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1 Samuel 17:41-54, David Slays Goliath

Thursday, October 26

Good, Bad, Ugly

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

Remember the childhood story of our hero, David, who slew the mighty Goliath with a sling and stone? Yeah, this ain't that. The battle between David and Goliath was filled with insults, threats, and plenty of blood. David put Goliath on the ground with a sling and a stone. But I suspect it was cutting off his head that did the trick. People don't usually survive a beheading.

For some reason, many of us prefer to clean up the Bible. We want to make the victors into saints, and the enemies into sinners. We want our heroes to prevail in the cleanest way possible. We want our saints never to have sex. No murders, no rapes, no incest, no patricide. But this isn't a children's storybook. It's stories, yes, and they are real. There's ugly stuff. Heroes become murderers. Sinners become victims. It's messy and grimy and no one's perfect and no one's utterly devoid of any redeeming qualities.

Recently one of the teens that hangs out at our house caught some of us watching "The Hobbit." For the 17th time. He exclaimed, "How can you watch that?! None of those things could every possibly happen!" I replied, "That's the whole point!" I prefer fantasy to reality because it dives deep into the fullness of creative imagination. At the same time, I can't stand to watch crime shows. I don't want to dive deep into the depths of the human capacity for evil. I don't want to learn about the many creative ways people can imagine to kill, rape, or maim. But I can't hide my eyes when I'm reading the Bible. Because these ugly things really happened. On the one hand, it's appalling and terrifying. On the other hand, it helps me to see that all of God's people are just that -- people. With imaginations for creativity or evil. With great feats of heroism and terrible capacity for destruction. All at the same time. And knowing this makes me feel more -- human. It's permission to be who I am, the good, the bad, and the ugly. And to know that God loves me despite it all.

Narrative Lectionary Text: 1 Samuel 17:41-54

The Philistine came on and drew near to David, with his shield-bearer in front of him. When the Philistine looked and saw David, he disdained him, for he was only a youth, ruddy and handsome in appearance. The Philistine said to David, “Am I a dog, that you come to me with sticks?” And the Philistine cursed David by his gods. The Philistine said to David, “Come to me, and I will give your flesh to the birds of the air and to the wild animals of the field.” But David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with sword and spear and javelin; but I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This very day the Lord will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you down and cut off your head; and I will give the dead bodies of the Philistine army this very day to the birds of the air and to the wild animals of the earth, so that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel, and that all this assembly may know that the Lord does not save by sword and spear; for the battle is the Lord’s and he will give you into our hand.”

When the Philistine drew nearer to meet David, David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet the Philistine. David put his hand in his bag, took out a stone, slung it, and struck the Philistine on his forehead; the stone sank into his forehead, and he fell face down on the ground. So David prevailed over the Philistine with a sling and a stone, striking down the Philistine and killing him; there was no sword in David’s hand. Then David ran and stood over the Philistine; he grasped his sword, drew it out of its sheath, and killed him; then he cut off his head with it. When the Philistines saw that their champion was dead, they fled. The troops of Israel and Judah rose up with a shout and pursued the Philistines as far as Gath and the gates of Ekron, so that the wounded Philistines fell on the way from Shaaraim as far as Gath and Ekron. The Israelites came back from chasing the Philistines, and they plundered their camp. David took the head of the Philistine and brought it to Jerusalem; but he put his armor in his tent.