go on with this.
If you spend any amount of time in the Old Testament you notice
a certain type of cause and effect theology.

A person does good things, and God rewards them.
With things like success, victory over an enemy, money, livestock, land.
But if someone does something wrong, God punishes them.
With defeat, poverty, death of a loved one, humiliation, or their own death.
Nothing happened outside of God’s favor or displeasure.
Everything happened for a reason, and that reason was you were good or bad.

To be clear, we don’t believe this is the way things happen now.
Even though we read this in parts of the bible, we have a better understanding of God now.
As you read further in the Hebrew Scriptures, you can see this understanding change.

Most obviously,
In the story of Job we hear how human suffering has nothing to do
with righteousness or unrighteousness.

And of course, we know the story of Jesus  
who was God come to earth and was obviously not evil or sinful
he was God’s beloved and the one who God was well pleased with,
and still died a shameful and painful death and suffered a terrible fate.

Now we do believe that there are some natural consequences to sin.
We do believe that God’s grace, mercy, and love will prevail and
We do believe and that God has created a world and is always working to put an end to evil.

But we don’t believe that suffering is a sign of that person’s sinfulness.
We don’t believe that success and health are a sign of that person doing God’s will.

But this theology is stubborn even in Christian circles.
It’s prevalent in what’s called the prosperity Gospel and some branches of the Evangelical church
and it’s easy to conclusion to come to, it’s an easy formula to believe.
If someone is rich or healthy, they must have pleased God.
And if someone is poor or sick they tend to ask,
“Why did this happen to me? What did I do to deserve this?  Why is God mad at me?”

This theology is definitely in play in the story of David.
And we want to honor the story as written,
this was a story of Jesus’s faith and our faith history.
And there are still some very important things we can learn from it.
But we understand now that God works in different ways.
  
So back to David.
David became king at 30 years old it says.
Then, 20 years pass without much to talk about apparently.
Except a couple of wars and a brief mention
of how David administered justice and equity to all his people.
And God gave victory to David wherever he went.

Until we get to this point. The center of David’s story.
David’s miscalculation, his weakness, his ego, his hubris, David’s sin.
or the point that the author of the story decides is the moment David’s life went of the rails.

The story begin saying that Spring is the time for Kings to go to battle.
Who knew that there was such an appointed time, even if there wasn’t a war.

But instead of going himself, David sent Joab and his troops out. David stayed in Jerusalem.
He was letting other people do his work for him and he was busy doing nothing.
Basically, David was not where he was meant to be.

And then he went up on his roof, and some people even say
that roofs in the city were basically reserved for women, to meet and have conversation,
to do household chores, to hang out laundry,
and to do other private things like take baths.
Again, David was not where he was supposed to be.

And unlike a lot of the other stories of David that we’ve been reading,
this one is crystal clear and doesn’t require a lot of explanation.
While he was on the roof, he saw a woman and wanted her,
and even though he found out that she was married to another man, he demanded her.

Now some people make Bathsheba out to be some sort of seductress,
a loose woman, or that she somehow shares part of the guilt in this situation.
But really.
If the King requests you, what do you do?
Bathsheba was obviously young, because she was married,
but didn’t have any children yet.
And when the person with power that has your future and your family’s future in their hands,
you have very little choice, Bathsheba was taken advantage of.
By today’s standards, the law would say she was sexually assaulted.

And when she got pregnant, because everyone knew her husband
hadn’t been with her because he was away at David’s war,
David put him put in a dangerous place in battle and he was killed.
In essence, David murdered him.
And then David married Bathsheba himself.
Some say David’s sin was adultery, but what is adultery to a man
who has eight wives and as many concubines as he wants?
And some have said that David’s sin was a sin of lust.
But that could have been taken care of with any number of women at his disposal as king.

David’s sin was the abuse of his power.  If he did not have the power that he had,
he would not have been able to do these things.
His sin was the abuse of the power that God had given him.
David’s sin was wanting what he did not have, when he had everything else.
And then using his power to take it, regardless of the others involved.

Now, wait, the reality is lots of Kings and other leaders do this kind of stuff all the time.
Saul tried to have David killed in the same way as David killed Uriah, by putting him in danger.
Certainly  in the life of kings and the powerful,
especially at this time, and almost any time before the 20th century,
this kind of activity was just one of the perks of the position.
The powerful can do all sorts of stuff because who’s gonna stop them?

