Sunday, June 01, 2008

David, Saul, Goliath and God

I'm taking the day off exams today, and I've finished exams on the Bible, so here are some thoughts I had this morning.

Saul was chosen as king of Israel because he was the sort of king they wanted.

They ran and brought him out, and as he stood among the people he was a head taller than any of the others.Samuel said to all the people, "Do you see the man the LORD has chosen? There is no one like him among all the people."
Then the people shouted, "Long live the king!"

1 Samuel 10:23-24, NIV

His quality as king was marked out by his tallness. Of course, we also know he's an incompetent donkey-herd (1 Samuel 9:4), a coward (he doesn't attack the Philistine outpost in Gibeah like he's meant to), not devout (he needs his servant to tell him that Samuel even exists, 1 Samuel 9:6) and a proud man who would even sacrifice his heroic son for his own pride (1 Samuel 14). Saul wasn't at the gathering to choose a king because he was hiding in the luggage.

So it it hardly a surprise that when Israel under Saul comes up against Goliath in 1 Samuel 17, that he doesn't know what to do. His best attribute was his height - he was a head taller than anyone else in Israel. But Goliath was 9 feet tall.

David, by contrast, was everything that Saul was not. He was a good shepherd, brave, devout, only a boy and quite willing to admit it, but with an unshakeable confidence in God. We wasn't at the gathering to choose him king because he'd been overlooked and was keeping an eye on the sheep. And he's the one God uses to kill Goliath.

So why do we care about the kind of image that our leaders have? Saul was the one expert on image. Man looks on outward appearance, but God looks on the heart, and that's what matters.

Why does ministerial training teach us presentation skills, but not personal prayer life and spiritual disciplines? Why do we learn to talk about God, but not to love him with all our heart, soul, mind and strength?

[ETA - That's not just a Wycliffe-specific comment. I know people at lots of the theological colleges, evangelical, catholic, whatever, and one quite a few of the courses. And none of them seem to prioritise helping their people be men and women after God's own heart...]

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