Here’s an insightful column by my friend Bettye Bunch:
My first two years of teaching were at George Washington Carver Junior High School in Tulsa, Oklahoma. I had grown up in a segregated school – white – in Alabama, and now I was teaching in a segregated school – black – in Oklahoma. I cannot say it was culture shock, but it was certainly a lesson in cultural awareness.
I learned a new term right away at Carver. It was an insult game played primarily by my male students. They called it “Shootin’ the Dozens.” Some called it “Playin’ the Dozens.” One male would start out by saying, “Yo mama is so ugly that . . .” Fill in any insult that a 13 year old could come up with. Some were downright insulting. Others were very witty as the young men tried to “out insult” the other . . . and their mamas. This would disrupt the class on a daily basis until I started using this statement, “Speaking of yo mamas, I think I need to call them.” No matter how much they were trying to insult each other and the other’s mother, they didn’t want their own mother to know.
It wasn’t but a year or two later that I noticed sports announcers beginning to refer to football players engaging in “trash talk” at the line of scrimmage. I could just imagine the guards on one side and the linemen on the other saying, “Yo mama’s so ugly she wears your helmet backwards to cover her face.” However, I am sure their insults were more grown-up and more vulgar, their taunts more challenging.
Trash talk is defined in the The New Oxford American Dictionary as “insulting or boastful speech intended to demoralize, intimidate, or humiliate someone, esp. an opponent in an athletic contest.” My attention was drawn to the topic of trash talk as I read the story of David and Goliath in my daily Bible reading recently.
Goliath was a giant of a man and a giant trash talker. He looked at David and saw a young, handsome boy. He was insulted that the Israelites had sent a boy out to do a man’s job against the greatest of the Philistine warriors. And, to heap insult upon insult, David wore no armor. Goliath looked at him and said, “Come here. I’ll feed your body to the birds of the air and the wild animals.” Trash talk.
David had tried on Saul’s armor, the armor of the Israelite king whom the Bible said stood head and shoulders above all the other Israelites. But, David was just a boy. He took off Saul’s armor. He took his childhood weapon, a sling, and five rocks to do battle with Goliath who was nine feet tall and whose coat of armor weighed 125 pounds. David probably weighed no more than that himself.
And, here is where the trash talking ended for Goliath. David had a righteous reply: “But David said to him, ‘You come to me using a sword and two spears. But I come to you in the name of the LORD All-Powerful, the God of the armies of Israel. You have spoken against him. Today the LORD will hand you over to me, and I’ll kill you and cut off your head. Today I’ll feed the bodies of the Philistine soldiers to the birds of the air and the wild animals. Then all the world will know there is a God in Israel! Everyone gathered here will know the LORD does not need swords or spears to save people. The battle belongs to him, and he will hand you over to us.’” (1 Samuel 17:45-47 NCV)
One of the problems we face in life is that we cannot always identify the enemy that comes against us. If he were nine feet tall with full armor, we might recognize him immediately for what he is. But, just as the serpent deceived Eve, so often we are deceived by voices with promises that we would like to fall for. As someone noted recently, how could Eve not be suspicious of a talking serpent? Did any other animal in the Garden of Eden talk with her? Satan began his trash talking there in the Garden of Eden, the most perfect place on Earth. But Eve was weak in her reply. At this point, some would point out that women are all emotion and no logic. Tell that to Adam who also partook of the forbidden fruit. Neither gave a righteous reply.
When John the Baptist baptized Jesus, the Spirit led Jesus into the wilderness where He fasted for 40 and 40 nights. He was hungry when the tempter came to Him and challenged Him that if He were the Son of God to change stones into bread. Jesus’ righteous reply was, “It is written . . .” Then the tempter transported Him to Jerusalem and placed Him atop the temple and challenged Him to jump to prove that God’s angels would save Him. Jesus’ righteous reply was, “It is written . . .” And, a third time the tempter offered Him all the kingdoms of the world if He would bow down and worship Satan. Jesus’ righteous reply was, “It is written . . .”
The sooner we know what is written, the sooner we will have a righteous reply to the enemy of our souls. The sooner we recognize the trash talk of the enemy who comes to us with promises which hold no reward at the end, the sooner we will be able to give him a righteous reply. David did not need earthly armor because he knew that the battle was the LORD’S. Jesus did not succumb to the promises of the devil because He not only knew His Father, He knew what was written.
Bettye Horton Bunch
May 15, 2009