The Hero and The Helpless.

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.


Who Is Your King?

“I remember the sheep crying out that day… Samuel seemed pretty angry. No, I’m not the king; I am just a soldier in the army. But that day, Samuel was infuriated with King Saul. It was as though Saul had done an atrocious act. All he did was take some sheep and oxen. And not only so, but he did it because we, the soldiers, told him to. But Saul always seemed to do that. He always did what we wanted him to, even when it wasn’t the best thing for us. That day, it seemed that he really got himself into a pickle.

There was another moment I remember when we were fighting the Philistines. They had a giant warrior on their side, taller than any man I’ve seen before. This man, Goliath, roared against the people of Israel and against our God… But Saul did nothing. Wouldn’t the king come and stand up for his people and his Lord? Saul himself was a head taller than any other man in Israel – it only made sense. But Saul, again, was cowering with us, the rest of his men.

Then I remember a kid, no older than a young teenager, strut with a righteous anger towards the king. His brother and others were hurling insults behind him, but I could tell it didn’t faze him. This boy went up to King Saul and said he would fight the Philistine giant! I remember standing from afar as David tried on the king’s own armor. But the weight and size was too much for him.

As David walked out onto the battlefield to stand against Goliath the silence seemed to permeate across the field. All the men stayed hidden behind the rocks, in expectancy to flee if things went awry. But with the swing of an arm the giant went tumbling, and moments later his severed head was held up high in the air. At that moment, every Israelite knew that the battle was won for them. I remember running out knowing that the people had gotten something they didn’t deserve: a victory.

I remember deciding that day that though this boy wasn’t the king that the people deserved, he was the one that would be given to them… King David”

“I remember the people crying out that day… Pilate seemed okay with what was happening. ‘Crucify him! Crucify him!’ echoed eerily in the crowds cries. I was shouting along. No, I’m no one important; I am just a Roman centurion. But that day, the Pharisees and the people seemed to be infuriated with this man called ‘Jesus’ – who they said was the self-acclaimed ‘King of the Jews.’ Jesus hadn’t really done an atrocious act, but the people pleaded regardless. I have to admit, I myself found it a bit humorous.

As I stood outside the city that day, watching this man hanging from a tree, my heart suddenly stopped. I remember him crying out amidst the screams, ‘It is finished.’ At that point the earth shook, and the clouds stirred up in the sky unlike anything I have ever seen before or since. And as this ‘King of the Jews’ took his final breath, I remember being filled with awe at what had taken place. Truly this man was the Son of God.

I don’t deserve the forgiveness of this man who I now call Christ. But I know that this is what grace is all about; my sins deserved death, but my Savior gave me life. He won the victory over sin and death, and all I had to do was receive it.

I decided that day that though this Man on a cross wasn’t the King that the world deserved, He was the King that was given to them… and to me… Jesus Christ.”