Archive for the ‘Goliath’ Tag

Week of 4 Epiphany: Friday, Year 2   4 comments

Above:  An Eastern Orthodox Icon of David

To Glorify God

FEBRUARY 4, 2022


Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), of The Episcopal Church, contains an adapted two-years weekday lectionary for the Epiphany and Ordinary Time seasons from the Anglican Church of Canada.  I invite you to follow it with me.


Sirach (Ecclesiasticus) 47:2-11 (Revised Standard Version–Second Catholic Edition):

As the fat is selected from the peace offering,

so David was selected from the sons of Israel.

He played with lions as with young goats,

and with bears as with lambs of the flock.

In his youth did he not kill a giant,

and take away reproach from the people,

when he lifted his hand with a stone in the sling

and struck down the boasting of Goliath?

He appealed to the Lord, the Most High,

and he gave him strength in his right hand

to slay a man mighty in war,

to exalt the power of his people.

So they glorified him for his ten thousands,

and praised him for the blessings of the Lord,

when the glorious diadem was bestowed upon him.

For he wiped out his enemies on every side,

and annihilated his adversaries the Philistines;

he crushed their power even to this day.

In all that he did he gave thanks

to the Holy One, the Most High, with ascriptions of glory;

he sang praise with all his heart,

and he loved his Maker.

He placed singers before the altar,

to make sweet melody with their voices.

He gave beauty to the feasts,

and arranged their times throughout the year,

while they praised God’s holy name,

and the sanctuary resounded from early morning.

The Lord took away his sins,

and exalted his power for ever;

he gave him the covenant of kings

and a throne of glory in Israel.

Psalm 18:31-33, 46-50 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

31  As for God, his ways are always perfect;

the words of the LORD are tried in the fire;

he is a shield to all who trust in him.

32  For who is God, but the LORD?

who is the Rock, except our God?

33  It is God who girds me about with strength

and makes my way secure.

46  The LORD lives!  Blessed is my Rock!

Exalted is the God of my salvation!

47  He is the God who gave me victory

and cast down the peoples beneath me.

48 You rescued me from the fury of my enemies;

you exalted me above those who rose against me;

you saved me from my deadly foe.

49 Therefore will I extol you among the nations, O LORD,

and sing praises to your Name.

50 He multiplies the victories of his king;

he knows loving-kindness to his anointed,

to David and his descendants for ever.

Mark 6:14-29 (Revised Standard Version–Second Catholic Edition):

King Herod heard of it, for Jesus’ name had become known.  Some said,

John the Baptist has been raised from the dead; that is why these powers are at work in him.

But others said,

It is Elijah.

And others said,

It is a prophet, like one of the prophets of old.

But when Herod heard of it he said,

John, whom I beheaded, has been raised.

For Herod had sent and seized John, and bound him for the sake of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife.  And Herodias had a grudge against him, and wanted to kill him.  But she could not, for Herod feared John, knowing that he was a righteous and holy man, and kept him safe.  When he heard him, he was much perplexed; and yet he heard him gladly.  But an opportunity came when Herod on his birthday gave a banquet for his courtiers and officers and the leading men of Galilee.  For when Herodias’ daughter came in and danced, she pleased Herod and his guests; and the king said to the girl,

Ask me for whatever you wish, and I will grant it.

And he vowed to her,

Whatever you ask me, I will give you, even half of my kingdom.

And she went out, and said to her mother,

What shall I ask?

And she said,

The head of John the Baptist.

And she came in immediately with haste to the king, and asked, saying,

I want you to give me at once the head of John the Baptist on a platter.

And the king was exceedingly sorry; but because of his oaths and his guests he did not want to break his word to her.  And immediately the king sent a soldier of the guard and gave orders to bring his head.  He went and beheaded him in the prison, and brought his head on a platter, and gave it to the girl; and the girl gave it to her mother.  When his disciples heard of it, they came and took his body, and laid it in a tomb.


The Collect:

Almighty and everlasting God, you govern all things both in heaven and on earth: Mercifully hear the supplications of your people, and in our time grant us your peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.


Some Related Posts:

Week of 4 Epiphany:  Friday, Year 1:

Matthew 14 (Parallel to Mark 6):

Luke 9 (Parallel to Mark 6):

Feast of the Beheading of St. John the Baptist (August 29):


One might add to the Canadian Anglican lectionary another response, an alternative to Psalm 18:31-33, 46-50.  Psalm 151 is part of the Greek Orthodox and Russian Orthodox traditions.

First I offer the New Revised Standard Version rendering:

1  I was small among my brothers,

and youngest in my father’s house;

I tended my father’s sheep.

2  My hands made a harp;

my fingers fashioned a lyre.

