The Power & Paradox of Perception: David

A mighty warrior or scrawny youth?

There is an interesting narrative in 1 Samuel 17. The story’s headline is well-known. It is a universal metaphor the world over. It is the story of David and the giant Philistine, Goliath. What is relevant to us is not so much David’s actual victory but how he got to the place of representing Israel in the man-to-man, one-on-one combat that took place.

On arriving at the battlefield David was so angered by the insult that the giant Philistine was raining on the king, armies and God of Israel that he immediately offered himself as a candidate for the fight. The key point here is that his brothers were angry. They said, ‘Why did you come down here? And with whom have you left those few sheep in the wilderness? I know your pride and the insolence of your heart, for you have come down to see the battle.’ (1 Samuel 17:28).

From their biting words we can see that their perception of David was that of an arrogant, presumptuous, young man with ideas above his station, who should have been at home looking after the family’s sheep, instead of presenting himself as a candidate for battle. They saw him as inexperienced, incapable and rash. They let it be known exactly what they thought of him. They were seeking to impose their views of him on him. They had cast a mental mould and were determined to make him wear it.

This is the mind-set, perception and voice of big brother. This story raises a number of questions for everyone, in particular parents and elders in our world. How do you see the young people around you? How do we perceive the emerging generation? Are we positively provoked and strengthened by their zeal and daring? Are we willing to create space for them, allowing them to use our shoulder as a platform to see further than we can and dream bigger? Or are we blocking, frustrating, criticising, belittling and stopping them from being the warriors and victors that they have been called to be?

Copyright Emmanuel Mbakwe 2013©

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