Tuesday, August 22, 2017
When I was walking through an art museum at Washington DC, I happened to see a statue of David from the Bible story. The Bible tells of how at his youth he was a shepherded. And in this statue, David is holding a shepherd’s staff alongside a lamb. I thought, how precious. Then in the next room, I saw another statue of David. This time David had his foot on the head of Goliath. With this one, I thought, how brutal. Then I walked on to another room.
After a little while I began to wonder, if a person was given the option to display one of the statues in their own home, which one would they choose?
I wondered, as each artist made the statue, what were their thoughts? Were they simply retelling the story of David or was there something about the story of David that captivated them. Was it sorrow, fear, joy, happiness, peace, pride, or all of the above?
As the Scriptures of the Christians tell the stories of how God has intervened in the lives of people since the beginning of time, people today read the Scriptures and often pick their favorite stories or verses. Each story gives some depth as to God’s heart and how God handles his creatures.
Knowing this, again why did the artists make their statue of David? What was it about the story of David that captivated their hearts? And which one would you put into your house?
Let’s look at the statue of David with the sheep. You get the impression that David cares for his sheep. David seems up close and personal with his sheep. He is protecting his sheep from wolves and other enemies of the sheep. This sounds like an easy God to worship no?
Psalm 23 also comes into minds where, like the shepherd David, God is the shepherd of us. God provides for his people. They need to not fear. He is a protector of his people, and he leads them to living a lifestyle that is up right and pleasing.
But what about the other statue of David. This statue shows young David standing proud as he has slain the head of a giant Goliath. It shows the ending of the battle with the giant. The story begins with the giant and his Philistine army threating to destroy David and the Israelite people. David, the young Israelite boy stood in front of the face of the Giant even though the rest of the Israelites, even the adults, were too scared to fight him. He had great hope in that God would help him. David stood up to the Giant and killed the giant with the sling of a single stone. Then David had slayed him and the blood of a giant was spilled. The giant fell face to the ground. Then David took his sword to the neck of the giant to cut off his head to ensure that he was dead. This victorious David with the help of God has destroyed the threating enemy. The statue expresses this victory with his foot on the face of his enemy. David knew that with the help of God anything was possible.
But is this the God Christians enjoy worshiping? Is this the God they wish to share with their friends? Does the invitation, “Come to Sunday worship with me to worship the God that kills?” I’ve never heard anyone use that as an evangelism tagline. Really, many times it is as if violence is just something for the theater. For the American, violence is rather absent in their everyday life.
What if I described the statue of David and Goliath with the same verbs that I used for the statue of David and the sheep? David is the protector his people, the Israelites, from the enemy Goliath. He is making sure that his own people are cared for and that they won’t be killed by the enemy. It shows He knows that with the help of God, he can protect his people. David is close the head of Goliath meaning that his relationship with God is personal as he has great faith in God. He knows his God is not distant. He knows that the ways of God are upright and pleasing for living a long life.
I suppose the outreach tagline “worship the God that kills” is still not super attractive. But it is comforting to hear that God is with his people and the comforter even when it seems like the odds are against them.
What about Jesus Christ. On Good Friday the roles seemed reversed. The enemy had spilled the blood of God’s own Son. On that Friday, it seemed as if the enemy had won as it was Jesus who had his blood spilled. But three days later Jesus had surprised everyone as he rose from the grave. Jesus had defeated death and the enemy.
Life is messy. No matter how much we try to hide it, life is messy. Maybe that’s why I would have a hard time seeing the statue of David and Goliath in a home. Blood spilled is messy.
But yet why do we spend much time cleaning our home and ourselves if life wasn’t messy? There’s the bleach for the kitchen countertops. There’s the soap for our bodies.
Even my pastoral training is messy. Believe it or not, I’m not perfect. My pastoral training forms me by training the things I don’t know and getting rid of the things that are incorrect. And even after all this training, I’ll still be lacking in something when I get sent to be a pastor.
But before I get too off track, I want to bring this article home by saying that even today’s enemies can become friends of God. All that they need to do is acknowledge who Jesus is. Jesus is the Son of God who paid for all that we have done wrong, our sins, for us on the cross, so that you and I can become friends of God and we can become his children. In Matthew 10:32 Jesus says, “So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven.” This is the ultimate good news that is connected with both statues of David.
Let us worship the God who has victory and the one who cares and protects his people even through the death of Jesus Christ. Amen.