David is another unlikely hero in the Old Testament. Like Joseph and Moses, he had humble beginnings being the last of eight brothers. It was not likely that he would defeat Goliath the Philistine in battle because he was so small and unprepared. He was only a shepherd boy. He could not even wear the armor because it was so heavy and cumbersome. But defeat him he did, saying, “You come against me with sword and spear and scimitar, but I come against you in the name of the Lord of hosts, “(1 Samuel 17:45). David eventually rises in power and becomes king, but his actions are not always pristine. He falls for Bathsheba, a married woman, and she becomes pregnant from their tryst. Like Moses, he tries to hide it by having her husband killed in battle. That way, she would be free to move in with him. However, later on, he is remorseful and goes back to God for redemption. “People may still choose to sin, but the goodness of God and his everlasting mercy will be seen in the bounty and the regularity of nature’s seasons, “ (Boadt, Reading the Old Testament: An Introduction, 124).
We all screw up. We sometimes make the same mistakes over and over again. We may think that there is no redemption for us. But these underdogs of the Old Testament tell us there is. There is always hope. They say, “You think you make mistakes? Look at us! We have made some big ones, yet God’s grace saved us.” It is possible, and that is why these stories speak to us so profoundly.
David felt a deeper purpose despite the odds against him. When King Saul died, David prayed to God about it and moved his family to Hebron. He told the people, “Take courage, therefore, and prove yourselves valiant men, for though your lord Saul is dead, the Judahites have anointed me their king, “ (2 Samuel 2:7). Did David really know what he was doing? David was moving into fresh domains where there were no role models (Holladay, Long Ago God Spoke: How Christians May Hear the Old Testament Today, 110). He knew he was meant to be king, yet he had been a lowly shepherd. His resume was wanting, but there was a deeper purpose at stake. As Ruether says, “It is only in that gratuitous and transcendent mystery of freedom, that dawns upon us without our ‘deserving’ it, and before we have articulated our need for it, that we find ourselves able to enter into this articulation and transformation, “(Liberation Theology: Human Hope Confronts Christian History and American Power, 9). David entered into the unknown of being king and became transformed by it, because he knew it was what God wanted of him. He felt his function in life was to serve his people, and became king because he knew he could secure the nation for them.
Their lack of self ego makes these underdogs of the Old Testament the unlikely heroes that they were. This helps us relate to them and want to be like them. “…the hero is a person who lives in close contact with the inner world of the unconscious and its spiritual powers. This brings the hero stories closer to us…all of us have the potentiality to become the hero, each in his or her own way, “ (Sanford, The Man Who Wrestled with God, 86).
Some questions that David helps us to ponder and reflect:
Do you sometimes hear that little voice that tells you you can’t do something? Do you think it is from God? Do you think it keeps you from a full relationship with God?
Are there actions you do that you repeat over and over that aren’t healthy? God’s grace is always there for us. “…hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” Romans 5: 3-5
Have there been times when you have felt unprepared yet felt you were called to do something? How did it turn out? Do you feel the Holy Spirit was a part of it?
How might you be a hero for God in your own way?
Http://www.thefreedictionary.com describes an underdog as, “the competitor least likely to win a fight or contest, and a person in adversity or in a position of inferiority.” Underdogs are unlikely heroes. They may have had humble beginnings or grew up in less-than-ideal circumstances. Their place in society may have been lowly. They could be considered unpopular. Underdogs may be reluctant, meaning they lack self-confidence, laugh at their ability or do not trust themselves. Underdogs are not perfect; as a matter of fact, they may make big mistakes that are irreversible. Yet despite all of these inadequacies and flaws, they know they have a deeper purpose. They are driven to move forward and fulfill their calling.
Why do underdogs make good heroes? We see ourselves in them. They are relatable. We can all be heroes despite our failings and unworthiness. Being an underdog calls for perseverance and a determination to fight for something greater than our own being. Underdogs give us hope. They remind us that there is a way out of our meagerness and toil. They call us to look outside of ourselves to a greater wholeness. Circumstances do not have to be ideal to have everything turn out well in the end, and we can all identify with that.
One trait of an underdog…reluctance. Underdogs are not always sure they are the right people for the job. Abraham and Sarah displayed reluctance. When God said they would bear a child despite their old age, Sarah laughed. She laughed that she and Abraham would have the ability to create a child; yet God laughed last. Isaac was born to them. For the underdog, it may seem impossible; but for God, everything is possible.
God made a covenant with Abraham. “I will maintain my covenant with you and your descendants after you throughout the ages as an everlasting pact, to be your God and the God of your descendants after you, “ (Genesis 17:7). Yet Abraham still had moments of reluctance. When he entered the land of Negeb, he was afraid that the people would kill him because Sarah was so beautiful and they could not have her. He made Sarah say she was his sister, but of course his lie was found out. Abraham says, “I was afraid because I thought there would surely be no fear of God in this place, “(Genesis 20:11). He was always granted safe passage despite his fear. God provided for him. God sees past our fears to the other side of them.
Another trait of the underdog…serving others. Abraham, even while being a great leader for his people, reached out and served three strangers that happened to be going by his tent. He put himself in the underdog role. He bowed to the strangers, and asked them, “…please do not go past your servant, “ (Genesis 18:3). Not only did he bring them water and offer a cool place to sit, he had rolls made of fine flour and had special meat prepared. It was Abraham himself who waited on them. It is unclear if Abraham ever discovers that it is God’s self who is one of the strangers (or perhaps all three as Trinity?). Abraham naturally serves others in his leadership role.
What can Abraham teach you?