Christ the True David

From “Sermon 121” (ca. 530)

David came and found the Jewish people fighting against the Philistines (1 Sam. 17). Since there was no one who dared to enter single combat, he who prefigured Christ went out to battle and carrying a staff in his hand opposed Goliath. In him was surely indicated what was fulfilled in our Lord Jesus Christ, for Christ the true David came and carried his cross with the purpose of fighting against the spiritual Goliath, that is, the devil.

Notice where blessed David struck Goliath: on the forehead where there was no sign of the cross. Just as the staff typified the cross, so the stone with which he was struck prefigured Christ our Lord, for he is the living stone of which it is written, “the stone which the builders rejected has become the corner stone” (Ps. 117:22).

The fact that without a sword David stood over Goliath and killed him with his own sword shows that at the coming of Christ, the devil was defeated with his own sword. Indeed, by the wickedness and unjust persecution which he practiced toward Christ, the devil lost his power over all those who believed in him. David put the weapons of Goliath in his tent and we were the weapons of the devil, for thus Paul writes, “as you yielded your members to sin as weapons of iniquity, so no yield your members to God as weapons of justice’ (Rom. 6:19), and also, “do not yield your members to sin as weapons of iniquity” (Rom. 6:13).

Christ indeed put the weapons of our enemy in his tent when he who had been the house of the devil merited to become the temple of God through his grace, for we are known to dwell in Christ and he lives in us. Paul proves that Christ dwells within when he writes, “have Christ dwelling through faith in the inner man” (Eph. 3:16-17). And Paul also writes again that we live in Christ by writing, “all you who have been baptized in Christ have put in Christ” (Gal. 3:27). Our Lord further tells his disciples in the Gospel, “I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you” (John 14:20).

Caesarius of Arles (ca. 470-542) was an influential French bishop and spiritual writer, one of the most popular preachers of his day. He was an advocate of monastic reform and promoted the ministry of preaching among his clergy, publishing 250 of his own sermons as models for others. This text is adapted from Sermons of St. Caesarius of Arles Vol 2, trans. Mary Magdaleine Mueller (Washington, DC: Catholic University of America Press, 1964).


Online Archives