“On David’s return from killing the Philistine, Abner took him and brought him before Saul, with the head of the Philistine in his hand. Saul said to him, “Whose son are you, young man?” And David answered, “I am the son of your servant Jesse the Bethlehemite.” (I Samuel 17:57-58)
We know the story of David and his victory over the the Philistine, Goliath. It is the story of righteousness defeating overwhelming odds. A thrilling and inspiring story, the fulfillment of the prophet Samuel choosing young David out of his bigger and older brothers. But it is also the beginning of David’s journey to being King David. The beginning of King Saul’s downfall. It is the beginning, also, of the Hebrew people’s fall from God’s grace. It is a beginning of many things.
“When David had finished speaking to Saul, the soul of Jonathan was bound to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul. Saul took him that day and would not let him return to his father’s house. Then Jonathan made a covenant with David, because he loved him as his own soul. Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that he was wearing, and gave it to David, and his armor, and even his sword and his bow and his belt. David went out and was successful wherever Saul sent him; as a result, Saul set him over the army. And all the people, even the servants of Saul, approved.” (I Samuel 181-:5)
You might get the impression that Jonathan was not the type of warrior that David was. It seems unusual that David would be out on the battlefield, winning victories, when you might expect the son of the king doing that sort of thing. It did not seem to bother Jonathon. David loved Jonathon as much as Jonathon loved David. The bible makes it very clear that it was not the type of love a man has for a woman, but what we would call in our day and age, bro-mance. Unfortunately, Jonathon’s father, King Saul, did not have the same kind of warm-fuzzy feeling – at least not consistently.
“The next day an evil spirit from God rushed upon Saul, and he raved within his house, while David was playing the lyre, as he did day by day. Saul had his spear in his hand; and Saul threw the spear, for he thought, “I will pin David to the wall.” But David eluded him twice.
Saul was afraid of David, because the Lord was with him but had departed from Saul. So Saul removed him from his presence, and made him a commander of a thousand; and David marched out and came in, leading the army. David had success in all his undertakings; for the Lord was with him. When Saul saw that he had great success, he stood in awe of him. But all Israel and Judah loved David; for it was he who marched out and came in leading them.” (Verses 10-16)
Those that are favored by the Lord rarely have an easy time of it; or at least it can appear that way. Now, being “favored by the Lord” can has several meanings or interpretations. “Favor” can truly mean life is good and easy. Or it can mean the Lord calls on one for many tasks and missions that need to be accomplished in the Lord’s name. Perhaps David could be seen as both; tough times throughout is rule but living as a actual and literal king with all the wealth and privilege that comes along with it.
That experience might be what lead the psalmist, who might have been King David, to pen Psalm 133.
“How very good and pleasant it is when kindred live together in unity!
It is like the precious oil on the head, running down upon the beard, on the beard of Aaron, running down over the collar of his robes.
It is like the dew of Hermon, which falls on the mountains of Zion.
For there the Lord ordained his blessing, life forevermore.” (Psalm 133)
When read in conjunction with the story of young David being introduced to Saul’s court, there is both irony and illumination. Saul grew to hate David, wishing him dead. Jonathon grew to love David more, defying his father to save David’s life.
The other set of scripture that the RCL has for this day is I Samuel 17: (1a, 4-11, 19-23) 32 – 49 and Psalm 9:9-20. That section, verses 32-49, is the story of young David killing Goliath, and what lead up to that confrontation on the battle field. There, before David became a thorn in his side, King Saul cared about him and was loath to let him fight. The Psalm accompaniment has both praise and petition to the Lord – praising God for being our champion and petition that God might save and preserve us.
When we are called by God we often do not know what will happen or what we will encounter. To step out in faith sometimes takes a great deal of faith and courage. We do not know if we will find friends or enemies along the way. What we can know and depend on is that God will journey with us. May you, beloved reader, be brave at your beginnings and may you find friends, companionship and the blessing of God along the way. Selah!