Sunday, November 07, 2004

David and the Big Boys

I Samuel 16,17

I love the way God engineers David’s career path. He starts out as an unknown to all but God, is anointed by Samuel, after which the Bible says, "...and from that day on the Spirit of the Lord came upon David in power." Then watch things fall into place:

1. Saul’s torment leads him to search for someone to play the harp for him.

2. A servant has heard of David, recommends him and he comes to the palace. (Curious thing it says Saul contacted Jesse, David’s father to get permission for David to come. Yet later, after the Goliath incident, Saul doesn’t know who Jesse is. Isn’t this often the way - bit players enter our lives and re-enter, and we don’t pay much attention – until their presence there is underlined by God in an apparent coincidence. God’s way of saying, "Pay attention to this person, or event or chain of events.")

3. David plays for Saul, Saul finds relief from the spirit, so David becomes a sometimes-fixture at the palace.

4. David, at home again is sent by his father to check on his brothers at war. Goliath comes out to challenge the Israelites. David’s can-do attitude plus his faith in God propel him forward to volunteer to challenge Goliath. David’s attitude is instructive: "Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living God?" Of course, the David and Goliath story unfolds from there.

I find the attitude of David contrasted with that of his older brothers particularly interesting.

1. David looked to God rather than at the enemy. He compared the size of the enemy with the size of the God he knew - and there was no comparison. He saw only the fact God’s reputation was at stake - and he wouldn’t have it!

2. His brother’s reaction, besides looking like simple sibling rivalry, is in many ways a typical response (without God - and carnal). I picture him in some ways like the older brother of the prodigal son story - jealous because as the faithful plodder, he deserves more than to be eclipsed by this young show-off, who will probably do something stupid to embarrass him in front of his mates.

Some things I can learn from this story:

Career path: the one engineered by God may by turns seem arbitrary, full of apparent coincidences, winding and directionless, with some potholes, false hopes, assumptions this is going to the someplace it never does. It defies all the conventional wisdom which says, ‘have a goal, know where you’re going and plot your course to it.’ I’ve heard it referred to, in some places, as allowing God’s story to be played out in one’s life. For a Type A, driven person, that’s a hard thing to do – take the hands off the steering wheel and not fret when the trip seems to stall.

Goliath-type intimidation: there’s a lot of that toward Christians these days. We’d probably be a lot less distressed by it if we had David’s mind-set, always remembering the greatness of the God we serve, habitually responding to the God-possibilities in a situation.

Reaction to those God exalts: to me the older brother attitude comes naturally. But what a pharisaical, faith-stomping attitude it is. Deliver me from it!

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