3  And who will tell my Lord?

The Lord himself; it is he who hears.

4  It was he who sent his messenger

and took me from my father’s sheep,

and anointed me with his anointing oil.

5  My brothers were handsome and tall,

but the Lord was not pleased with them.

6  I went out to meet the Philistine,

and he cursed me by his idols.

7  But I drew his own sword;

I beheaded him, and took away disgrace from the people of Israel.

And here is the translation of Psalm 151 from the St. Athanasius Academy Septuagint (2008):

1  I was small among my brothers

And the youngest in my father’s house;

I tended my father’s sheep.

2  My hands built a musical instrument;

My fingers tuned a lyre.

3  And who shall tell my Lord?

The Lord Himself, He Himself hears.

4  He sent forth His Angel

And took me from my father’s sheep;

5  My brothers were handsome and tall,

But the Lord took no pleasure in them.

6  I went out to meet the foreigner,

And he cursed me with his idols;

7  But I drew his own sword and beheaded him,

And removed disgrace from the children of Israel.


What is the chief end of man?

Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.

–The Westminster Shorter Catechism, Question #1, as contained in the Book of Confessions (1967), of The United Presbyterian Church in the United States of America

The lectionary readings pair two rulers and two beheadings with only the most superficial similarities.  The differences, however, are quite revealing.

Herod Antipas was a son of Herod the Great.  Antipas, like his father, was a cruel and devious man who held his position only because the Roman Empire said so.  Antipas had married Herodias, his late half-brother’s niece.  Let that sink in.  John the Baptist had called him out on this, so Antipas had him arrested and imprisoned.  Then, at a party, Antipas so enjoyed his wife’s/late half-brother’s niece’s daughter erotic dancing (Let that sink in.) that he made a hasty pledge, which culminated in the execution of the forerunner of the Messiah.  Antipas, by the way, died in exile in Gaul.

In contrast to Herod Antipas we have David, which, 1 and 2 Samuel tell us, was far from perfect.  But David comes across as a hero and a man who heeded criticism from prophets.  And from David came the lineage which included Jesus, who called Herod Antipas “that fox.”

The basic virtue of David was that he tried (much of the time, at least) to glorify God and defend his kingdom.  It is always a good thing for anyone to glorify God.  And, when a ruler faces a national security threat, it is good for him or her to defend his or her realm while obeying basic principles of human rights.  David, as the texts present him, believed in something greater than himself, but Herod Antipas seems to have been a mere opportunist.

David glorified God, and history and tradition have honored him justifiably.  May we glorify God in our own day and circumstances, for that is the right thing to do.


Week of 2 Epiphany: Wednesday, Year 2   9 comments

Above:  Gustave Dore’s Depiction of David Holding Goliath’s Head

David and Goliath

JANUARY 19, 2022


Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), of The Episcopal Church, contains an adapted two-years weekday lectionary for the Epiphany and Ordinary Time seasons from the Anglican Church of Canada.  I invite you to follow it with me.


1 Samuel 17:32-51 (Revised Standard Version–Second Catholic Edition):

And David said to Saul,

Let no man’s heart fail because of him; your servant will go and fight with the Philistine.

And Saul said to David,

You are not able to against this Philistine to fight with him; for you are but a youth, and he has been a man of war from his youth.

But David said to Saul,

Your servant used to keep sheep for his father; and when there came a lion, or a bear, and took a lamb from the flock, I went after him and struck him and delivered it out of his mouth; and if he arose against me, I caught him by his beard, and struck him and killed him.  Your servant has killed both lions and bears; and this uncircumcised Philistine shall be like one of them, seeing that he has defied the armies of the living God.

And David said,

The LORD delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.

And Saul said to David,

Go, and the LORD be with you!

Then Saul clothed David with his armor; he put a helmet of bronze on his head, and clothed him with a coat of mail.  And David belted on his sword over his armor, and he tried in vain to go, for he was not used to them.  Then David said to Saul,

I cannot go with these; for I am not used to them.

And David put them off.  Then he took his staff in his hand, and chose five smooth stones from the brook, and put them in his shepherd’s bag or wallet; his sling was in his hand, and he drew near to the Philistine.

And the Philistine came on and drew near to David, with his shield-bearer in front of him.  And when the Philistine looked, and saw David, he disdained him; for he was but a youth, ruddy and comely in appearance.  And the Philistine said to David,

Am I a dog, that you come to me with sticks?

And the Philistine cursed David by his gods.  The Philistine said to David,

Come to me, and I will give your flesh to the birds of the air and to the beasts of the field.

