Nailed to a bulletin board above my office computer monitor is a 5 year old photo of my family. We were on vacation in San Diego—one of our favorite destinations—walking around Seaport Village. A gentle breeze was blowing kisses our direction and a man playing a pan flute was entertaining the crowd in the distance. My two youngest daughters hadn’t hit adolescence just yet so they were still pretty low maintenance.
Best of all, Kelley and I had just lost a bunch of weight, so we looked pretty good.
Isn’t it amazing how a single photo can bring back so many memories?
Today we’re going to look at a word that brings us so much more than just good memories.
Please join us!
1 Samuel 17:1-19:24
INSIGHTS AND EXPLANATIONS
1 Samuel 17:1-19:24. This is one of my favorite stories in the Bible. At a young age, David demonstrates the character that Saul lacks.
Although people may claim Goliath’s size is exaggerated, The Bible Background Commentary cites extra-biblical resources that support the Biblical account:
Champions of this size are not simply a figment of Israelite imagination or the result of embellished legends. The Egyptian letter on Papyrus Anastasi I (thirteenth century b.c.) describes fierce warriors in Canaan who are seven to nine feet tall. Additionally, two female skeletons about seven feet tall from the twelfth century have been found at Tell es-Sa’ideyeh in Transjordan.
Seeing Goliath’s size, and knowing he stood “head and shoulders” above everyone around, Saul seemed like the perfect match. Yet verse 11 tells us that Saul, along with his men, was “dismayed and terrified.”
David’s comments in 17:26 reveal that Goliath’s challenge bothered him in a different way than the rest of the army. David wasn’t interested in garnering wealth and honor, he was troubled that Goliath was disgracing the God of Israel. For 40 days, Goliath continuously challenged the armies—and the God—of Israel. Yet the army did nothing. Over time, this must have been very demoralizing on the troops. David, on the other hand, was ready to take on the giant immediately after hearing his words. Quite a contrast from Saul!
To his credit, Saul gave this accidental hero permission to fight Goliath.
Verses 38-39 foreshadow what would eventually take place between Saul and David, as well as provide a symbolic window into the role David wasn’t prepared to assume:
Then Saul dressed David in his own tunic. He put a coat of armor on him and a bronze helmet on his head. David fastened on his sword over the tunic and tried walking around, because he was not used to them. “I cannot go in these,” he said to Saul, “because I am not used to them.” So he took them off.
Saul dressed David with his royal armor, which David eventually wore as Israel’s rightful king. But also notice that the armor didn’t feel comfortable. David would require years of trials and testing before he was adequately fitted for it.
Entering the showdown, David demonstrated his confidence in God’s presence by running quickly to the battle line to meet him (verse 48). Imagine a scrawny, red-headed, freckle-faced kid running toward a nine foot giant. But he conquered him!
After slaying the giant, Saul asks Abner about the identity of this new hero. While it seems to contradict 1 Samuel 16:14-23, which tells us the two had already met, remember that Saul was about to give his daughter’s hand in marriage to David. The king wanted to know more about the family who was marrying into his.
In chapter 18, Saul’s insecurities rise to the surface as he grows increasingly jealous of his country’s new hero. Three times we read that Saul was afraid of David. Nevertheless, David maintains an attitude of humility and servanthood.
John 8:21-59. The interplay between Jesus and the Jews is interesting. Not until I read through it a third and fourth time did I realize Jesus was addressing people who believed in him (verse 31). It’s obvious that Jesus wasn’t intent on becoming a popular personality.
Jesus’ words in verses 31-41 contradicts conventional wisdom. Our society wants the freedom to do whatever it pleases, whenever it pleases. Really, it seeks to sin at will. True freedom, according to Jesus, is freedom from sin, not the freedom to do it. I’m not an advocate of excessive laws to prevent people from doing bad things, but we do need an understanding of the nature of true freedom.
As people begin to understand Jesus’ claim to an exclusive relationship with his heavenly Father, they level a pretty fierce accusation.
“You’re nothing but a demon-possessed Samaritan,” they tell him.
“I am not demon-possessed,” he replies.
Did you get that? Jesus implied he was a Samaritan…of Jewish lineage of course. Jews considered Samaritans to be worse than a Gentile. They were defiled because they were cross breeds between the Jews and the Assyrians. Jesus’ statement tells us he is not only one with us, but one of us. One with everyone.
Psalm 111. This psalm begins book 3 in the book of Psalms. You may recognize the last verse: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (verse 10). It’s identical to Proverbs 9:10 and similar to Proverbs 1:7.
Psalm 112. Sometime, you might consider making a list of the characteristics of the person who fears the Lord—based on this chapter. The characteristic that jumps out at me in this list is the generosity of the person who fears the Lord.
As we read David’s response to Saul, I can’t help but recommend to you my favorite book of all time. Gene Edwards’ book A Tale of Three Kings: A Study In Brokenness compares the lives of Saul, David, and Absalom. If you’ve ever been abused by a boss, a Christian leader, or a friend—or if someone has ever betrayed you, I can’t urge you enough to read this book.
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THE WORD MADE FRESH
I wonder what ran through Goliath’s eyes as he looked into David’s eyes.
What’s wrong with this kid—doesn’t he know who I am? I could eat this kid as an appetizer for lunch! He must be crazy!
David was crazy. Just read his words to Goliath:
“You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied.”
What gave David such confidence?
First, we read that before facing Goliath, he had killed his ions and bears (1 Samuel 17:34-36). That’s a sermon waiting to be preached (or a blog entry waiting to be written).
But more than that, David was confident that God was right there with him. To say you come in the name of a person in that day meant that the person being called upon was actively present.
Kind of like the way glancing a photo can bring back a flood of memories, so does calling on the Lord God Almighty usher his presence.
Later in Philippians 2 we read that at the name of Jesus, every knee will bow and tongue confess that Jesus is Lord. That’s why David can say in verse 47, “All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves; for the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give all of you into our hands.”
As we call on the name of Jesus, he is present with us. Of course, he’s present in the sense that he’s always there. But by calling on his name, it’s like bringing Jesus (or his heavenly father) to attention.
The next time you’re in trouble, or afraid, or paralyzed and don’t know what to do—call on his name.
It’s much better than a photo!
- What spoke to your in today’s reading?
- What is your favorite insight from the story of David and Goliath?
- What was admirable about Jonathan? What can you learn from him?
- Reading through Psalm 112, what characteristics speak to you most? Why?
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Michael co-pastors The Neighborhood Church in Littleton, Colorado.