Musing 7-16-2020 David, Goliath, Masks, & Love
I was going through some books on the shelf to see what we might donate (more importantly get off the shelf and out of our house)!
One of them was a book of Bible stories for children. The cover was a montage of pictures displaying pictures from famous scenes. Moses parting the red sea. Jesus walking on water. Abraham and Isaac. A picture of the Ten Commandments etched in tablets. And every boy’s favorite David and Goliath.
Even non-religious folk are familiar with David and Goliath. David of course is the young boy who was sent out to battle the mighty Philistine giant Goliath and he slays him with his slingshot.
What a lot of people are not fully familiar with is why David was even there and what happened before the slingshot was thrown. David was the youngest in his family. He had been sent by his mother with food for his older brothers. After delivering the food, David decided to hang around and see what was going on. He discussed strategy with other soldiers, sat around and heard stories about the battle, and generally enjoyed being with the grownups.
David's oldest brother was not happy with this and told him to go back home and continue tending the sheep. Of course, being the youngest—and I imagine having some spunk—David chose not to leave, and it seems he bragged about how he could kill the mighty Goliath who scared everyone else.
The text is not exactly clear as to why, but the King decided to have David brought to him after hearing some other soldiers discuss this young boy and his bragging. For some reason, instead of laughing David out of the tent, he hears David tell about how he has slayed “Lions and Tigers and Bears Oh my”! Saul is willing (though we’ll never exactly why) to let David take on Goliath.
But before doing so he wants to help David and he outfits him with his finest armor. The problem is David is not used to such. He cannot move freely in it, so it was a hindrance and no help at all. Adding the armor makes things far more complicated than they needed to be, and he takes it off before going and finding his five smooth stones which he will use to render the mighty Goliath unconscious. Once Goliath is out cold, David then uses Goliath's own sword to finish him off. It is sort of a bloody scene and I will not go through the gore, but it leads to the Hebrew people’s victory and set David on a path to become Israel’s greatest king.
One of the things that struck me about this story after I reread it is that the simplest solution was the best, and yet it seems human nature is to make things a great deal more complicated. We think it genuinely cannot be that easy. The example of David is truly an example of the childlike faith and trust in God which Jesus would talk about in the New Testament.
Jesus too points us to simple solutions even If we do not want to hear them. Christ tells us to love God and to love others as we love ourselves, and we want to make that a whole lot more difficult than simply loving one another. Jesus tells us to forgive and to offer grace as he forgives and offers grace, but we want to make it a lot more complicated and add terms and conditions.
We hear of simple answers to help with the Goliath called Covid-19 that is in front of us—washing hands, social distancing, using hand sanitizer, and wearing a mask—and we want to turn them into something complicated. But doing these things keeps us safe, but also (and I think more importantly in the eyes of God) keeps others safe. It is an example of loving others the way Jesus loves us.
So when I head out the door when I have to do so (and I'm really not a fan of heading out the door unless I have to do so) I will put on my mask and think of it as my own slingshot. And when I social distance and no longer give the hugs and handshakes and high fives when my students return to school in the next few weeks, and when I see faculty members that I haven't seen now in months I will remember that doing so is an act of love which is the simple solution Jesus gave us all.
Another solution that has been given is prayer. May we continue to pray for one another, for the stranger, for the lonely, for those battling this disease on the frontline, for all those who live in fear and trepidation, in fact may we pray for the entire world. And may we pray for a time when we can put away our slingshots and once again embrace one another.
But until that time I pray we will follow the mnemonic a number of folks have told me to use throughout my life. Maybe David even said it to King Saul and it just did not make the text. And that is K.I.S.S.
Or Keep It Simple Silly (or stupid –that’s how one of my mentors, Les Conley, said it to me.)
Either way – Keep it simple and LOVE all always and in all ways.