Small Man Syndrome?
1 Samuel 17:32-49

As we listen to the story of young David offering to take on the giant Goliath you could be forgiven for thinking that David had a solid dose of what’s known as small man syndrome.  The urban dictionary describes this syndrome in various ways, but to summarise, it is where a man who is small in stature feels the need to act bigger and tougher than he actually is.  In modern terms you could think of the small man who drives a big car or who feels like he has to use violence to assert his authority over another.  In David’s case his actions seem almost arrogant or foolish.

He was sent to visit his brothers on the battlefield and bring them some supplies, bread and grains and cheese.  When he arrived he saw and heard what was going on.  This giant of a Philistine by the name of Goliath was ranting and raving and threatening everyone, and wanting to take on all-comers.  Little David, the young shepherd boy told the king that he would like to take on the giant.  Hence, we think of small man syndrome, because of his desire to deal violently with someone larger than himself.

At first King Saul thinks this is ludicrous, David is just a boy and Goliath is an experienced warrior, but David argued that he has been keeping his father’s sheep and when a lion or a bear has come to take a sheep from the flock he has fought it and killed it and rescued the sheep from their mouth.

Then when Saul gave David his own tunic and his armour and then his helmet and sword, David tried to walk around in it but couldn’t as he wasn’t used to them and they were most likely too large for him.  So he threw them off and reached for five smooth stones and his sling and went off to face the giant of a man.  A simple weapon, not really designed for waging war against a human army and again you might think small man syndrome or a false and foolish bravado had taken hold of him.
But let’s look back at what else David said to King Saul when he was talking about killing lions and bears and rescuing sheep.  He said, “The LORD who rescued me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will rescue me from the hand of this Philistine.”  David wasn’t over-compensating for his small stature; he was relying on the Lord to deliver him from the enemy.  This was David realising that he didn’t have the strength or the ability to win a victory; he knew that he was entirely reliant on what the Lord his God would do to deliver him.

As David went out and faced the Philistine, he said to him, “You come against me with spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied.  This day the Lord will deliver you into my hands.”  It’s only at this point that David even mentions what he will do to Goliath, only after he has established where the strength and the victory will come from does he state his own involvement in it all.

We all know what the end result was; it was a victory to David, a victory to the Israelite army and a victory to God over the enemy.  This is just another small step in the life journey of the future king of Israel.  Today is a small step in the life journey of two other small and innocent young people.  They will come forward at Croydon after the offering and the rite of admission to the sacrament of the altar they will receive with us the body and blood of Christ in with and under the bread and wine of Holy Communion.

They have been prepared for this day by discussing what happens in Holy Communion, who the host of the meal is and what they are receiving when they take and eat and take and drink.  They receive the forgiveness of sins.  God provided this meal for them and for all of us, he commanded us to do this in remembrance of him.  They bring nothing to the table, just as David brought nothing to the fight but his faith in the Lord who has saved him from danger in the past.  Now you couldn’t say that Elise and Mieke are facing any giants, but throughout their lives we don’t know what they will face.

This is just another step in the journey, the journey of their formation as practicing Disciples of Christ, as Christians.  It started at their baptism and continues each and every day.  We heard last week the parable of the mustard seed, which starts out small and grows into the largest plant in the garden and becomes a place of refuge for birds, that’s what our journeys are like as we grow in faith, hope and love.

Both of these girls live their lives out there in the world, they are both currently attending different government schools and have the opportunity to sow the seeds of faith in others around them, to be the leaven in the loaf.  With that can come persecution or even ridicule, they need our support and prayers and they need to rely on the living Lord, the same one who delivered David from bears and lions and the giant Goliath.  He is with them and all of us and wants us to rely on him for all of our needs.

We’ve encountered some interesting challenges ourselves this week with stormy weather and even an earthquake, we’ve seen what damage storms can do and we’ve heard again in our gospel reading that God has power over the wind and the waves too.  He is with us in all the things of life that come along to scare and to test us, he wants us to rely on him and turn to him in prayer for strength and comfort and peace.

No matter who we are or how big or small we are we all need to rely heavily on God, we may be small and insignificant in the eyes of others or in our own way of thinking about ourselves, but God sees our full potential, he knows the plans he has for us, not to harm us but to prosper us.  Let’s give thanks to God for that and not get caught up in small person syndrome, but rely on God for all our needs and give thanks to him in all circumstances.

Amen.