But this is not just any king. This is David. Our David. This is the chosen one of God.
This is God’s king. The one God made a covenant with.
And this kind of behavior is not acceptable for that King.
God was angry.

Nathan was David’s court prophet. David’s spiritual advisor.
He was the one who told David about the covenant God made with him and his house.
And now Nathan has the uncomfortable job of telling David how God feels.

Knowing that David is s shepherd at heart.
Nathan uses the parable of a sheep and a shepherd to get the point across.

A rich man had many sheep and a poor man had only one.
The rich man needed to make a dinner for guests and he took the
poor man’s one beloved sheep and had the guests eat that.

The injustice of the story makes David mad.
And in David’s response to Nathan’s story, he convicts himself,
 “As the Lord lives, the man who has done this deserves to die; 
he shall restore the lamb fourfold, because he did this thing,
and because he had no pity.”
David and Nathan
Angelica Kaufman, 1797

Like so many of us, David’s moral compass is in the right place when it is pointed at other people
But he’s blind to his own sin, but he doesn’t even recognize himself in this story.

“You are that man! “ 
Nathan has to tell David outright.
And Nathan, shares with David the words of God that came through him.

“I gave you everything 
and I would have given you more.
You could have had 
another wife or girlfriend,
but you had to take someone else’s wife and then kill him.”
He tells David,  “Since you used the sword,
the sword will never leave your house again.”

He goes on to say:
“Now the Lord has put away your sin; you shall not die.
Nevertheless, because by this deed you have utterly scorned the Lord,
the child that is born to you shall die.” 

These sins were certainly worse than anything that Saul had done
in that situation, God took away his anointing and chose another.
But God had made a covenant with David that he would not depose him as king,
and he wouldn’t kill him, so David and his position were safe.
But David would, at times, regret that covenant.
Sometimes there are worse fates than death.
Because today’s story is not the end of David’s sorrow.

To David’s credit, he did not kill Nathan, which would have
been the inclination of most kings, to kill the messenger,
and the only other man who knew the truth about him and his new wife.
David merely acknowledge the truth and said, “I have sinned against the Lord.”

The child that was born to Bathsheba was born sick.
David fasted and prayed and pleaded with God.
And on the seventh day after the child was born, the child died.

David’s people were afraid to tell him that the child died,
because they were worried that he might do harm to himself.
But after he learned that the child had died, he sat down and ate.
His people asked him why, and he said:

“While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept; for I said, ‘Who knows?
The Lord may be gracious to me, and the child may live.’ 23 
But now he is dead; why should I fast? Can I bring him back again?
I will go to my son one day, but he will not return to me.”

David is defeated and almost without emotion at this point.
No more political manipulation or calculations.
The joy and exuberance of his youth is now turned to the reality of his middle age.
A life of violence was not without consequences. Death is permanent
Using the privilege of his power and position were not without consequences.
His relationship with God, once seen only as the great gift giver, has been changed.

This story cuts through the myth of the powerful, and shows us the human being.
The narrator puts the royal business aside and shows us David for the
ambiguous, contradictory, driven, selfish, and inept man that he is.
And also for the sensitive, loving, faithful, and repentant man that he is.
He is never just one thing. He is a whole person.

As I said at the beginning of this series, the story of David is the story of humanity.

Who of us can say that given the power, and the opportunity,
 given the lack of restraints and earthly consequences,
If we were the most powerful without any checks and balances
would we not take advantage of the situation and use our power for our own desires?

Even if we would not take someone else’s spouse,
aren’t there other ways that we might be tempted to exploit our power?
Have we not done that at one time or another,
in our job, in our positions, in our community, in our families?

And haven’t we, as a human race, taken advantage of our privileges?
Given everything in this world, we insist on taking more.
We have more than enough, and we still leave some without
and feel it’s our right and privilege. We do it without thought.

If we can’t see ourselves in this story,
then we are just as blind as David was when Nathan told him his story.
The truth is, “We are that person.”

And putting David’s sin aside for a moment.
The story shows us and the rest of the regular people of God,
 that not even power and wealth and position or even
God’s anointing can take away the realities of being human.
Nothing can take away the moments of anguish and pain
that come with living life on this earth.

To give David some credit again, he did not have Bathsheba killed,
and he did not dismiss her in shame, which is often how these kind of things ended.
He marries her and she is his wife until his death,
and he seems to treat her kindly and with love.
More kindly than a lot of wives are treated in the scriptures.
It says that after their child died that he comforted her.
And they had another child and they named him Solomon.

