Our first image of the Philistines is that of an unsettled, wandering, irritable, and discontent people—like me for a long period of my life. What is likely to happen to us when we do not have any internal grounding? We nominate and elect a champion to go forth and represent us. Suddenly we are victims of injustice, and the champion comes forth on our behalf to attack and chide in a loud, grating voice everything and everyone, even our closest, those we love.
The image of Goliath—a big bully—resonates with us, striking an obscure vein flowing rich in truth and images of sticks and stones laid out in front of us as we recall a familiar childhood playground rant. This champion of the untethered Philistines is a picture of ourselves when we fail to mature as God’s chosen people, a characterization and example of who and what is the worst in us.
What in the world is wrong with the people of Israel? It seems like only yesterday God was guiding them through parted waters to the Promised Land. Do we have to establish some kind of concussion protocol for these folks? An army of them stands quaking in its boots while a big blowhard continues to shout obscenities. Don’t these folks know they are the people of God?
Well, no, they have forgotten. This revelation is our dilemma, you and I together. Daily we need to return to our grounding call in the Lord our God—not to forget. Furthermore, we serve as the guiding wire for those in our midst who have not yet found their own grounding point! Then we will find Christ, the best in us.
Guiding God, may we turn toward you daily so that we remember you have brought us through troubled waters before and will do so now and forevermore. 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. How do you stay grounded in the knowledge that you are part of the people of God? How does that knowledge sustain you in trying times?
• 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. When have you allowed your discipleship to become lax? Can you sense Paul’s urgency in his appeal: “Now is the acceptable time” (emphasis added)?
• Read Mark 4:35-41. How do you find the quiet center when the storms of life rage around you?
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