Then David said to the Philistine,

You come to me with a sword and with a spear and with a javelin; but I come to you in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied.  This day the LORD will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you down, and cut off your head; and I will give the dead bodies of the host of the Philistines this day to the birds of the air and to the wild beasts of the earth; that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel, and that all this assembly may know that the LORD saves not with the sword and spear; for the battle is the LORD’s and he will give you into our hand.

When the Philistine arose and came and drew near to meet David, David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet the Philistine.  And David put his hand in his bag and took out a stone, and slung it, and struck the Philistine on his forehead; the stone sank into his forehead, and he fell on his face to the ground.

So David prevailed over the Philistine with a sling and with a stone, and struck the Philistine, and killed him; there was no sword in the hand of David.  Then David ran and stood over the Philistine, and took his sword and drew it out of his sheath, and killed him, and cut off his head with it. When the Philistines saw that their champion was dead, they fled.

Psalm 144:1-10 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

1  Blessed be the LORD my rock!

who trains my hands to fight and my fingers to battle;

2  My help and my fortress, my stronghold and my deliverer,

my shield in whom I trust,

who subdues the peoples under me.

3  O LORD, what are we that you should care for us?

mere mortals that you should think of us?

4  We are like a puff of wind;

our days like a passing shadow.

5  Bow your heavens, O LORD, and come down;

touch the mountains, and they shall smoke.

6  Hurl the lightning and scatter them;

shoot out your arrows and rout them.

7  Stretch out your hand from on high;

rescue me and deliver me from the great waters,

from the hand of foreign peoples,

8  Whose mouths speak deceitfully

and whose right hand is raised in falsehood.

9  O God, I will sing to you a new song;

I will play to you on a ten-stringed lyre.

10  You give victory to kings

and have rescued David your servant.

Mark 3:1-6 (Revised Standard Version–Second Catholic Edition):

Again he entered the synagogue, and a man was there who had a withered hand.  And they watched him, to see whether he would heal him.  And he said to the man who had the withered hand,

Come here.

And he said to them,

Is it lawful on the sabbath to do good or to do harm, to save life or to kill?

But they were silent.  And he looked around at them with anger, grieved at their hardness of heart, and said to the man,

Stretch out your hand.

He stretched it out, and his hand was restored.  The Pharisees went out, and immediately held counsel with the Herodians against him, how to destroy him.


The Collect:

Almighty God, whose Son our Savior Jesus Christ is the light of the world: Grant that your people, illumined by your Word and Sacraments, may shine with the radiance of Christ’s glory, that he may be known, worshipped, and obeyed to the ends of the earth; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, now and for ever.  Amen.


Some Related Posts:

Week of 2 Epiphany:  Wednesday, Year 1:

Luke 6 (Parallel to Mark 3):


Here we have the familiar story of David and Goliath.  But read it again.  Read it very carefully.  We have two sources edited together.  If you, O reader, look carefully, you can see some or all of the seams.  (Hint:  Focus on the use of “God” versus the use of “the LORD.”)  Follow the bouncing ball with me.  David plays the lyre to soothe Saul’s mind in 1 Samuel 16, and even becomes the king’s armor-bearer.  Yet Saul does not know David in 1 Samuel 17.  And then there is the case of Elhanan, one of King David’s warriors, who, according to 2 Samuel 21:19, slew Goliath.  In 1 Chronicles 20:5, however, he killed Goliath’s brother.  Make of all this what you will.

But may none of this detract from the story and what we learn from it.  There is something inherently unlikely about a slightly built young man, armed only with some stones and a slingshot, defeating a mighty warrior nearly ten feet tall.  Goliath’s height is plausible, given the variety of manifestations of genetic mutations.  Some have suggested that he suffered from Marfan’s Syndrome, for example.  And, as scary as this sounds and is, there are people who know how to kill others with just one well-placed blow or cut.  So a devastating blow to the center of the forehead is also plausible.  Most important of all in the story is that David was able to get the stone to Goliath’s weak spot, and therefore deliver his people from an immediate threat.

The unlikely optics of the confrontation made clear that David did not win because of the armor he could not wear well or the standard military armaments he did not use.  No, the circumstances made plain that this victory belonged to God.

When we feel helpless we tend to forget that we have God.  I write from experience.  And I detect another lesson, one I have missed every previous time I  have read this account from 1 Samuel 17.  David’s experience as a shepherd protecting the sheep prepared him for the confrontation with Goliath.  So, when we feel helpless, might we be better equipped than we think?  Maybe we need to think creatively about prior experiences and how they have prepared us for our current circumstances.

Anyhow, in all our daily challenges, great and small, mundane and extraordinary, may God guide our hands and direct our thoughts so that we, trusting in grace, may act for the good–individual and collective–and the glory of God.