Week beginning Sunday 27th January David the Brave
He chose his servant David, calling him from the sheep pens.
He took David from tending the ewes and lambs
and made him the shepherd of Jacob’s descendants—God’s own people, Israel.
He cared for them with a true heart and led them with skilful hands.
V 11 When Saul and the Israelites heard this, they were terrified and deeply shaken.
Genuine fear is a terrible experience. I well remember walking with a friend along a ridge leaving Ben Nevis; it was narrow, and precipitous on one side. I was walking a little ahead and turned around to see him crawling slowly on all fours. He admitted he was scared stiff and needed a fair amount of encouragement to continue. Fear had transformed him from a confident hill walker to a slow-motion, inch-by-inch crawler across a rocky outcrop. I guess that is how quite a number of Israelite soldiers felt as they were confronted by Goliath.
In fact, come to think of it, that is how many of us feel when unexpected difficulties arise. Whether you go rigid or become a quivering piece of jelly, fear changes you. The disciples of Jesus felt it when he appeared to them in the Upper Room after the resurrection; they felt it when they were caught in a terrible storm on Galilee; they felt it when soldiers came to arrest Jesus in Gethsemane. (That is when they packed up and ran away!) I’ve felt it a few times, and perhaps you have too. The little phrase that runs insistently round your head shouts at you ‘What would happen if … ?’ There’s no shame attached to that feeling; the only issue is what you do with that fear. David could have shrugged his shoulders and marched off home. ‘Someone else’s problem’ might have been an understandable reaction from him; but he was not like the rest of the army. What led him to think and behave differently?