Lectionary Reading for Sunday: 1 Samuel 15:34-16:13 (NRSV)
This passage is rich for a lot of reasons. I like how at the end of chapter 15, we see God regret some previous decisions. This may raise a lot of theological questions on God’s knowledge of the future. It even may allow people to query if God is infallible or not. There’s a lot packed into that one sentence.
I also like the conversation between God and Samuel. Samuel is worried that he will be killed for treason if he anoints another man king while Saul is still on the throne. God works out his cover story for him! This dialogue would not be available to everyone of that time. They would have only seen Samuel as the sly old man who is working in a revolutionary manner by throwing his weight behind a new monarch.
But maybe the best part of the story is the exposure of our preconceived ideas. God does not look as mortals do (such as outward appearance) but God looks upon the heart. Samuel and the rest have a good idea who they think will be the next king. God’s candidate is definitely a dark horse! But we see that God does know more about the future than we do as David eventually becomes the standard by which all other Israelite kings are measured.
Underdog was also a cartoon character
in the 1970's that evidently is still recognizable!
We all like a good underdog story.
Now that the NBA finals have wrapped up, Thunder fans are looking to free agency and the draft (even though we don’t have a first round pick this year). My favorite NBA player is probably John Starks. For full disclosure, this is largely because we are both alumni of Oklahoma State. However, Starks for me rises ahead of other noteworthy players not because of his talent but because of his story. Originally from Tulsa, Starks was only at OSU for a year after bouncing around several colleges. He was not drafted when he finished his college eligibility. He played during the summer and in the now-defunct CBA which were all minor leagues. He was bagging groceries in Tulsa between college and the NBA. Probably, he is most famous for his dunk over Horace Grant and Michael Jordan in the Eastern Conference finals when the New York Knicks were playing the Chicago Bulls in 1993. Now, John Starks is not even in the same ballpark (so to speak) as Michael Jordan and maybe that is why that particular play was so memorable (to Knick fans anyway). For many, this seemed like David and Goliath - at least as far as athletic talent goes.
Starks is one more underdog story. There are lots of them.
They remind us that the most talented or the richest don’t always win. Sometimes people have something in them that allows them to overcome people with greater ability. As we think about this spiritually, we would say that God’s grace is available to all people. This levels the playing field in a way that nothing else does. It means that we each have the possibility to thrive and succeed.
While not everyone may see your potential, we believe that God does.
Sometimes that’s all we need.
Photo by Alicia Griffin via Flickr.com. Used under the Creative Commons license.