By Submitted Article on September 5, 2020.
Children and teenagers
in the Bible
Second of three parts
Jacob M. Van Zyl
In western democracies, we are proud of our freedom of choice, opinion, speech, association and religion.
However, about the most important influence in our lives we have no choice: our genes. We did not choose our parents, the Giver of life did. The genes of our ancestors, put into us by our birth mother and dad, have a profound impact on our physical and emotional being.
Fortunately, our environment, upbringing, education, opportunities and experiences can help us to make the best of what we received genetically.
Genes and social influence give us much freedom between upper and lower limits. However, unless one is endowed with certain physical abilities, one can never run the 100-metre sprint in less than 10 seconds, no matter how hard one trains.
The teenager who later became king David was shaped by his inherited and acquired abilities to slay Goliath with a sling and stone (1 Sam. 17). It was not a lucky strike; the shepherd boy was prepared for that, physically and spiritually.
Others did not recognize David’s abilities. His brothers were soldiers while he tended sheep at home. His dad sent him with delicacies to his brothers in a war zone. His eldest brother scolded him for making inquiries about the arrogant enemy giant. When he volunteered to fight the giant, King Saul made fun of him, putting his oversized armour on the lean youngster.
Minutes later, when the shepherd boy held up the head of the slain giant, nobody was laughing anymore – they stood agape in disbelief.
With one of their raids into Israel, the Syrian general Naaman took a young Jewish girl captive to serve as slave for his wife. The general did not know that the girl would determine his destiny. She knew power far beyond that of the general.
Naaman contracted leprosy. There was no cure; he was doomed (2 Kings 5).
When the slave girl heard about his predicament, she saw an easy solution: her master must go to the prophet Elisha, who could heal him.
Despite the embarrassment to beg a favour from his subdued enemy, Naaman grabbed the straw of hope, went to Elisha, followed his advice reluctantly and got healed from his terrible illness.
Both David and the slave girl were in an inferior position. Others looked down on them and did not realize their potential. They grabbed the opportunity nonetheless and prevailed. We should not talk ourselves into failure, neither allow others to do so. Victims can become victors.
Jesus was forced down to the deepest suffering and humiliation, nailed like a criminal to a cursed Roman cross. But he rose from death, ascended to the right hand of God the Father and rules over all.
Jacob Van Zyl of Lethbridge is a retired counsellor and the author of several faith-based books.