Subscribe in a reader
Back to All Events

1 Samuel 17:1-11, Goliath

Monday, October 23

Peace or Utter Destruction

Narrative Lectionary Daily Devotions written by Kace Leetch from Clergy Stuff.

Remember the episode of Star Trek, "A Taste of Armageddon?" In it, a planet weary of the destruction of war waged a war with computers instead. Every time one side or the other "virtually" destroyed an enemy's community, the losing side would gather up the virtual victims and actually kill them. There was plenty of bloodshed, but there was no blood, no destruction of property or planet. The ease of warfare actually made the warfare last much longer and take far more lives. 

The Philistines had a similar idea to minimize bloodshed. Instead of fighting man to man, they would put up their best man against Israel's best man in a winner-takes-all battle to the death. Of course, the Philistines had a ringer -- Goliath, who was humongous and seasoned in battle. I wonder if they would have made such a wager if they knew they were up against God. Israel had no such hero. The idea of going up against Goliath sent waves of terror throughout the Israelite camp. For now, they were clueless as to how they could prevail against such a powerful foe.

War is not mess-less. It is always ugly and bloody. Whether fought by computer or waged in a one-on-one battle, war always ends with death. Sure, we can minimize the bloodshed a bit with our cleverness and our technology. But war is still war. People are hurt. People lose everything. People die.

My favorite part of the Star Trek episode is this scene, in which Captain Kirk destroys their computers, sending them on a path toward real war with real weapons and real destruction. But he gives them an ultimatum: "Peace or utter destruction. It's up to you."

Narrative Lectionary Text: 1 Samuel 17:1-11

Now the Philistines gathered their armies for battle; they were gathered at Socoh, which belongs to Judah, and encamped between Socoh and Azekah, in Ephes-dammim. Saul and the Israelites gathered and encamped in the valley of Elah, and formed ranks against the Philistines. The Philistines stood on the mountain on the one side, and Israel stood on the mountain on the other side, with a valley between them. And there came out from the camp of the Philistines a champion named Goliath, of Gath, whose height was six cubits and a span. He had a helmet of bronze on his head, and he was 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 spear was like a weaver’s beam, and his spear’s head weighed six hundred shekels of iron; and his shield-bearer went before him. He stood and shouted to the ranks of Israel, “Why have you come out to draw up for battle? Am I not a Philistine, and are you not servants of Saul? Choose a man for yourselves, and let him come down to me. If he is able to fight with me and kill me, then we will be your servants; but if I prevail against him and kill him, then you shall be our servants and serve us.” And the Philistine said, “Today I defy the ranks of Israel! Give me a man, that we may fight together.” When Saul and all Israel heard these words of the Philistine, they were dismayed and greatly afraid.