April 20, 2021

Saul and Goliath?

by Rev. Beverly Markham

1 Samuel 17:1-37
The story of David and Goliath is one of our favorite children’s Bible stories. It captures so much of what we want in a hero…David was young and inexperienced, but he was brave and strong, and he defeated the terrible Goliath. This story is one of the foundations of how hero stories are written!

But did you ever wonder about Saul? He was the leader of the Israelites who were encamped in the Valley Elah to form ranks against the Philistines. He was the leader who was “dismayed and afraid” when Goliath called out his name. Every day for 40 days, Goliath came and took his stand in the morning and in the evening, taunting the Israelites and their leader Saul. As the leader of this army, Saul really is the hero’s name we should call out when we remember this story. Let’s set aside the theological significance of 40 days and wonder, how long would it have taken Saul to finally take action and stand up to Goliath – 50 days? 70 days? 140 days? This story should’ve gone down in history as the story of Saul standing up to Goliath and defeating him and his Philistine army – not the story of David and Goliath. But for 40 days, Saul did nothing.

And so, the words David and Goliath are so familiar to us, they roll off the tongue. In the story, David’s three older brothers were all in Saul’s army and David was keeping sheep nearby. Most of the story tells us how young and inexperienced David is – he takes care of sheep, he carries food. When he shows up at the battlefront and makes his case to Saul to go and fight Goliath himself, Saul says, “Go, and may the Lord be with you!” To be a real leader, Saul should’ve taken on Goliath 40 days ago when the threats started.

Today we have a name for Saul’s (in)actions…he’s under-functioning. Sometimes we all under function. We don’t know how to start so we let things drag on or we’re afraid we won’t succeed so we do not move forward. Perhaps we’re afraid we will succeed and that terrifies us. We feel too dependent on others. We want too much to have a group who agrees with us. We feel like making decisions isn’t up to us…surely someone else will come along and take control.

When you have these feelings and you let things drag on for 40 days (or more), remember that God gave you abilities that we need. God gave you a voice and your voice is important. You have great ideas and you have good questions. It is your responsibility to share your ideas and to ask your questions. Don’t wait 40 days to let your light shine.
God of Saul and David, let my life flow with the purpose of the One who created and called me, who directs my course and turns me ever toward home. Let my way shimmer with the light of Christ who goes with me and bears me up and calls me by name. Teach me to move with the grace of the Spirit who brooded over the face of the waters at the beginning and who will gather me in at the end. Amen.
Alpharetta Presbyterian Church
180 Academy Street, Alpharetta, GA 30009
770-751-0033 www.alpharettapres.com