David took his staff in his hand and chose for himself five smooth stones out of the brook and put them in the pouch of his shepherd’s bag which he had. His sling was in his hand; and he came near to Goliath, the Philistine. The Philistine walked and came near to David; and the man who bore the shield went before him. When the Philistine looked around and saw David he disdained him; for he was but a youth. The Philistine said to David, “Am I a dog, that you come to me with sticks?” The Philistine cursed David by his gods. The Philistine said to David, “Come to me, and I will give your flesh to the birds of the sky, and to the animals of the field.”
Then David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with a sword, with a spear, and with a javelin; but I come to you in the name of Yahweh of Armies, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. Today, Yahweh will deliver you into my hand. I will strike you, and kill you. I will give the dead bodies of the army of the Philistines today to the birds of the sky, and to the wild animals of the earth; that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel, and that all this assembly may know that Yahweh doesn’t save with sword and spear; for the battle is Yahweh’s, and he will give you into our hand.”
When the Philistine arose, and walked and came near to meet David, David hurried, and ran toward the army to meet the Philistine.
1 Samuel 17:40-48
David represents God’s beloved; outmatched, outgunned and with virtually no chance of success against the troubles he faces.
Nonetheless, David delivers his inspiring, confident war cry and then runs headlong against his enemy.
God will not necessarily deliver us from the cause of our suffering (“Yahweh doesn’t save with sword and spear”). But in the end, the day will be His and the day will be ours. In the story of Noah and the Ark, the Flood did not represent the judgment of God, it represented Chaos. God did not make Creation from nothing, but rather drew it out of Chaos - dividing light from dark, night from day, earth from water, and finally humanity from earth. Chaos will return in each of our lives, but God tells us it does not have to sink us. He will invite us to float over it until it recedes and dutifully close the door of the Ark behind us.
This Good Friday, we might feel outmatched and outgunned by COVID-19. Our lives feel chaotic, with no real sense of what the future holds for us.
Knowing that we are the beloved of God means that we never suffer alone and we don’t have to let suffering demean us. We can run headlong into it.
Image: David & Goliath, Caravaggio (1600)