And it says in 2 Samuel 12:24 that “the Lord loved the child.”
As Bruggemann writes about this:
Solomon, the child of the sin, Yahweh loves. In a family of resilient evil, Yahweh loves .
In a history of sordid disobedience, Yahweh keeps a covenant.
We're not left in despair, because Yahweh loves.
But we're not left in a fairytale where love conquers all.”

And that is our story too.
God loves us, even through in our sordid disobedience.
Never without hope, but not in a fairytale.
David lives where all people of faith live.


Sunday, July 22, 2018

King David 3


2 Samuel 6-7
July 22, 2018  

Before we get started here, just a little information.
Some of you know this, but the story of David is told in
two places in the bible,  on in 1st and 2nd Samuel and also 1st Chronicles
(1st and 2nd Kings and 2nd Chronicles covers King Solomon, David’s son and future kings.)
1st Chronicles begins with Saul’s death, so it basically starts where David is king.

Sometimes 2nd Samuel and 1st Chronicles are almost identical, and sometimes they’re different.
Some say that Chronicles is more sanitized and leaves out all the uncomfortable stuff.
2nd Samuel is definitely has a fuller and more complete story,
but sometimes 1 Chronicles has explanations that 2 Samuel doesn’t.
So I might share some things that we don’t get from the 2nd Samuel readings.

So, finally, 15 years after being anointed by God and Samuel,
David is made King of the united kingdom of Israel
Immediately after he’s made King, David and his army
have a decisive victory against  the Philistines.

And suddenly, we see a shift in David.
Once David was the rebel force with the army of 400 disaffected hippy youth,
But now David wants to be presidential, responsible.
no more guerilla warfare, no more sleeping in caves.

He is now in power and he wants to do good things.

During his time on the run, David has accumulated a few wives
and has quite a few children, which I guess is the obligation of a king
to maintain his royal house for generations to come.
King David
Anatoly Schelest

In then in another responsible, 
Kingly move, David moves his capital
from Hebron where he ruled the 
Southern Kingdom from
to the populous and bustling city 
of Jerusalem.
Although it was in the territory of Benjamin,
Jerusalem was really an independent state not governed by the tribal system,
(Kind of like Washington DC, although it’s technically in Maryland, is its own state)
This would have helped restore the unity of the until recently warring Northern and Southern kingdoms. Of course David had to chase out and destroy the
Jebusites who were living there at the time.

And then in another  very responsible act
David has the Ark of God moved from its hiding place
and move it into the capital of Jerusalem.
This is apparently a big deal.

As I mentioned last week, this is Ark is the same Ark
that Indiana Jones saves from the Nazis in Raiders of the Lost Ark.
And, if you remember, in that movie, the Ark is very powerful and unpredictable.

Basically it melts everyone who looks at it when they open it at the end.
(I hope I didn’t just spoil the ending for you, but it has been out for almost 40 years.)

And that is not a completely ridiculous story to tell about the ark
based on the stories about it in scripture.

The Ark of God, or the Ark of the covenant is a peculiar thing.
It is the box that was made to hold the  tablets  on which the
second, unbroken tablets of the ten commandments were written.
And some places say that it also holds Aaron’s rod and a jar full of the manna
which was given to the Israelites in the wilderness.
Almost a time capsule of the escape from Egypt.

The very detailed instructions for how to build it were included in Exodus for Moses and the Israelites to build and specifically, the instructions specifically talk about  the space between the two angels sitting on top. It says:

21You shall put the mercy-seat on the top of the ark; and in the ark you shall put the covenant that I shall give you. 22There I will meet you, and from above the mercy-seat, from between the two cherubim that are on the ark of the covenant, I will deliver to you all my commands for the Israelites.

That space on top was called the Mercy Seat and it was
where God said that God would deliver all the commands
and messages for the Israelites, kind of the place where God would meet God’s people.

The Ark was the presence of God in the world.
Kind of like a temple or church would be in the future, but this was mobile.
Wherever the Israelites went and wandered around in their 40 years in the wilderness, the Ark went with them. And when they stayed some place, it would go in a separate room in a tent called the Tabernacle.

The Ark was carried around to lead the Israelites in battle
in the Promised Land and Joshua had the priests parade the
Ark around the walls of Jericho for seven days before they
all shouted and the walls of the city came down.

But the reality of the Ark, though, was that it was heavy and cumbersome,
and it was unpredictable and sometimes dangerous,
so it seemed to be left places and forgotten about,
which could seriously be a metaphor for faith in God, couldn’t it?

