2nd June 2023

Tyndale’s stained glass windows: War Memorial 2.

The main portraiture here is of a triumphant David with a towering Goliath dead at his feet, but the portraiture begins with an etching of Noah’s ark – at once a symbol of judgment in the form of a widespread deluge on a corrupt and unrepentant population, but safety for that remnant of both beasts and humanity who found refuge in the ark.

David is no military strategist but a simple country-boy with helpful rural experience defending his father’s livestock – the small roundel at the bottom of the window shows David killing an attacking lion. In the main portrait David’s hands are still holding the pouch which had so recently held the small stones gathered from the near-by brook.

The challenge is potentially between two heavily-armoured giants, both about seven feet tall. When Goliath issues his challenge, the obvious Israeli champion to confront him is King Saul for he was ‘a head taller than any other’ [9 v 2]. But that would have set physical might against physical might, and it is clear that Saul’s inner resolve did not match his outward appearance, so that he must have been relieved to find in David a strange substitute.

The cited text comes from one of David’s Psalms [No 37] concerning how persons of faith confront the problems of a fallen world: ‘Do not fret because of evil men… The salvation of the righteous comes from the Lord: he is their stronghold in time of trouble’. So the cited verse is a judgment on the wicked whose ‘swords shall enter their own hearts’.

David found his strength not in weapons or armour but elsewhere, so David to Goliath: ‘you come against me with sword and spear and javelin but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty’. His strength is in prayer and trust and faithfulness.

John Briggs