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The day I wrote that last post, I had just spent 3 days learning to read 1 Samuel 17 (David and Goliath) in 3 different Chinese versions. I don't believe in writing a new character 20 times in a row like a schoolchild in a copy book, but I do have to look up the story behind its hieroglyphics on hanziyuan.net, and be able to write it without looking and be satisfied with my calligraphy at least once.

I had just finished all three versions and was speed reading through the texts one last time, not having to look things up anymore but having fun jotting down any word I suspected I couldn't write from memory yet.

That still slowed me down a bit to notice things I'd never felt before in the story.

And it occured to me that David at some point finally decided, “This is not happening.”

When he arrived at the front line to find his brothers, he had this crucial cultural background, his head would have been full of the stories of the past (all that time composing things on his harp while out with the sheep).

It says David RAN to the front line to find his brothers. He probably thought it was his lucky day to be there when something finally looked happening. Like most young men who aren't preoccupied with their own mortality he would probably would have been more excited than not at the shouting as the battle lines were being drawn up.

And then Goliath walks out, and David hears what he says, and he sees the melee it's producing, and his course of action is practically handed to him by what everybody's saying, but I feel like he got mad. Yes, he heard all the other stuff about a wife and no more taxes, and yes he was lucky to have the experience under his belt that enabled him to do something about his anger, but it feels like Goliath's insult to God is what stuck under his skin.

And if he was even a little bit mad, it would have been an anger that burns away fear, that makes it a relief to speak up, but at the same time he's not enraged beyond thought, he's actually a little cool-headed asking the people around him a couple of times to make sure what the situation is. When his older brother accuses him, he has the swiftness of mind to defend himself immediately, “I didn't come up here for no reason,” as one version puts it. (Dad did send me here.)

But I think he mainly got mad, and decided it wasn't going go on anymore, because when he's telling Saul about rescuing the lamb from the lion or bear it felt like he would have been thinking, “Oh no you don't. Not on my watch.”

And for the first time in reading that story my heart started to pound as he took off the armor and picked up five smooth stones.

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Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear. (Eph 4:29)