Friday, February 25, 2011

Slaying Giants - Entry 16

Using the historical account recorded in 1 Samuel 17 as a metaphor for the cultural battles raging in the nations we next read, “Then David said to the Philistine, ‘You come to me with a sword, a spear, and 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 taunted. This day the Lord will deliver you up into my hands, and I will strike you down and remove your head from you. And I will give the dead bodies of the army of the Philistines this day to the birds of the sky and 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 does not deliver by sword or by spear; for the battle is the Lord’s and He will give you into our hands.’ Then it happened when the Philistine rose and came and drew near to meet David, that David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet the Philistine. And David put his hand into his bag and took from it a stone and slung it, and struck the Philistine on his forehead. And the stone sank into his forehead, so that he fell on his face to the ground. Thus David prevailed over the Philistine with a sling and a stone, and he struck the Philistine and killed him; but there was no sword in David’s hand. Then David ran and stood over the Philistine and took his sword and drew it out of its sheath and killed him, and cut off his head with it. When the Philistines saw that their champion was dead, they fled.”

Though it is clear that this is a historical account of a physical encounter between David and Goliath, in approaching this text metaphorically, I would like to emphasize that we are engaged, not in physical battles, but ideological battles, a struggle over ideas that shape and mold life on planet earth. This being said, I would like to assume intellectual liberty in reference to the significance of striking Goliath in the head in the process of defeating him and then, removing his head with his own sword.

There is an interesting relationship between our hearts and our heads. In order to commit oneself to something (heart) we have to have a perspective of it that is appealing, we have to think of it as being valuable or meaningful (head). Those who actively formulate, seek to understand or advocate certain ideological positions in order to influence society, must engage in significant mental activity. There is a reciprocal relationship between the heart and the head. As one gains enough information to resolve the importance of something, they eventually make a commitment of heart that leads to further intellectual activity to better understand that to which one has made a commitment. We then shape our lives around such things and eventually attempt to influence or teach other. We can see this pattern in Ezra 7:10. “For Ezra had set his heart to study the law of the Lord, and to practice it, and to teach His statutes and ordinances in Israel.” Shaping culture becomes a matter of propagating ideas that directly or indirectly impact the lives of individuals and social structures. These are ideas about God, the origin, value and destiny of man, the rights of individuals, the nature of marriage and family, the role of religious institutions, the function of civil government, etc. In regard to such things, there are Biblical principles with which Christians should be familiar and of which the church should be a proponent. It is at this level that we aim for and attempt to remove the “head” of those in opposition to the kingdom of God. As did David, we often use the sword of the opponent to remove their head. This would involve understanding their position well enough to show its weaknesses and inconsistencies. False systems of thought are generally self-refuting, often borrowing from systems they reject and, eventually, collapse upon themselves.

In future entries I plan to address specific ideologies and demonstrate how this is often the case. Unlike David, we do not only use the sword of the opponent but are to be equipped with our own sword as well.

"And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God." (Ephesians 6:17, NASB)

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