The ‘mighty’ lowered, the ‘lowly’ exalted

Photo by Brett Jordan.

Murray Smith

I have just stood close up to Michelangelo’s ‘David’ statue.

This remarkable sculpture is in the Accademia Gallery of Florence. Thirty years ago I came here and was disappointed to climb the stairs to the gallery and find it closed. Some ‘crazy’ had clobbered David’s toes with a hammer and repairs were being done. These days he’s protected by a glass enclosure which was part of the re-construction happening when I first visited and found myself out of luck.

I hoped and prayed back then that somehow I’d catch a glimpse of this remarkable sculpture, having travelled so far. Within minutes a workman exited the big main doors. There at the far end of the gallery in a rotunda beautifully lit through a glass sky roof David was standing on his pedestal !… I wasn’t allowed in – but the workman ‘accidentally’ left a doors section open, to glimpse Michelangelo’s brilliant piece from afar!

In 1501 a massive block of white marble destined to be ‘the David’ was carried by ox cart and river barge to Florence where a 26 year old Michelangelo had been commissioned to create what would become a masterpiece. Three years later, standing over five metres tall this incredible sculpture was completed.

Michelangelo’s inspiration for his sculpture was taken from the famous Biblical account of David – the young shepherd boy who saved the Israelites by boldly running to fight the giant warrior Goliath, armed with a handful of stones and a slingshot. Toppling Goliath took one stone flung at the hulking battle-seasoned champion – it sunk into his forehead – establishing David’s reputation forever!

The great artist seems to sense David’s significance. There’s a ‘mystique’ about the work and my thought is that Michelangelo is celebrating humanity ‘merging’ with the divine – he sees the triumph of God’s intervention through the life of an ordinary kid … imparting that which would make him extra-ordinary!  And that he was – his unique relationship with God and revelation of His ways is portrayed in David’s songs (the Psalms).


I sense Michelangelo’s awe of an ‘inconsequential’ shepherd boy, born 1000 years before Jesus, destined to became Israel’s most loved and well known king. (David’s family line, in fact features prominently in the genealogy of Christ, the ultimate King.)

A grandeur has been captured in this youthful sculpture of David who, although everyone overlooked initially, with God’s enabling became a larger than life hero! While his brothers despised David, considering him least in age and least in value, God saw beyond outward appearances, observing noble ‘kingly’ qualities within David’s heart.

And that’s the way it has always been…God sees more … He exalts the humble and lowly, abasing the proud and arrogant. David’s own father Jesse under-estimated his son. When Samuel the prophet visited, (sent by God) to anoint one of Jesse’s boys to be Israel’s king, the seven older brothers were quickly passed over. “Surely you have another son?” Samuel insisted.

Out in the fields, David was scarcely even an afterthought to his family…but NEVER to God!

If you’ve felt overlooked and insignificant. God sees. So, take heart!

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