Petite in size and missing front teeth, maybe seven years old when the slave traders captured the young, dark girl from her home in Gambia (modern day Senegal) and brought her to the ship, the Phillis, that would carry her transatlantic to Boston to a life of enslavement and hopelessness.
David a strong, red-haired, Israelite boy, a talented writer and musician who toiled as an obscure shepherd defending his father’s flocks from wild animals, the youngest of eight sons of Jesse, of Bethlehem.
“I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil.”
The young slave girl Phillis, named after the ship that transported her to America, a Boston merchant and his family educated and owned her when she became the first published, African American poet Phillis Wheatley. Phillis wrote the esteemed poem, Goliath of Gath. At only seventeen, she wrote the elegy about the Protestant pastor George Whitefield. Complete Providence.
David leaves his pastoral life to fulfill his anointed calling as a warrior and a king. As warrior, he defeats the mighty Goliath without physical armor but with one smooth stone, just a kid, with war-like courage beyond his years.
An enslaved black female poet understood the sovereignty with which David relied on as he entered the battlefield. Slavery was her giant. Literary brilliance in bondage. Then there’s the shepherd boy turned warrior, David’s accurate marksmanship, skills practiced and honed as a shepherd, penetrated the skull of the giant. Obstacles crushed.
Phillis and David conquered their giants with the grace of God on their side. Phillis used a pen to overcome her obstacles and David, the providence- directed smooth stone.
“and we through him are more than conquerors,” Col 2:15.
Droplets of sweat soak your collar as you try today to read the words. Through your eyes the words play tricks on the page. Those words don’t sit still for you like they do for other kids. Days follow weeks, weeks run into months, months transcend years until words on a page become your enemy.
“But I’m ten and can’t read like the others,” was your mantra
Frustration ensues; arguments erupt as you try with all your might to finish the page of words. Your face reddens with embarrassment and then the tear drips from your eye as you hastily wipe it away into oblivion. The battle rages inside your head and heart.
“Will this get better?” you ask.
I can’t make empty promises to you, never have— never will.
So we decide to make the words a Goliath moment. You will not be enslaved by words but be empowered by the Word.
You choose not to suffer in silence but to whisper audible prayers to the One who knitted you in my womb.
Just like Phillis, just like David, just like you, just kids fighting a giant.
You are not alone in this battle, “I will never leave never will I forsake you,” echoes Hebrews.
Even today, after pages and pages of inescapable words, I remind you to buckle on your armor, the Truth, secure your breastplate of righteousness, ready your shoes with the gospel of Peace, holding the shield of Faith, the protector of the heart, and secure the helmet of salvation.
Goliath, the giant fool, entered battle with helmet askew, or forehead exposed, either way, the giant lost his head.
David hurled the stone to conquer the enemy.
An angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone that brought Everlasting life.
Be humble I remind you, be patient, remember, look back at the patchwork of the Lord’s master craftsmanship intricately woven into the lives of the unlikely, the unexpected, to affirm his sovereignty. Choose your weapons prudently; granted to you for a price, a Supreme cost.