Friday, December 4, 2009

90: David and Goliath

1 Samuel 15-17
David ran and stood over him. He took hold of the Philistine's sword and drew it from the scabbard. After he killed him, he cut off his head with the sword. - 1 Samuel 17:51

God says (through Samuel) that Saul should go kill some Amalekites. He isn't supposed to take any plunder for himself. Saul isn't a very good listener, so he kills everyone but the king and takes sheep and cows as plunder.

The bible doesn't say why Saul leaves the king alive, but it does say that he is going to sacrifice all the plunder to God. God is going to be happy right? Saul is going above and beyond to try to sacrifice to him. Wrong. God decides that Saul can't be king any more because he didn't kill everyone/everything. Isn't that a little nitpicky? Saul was going to kill them, he was just going to be a nice guy and sacrifice them as burnt offerings. They'd still be dead. Apparently this is unacceptable.

Saul has to beg Samuel to come back and worship with him. Samuel finally does come back, and he calls the Amalekite king in with them. Is the heathen king going to come worship with them? Are they going to try to convert him to Judaism? No. Samuel kills him. God forbid they leave him alive (literally).

Samuel goes to find a new king. God tells him about Jesse of Bethlehem, and his sons. I imagine this character as looking like Jesse from Mr. Deity. Maybe I just watch too much Mr. Deity. Ahem, anyway. Samuel goes to Jesse and checks out all of his sons. The seven oldest ones are not to Samuel's liking, but when he sees David (who is apparently very handsome) he knows he has his man. Samuel anoints David king. By the way, there is no mention of kissing this time. Why does Saul get a kiss and not David?

Our focus shifts back to Saul, who is being tormented by an evil spirit from God (not making this up "Now the Spirit of the Lord had departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the Lord tormented him."). Why does an all loving all good God send evil spirits to people? His servants suggest that he get a harp player to serenade him while he has the evil spirit and he will feel better. They suggest none other than David, who is apparently good at shepherding and harp playing. Saul likes David so much that he becomes one of his armor bearers.

Now, what you've all been waiting for, chapter 17 "David and Goliath".

The Philistines gather to attack the Israelites. Saul sees this and assembles the Israelites to defend Israel. Wait a second, I thought Saul wasn't king anymore. Did we go back in time? There is a giant Philistine (9 feet tall, that's not as giant as I had imagined) named Goliath that would come to the battle lines every day and shout for an Israelite to fight him. Everyone was scared, because one 9 foot tall guy could definitely kill an entire army of Israelites.

David overhears the soldiers talking about the riches that the person who fights Goliath will get, and he suddenly becomes brave (read: greedy). He goes and tells Saul that he will fight Goliath. Saul sort of tries to talk him out of it, but not really. He then loads up David with his own armor and a sword. David says he is not used to having all of that stuff on and takes it all back off. David goes and finds some stones and puts them in his pocket.

David goes out to Goliath and makes a valiant speech about how God is going to deliver the Philistine into his hand. David slings a stone at his head and kills Goliath. What you may not have heard in Sunday School is that David then cuts off Goliath's head and carries it around with him for the rest of the chapter. That's not such a cute kid's story.

At the end of the chapter Saul apparently loses his mind. He turns to one of his assistants and asks who the father of David is. Saul was clearly told this in 1 Samuel 16:18. Saul calls David over, now calling him "young man", did he forget who David was? He asks who his father is and David says "I am the son of your servant Jesse of Bethlehem". What? Jesse isn't Saul's servant, David is Saul's servant. What is going on?

It's Christmas time, and as all Atheists know, it's the perfect time to wage war on happiness. It is our solitary goal in life to burn Christmas trees, take down wreaths, sue to take away nativity scenes, and most importantly utter "Happy Holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas".

Or, that's what conservative pundits would have you believe.

This seems to me like a war on anything non-Christmas. In fact, the American Family Association has gone so far as to make a list of companies that their readers should boycott because they don't say "Christmas" in their advertising. Right, because they wouldn't want to be inclusive of their non-Christian shoppers.

If I, and Atheist, say anything about the "holidays" I'm immediately waging war on Christmas. What? Are we denying that there are, in fact, other holidays this time of year? I promise you there are. That's like saying acknowledging the fact that there are other religions means that I hate Christians.

On top of all of this. I celebrate Christmas. *Gasp* I, along with most every other Atheist I know, enjoy celebrating Christmas and all that comes with it. Except, of course, Jesus. We exchange gifts, we see family, we put up Christmas trees, and we have a nice meal. Is Jesus really the most important part?

While I celebrate Christmas, I can realize that there are other people that exist (shocking, I know), that may or may not share my holiday. Therefore, if I don't know someone's religion/holiday preference, I say "Happy Holidays". So Christians, give inclusiveness a try this year, you might make a new friend.


  1. Saul was clearly told this in 1 Samuel 16:18. Saul calls David over, now calling him "young man", did he forget who David was?

    Stuff like this has all the marks of later redaction and altering - just wait until you get to 2nd Samuel and you can try to answer the question "Who Killed Goliath?" Was it David or Elhanan? I personally love the idea that some bat around that "Elhanan" was David's name before he took the name "David" - an idea that I've only heard "literalists" defend despite the fact that the Bible never actually says this is the case. And of course never mind that "El-Hanan" would mean something to the effect of "good god" and that once that little point is known the whole Elhanan/Goliath episode starts to look like a myth that got turned into history sometime along the line. (This point only becomes more evident when you read about the lack of achaeological evidence for an actual Davidic kingdom in Israel.)

  2. Jer, can you cite your source for there being no evidence for a Davidic kingdom in Israel?



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