In 1937 Gordon Parks, age 25 at the time, walked into a pawnshop in Seattle where he purchased his first camera. The cost was $12.50, which would be worth a little over $200 in today’s currency. It was an acquisition that would lead him into his prolific career as a photographer, film producer, writer, and poet. He also saw it as the beginning of his part in the civil rights movement: “I bought what was to become my weapon against poverty and racism.” In the ensuing decades the native of Fort Scott, Kansas captured on film numerous scenes of racial exploitation and oppression. This kind of exposure helped pave the way for some of the changes that needed to happen in America.
Weapons come in many forms. They can range from knives to shotguns, from assault weapons to machine guns, from missiles to nuclear weapons. The Bible occasionally describes weapons of ancient warfare including spears, swords, and javelins (e.g. I Samuel 17:45). David broke from this mold when he used a sling and a rock to kill Goliath, drawing from his experience as a shepherd in fending off wild animal attacks (I Samuel 17:49).
But some problems defy the use of weapons like these. One example was when Saul was tormented spiritually (in I Samuel 16:14-15). We shouldn’t try to handle these kinds of problems by ourselves; God didn’t intend it that way. This was why Saul consulted with his advisors for a period of deliberation. They suggested bringing in a brave warrior – not for his courage or for his military skills, but for his skills with a different weapon: the harp (I Samuel 16:16-18).
Ideas without action amount to nothing. Deliberation needs to be followed with implementation. For some people this may mean picking up the phone to schedule a medical appointment, or calling to set up a visit with the pastor. Sometimes it means talking with a trusted Christian friend. For Saul it meant sending a summons to a man named Jesse and asking for the help of David, his musically-skilled son (I Samuel 16:19-20).
An old TV commercial asked the question “How do you spell relief?” For Saul the relief came from the “weapon” of music. Music is a wonderful gift from God that has therapeutic value. This is why I think it’s important to give children opportunities to participate in making music. Personally, I can’t imagine where I would be without music. For Saul, David’s music eased his suffering. It met the expectation and brought relief (in I Samuel 16:20-23).
We have just entered into the season of Lent. This year I want to encourage everyone to use the right weapons. I’m not thinking of guns or knives or nuclear missiles, but prayer. Prayer is a powerful weapon that can change lives, bring relief, and help us cope with difficult situations. We can approach it in the pattern of David and Saul…
God bless you.
Andrew McHenry, Pastor
First Congregational Church
The blog of Andrew McHenry, Pastor of First Congregational Church of Emporia, Kansas.