Saul has been dosing himself with music from David’s lyre. Lately that medicine has been Saul’s only relief from the troubling spirit which possesses him. Today Saul’s weightiest worry is the Philistines piling up like thunderclouds on the hilltop. At reveille the Philistines send out their most impressive weapon, Goliath, who strides down toward the battle line flaunting his might. “Today I defy the ranks of Israel! Give me a man, that we may fight together,” Goliath bellows. King Saul—and all Israel—are “dismayed and greatly afraid.”
It’s not an auspicious start to the day. Those of us who suffer from even occasional depression know that just getting out of bed for another day’s fray can be the hardest battle. Being roared at by a nine-foot warrior who is wearing 125 pounds of bronze armor and carrying a spear whose point weighs fifteen pounds would probably be enough to make any of us hide under the bed, not just in it. When my Philistines arrive—disguised as overdue bills, arguments, or painful memories—I want to turn the news off, turn the tunes up, shut the bedroom door, and hide my nose in the best fiction I own. That’s my armor, my army.
Of course, that never works with Philistines, historical or existential. Somebody has to claim the authority to kick those rascally giants out of our hearts or off our calendars, to show them where our soul’s buck stops if we are to claim our God-promised abundant lives. But to win that territory back from the Goliaths who defy us, we usually need to become less defended. David shows us: Armor’s not worth the trouble. It immobilizes us, weighs us down, disables us from moving deftly toward our fears and beyond them. Simplicity, clarity, focus, and a daring trust may be the smooth stones already in our pocket.
Train our vision, Lord, lest we miss the mark today. Amen.
As children of God, we will face opposition; but God will ultimately give us victory. The psalmist cries out to God asking for deliverance from oppression at the hands of his enemies and concludes the psalm with the assurance that God will do so. Tradition credits this psalm to David, who as a boy had risked his life against Goliath based on that same assurance. Goliath mocked the Israelites and their God, but God gave the victory. Paul recounts his sufferings for the gospel, yet he is not overcome or in despair, for he trusts in God. Jesus calms a storm and is disappointed that the disciples show so little faith. Why do they not believe in God’s deliverance? And what about us? Do we still believe in God’s deliverance?
Read 1 Samuel 17:1a, 4-11, 19-23, 32-49. What “armor” do you use to protect yourself? When have you found the courage to put aside your armor because it was holding you back?
Read Psalm 9:9-20. When have you been provoked to cry out, “Rise up, O Lord?” On whose behalf did you cry?
Read 2 Corinthians 6:1-13. How have you commended yourself as a servant of God?
Read Mark 4:35-41. How do you find the quiet center when the storms of life rage around you?
Respond by posting a prayer.
I join many of those who will pray for you as you seek to discern what you are called to be at this moment. May God grant you the courage to fulfill that calling. May we all open our eyes and see the misery, open our ears and hear the cries of God’s people, and, like God through the Lord Jesus Christ, be incarnate amongst them.”
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