Back in chapter 5 of 1 Samuel, the Philistines stole it because
they wanted to capture its powers,  and
when Eli, Judge before Samuel, heard that the Ark
had been taken by the Philistines, he promptly died from shock.

But later the Philistines decide to return it to the Israelites
because they had experienced plagues of tumors, mice, and boils while they had it. 
And then when the Israelites got it back,
It ended up at the house of Abindab in Kirjath-Jearim for 20 years.
It said Saul was too impatient to consult the ark
and people grew unaccustomed to using it.

It represented the Lord, it was where God would meet and command the people
it was the center of sacrifice and atonement for the Israelites.
And it represented a time of a united Israel who worked always in cooperation with God.
Which was surely why David wanted to bring it back to his capital.
So they tried.

Abindab who’s house it stayed at for 20 years was in charge of moving it.
Now the instructions for building it said that the wooden poles needed to be affixed to the
ark so that it would be able to be moved without it ever being touched.
It was usually moved with four people one on each side of the pole.

But Abindab made a nifty new OX cart to move it, and they loaded it up and took it on the road.  Everyone was dancing and singing and playing castanets and symbols. It was a big celebration. But  while it was on the way to Jerusalem, the Ark started to tip over, and Uzzah, one of Abindab’s sons, reached over and touched the Ark to set it right again
and God, the nuclear reactor went off again and Uzzah was struck down.
That put a damper on the whole celebration there.

It actually says that David got angry with God about that.
And that at that point he was afraid of God that day.
And David refused to go on with the whole thing, saying,
“Now how can I take the Ark into my care today?”
And he brought it to someone else’s house
and basically put it in their garage for three months.
Then the owner of that house started doing good,
so David thought it was safe again to move it.

Isn’t this an odd exchange between anyone and any god,
but especially Yahweh at this point?
God lashes out with one of his odd and seemingly arbitrary rules,
then David gets angry at God and basically puts God into time-out
until he can figure out how to negotiate the relationship again.

Remember when we were talking about Abraham bargaining with God
over the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah?
This showed the open system which God had made with God’s people.
There was negotiation. People had input into the situation.
God was all powerful, but could be moved and changed by the wants and needs of the people.
I think this shows more of the same openness that Yahweh has, especially with David.
David is angry with God.
But God doesn’t retaliate as might be expected. Maybe even God adjusts.
But he doesn’t dump David.
And likewise, David doesn’t just give up on God and dump the Ark somewhere forever and forget about God.
I’m not exactly sure what it’s saying,
but I think the relationship between God and humanity is growing.
And it definitely is saying that God and David have a special relationship.

So, when David thought it was safe again,
they tried again and they finally got the Ark into Jerusalem, the capital city.
Chronicles says that David thought it would be safer to have the Levites,
the priests carry the ark and their families make the music to lead it.
And that’s what they do. People carry the ark instead of putting it on a cart.
They get the ark into Jerusalem.

Everyone seems happy for the moment:
God seems happy,  Israel is happy, because David gave everyone bread and raisin cakes.
And David was especially happy, he danced like no one was watching.

But cue the ominous music, because as you can see,
David’s first wife, Michal, the daughter of Saul is always looking out the window
and it says that after looking at him dancing like that,
she despised him in her heart.

When David was defending himself against Saul,
Michal loved David deeply and helped him escape her father.
But now that David was king, she had higher expectations of him.
While Michal would not be the downfall of David,
her feelings would be a sign that all that seemed perfect and happy
would not remain perfect and happy forever. 
It’s a foreshadowing that, just like Saul’s house,
David’s house would begin to crumble from the inside.

But life goes on and David has had a house built for him to live in Jerusalem,
and the Ark was put in a tent beside it.
In another responsible act, David didn’t feel that was right and offered
to build a house for God, a temple where the Ark would be stored.
because that’s what Kings do too.
But in a dream of Nathan, David’s advisor, God tells David no.
That David will not be the one to build him a temple.
In first Chronicles, it says that David had too much blood on his hands to build God’s temple.  It says that David’s son who rules after him will build a temple for God
and Solomon, does build the first temple.

Then,  God says to David, you will not build me a house, I will build you a house.
A house that will live forever. God says that he will make a great name for David, and for his offspring.

16 Your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me;
your throne shall be established forever. 17 In accordance with all these words
and with all this vision, Nathan spoke to David.

