1 Samuel 17.41-47 ESV
41 And the Philistine moved forward and came near to David, with his shield-bearer in front of him. 42 And when the Philistine looked and saw David, he disdained him, for he was but a youth, ruddy and handsome in appearance. 43 And the Philistine said to David, “Am I a dog, that you come to me with sticks?” And the Philistine cursed David by his gods. 44 The Philistine said to David, “Come to me, and I will give your flesh to the birds of the air and to the beasts of the field.” 45 Then David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with a sword and with a spear and with a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. 46 This day the Lord will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you down and cut off your head. And I will give the dead bodies of the host of the Philistines this day to the birds of the air and to the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel, 47 and that all this assembly may know that the Lord saves not with sword and spear. For the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give you into our hand.”
Last week, we began this series, “RISE ABOVE,” by looking at 9/11. At 855 we talked about finding our identity in Christ and allowing Christ to lift us up above the ash heap of our lives. Ezra and Nehemiah were our examples from scripture, as they re-oriented Israel’s identity through worship-life and community-life.
At 11am, we heard the blessed testimony of Kimberly Withka, as she worked the pile at ground zero. Kimberly reminded us that God was there, present in the lives of the responders and saints that brought the community together to overcome evil with good.
Today, we find ourselves in the book of 1 Samuel, with David facing the champion, Goliath, a warrior of the Philistines.
Game day — always a time of incredible stress, both good and bad. During football season, we lived for Friday nights under the lights. It was a magical time; a moment when your adrenaline was pumping and your senses were heightened. You could smell the grass before you arrived; feel the chill in the air before it got there; and hear the anticipation of the crowd as they waited with a rivaled eagerness to see their side come out the victors. It was intense.
One of the classic moments of any sporting event is a little “trash talk.” Do you know what I’m talking about? I remember it began the morning of game day, as we talked about how bad we were going to beat our rival. Then there was the locker room talk—all the players who talked incessantly in order to convince themselves that they were better than the other team. The last conversation was from the coach, who would give us a breakdown of what we needed to do to win. There was talk about how good we were, how strong we were. We were reminded of their vulnerabilities and their mistakes in games past. All of this so that we walk out convinced that we had what it took to win.
For a boy named David, it was game day. The best players from both sides had come to the field and there was a lot of trash talk going on. But for the Israelites, it was a bit different than what I just described. You could say that the confidence level was low. They were unsure and unnerved by the odds. How would they rise above the blood thirsty Philistines? How would they bring down the over-sized star athlete in this contest of champions?
But that wasn’t David’s attitude. David wasn’t worried about whether or not they would win. David knew two things: 1) The battle belonged the Lord, the God of Israel; and 2) it was NOT ok to let the Philistines defame the the God of Israel.
David made God his highest priority. There was nothing that would stand in the way of God’s will. If God had brought Israel’s armies to the battlefield against the Philistines, then God would see them through it. David’s role was to participate and trust. Saul and Israel’s army had trust, but it was misplaced. They trusted in skill, in might, and in their armor. David’s trust was in God. It’s the only reason a shepherd boy with a staff and sling could march out onto the battle field to face the champion of his mortal enemies. God would win the day, not through sword and spear but in the faith of a boy.
We can take away from this the reality that God is not looking for your skill or your might; He is not looking for your stuff or things. God is looking for you to put your whole trust in Him, to make Him the highest priority. When we do this, everything about us—whether our gifts or our gifting—will fall in line behind our faithfulness. All that we are will serve God with confidence.
I have mentioned this before, but one of my favorite quotes from G. K. Chesterton is, “The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult; and left untried” (What’s Wrong with the World). These words challenge us to actually “try” the Christian faith. But this is more than going to church services or buying an expensive study Bible. The Christian faith is a matter of the heart, an attitude of the soul. There is nothing casual about Christianity. It is extreme and calls the one who would dare take on its life to give up trusting in anything other than the God who calls you to faith.
David’s determination is something we should pray for; something we should desire with both desperation and excitement. Each of us face giants and champions, forces that threaten our lives and our livelihoods. But if our hope, our trust, our identity, our very life is found in God and in God alone, what do we have to fear?! The battle is the Lord’s!
This is a step that you are being encouraged to take. You have the opportunity, here and now, to step onto the battlefield of life and faith and experience the Lord’s victory. Will you be a vessel of victory? Will you let God be the champion through you? He calls you to come.
I know we’re tired. Our Fall schedules have kicked in and we’ve been running hard. I see it each Sunday, each Wednesday night fellowship; in Bible studies and small groups. I had a conversation Friday morning at Chickfila with a parishioner and we both agreed that there’s one important thing to confess before God and one another in order to see Jesus come alive in our hearts. It’s a confession that goes like this, “I’m tired. I’m broken. I have nothing left to give. Lord, now I’m ready. Use me.” Will you make that your prayer?
We can rise above our circumstances. Let us be like the small shepherd boy. Let us step out in faith and let the Lord be the champion. Will you let Him? Come and pray this morning that God will be your champion. Amen.