Summary: Living victoriously has much in common with David’s victory over Goliath. The shepherd didn’t act in faith that hadn’t already been tested; he acted according to his consistent experience with God.
When I was young, I was a huge fan of the Walt Disney version of Zorro. I loved the idea of a person who would dress up in a costume, ride a beautiful horse, and cross swords triumphantly with the forces of injustice and oppression—though I would have defined those forces merely as “the bad guys” in those days. I loved it. Outwitting “the bad guys” and sometimes, even carving a “Z” for “zorro” or “fox” on the very fronts of their uniforms. And I also loved the fact that whenever “the bad guys” would try to find Zorro, they would run into his secret identity, ineffective and naïve Don Diego de la Vega.
Please bear with me. This does have relevance to our text for today. When I became a little older, I used to listen to old radio shows. One of the stations I could pick up at night was a station out of San Francisco that would broadcast two old radio shows every night after I was supposed to be in bed. Well, I went to bed and listened to tales of Hopalong Cassidy, Sergeant Preston of the Yukon, Orson Welles with Tales from the Black Museum, and the Scarlet Pimpernel. After I heard the adventures of the Scarlet Pimpernel on the radio, I found the book in the library. What derring-do! Once again, a hero who was able to cross swords with anyone pretended to be an ineffective dandy in order to have a secret identity where he could challenge “the bad guys.” This time, though, the hero dressed up in lots of different costumes and had a whole team of helpers. The new French government, so quickly giving aristocrats to “Madame Guillotine,” were helpless when the Pimpernel decided to rescue their victims.
In the doggerel of the original book,
“They seek him here; they seek them there!
Those Frenchies seek him everywhere.
Is he in heaven or is he in hell?
That demmed elusive Pimpernel.”
And yes, though it was spelled as pronounced in polite society of the time, that is a bad word that the poem puts in the mouth of the French citizens.
Both of these heroes had a secret identity, much like Clark Kent’s in the Superman stories, where they seemed to be ineffective, unthreatening, and totally unsuited to the task. But as the readers (or viewers), we knew a secret. We knew that they were going to be the solution. We knew that no matter how powerful “the bad guys” were, our secret hero was going to win. Now, the story of David in I Samuel 17 is a lot like those stories. If we’d never heard or read the story before, we’d wonder how anyone could beat the giant, how anything could happen to Israel except going into slavery to the Philistines.
I always liked this passage for much the same reason as I liked Zorro and the Scarlet Pimpernel, but it was when I saw a Broadway musical called “The Scarlet Pimpernel” that the messages of both the fictional story of the Pimpernel and the true story of David became merged forever in my mind. In the musical, the Pimpernel rallies his troops before a big operation by singing a song called “Into the Fire.” The song starts like this:
“David walked into the valley