Today I preached for my husband who is leading a Middle School workshop on Spiritual Photography at Montreat’s Worship & Music Week in North Carolina. I did a monologue instead of a typical sermon and one of the members of his congregation asked me to “publish” it. She’s a regular reader of my blog, so while it’s a bit unusual for one of my posts, I’m going to post it here! Enjoy the change of pace and I hope you find something for your spirit in this old story!
I read from Eugene Petersen’s The Message from 1 Samuel: 17. Here’s the story, if you need a refresher or just want to catch things you might have missed as a child. (Or maybe the story is completely new to you – that’s an even bigger treat!)
And here is my monologue, imagining what one of David’s brothers might have thought. I never do monologues from a manuscript, but I said something like the story below this morning:
So Davy, David, always was better with a sling than any of the rest of us.
Long before he was old enough to be in the fields with us, he was running around camp annoying our mother and the servants by knocking over their water jars. The little twerp fetched a lot of water to make up for it.
It always made Eliab jealous, especially once David was old enough to join us in the fields. I could have been jealous too, I suppose, but being one of eight sons – not the oldest, not the youngest, there wasn’t a lot of pressure on me, so instead I just enjoyed Eliab’s discomfort. And I suppose I enjoyed the knowledge that our flock was pretty safe from lions and wolves too.
Here’s the thing – David trusted God. Maybe more than any of the rest of us. I guess that’s why God chose him to kill the giant.
I was there too. I heard the insults day after day. Now before you judge us too harshly, recognize that Goliath was big – really big. And none of us came close. Even Saul – who was a tall man himself, even taller in his fancy armor, seemed small compared to that giant.
We didn’t like the insults, but we knew they were a part of war. We had people whose main job was to think up insults to throw back and forth to rouse up our guys for battle. As you might imagine, they didn’t have a lot to say once we saw Goliath. I’m not sure any of us trusted God to bring us through that – not even our king.
But I think I know why – no really, it was more than just being cowards. It never really was about trusting God for most of us. We trusted our armor. We trusted our swords. We trusted the strength of our own arm and not the arm of God.
There are a lot of people out there who believe we have to spend our time defending God from those who would insult him. Kill those people who say our God is weak; imprison those people who say our God isn’t all that; spend all your time battling with people who won’t believe our God even exists – yeah, that’s a great way to convince them otherwise – works every time, right?
They get their motivation from Davy’s story, I think. See, see – see how we defended God? We defend God by keeping people out at the borders. See how strong we are? Our God must be strong. We defend God by making moral rules and keeping our and everyone else’s noses clean. See how righteous and law abiding we are? Our God must be holy. We take it all into our control, decide who’s in and who’s out, who wins and who loses, and we claim we’re doing it all for God.
I think we’ve missed the point! I mean, don’t you think that’s just as insulting? Isn’t it like saying: My God is so weak, he needs little old me to defend him. Davy’s God – my God – doesn’t need our defense. Sure, God was probably mad about the Philistine insults – but I’ll bet he’s heard better/worse. Maybe God keeps a book of them for laughs.
But God doesn’t need our defense – we need God’s defense. We do not defend God, we come alongside God to do God’s work in the world. With God we are called to work for justice, to end oppression, to make the world a better place. We do not save God; God saves us.
Back to trust. We didn’t believe that God would save us – maybe we didn’t deserve for God to save us, but for whatever reason, we didn’t trust God. That’s the insult!
But Davy – David – didn’t buy into that. He always trusted God. Saul tried to make him believe in armor and swords, but that’s not who David was. David believed in God, who had always guided his sling before – and will always defend him.
You know what I hope? I hope when they retell this story through the ages they’ll make sure everyone knows that Davy used his sling – not a sword like the rest of us. He didn’t even have a sword – he had to use Goliath’s sword to cut off his head.
Davy didn’t need a sword to defend God. Trust me, God can handle his own defenses. And Davy didn’t need a sword to defend himself – David needed God. We all do. Rather than rely on our own strength and wisdom, we need to trust in God’s version of the world and come alongside to help make it happen. Davy trusted God. Do you?