Maybe God was moved by David’s offer to build a temple.
Maybe God was moved by David’s restoration of the Ark and his happy dancing.
Maybe God was moved by David’s uniting the Israelites.
Maybe God was moved by David’s just and kind treatment of the people.
It really doesn’t explain why, but God makes a covenant with David
that will place Israel’s hopes into David’s lineage.

Now some may just see this a s propaganda written
by future Kings, specifically Solomon, to justify his leadership,
and to justify his consolidation of Israel’s goods and labor to build the lavish temple,
and more and more lavish palaces for him to live in.

And maybe some see it as justification for a succession
of kings who were lousy and did bad things,
but none the less were in the line of David.

And maybe some see it as justification for wars and conquests of other people --
which follow in the story immediately --
in the same way God has been used to justify so many other wars throughout history.

And yes, I’m sure that was part of the role of this covenant story.

But it does more than that.

It reflected a hope in David’s Kingdom that people felt to be true.
Like the covenants with Noah, and Abraham, and Moses before him,
These covenants would provide a hope that has
held the people of Israel together in times of struggle.
It is a covenant that tells the faithful that the story is not over.

16 Your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me;
your throne shall be established forever.

Forever is the operative word.
For better or worse, God and God’s people will be together forever.
No matter what, nothing will be able to break the bond
between them, it is a covenant,

This covenant turns into the hope of the Messiah,
that the prophets talk about over and over again,

And this is the covenant that sent the the Wise Men to Bethlehem,
the City of David, to find the Messiah.
It’s the one that Peter and Paul referred to in Acts,
the one that caused many a suffering person to call
out to Jesus as the Son of David.

The covenant said that God will put his promises into David’s house, his lineage and offspring, and that through this family God’s promise will come to the people of the earth.

Now not even the King is not exempt from judgment,and God may punish and God may correct his bad behavior, but God will never leave David’s presence.
He won’t dethrone David, like he did to Saul, he won’t un-anoint him or let someone overtake him. God will never leave David. This is good news, and sometimes it is not good news. Regardless, all the hopes and fears of Israel are now met in David.

In other words, the spiritual salvation of the people is somehow tied to the government.
Now, with the new covenant of Jesus, we are not required to believe this, but it is important to understand it because there are many people of many religions who do believe this.

As for David, the human being, to be put in that position, as the touching point between God and humanity. It is a great privilege, and a great responsibility, and it also becomes a great pain.

As far as the narrative of David goes, this covenant is the pivotal point.
It stands between two stories, what scholars call “The Rise of David”
and “the Succession narrative” or the fall of David.

Basically, David’s blessing of power, also will become his curse.

But for now, everyone is pleased.
And of course, David sings about it.

 And now, O Lord God, you are God, and your words are true, and you have promised this good thing to your servant; 29 now therefore may it please you to bless the house of your servant, so that it may continue forever before you; for you, O Lord God, have spoken, and with your blessing shall the house of your servant be blessed forever.

Monday, July 16, 2018

King David 2


1 Samuel 17
July 15, 2018

This story of David and Goliath is one of the most familiar stories in the whole bible.
It’s recognizable even to those who don’t know the bible at all.
Goliath is a term used on its own to mean something big and formidable.

Usually, we hear this story on its own, and it’s mostly for the kids.
Although someone gets his head cut off at the end. The kids love it!
And of course the kids love it, because it’s about a little kid overcoming the big strong bully.

And the moral of the story is that with God’s help, 
even little ones can overcome big problems.
Which is a great moral. And that moral is not wrong. It’s in there. 
But there’s more.
But when we isolate the story and relegate it to just the kids,
it can kind of get domesticated and safe.
Little kids, school yard bullies.

This was not just a kid’s story, it’s a very adult story.
King David
Rae Chichilintsky
 and it’s not isolated, it’s part of a whole tale:
 the beginning of David’s public life as it were.
And there is a whole lot of stuff in the story of David
that gets us to this part of the story, 
so let’s review that first.

To review from last week:
The Israelites ask for a king.
God is not crazy about the idea.
But they insist and he gives them a king anyway.

The first King of Israel was Saul.
By all accounts, he was a good king.
I’m sure we would want him to be evil
or wildly disobedient, but he wasn’t.

He tried to follow, but he did a couple 
of things that didn’t sit well with God.
First he made a burnt offering himself instead of  waiting for the appointed holy person.
And then when he defeated the Amalekites, 
he spared the king and some livestock
even though God told him to destroy everything.
Basically, God didn’t like Saul’s cavalier attitude towards his requests.

