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1 Samuel 17:31-40, David Prepares for Battle

Wednesday, October 25

Dehumanization to Re-humanization

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

David was not intimidated by Goliath. Not only did he know God was with him, but he had fought more formidable foes than him. David had fought lions and bears -- this was just a man. I wonder, though, if in the moment of truth, the reality of killing a human being ever struck him. Killing a person is not the same as killing an animal.

Psychology suggests that human beings are hard-wired not to kill, rape, or maim other human beings. But we know it happens. So, how does it happen? It only happens because human beings also have the capacity to dehumanize others. Predators only see victims. Soldiers only see enemies. People are not people -- they are something other.

My guru, Brene Brown, spoke in a recent speech about "Black Lives Matter." She suggested that, while she appreciated the tone behind "All Lives Matter," in fact "Black Lives Matter" is a necessary tool in the effort of re-humanization. An oppressed community can only become a free and equal community when they are re-humanized -- when they are seen as real people with families who love them, jobs that stress them out, kids who need their love and nurture, neighbors who have worked as hard (or harder) for what they have as anyone else.

I suspect David saw Goliath only as "enemy." But we have a choice. We can choose to see others as less-than, enemy, lazy, mentally ill, addicted, worthless. Or we can see others as God's, lovable, vulnerable, imperfect, resilient, human beings.

Narrative Lectionary Text: 1 Samuel 17:31-40

When the words that David spoke were heard, they repeated them before Saul; and he sent for him. David said to Saul, “Let no one’s heart fail because of him; your servant will go and fight with this Philistine.” Saul said to David, “You are not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him; for you are just a boy, and he has been a warrior from his youth.” But David said to Saul, “Your servant used to keep sheep for his father; and whenever a lion or a bear came, and took a lamb from the flock, I went after it and struck it down, rescuing the lamb from its mouth; and if it turned against me, I would catch it by the jaw, strike it down, and kill it. Your servant has killed both lions and bears; and this uncircumcised Philistine shall be like one of them, since he has defied the armies of the living God.” David said, “The Lord, who saved me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, will save me from the hand of this Philistine.” So Saul said to David, “Go, and may the Lord be with you!” Saul clothed David with his armor; he put a bronze helmet on his head and clothed him with a coat of mail. David strapped Saul’s sword over the armor, and he tried in vain to walk, for he was not used to them. Then David said to Saul, “I cannot walk with these; for I am not used to them.” So David removed them.

Then he took his staff in his hand, and chose five smooth stones from the wadi, and put them in his shepherd’s bag, in the pouch; his sling was in his hand, and he drew near to the Philistine.