I don’t really want to discuss David and Goliath. It’s one of the best known stories in the Bible. There’s some dispute over how tall Goliath really was, but I don’t think it really matters. However tall the man was, the Israelites were all afraid of him, everyone except David who just didn’t get it. “Hang on, hang on, hang on. You’re telling me that the reward is what? And you’re still not going for it? You know he nothing, right? That God is, like, so much more powerful than him, right? Is there anyone here that can explain this to me so it makes sense?”
Nah, I want to talk about this Psalm.
Now look, I understand that this is a song, a poem. It’s figurative… probably. This is the imagination of the author, a lot like what I engage in. “Picture it: God presiding over all the powers we don’t understand, and he’s scolding them.” But, you know, poetic rather than snarky.
But! It’s a very interesting situation to picture. It’s informed by the cultural beliefs regarding spiritual beings. What I find intriguing is that it’s never corrected. So: is it never corrected because it doesn’t really matter? Or is it never corrected because it’s already correct?
Your guess is as good as mine. And that’s just what it is: a guess. Our current culture doesn’t believe spiritual beings like that exist. I mean, some people believe in ghosts. Christians tend to believe in angels and demons, though our terminology leaves much to be desired. Angel, at one time, meant messenger. Now it means… spiritual being obedient to God. Okay. Language shifts and why quibble. I just want to be clear. This psalm is placing God before a council of spiritual beings that are not his angels. That’s clear because they aren’t doing what they’re supposed to be doing. Maybe they’re demons? The fallen angels that rebelled against God? You know, the powers and principalities that exercise authority in the world of men until judgment. I mean, Paul believed they were out there, active.
This, though, this psalm seems to suggest that they could have been doing good? God, here, is scolding them for failing the vulnerable, judging them. So they could have made better decisions?
Or maybe this is all extremely figurative and it’s just a poem illustrating God’s emphasis, his high priority on protecting the vulnerable, and the belief that it will all be made right in the end.
It’s something to think about, though.
One last question: Can you respect someone who disagrees with you? If you take it literally, can you be friends with someone who maybe, just maybe, thinks you’re a little naïve? Or will you be offended? If you read it figuratively, can you respect someone who believes in something you don’t? Or will you be condescending? Agreeing to disagree isn’t about striking a truce and never discussing it again. It’s about admitting that there’s a chance, even just a small one, that the other person actually is correct, that there’s a chance, even just a small one, that you got it wrong. Can you do that? Can you accept that being wrong about scripture isn’t the end of you faith? That you aren’t failing God if you make a mistake?