Thursday, July 14, 2005

David & Goliath

Thanks to those of you who asked about last night's class...and about my overall state of mind. I'm feeling a little better. What I really need to do is turn my phone off, put on Mozart or Dexter Gordon or something soothing and read a book. That's what re-charges me. I've been dumping so much content out of my brain that sometimes I forget to refill it.

Last night's class went pretty well. If anyone's interested in CDs of this David series I'm doing (or from the Moses series I did in the Winter/Spring) drop me an email or leave a note in the comments.

I'd like to walk through some of the stuff I talked about in last night's class -- just to make sure I really believe everything I said. Most of you -- Christian, Jewish or other -- are probably familiar with the story of David & Goliath. If not, it's found in 1 Samuel 17. It's probably one of the best-known stories in the Bible.

The Philistine armies had been waging a war with the Israelites -- trying to cut the nation in half. But the Israelites, under the leadership of King Saul and his son Jonathan, had beaten the Philistines back to the border of the two nations. Now, the Philistines were camped on one ridge, the Israelites were camped on another ridge, and there was a valley in between them. Neither side wanted to make the next move. They were at an impasse.

So, out of the camp of the Philistines stepped this giant named Goliath. The Bible says he was nine feet tall and his armor weighed between 125-175 pounds. He was huge, and he calls out to the Israelites: "There's no need to involve everyone here. Why don't you just send out your biggest, baddest dude, and let's settle this one-on-one?"

All the Israelites look at Saul. He's the tallest. He's the King. He's the commander-in-chief, their fearless leader. Except he says, "Yeah, I don't see that happening so much."

He puts together a lucrative compensation package designed to lure some poor sap into doing this for him. He promises an enormous sum of money, tax-exempt status for life, and he throws in the hand of his daughter for good measure. Saul was not nominated for "Father of the Year" that year.

Here's the problem: no one goes for it. No one steps up. And this goes on for 40 days. It's the original 40 Days campaign: 40 Days of Fear, Intimidation and Self-Loathing. Not even Rick Warren could sell that one (although most churches I know are in the midst of it right now).

Meanwhile, 10-15 miles away, David is tending sheep for his father. One day, his dad says, "Here, take this food to your three brothers who are serving in the army. And take their commander this gift. Bring back news from the battlefront." So, David gets someone to watch after the sheep and hurries to find out what's going on in the war with the Philistines.

Let me stop here and make this comment: I believe we all want to have a brave heart like David had against Goliath. I do not believe anyone wants to live this timid, cowering, fear-based life. I've written about this before (here, here and here). I think all of us want to be courageous and bold. But we live with this illusion that in our moment of crisis, when we come face-to-face with Goliath, we'll just magically be transformed into giant-killing machines. Our hearts will just become bold when we finally need them to.

The truth is -- if you wait until you're standing in across the field from Goliath, you're screwed. Courage has to be cultivated. It doesn't just happen. You'll never drift into being a courageous, bravehearted person. It happens as a result of time and intentionality.

So, for the next few days, that's what I'm going to talk about here. We're going to think about the circumstances that build boldness in our hearts. And this is important because I think what God wants is people who will walk with boldness and courage and bravery in what is pretty much a timid and cowardly world.