David’s Reputation and the Cross of Gold

1 Samuel 18:5-9–And David went out whithersoever Saul sent him, and behaved himself wisely: and Saul set him over the men of war, and he was accepted in the sight of all the people, and also in the sight of Saul’s servants. And it came to pass as they came, when David was returned from the slaughter of the Philistine, that the women came out of all cities of Israel, singing and dancing, to meet king Saul, with tabrets, with joy, and with instruments of musick. And the women answered one another as they played, and said, Saul hath slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands. And Saul was very wroth, and the saying displeased him; and he said, They have ascribed unto David ten thousands, and to me they have ascribed but thousands: and what can he have more but the kingdom? And Saul eyed David from that day and forward.

William Jennings Bryan gave a powerful speech at the 1896 Democratic National Convention which is often referred to as the Cross of Gold speech. It centered around monetary issues. Many in America at that time wanted silver currency so they wouldn’t be beholden to elitist bankers and their gold backed money.

In his speech Bryan makes a statement that perverts a phrase from the above Scripture passage to suit his purpose. I don’t have the direct quote, but it’s something like, “Greenbacks have slain their thousands, but gold has slain its ten thousands.”

My point here is not to argue the merits of Bryan’s oration, though it does indeed have great merit worth consideration today. I simply want to note his reference to Scripture. It’s something in his day his audience would no doubt have understood and appreciated.

The same can’t be said of Americans today. Oh, sure, many are familiar with the story of Noah and the ark, or they think they know it; but how many of us know enough Bible to appreciate a speaker’s reference to it? Or could any of us make such a reference ourselves?

We once had a country, and perhaps even a world in large part, which was familiar with Scripture, regardless of whether they were born again believers in Christ. The Bible was a common frame of reference.

Not any more. We’ve lost it. We’ve been fragmented and fed intellectual baby food. We know more of Homer Simpson’s sayings than those of the One True God.

We have no brilliant orators like William Jennings Bryan either. So if you don’t know a Biblical reference when you hear it, don’t worry. That’s because you likely won’t be hearing any. You’re safe.

And that’s both sad and deplorable.

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