So Saul was out as King.
And God quickly chooses another king – this time it’s going to be good.
A man after God’s own heart (1 Samuel 13:14)
That second King would be David.

David was from Bethlehem in the region Judah and descended from Judah,
who was a son of Jacob, the one who wrestled with the angel and,
and who was the son of Isaac who was the son of Abraham and Sarah.
David was the youngest of eight sons of Jesse of Bethlehem
or eight sons and two daughters depending on which book you read.
He was a branch of Jesse – a term which should be familiar.

It might sound like he had an impressive lineage going back to Abraham and Sarah
but remember, everyone who lived in Judah had the same impressive lineage.

God makes Samuel go out again with his horn of oil, like he did for Saul
and he sends him to Jesse’s house, under the guise of
celebrating a sacrifice and dinner with them.
Samuel knew the king would be one of Jesse’s sons.
And at first he assumes it would be the oldest, tallest, and strongest son.
But God tells Samuel not to pay attention to his looks or their height.
Because the Lord doesn’t look at things that people look at.

So Samuel goes to each one and waits to see if he
is the one that God would choose, until there’s no one left.
Samuel has to ask Jesse, “don’t you have any more kids?”
and Jesse goes, oh yeah, I’ve got one more out back taking care of the sheep.
And they go get him and it’s David.
“That’s the one”, God says. “Anoint him.” And David was anointed by Samuel as King.

The writer works to make David as insignificant as possible.
Jesse was a common farmer and David was in charge of the sheep.
Remember from our talks at Christmas, shepherd was the lowliest of occupations.
And David was the youngest of Jesse’s many children, so he was in line for nothing really.
And he was so insignificant his father almost forgot about him
didn’t think to call him in for the special dinner guest.

And once David was chosen by God and anointed to be king,
he still went back to his lowly job as shepherd. But God’s plans were in action.
Only God and Samuel and David and us know the truth about David right now.
David would still have to overcome a lot to take his rightful place as king.

Saul is still king, but he can feel God’s spirit was not with him anymore.
He was feeling tormented, depressed, gloomy. He needs a diversion,
He decides he wants someone to play him music.
Coincidentally, someone suggests that the 
farmer Jesse’s son David plays a beautiful lyre.
He could be helpful. So David plays for Saul and Saul loved him.
Saul makes David his official musician and then promotes him to
his official armor bearer, the one that would take the Kings shield
and sword out to battle for him. Kind of like a caddy for deadly weapons.

So unbeknownst to Saul and, it seems even oblivious to David,
David enters Saul’s court, and his army, and also his heart.
And that is where we pick up the story we heard today.

The Philista, or the land of the Philistines, is  a country that butts up to the land of Judah.
They seem to have been a thorn in the Israelites side for a long time.
Earlier in First Samuel, chapter 5, the Philistines captured the Ark of God.
The Ark of God was the thing that held the tablets of the 10 commandments.

It is the same Ark which, in 1936, Indiana Jones 
would later save from being captured by the Nazis.
But we’ll talk more about the Ark of God at length next week.
So, The Israelites got the Ark back from the Philistines after a while,
but the Philistines were not done with the Israelites.
This time they were back with Goliath, their ringer.

An eight foot tall giant of a man who was well armed, who no one could physically defeat,
and who was also, apparently, an expert at verbal intimidation and taunting.

Now David’s older brothers were involved in the fighting,
And presumably David was the armor bearer for King Saul,
although the story says that David was stuck checking on the sheep for a lot of the fighting.
AND David’s father tells him to bring bread and cheese to his fighting brothers.

Obviously feeding people and sheep was all that his father thought that he could do.
When David came to give them the bread,
he heard Goliath taunt everyone and how afraid everyone was of him.

David also heard this important piece of gossip:
People were saying that whoever could defeat Goliath,
Saul would give that man his daughter as a wife,
and he would let his family live tax free.
David knew a good deal when he heard it:
Marry a princess and don’t pay taxes.
There’s a little bit of a mercenary in David too.

David’s oldest brother tells David to go away, kind of “let the real men do the work here”
and “Don’t you have sheep to check on?” like some older brothers do.

Then David, this over-confident boy tells Saul that he can defeat Goliath.

He tells King Saul he fights wild animals as a shepherd, why not this guy?
Saul is like, Naah.
And David says, sure I can. I’ve fought wild bears and lions. How hard can this be?
And then David, who would be Saul’s future adversary,
shares this prophetic line with him:
“the Lord, who saved me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear,
will save me from the hand of this Philistine.”
So Saul says, what the heck, go ahead and try.

