June 27, 2021
One of my favorite things about learning is when I come across something I only had a vague idea about, and I get the chance to really explore it deeply. Uncovering this mystery of the world that’s always been there, but was just outside of my view, is like opening my eyes to a completely new world. And there are quite a few of those things in the Bible, like this story we heard about David.
Last week, y’all remember, we talked about the best-known story about David. Just a boy with a sling, he faced down the Philistine Goliath and defeated him by being smart about how he fought. Then this week, we hear this story of David getting news of the deaths of Saul and Jonathan, and singing a song of lament—a song voicing his grief—and I imagine most of us feel at a loss about what all happened between those two events. Most of us don’t take a keen interest in reading through 1 Samuel. But so much of that book gives us a picture of who David was—and why he was the kind of king everyone down to Jesus’ disciples longed for again.
June 20, 2021
The story we heard from the first reading this morning is one that might be the best-known Biblical story in the whole Old Testament. We all know the story of the hulking, massive Goliath with his heavy armor, his huge weapons, and his even bigger boasts, facing off against the Israelites. And we know how he laughed in the face of this scrawny kid with a sling, all the odds stacked against him. Even the phrase “David and Goliath” has become a byword to describe the unlikely odds of the underdog coming out on top.
But I learned something interesting about this apparent mismatch of warriors recently. In just about every children’s book that includes the story of David and Goliath, David is shown holding a slingshot—I remember having a slingshot of my own growing up, and while I was always sternly warned not to shoot anyone with it, the worst that could happen was someone might get a pretty bad welt. However, what David had wasn’t a slingshot. It was a sling, a very specific and apparently very deadly weapon of the ancient world.
June 6, 2021
There was once a meeting a long time ago, around the beginning of our country, that was almost entirely unique in all of history. It took place in 1783 in New York, when the country still operated under the Articles of Confederation. Now, if you’ve forgotten your American History, the Articles of Confederation was our first constitution, and was almost purposely designed to hamstring a central government. It made it so there was still back pay to soldiers who served in the war because states could legally refuse to pay any taxes. There was a lot of instability, and to a certain group of army officers, it looked like something needed to be done before the whole country spiraled into chaos. Something like a military coup.
Well, George Washington heard of it and he went to the meeting to get the officers to back down. Washington, honestly, was probably the guy they would have picked to be the dictator to guide the country to stability, so he hoped his words would carry weight. He promised to do everything he could to steer congress toward safety and stability, but it was the very end of his speech to this group that changed everything. He pulled out a letter that he planned to read, and, realizing he couldn’t quite make out the words on the page, fumbled for his glasses. And then he apologized: “Gentlemen, you must pardon me. I have grown old in the service of my country and now find that I am growing blind.” The line was moving enough that the coup plot ended that night.