The Mighty Warrior … Makes the Servants Strong!
I remember an article in the January 18th issue (2000) of the New York Times. It asked: “Was Goliath, After All, Just a Pushover?” … and answered: “An Israeli neurologist came up with a medical explanation of how David could slay Goliath in the Biblical account. The neurologist, Vladimir Berginer, surmised that Goliath suffered from a hormonal disease that put him at a disadvantage against David and his slingshot. Goliath, who the Bible indicates was about 10 feet tall, suffered from a pituitary gland disease called acromegaly, the doctor concluded. “This is the only disease where sufferers can grow to such a height,” and he said, AIt was a miracle that such a small and young shepherd could defeat Goliath in battle.@
I am surprised how much can be said in so little space. The quoted doctor has made quite a statement: AIt was a miracle that such a small and young shepherd could defeat Goliath in battle.@ Absolutely, I’d react: We’ve definitely got a miracle working here!
The diagnosis of acromegaly, however, while interesting, is hardly convincing, given the scriptural context of the David-and-Goliath story. Throughout the I, the first five books of the Bible, God is portrayed time and time again as the only great warrior there is. The historical books as well as the prophets continue the affirmation that God is a super-fighter. The Almighty is the conqueror of Pharaoh=s hosts in all ten plagues and ultimately at the Red Sea, the victor over the twisting serpent, Leviathan, the power behind Gideon=s mini-force (that scared the bejeebers out of the Midianites, causing Israel=s enemy to stab at any moving thing in the dark of confusion – whereby they killed their own soldiers)…. and on and on! If the Almighty trooper afflicted the giant with acromegaly, that was some weapon. But it was God=s almighty power and sovereignty that won the day, not some lucky, spunky shepherd boy out there all on his own against a half-blind Apushover@!
This is precisely the image that sweeps us up in so many biblical faith narratives! God=s holy power is unmatchable. Even the mighty Sea could not resist the Israelites’ march to freedom in the Promised Land (highlighted in the Passover tradition). (And, in the Christian tradition,) Even the stone-sealed, soldiers-guarded tomb is unable to contain the conqueror of death. The Lord of Truth and Love, Peace and Order, Good and Trust is not bound by hate or abusive power, but risen indeed! In images such as these we find ourselves emboldened to care for the needs of others… the widow, the orphan, the abused, the neglected, the downtrodden, the unjustly imprisoned.
Can we understand it? No. But proclaim it we will – with all our strength – even if we can offer no sophisticated, scientific, rational, (or any other kind of) explanation. In the faith God has given to us, his self-giving people, we might borrow the doctor=s confident exultation, we’ve found an explanation for it @ – in God’s power – our faith-authorized affirmation for all time. Happy Season of Rejoicing!… May it spill over into the lives of all the people we serve!