Then Saul puts his own armor on David.
David was once the armor bearer,
Now the Saul has become armor bearer for the true king.

But David takes off the armor because it’s too confining.
He takes his staff and five smooth stones from the creek
and put them in a bag and with his sling in his hand he confronts the giant.

After some serious taunting from Goliath,
David meets him with the same assurance as when he talked to King Saul,
He says: “The battle is the Lord’s and he will give you into our hand”

The actual battle between the big bully and the innocent boy takes only two verses.
“As Goliath moved closer to attack, David quickly ran out to meet him.49 Reaching into his shepherd’s bag and taking out a stone, he hurled it with his sling and hit the Philistine in the forehead. The stone sank in, and Goliath stumbled and fell face down on the ground.”

Again, at every turn, this part of the story lets us know how insignificant and even uncivilized David is:
Remember, we are the only ones who know David’s secret identity
as the anointed one of God. Samuel is gone and God isn’t telling.

All his family thinks all his good for is feeding people, his sheep and his brothers.
He’s motivated by the King’s offer of his daughter and no taxes.
He shirks the armor and the weapons of the upper class soldiers,
he’s more comfortable with a slingshot.
And he tells everyone he’s accustomed to fending off wild animals.
Not a gentleman, David is used to the wild.

The story tells us not to trust appearances.
The next leader of Israel will come from nothing.
He will be raised from the dust of the earth like Adam.
God will breathe life into him and he will become something.


But this is not just a little boy against a giant story.
This is a much larger story about the marginalized against the tyrants.
This is a story about the lower class against the ruling class.
The powerless against the powerful.

The story does not give honor to civility or decorum or humility
or those things that are privileges of the establishment.
The story gives honor brash nervy-ness and raw chutzpa.
Those with the guts to get things done.

And this is important to remember this as the story moves on to the next stage
where this battle against the establishment that David battle
gets a little more personal and complicated and
as David builds his own army and defends himself against King Saul.

After his victory over Goliath, David is celebrated the people start chanting,
“Saul has killed his thousands, and David his ten thousands.”
Which just proves to make Saul angry.
And Saul the powerful king has it out for the young David from that day on.

David returned to playing the Lyre for King Saul
Saul could feel the spirit of the Lord had left him and he suspects it was with David.
Saul randomly throws a spear at David a couple of times and misses.
But Saul thought better of it and made David the commander of a thousand troops.
Saul figured that the Philistines would take care of David for him.

Basically, because of his fear and jealousy,
Saul put David at the head of the army that would eventually take over.
Saul uses his own military to kill his foe.
Again the story looks ahead, because it sounds a lot like something
 that David would do later when he becomes King.

And innocently,  David infiltrated Saul’s house and family too.
Saul eventually kept his promise to David to give him one of his daughters as his wife
thinking that he could keep a close eye on David and also having a wife
would distract David and he would be more likely to slip up and die in battle.
David was married to Michal who fell deeply in love with him and was devoted to him.
When Saul sent troops to come and arrest and kill David,
Michal would help him escape.

And soon after David’s battle with Goliath, he meets Jonathan, Saul’s son
the one who would be heir to Saul’s throne.
They become fast and deep friends, sharing a pact to protect one another.
Eventually, Jonathan would refuse to assassinate David, as Saul urged him to do.
and several times he would help David escape from Saul.

Some believe that the relationship between David and Jonathan was a romantic one,
and if that helps anyone get into the story, it’s fine with me.
But I think whether their relationship was sexual or not is kind of irrelevant.

It shows the same thing that is shown by Michal’s love for David.
Saul’s house was crumbling from the inside out.
Saul’s own children turn on him and opt to help out the man who he believes is his enemy.
Again a foreshadowing of what would happen in David’s own life.

Through all of this, David is still eating with Saul and
playing the harp for him. Saul loves him like a son at some moments,
and at the next he’s dodging Saul’s spears.

Until David finally decides that he needs to escape
and Jonathan helps him do it, covering for him at a dinner party.                      
After that, David is on the run, hiding in caves and going
through towns making friends with some towns and plundering others.

David’s brothers join his band of merry men and he also gathers other people,
“those who were in trouble or in debt, or were just discontented.”
David ‘s army of the poor and the disenfranchised numbers 400 it says,
while Saul’s army is over three thousand.
The powerless against the powerful.

