19 Jun Merv’s Musings – Fathers Day 2021
Happy Fathers Day!
Our readings for the 4th Sunday after Pentecost are pretty familiar. I would think next to Moses’ parting of the Red Sea, David facing Goliath is right up there. As I reflected on the story of David facing the arch-enemy of the Israelite nation, my attention seemed to be drawn not to David and his great feat of heroism but upon Jessie, his Dad.
We don’t know a lot about Jessie. He had 8 sons, David his youngest. He was the son of Ohed, and grandson of Boaz and Ruth in the line of Judah. He was a farmer and had sheep. We don’t know David’s mother but from the Psalms we see she was a woman of faith: Psalm 86:16: “Turn to me and have mercy on me; show your strength on behalf of your servant; save me, because I serve you just as my mother did.”
Our story reinforces the idea that our decisions often have consequences for those around us, especially our family members. I have to wonder if David’s mom knew Jessie was sending her youngest son into the throws of battle.
The older boys were involved in the war with the Philistines, Israel’s arch-enemy. They stood on the front line as the huge Goliath taunted and berated them. Challenging them to step forward and do battle. None thought the defeat of the giant was possible. They shook with fear of this giant of a man who taunted them morning and night.
Reading between the lines, Jessie appears to be anxious, maybe even a little worried about the older boys’ welfare and he certainly had good reason to be anxious. I am sure rumours of what was happening on the battle front was making its way back home. So, Jessie sends young David to see how his older brothers were doing with the excuse of sending some provisions. However, Jessie’s decision put the life of David in jeopardy. Of course, he didn’t know it at the time. Who would have thought the boy would get right into the centre of the battle?
No Father would want to place their child into a situation where they would face such a challenge. I don’t think Jessie would have sent David if he thought there was a possibility David would step up and face the huge Goliath. No parent wants to place their child in such peril. It was just a simple task, take the boys some lunch. Can you imagine the home coming scene upon David’s arrival back home? The pride of the Father that his son had the courage to stand up to the bully. Yet, the horror of what could have happened to his son. Giving thanks to God for David’s protection.
As parents we like to think we prepare our children for the challenges that they might face. However, that isn’t always the case, is it? We love the story of the possibility of the little conquering the mighty. Even in over-whelming odds, we can stand up to the challenge in front of us. No matter the giant we face we can have success, for God is in control!
Maybe not even knowing it, Jessie had prepared David to face the Giant. It was God’s plan. Jessie had given David the responsibility to look after the flock of sheep. This taught him to be resourceful. David had used his sling shot to kill a bear and a lion. He had the ability to handle the situation and most important spoke with confidence: God is on his side and who does this Philistine think he is. David had been taught this precept somewhere in his growing years. Even at a young age David was given the resources, the ability to stand up to the challenge.
We all face giants of some kind or other in our life. It may not be the huge Goliath who parades up and down harassing us. But we face all kinds of giants in our life because of the decisions we make; or it may be the decisions made by others that affect our lives. The giants we face may be sickness, poverty, addictions, problems in our relationships, decisions our kids, or grand kids have made. But whatever the giant we go head-to-head with, God is in control!
We don’t always know the giants our children, grandchildren face. But what we do know is God is in control. At our Baptism, like at the Baptism of Jesus, I believe we hear the words, “this is my child whom I love.”
My son recently bought a new house. The boys had to move schools. It has been really hard on our oldest grandson. He left a really good school with lots of friends and moved into a new school where he is the outsider. Several boys have begun to bully and harass him. At 10 years old he is facing a huge giant in his life. All his parents can do is reinforce the good news that God loves him and is in control. That they love him and support him anyway they can. We pray for a change to occur. We pray for a David to enter his life. I guess we often feel like the seven brothers who were paralyzed by the size of the giant before them. They needed a David to come along and help them out. Often the least expected.
Jessie made a decision to check up on his older kids; to encourage them, to provide for them, to see if all was well. It is what Fathers do! Our decisions and choices are made with the best of intentions. We are called to protect and care for our children, our grandchildren. It is difficult to watch our children go through the challenges in life. However, our faith reminds us that God is in control. As we observe and pray for our family members facing challenges in life, often adversaries much greater than us, we come to the conclusion not only is God in control but we might see within our children a seed of greatness.
Jessie was the father of King David. He may not have known it at the time. But when God is in control, the youngest, weakest of his sons would be anointed for greatness and defeat the giant within.
Rev. Merv Lanctot
Faith grows in the soil of hope