Many times we read the bible with pre-filtered lenses. Some stories we hear so many times that the true meaning has been lost in a sea of application, and the story no longer has any appeal. These stories need to be heard with ears that are hearing them as though it is for the first time. And some times we have to put ourselves into the original audiences’ shoes. We have to think as they thought. We have to feel the pain and joy that the ancient people felt when first hearing the words in the Word of God for the first time.
So let’s take a moment to look at a popular story with new eyes. Maybe if we can see a story from the perspective that the people heard it, it would bring to light more of what the author and God intended. This story will be about a man who we will call “Nathan.”
Nathan was a soldier. And in a time of great conquest, he fought often. Israel’s army had taken on foe after foe, and they were continually reigning victorious. Nathan was just relieved he had survived for so long. Israel had just gotten its first king, and they had been victorious and successful with him. This also made Nathan happy. Saul had done a remarkable job at making Israel a nation not to reckon with.
Nathan’s perspective, however, changed after Israel’s fight against the Moabites. God directed Saul – through Israel’s last leader, Samuel – to kill every living thing associated with Moab. So, battle broke, the Israelites were victorious, and it was now time for Saul to kill the Moabites’ king and their precious animals. The soldiers however, with Nathan included, thought that it wouldn’t be a good idea to kill them. It wasn’t civil, and it wasn’t what other nations did.
When Samuel came, he was furious. And all Saul could say was that he did what the people wanted. He was truly a king of the people, and he was afraid of them. But Saul was so caught up in pleasing the people, that he didn’t do what was best for them. Ultimately, it was Saul’s insecurities that did him in.
From that moment on, neither Nathan nor God saw Saul fit to be the leader of the People of God.
Some time later, Israel was again at war, this time against a group called the Philistines. The Philistines didn’t want to fight like the Moabites did. So they made a suggestion. The Philistines and the Israelites would each bring out one fighter to act as a representative for the people. One fight between two men would make the decision of who would be victorious.
The Philistines choice was simple. Goliath was a giant. He towered over the people. His shield alone weighed more than most men’s entire armor. And because of his stature, the Israelites struggled to find someone to go against him. The people cowered in fear.
Nathan thought that Saul would step up to fight the battle against Goliath. Saul himself was a whole foot taller than any other Israelite. Why not have a Clash of the Giants? But Saul stayed in his tent. He would not come out. And again Nathan, this soldier, saw Saul behave not like their leader… but like the rest of the men. Goliath came out day after day, and like routine, all the people, including Saul, would hide in fear.
It wasn’t until a stubborn boy visited one of his brothers that the situation changed.
This boy’s name was David. David looked at Goliath, and he didn’t see a giant. David saw a man. And Goliath was a man with the ignorance and arrogance to blaspheme against God. David decided that he would be the representative for the people of Israel. He couldn’t let anyone say anything against his God! Nathan and the other soldiers didn’t think this was a good idea, but what else were they to do? No one else would stand up to Goliath. Nathan’s friend and David’s brother Eliab actually mocked David for coming in the first place. What difference was this boy going to make? He didn’t even go out to battle wearing armor.
There they stood: face-to-face. David and Goliath. Nathan, Saul, and the other soldiers stood with anticipation along the side of the battlefield. How would the fight end? Would Israel have to accept defeat against the Philistines? It was time for the battle to begin between these brutes. But, before the giant could even get a swing out of his sword or throw his spear, David rushed at him and sunk a stone deep into Goliath’s forehead with his slingshot. It wasn’t long before Goliath’s head was disassembled from its frame, and David was holding it high up in the air with victorious acclamation.
It was at this moment that Nathan knew two things:
He knew the battle was won. He and the rest of the Israelites stormed the Philistines because they knew the giant was defeated, and they knew that God was with them. When Goliath stood, the people hid in fear. But now that Goliath was defeated, there was nothing to be afraid of.
Nathan also knew now who the true representative of the people was. David was the true leader of the people. When the people were cowering, David held his ground. When the people feared, David stood up for them. He stood up for God. He was willing to be their representative. And Nathan would follow David into any battle, because he knew God would be with him.
David was the king the people didn’t deserve.
He didn’t cower with the rest of them.
He stood against the giant.
He acted as their representative.
Jesus is also a King we didn’t deserve. And unlike any earthly king, Jesus allows man the choice to serve him. When the monster of Sin-and-Death reared its ominous head towards humanities’ way, Jesus decided to be their representative. Jesus would fight the Giant of Death.
We are so pretentious to think that the story of David is our own. We aren’t the heroes in this story. We aren’t the ones who fight the giants. We are the helpless. We are the ones who hide in the shadows day-in and day-out, waiting for someone to come to our rescue. We are the ones who storm the enemy after the Giant is slain and the victory is won.
We are Nathan.