King David is introduced to us in the sixteenth and seventeenth chapters of I Samuel. Actually, he is introduced three times. First, there is the story of Samuel anointing David to be the next King because the current monarch has lost his way. Then we get reintroduced to David because that monarch has migraines and fits of rage. His troubled staff urges him to get help and help arrives in the form of David playing his harp. Neither the staff nor King Saul seem to be aware that David is being positioned by Samuel to take over their jobs. David’s just a nice kid. He doesn’t seem to have any ambitions for the throne. No one fears David.
The editor of I Samuel seems to forget that he has already introduced the boy, twice. He or she launches the seventeenth chapter with another story of how nice this David boy is. He is seen bringing lunch to his older brothers who are encamped with Saul’s army. They are doing a lot of nothing. The Philistines have put forth a challenger named Goliath. David shows up with the pastrami sandwiches and asks if he might be allowed to kill the giant. Saul, not remembering that he has already been introduced to David twice before, says if you slay the giant you get to marry my daughter. The fact that David will one day take over the throne from Saul is over-determined. David is the anointed king, the gifted peacemaker, and the conquering hero.
But I think the three stories exist to show us three different roles that leaders and today’s disciples of Jesus should embody as they do the work of the church.
1)Each of us have been anointed by God. The Holy Spirit sets us aside to do holy work. It is a mystery. This past week my denomination had an ordination service for those men and women who were consecrated to serve in pastoral ministry and as deacons. Each person present, as well as those joining on Zoom, were invited to remember how the Holy Spirit was gifting them for service. Sometimes all we need to do is show up and allow ourselves to be channels for the Holy Spirit.
2)Each of us must learn to be effective as peacemakers. We have a sacred task to heal the external conflicts and the psychological trauma of our world. Sometimes God gives us a talent or a tool to accomplish this task. David played the harp. He practiced the instrument endlessly. He also sought creative ways to bring comfort and healing to others. We must also be intentional in the use of our spiritual gifts.
3)When we face difficulties, we need to double down on our commitment to do our duty. The giants we face may be insurmountable. David tells Saul that when he goes out to keep the sheep by night, he prepares himself to do his duty, for he doesn’t know if he will face a lion or a bear. He has decided beforehand to be courageous. This nightly routine allows him to have faith and to scale the giant down to something he can handle.
In our daily practice as Christians, we must dare to be a David