But at no time though during this time, is David out to get the throne.
David has an army and he does pillage some non-Israelite villages, 
but he never pursues Saul.
He only runs from Saul. 
It’s Saul’s own fear and jealousy of David which drives the animosity.
David is always loyal to Israel and to his king, sometimes foolishly.

The story is  told that Saul goes into a cave to relive himself,
Even royalty have to go to the bathroom  I guess.
And little did Saul know that David and all his men were hiding in the back of the cave.
David had the perfect opportunity to kill Saul and end the whole thing.
But all David did is sneak up and cut off a corner of Saul’s robe.

When he was at a safe distance, David shows Saul the  part of his robe he cut off to show him that he had the opportunity to kill him and didn’t take it David says:
Why do you listen when men say, ‘David is bent on harming you’? 10 This day you have seen with your own eyes how the Lord delivered you into my hands in the cave. Some urged me to kill you, but I spared you; I said, ‘I will not lay my hand on my lord, because he is the Lord’s anointed.’ 

When David points this out to Saul, you can hear Saul’s inner battle in his response.
He is genuinely touched. He calls David his son. He realizes that he has in some way
given birth to this young man, and he is touched.
Saul admits his sin, he realizes how honorable David has been to spare his life.
Saul even says that he knows that David will be king of Israel.
And yet, he still feels compelled to chase David down.

Finally David decides to hide in the last place that Saul would look.
He hides in Philista, the home of the mortal enemies of the Israelites, the home of Goliath.
He lives there for a year and the king trusts him.
But when the Philistines go to battle with Saul’s army again, the king decides not to let David fight worrying that he
and his army will defect.  So David sits out.

Saul visits a fortune teller in Endor,
The fortune teller summons Samuel up from the dead.
He’s not happy to be disturbed by Saul.
Samuel reminds Saul of what he did to upset God and he tells Saul that God would deliver him and
the army of Israel into the hands of the Philistines.

Within a week, the Philistine army face the Israelites.
They kill Jonathan, and two of Saul’s other sons,
They wound Saul and Saul eventually takes his own life.

David is very sad at both of their deaths, and he mourns mourns them with a song.

David becomes the King of the southern Kingdom,
Another one of Saul’s sons becomes the king of the northern kingdom
after seven years of being separated, they had a
kind of pre-arranged gentlemanly battle of hand to hand combat,
where bunches of more people die, but less of David’s men die
so when he was thirty years old, around 15 years or so
after being chosen and anointed by God, David finally became King of Israel.
Some say that Shakespeare got a lot of the ideas from his plays from this story.

This whole beginning story of David,
from God’s choosing of the youngest shepherd boy,
to his defeating the giant philistine, to David’s sneaking around in caves
with his army of debtors, prisoners, and disenfranchised ones.
Up to Saul’s own  eventual defeat, the point of the story is the same.

This is a story told by the marginalized,
to a marginalized community, about the marginalized.
The hope and promise, is that even the lowliest of their own will be raised,
and will become powerful and strong – the strongest even.

And it tells them that in the process, the little guy should not lose their integrity.
They should not respond to anger and vengeance with anger and vengeance.

It’s also a story of the powerful’s unquenchable desire
to destroy those that they feel are encroaching on their power.

Israel was not a super-power at this time, or any time in its ancient history.
Even as a Kingdom, Israel was a small country,
It was constantly being pushed around and persecuted and
taken advantage of by nations stronger than it was
And the Jewish people are a people who were constantly
being persecuted and bullied by others.

And most scholars place these books as being written during the exile.
A time when Israel was taken over and the Jewish people
 forcibly moved from their homes into
other countries to live as slaves or refugees.

This story was more than just a story about David’s victory over his own adversaries
This is about the victory of the marginalized over the powerful.
It’s about how God stands with the uncivilized and the little guys.

This is the story of the last becoming first.
This story tells generation after generation, that with the help of God,
that the marginal ones can become the legitimate holders of power.

Some might say that this is just royal propaganda,
written by the royal family to show how great David was.
But we know the rest of David’s story.
Things start to go wrong for David pretty quickly.

So this story of the little guy achieving power is also  a warning.
The marginalized can become powerful, but power comes with its own problems and its own temptations.

Whether it’s the power of king, or a president, or a mayor,
or the head of the church, or head of a department,
or head of a family: the more power, the greater the temptation.

And the sin of the powerful comes with its own consequences.