1 Samuel 17 | Israel is way at risk. God’s flock is cowering, wavering, shaky and afraid. The enemy giant has taken his champion stance at the battleline, and none will take his dare. Day after day, not a speck of courage in Israel’s sight. But the God of Israel is at work. He takes to the fields, finds the just-right one for the job. All this while, He’s been readying him. He stocks him full of the Spirit and arms him from the inside. Unarmed and plain ordinary, the shepherd boy braves the battleline. He’s sure this battle is the Lord’s. David heard Him say so! All the times he wrestled bears and took out lions to protect his sheep, it was God who gave the marching orders. This danger’s no different. God is for Israel—David’s got a million stories to prove it. So he hangs on tight to the God that’s able, and hears Him play-call: David, I’ve chosen you–yes, you! You’ve got what you need. Do you trust Me? Do what they won’t. This is our moment! Put your war paint on, look him right in the eye. I always win! Make me proud, make me famous. Take him down, for the sake and safety of the flock. David, do you trust Me? Trust Me. I’ve got this.
So David hurries up to the battleline, unbridled and a wide-eyed kind of ready. He beats the giant there. A quick-thinker, he uses all he’s got: some stones, a homemade slingshot and the audacity of one who’s heard the Lord say I’ve got this. Goliath’s taunts don’t even faze him. He tunes out the noise and the names and he wears God’s promises like holy armor that fits just right. In the face of what’s after his very life, David does not cower or shrivel or shrink back. He doesn’t shake or sway or rethink his mad dash of bravery. He takes one shot and hits him first-try in the forehead. Facedown, headfirst, the Philistine hero’s no match for the Lord’s army. The enemy army flees and Israel’s set free! They’ve seen it: there is a good God in Israel! So the whole flock celebrates and cheers loud. I can only imagine they threw David atop shoulders, parading him around the whole place. Victory, sweet freedom via the humble, nothing-special shepherd boy turned warrior king. This is a grand rescue!
As I study his story for what must be the millionth time, I want to be a David! I want to wear his courage, his defiance, his brave split-second reflexes. So I read and reread. I squint my eyes real tight and tilt the pages sideways and attempt to reshape him so maybe, just maybe, we look alike. I want His brave story for my own! I want the applause and the “well done” and the king crown awaiting me upon victory. I want to defy the odds and do what they swore I couldn’t. So I try with all my might to see myself in him, until I hear from the Truth-teller as it hits me heavy: I’m looking at the wrong guy. I’m the one He came to rescue.
I fit right in here, safe and sound a hundred yards from the batteline. I’m just like the rest of them. I look the part, all dressed up warrior-ready. I’m shielded and stocked up, holding sharp things and heavy things and things meant to take down giants just like the one way in front of me. But back here, back-row, I’m all talk. I rattle off excuses like he’s too big or I’m too small, like I’m tired or inadequate or not enough, like I’m not ready or I don’t know enough or maybe I wasn’t set up right. I try to convince God he’s better off sending someone else, someone a little braver or a little bigger. So I hide away, armor clanking as I shake and sway in too-big-for-me boots. I’m a sheep, a costumed soldier. I’m no David–there’s not an ounce of His defiance in me. I’m a Rescuer wannabe but instead, He leaves His post to come rescue me.
In walks the Rescuer, unarmed and plain ordinary. He doesn’t look much different than I. He comes in humility, in holy audacity. He doesn’t taunt or put down or aim to prove wrong or impress the expectant audience. He doesn’t need fancy armor, applause or aggression. Stripped down to raw humanity, he’s still no underdog. I start to trust Him, really trust Him. I remember all those times He’s taken out all my lions, my bears, my howling enemies with his bare hands. Then and now, it’s God who gives the marching orders. This danger is no different. He’s the Good Shepherd, the best one God’s got. And when He sees me cowering, wavering, shaky and afraid, He comes quick to take out what’s paralyzing me. He throws on my war paint, takes my place on the battleline. Holding danger’s hand and mine, He hurries to the front lines to face my giant.
Jesus stares right at him, unfazed by his size or his scowl. There’s our giant, bulked up by our sin. Our pride. Our shame. Our fragile parts. Our insecurity. Our hard hearts, quick to judge or rank or pat their own backs. Our apathy, our anxiety. Our hurt. Our old names–every last one of them. Our loneliness. Our best-kept secrets, our deep-down mess. Our pain. Our not enoughs. Our regrets, from last night or last year. Our lust. Our lies. Our fear of the unknown, the upcoming. Our selfish nature. Our broken histories. The Rescuer takes one look at him, then takes one shot at him and what once shook the Life right out of us can no longer stand. Facedown, headfirst, our giants are no match for the Lord. We’re rescued, set free! We’ve seen it, day after day: there’s a good God for today’s Israel. So we ought to cheer loud, to celebrate, to parade around the whole place. This is the Grand Rescue!
You are crazy about me. I can’t downplay that any longer. You take down my loneliness, my pride, my ulterior motives. My dark is no match for Your Light. You defy the odds and defend me though I’m nothing but a sheep, a costumed soldier. You are mighty and good and faithful and able. You always win, You always come through. Thanks for taking the frontlines and letting me watch. It’s a joy to be rescued by You.
One thought on “the Grand Rescue”
If only this weren’t such a hard lesson to learn. And, I don’t know about you, but I learn it, re-learn it, and re-learn it again. I hate my pride, but I see it ever day, sometimes in small ways, sometimes in large ways. Thank you God, for rescuing me again and again! And thank you, Layne, for sharing your writing gift with us!