My husband and I were blessed in our younger years to have money enough to do some vacations abroad. We were in Ireland, Scotland, England, Wales, Italy, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Austria, and Brussels. (To be honest, our stop in Brussels was so fast we barely got a bite of chocolate and a look at some lace before the tour bustled us off again so I don’t really count Brussels.)
We spent a lot of time in museums soaking up the famous art work, history, ceramics, and lots and lots of ancient weaponry and armor. (It’s a guy thing…especially if your guy was a soldier and is descended from the Scottish culture and loves to read about Vikings, Waterloo, and pre-WWI battles!)
I think the statue that impressed me the most was the one of David that we viewed in Florence, Italy. For many years I pictured David as a small, rather insignificant young boy who accepts a task well beyond his years. Yet, in the nude statue created by Michaelangelo, David embodies a man of action and purpose. There is a quiet confidence in his posture that doesn’t completely hide a small spark of vulnerability one can see on his face. One of the most famous features of this statue is the larger right hand the sculptor featured. There are various suppositions as to why Michaelangelo did this.
The more that I viewed the famous image, the more I wondered whether Michaelangelo saw David as being the ‘right hand’ ie God’s soldier here on earth in this battle against the giant Goliath…which brings us to the second Commandment today: Exodus 20:4&5-Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the inquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me.
In Biblical times, human designed statues many times basing the images on animals or objects that they then worshipped. Superstition runs wild in our veins even today. People won’t walk on cracks. Hotels have no thirteenth floor. Black cats, full moons, tidal waves, earthquakes–any force of nature or natural catastrophe can be given a status of fear or worship.
God is specific in His instructions. He flat out tells us that we don’t need to SEE him in a golden image to know Him or understand Him.
I know that God appreciates the statue of David for what it is–a portrait from chiseled marble that illustrates a young man heading into battle, preparing for ultimate victory by depending on his ‘unseen’ God to perfect the aim of a small stone to bring down a giant.
In our age, we are given many so-called ‘giants’ in films, television, music, politics, and technology that are fashioned by media and our culture into a near-worship type of status. That is not our heritage.
We worship a God without image whose purpose was, and still is, that we commune with him on faith.