Wednesday, January 17, 2018

How (not) to be destroyed

The Lectionary for Holy Communion today brings together 1 Samuel 17:32-33, 37, 40-51 and Mark 3:1-6.

The reading from 1 Samuel is the story of David and Goliath, arguably one of the most well-known stories in the Bible. As Malcolm Gladwell points out, Goliath may well have suffered from acromegaly, where a benign tumour of the pituitary gland causes an overproduction of growth hormone*; and compresses the nerves to the eyes, resulting in restriction sight and double vision**. David would not have known about acromegaly, of course; but he knew that he could not compete with Goliath on Goliath’s terms. And he knew that he didn’t have to.

David had at his disposal the well-honed ballistic skills of a sling-shot. And ballistics beats spears and swords every time.

The funny [ironic, tragic] thing is that king Saul came from a tribe that was famous among the tribes of Israel for their skill with a sling-shot. But Saul, along with his whole army, had been persuaded to see themselves as a lesser version of Goliath***.

Only David refused to be a tribute act to someone else****.

At the end of the Gospel reading we hear that the Pharisees and Herodians conspired against Jesus, ‘how to destroy him’.

The best, the most effective, way to destroy someone is to convince them to not be true to themselves, to persuade them to settle for being someone else.

When this fails, as it did with Jesus, you are forced to resort to murder; but that is far riskier, in the sense that it is nowhere near as effective.

Be the person God made you to be—and gave you to be. That is the one thing no-one else can do.

*He was a giant, and a fearsome specialist close-combat warrior.

**Is his shield-bearer in fact his guide? And why does he think David is carrying sticks, when in fact David—who becomes a moving remote target—is carrying a stick and a sling?

***The comparison game is helped by the fact that Saul was also tall, head-and-shoulders taller than many of his men, though not as tall as Goliath…

****Twice: first, refusing to take on Saul’s armour.

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