Osmar Schindler (1869-1927): David und Goliath, 1888
Extract From 1 Samuel 17 (NIV)
45 David said to the Philistine, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. 46 This day the Lord will deliver you into my hands, and I’ll strike you down and cut off your head. …
58 “Whose son are you, young man?” Saul asked him.
David said, “I am the son of your servant Jesse of Bethlehem.”
David with the Head of Goliath (1606/07) by Caravaggio 1573 – 1610
If you ever take the time to read the Bible through you will be struck by the quantity of resonances and cross-references within it – in particular between the New and the Old Testament. One of the resonances which is clear but complex is that between David and Jesus. Those who wrote about Jesus were clearly keen to make this parallel.
David was born in Bethlehem in Judea, he is the son of Jesse. Isaiah foretold the Messiah would be from the stem of Jesse (Isaiah 11:1) and of David’s line. Jesus’s descent from Jesse and David is stated explicitly at the beginning of the Gospels of Matthew and Luke.
David is a shepherd. Jesus is “the good shepherd”.
Interestingly both David and his son Solomon are referred to as “The Son of God”. David says in Psalm 2:7 “….Jehovah had said unto me, thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee.”
So also in 1 Chronicles, chapter 28: 6: [God] said to [David] , `It is Solomon your son who shall build my house and my courts, for I have chosen him to be my Son, and I will be his Father.
Note the parallel with Matthew 3:17 “And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”
Moreover, David is a bit of an outsider, an under-dog, someone set apart from others (notably his bothers) and close to the Lord
But, unlike Jesus, David is also a warrior – a military leader – and is flawed, (as demonstrated by his seduction of Bathsheba whom he stole from her husband, Uriah).
Perhaps we see an early sign of this arrogance by the un-necessary decapitation of Goliath and David proudly carrying the Philistine’s head and displaying it in Jerusalem.
But for all his faults David left his mark – not only as a great King of Israel and a father of Kings but also in his authorship of the Psalms which remain at the centre of our worship today.
If you read the Bible cover–to-cover the Psalms are in the middle. They are literally at the centre of the Bible. In fact in my King James edition the mid-point is Psalm 75 which sits not only in the middle of the Bible but in the middle of the 150 Psalms themselves.
The Psalms themselves contain many apparent Messianic prophesies (some of them linked David) “I have made a covenant with my chosen one, I have sworn to David my servant, I will establish your line forever and make your throne firm through all generations (Psalm 89: 3-45)
Some appear to refer explicitly to Jesus – “they pierce my hands and my feet… They divide my clothes among them and cast lots for my garments” (Psalm 21:16 & 18).
While Jesus frequently quotes the Psalms in his ministry – “Jesus answered them, “Has it not been written in your Law, ‘I said, you are gods’?” John 10:34 which refers to Psalm 82:6.
Mark 12:10 “Haven’t you read this passage of Scripture:
“‘The stone the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone;
the Lord has done this,
and it is marvellous in our eyes’?” (Quoting Psalm 118)
Even on the cross Jesus quotes the opening of Psalm 22 “My God, My God, why has thou forsaken me” (Psalm 22:1)
There are other less explicit references like in today’s reading of the stilling of the waters on the sea of Galilee – listen to the remarkable similarity with psalm 107:
They that go down to the sea in ships, that do business in great waters; These see the works of the Lord, and his wonders in the deep. For he commandeth, and raiseth the stormy wind, which lifteth up the waves thereof. They mount up to the heaven, they go down again to the depths: their soul is melted because of trouble. They reel to and fro, and stagger like a drunken man, and are at their wits’ end. Then they cry unto the Lord in their trouble, and he bringeth them out of their distresses. He maketh the storm a calm, so that the waves thereof are still. Then are they glad because they be quiet; so he bringeth them unto their desired haven.
So where do we see Jesus in the story of David and Goliath:
David said – “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty “
– Just as David used a child’s weapon to defeat a great warrior, so Jesus over-turned the established order by changing the rules about our relationship with God
– Just as the little guy can beat the giant, so the crucified Jew outlived the Roman Empire which executed him
– Just as you don’t need big expensive weapons to win battles – so loving sacrifice conquers all
– But above all – Trust in the Lord, do right by the Lord and you will succeed – you will survive the storm and all will be at peace
And in that we have the strongest link between David and Jesus and the best lesson for ourselves.