The Old Testament is riddled full of the rich, marvelous ways that God has walked with humankind, from our loving creation in the Garden of Eden to the shaping of the nation of Israel in preparation of Jesus’s arrival as a redemptive sacrifice. A constant throughout the process has been God’s willingness to use people to implement and enact his plans — a few of which bore some of the greatest athletic capabilities in history. Allow us to pause for a minute to go through three of these epic figures and daydream with the proverbial question: “what if?”
A name synonymous with ridiculous strength, Samson was raised up in “pre-dynastic” Israel, where God raised up Judges to rescue and coral the young nation as it constantly went astray and eschewed God’s covenantal protection and blessing. Some of Samson’s known recorded feats include tearing apart a lion with his bare hands, smacking a thousand Philistines dead with the jawbone of a donkey, and literally bringing down the house by pushing apart the columns of a Philistine temple — all with a set of flowing locks that would make Rapunzel jealous.
God used Samson for a specific purpose at a specific time in history, but it doesn’t stop me from wondering: what if he had been born today and channeled all of that strength into sports? In what sport would his talents be best served? There are so many choices here that would be obvious: powerlifting, strong man competition, arm wrestling…can you imagine? The guy would probably rip your arm off.
My pick? Underwater basket weaving. He would bend bars of pure steel into an indestructible basket in seconds flat. And yes, that apparently is a sport now.
There is hardly a name more infamous in history. Despite being evil to the core, Goliath was still used by God to show His glory…just on the wrong end of a speeding stone. With his incredible proportions and strength, it’s easy to envision him dominating on any field or court. Oh man, imagine playing basketball when you’re the same height as the hoop. Volleyball? Come on, spike city! You could make him a football receiver and just stick him in the end zone — he’d win the jump ball every time.
My pick: ice hockey goalie. Try scoring a goal on someone that takes up the whole net.
Since we already listed his nemesis, let’s shift focus to David. Now this one takes some speculation. We know that God influenced the outcome for David’s success in battle, but I’m going to go out on a limb here and assume that God also blessed David with natural skill on the battlefield that he worked through (though it certainly would be an obvious demonstration of God’s glory if David was just a klutz that could barely lift a sword).
In the age of sword warfare, to excel as a warrior meant possessing a tremendous amount of strength, agility, and hand-eye coordination, as well as having a heads-up mind that could think several moves ahead. Any combat sport such as boxing would be a great fit here, but I could also envision David being a beast on the soccer field. His quickness and small stature would allow him to weave past defenders with ease, while using battlefield tactics and leadership ability to adjust his team’s formation and exploit weaknesses in the opposing squad. Result? Ball in the net time and time again.
I am, however, going to defer to a less obvious choice with my pick here and go with golf. Hey, if you can sling a small round stone with that much power and accuracy, just think about what you could do with a golf ball!
Although this was mostly just a fun, whimsical exercise, it is true that the bible is full of everyday people like you and me that God chooses to work through, despite all our shortcomings. On the one hand, these recorded faults lend credibility towards the authenticity of Scripture. Who for example, would make up a story about themselves where they appear as dimwits and cowards? On the other, it is a testament to God’s love for us that He chooses to include us anyway, that He is perfect, and it is His grace and strength that carries us when we fail.
Hope you enjoyed the read. Have a blessed day!
– Nicolas C. Day