The View From 1776

Warriors for God

      http://www.thomasbrewton.com/index.php/weblog/warriors_for_god/

The Old Testament story of David and Goliath offers guidance to living a true Christian life.


Sunday’s sermon at the Long Ridge Congregational Church (non-UCC) in North Stamford, Connecticut, was delivered by Rev. David Smith, who heads the Pivot Ministries. 

Pivot Ministries reorient men out of the thralldom of drugs and alcohol by giving them the personal experience of Jesus Christ’s saving love.  They do a wonderful job, guiding men of all ages and from all walks of life along an 18-month program. 

Pivot’s website is http://www.pivotministries.org/ .  They need contributions to carry on.  Contact them and give them your support.

Rev. Smith’s text was 1 Samuel 17, which recounts the famous story of the future king David as a young shepherd boy facing the Philistine giant Goliath and slaying him in battle.

Now the Philistines gathered their forces for war and assembled at Socoh in Judah. They pitched camp at Ephes Dammim, between Socoh and Azekah.  Saul and the Israelites assembled and camped in the Valley of Elah and drew up their battle line to meet the Philistines.  The Philistines occupied one hill and the Israelites another, with the valley between them.

A champion named Goliath, who was from Gath, came out of the Philistine camp. He was over nine feet tall.  (1 Samuel 17:1-4)

Goliath stood and shouted to the ranks of Israel, “Why do you come out and line up for battle? Am I not a Philistine, and are you not the servants of Saul? Choose a man and have him come down to me.  If he is able to fight and kill me, we will become your subjects; but if I overcome him and kill him, you will become our subjects and serve us.  (1 Samuel 17:8-9)

As the Philistine moved closer to attack him, David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet him.  Reaching into his bag and taking out a stone, he slung it and struck the Philistine on the forehead. The stone sank into his forehead, and he fell facedown on the ground.  So David triumphed over the Philistine with a sling and a stone; without a sword in his hand he struck down the Philistine and killed him.  (1 Samuel 17:48-50)

The context of the story is in some respects the same as that of Moses confronting the Egyptian Pharaoh and conveying Yahweh’s demand that the Israelites be freed.  It was the gods of the Pharaohs’ against God Almighty, and God won the confrontation, delivering the Israelites from bondage.

What makes David’s confrontation with Goliath into a parallel story is the fact that David, though just a boy, had already been anointed by Samuel as the future successor to Saul, who had fallen away from God and become too self-important.

The LORD said to Samuel, “How long will you mourn for Saul, since I have rejected him as king over Israel? Fill your horn with oil and be on your way; I am sending you to Jesse of Bethlehem. I have chosen one of his sons to be king.  (1 Samuel 16:1)

So Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the presence of his brothers, and from that day on the Spirit of the LORD came upon David in power. Samuel then went to Ramah.  (1 Samuel 16:13)

What made David a successful warrior for God?

Rev. Smith draws the following lessons from these passages:

First, be obedient.  When God, your parents, or those in authority call you to duty, respond.

Now Jesse said to his son David, “Take this ephah of roasted grain and these ten loaves of bread for your brothers and hurry to their camp.  Take along these ten cheeses to the commander of their unit.  See how your brothers are and bring back some assurance from them.  They are with Saul and all the men of Israel in the Valley of Elah, fighting against the Philistines.  (1 Samuel 1:17-19)

Divid did as his father commanded, and by doing so found himself in the right place, at the right time to defeat Goliath.

Second, act responsibly.  David did as his father commanded, but first arranged for someone else to carry on his duties as shepherd to his father’s flock.

Early in the morning David left the flock with a shepherd, loaded up and set out, as Jesse had directed. He reached the camp as the army was going out to its battle positions, shouting the war cry.  (1 Samuel 17:20)

Third, do not be discouraged or deterred from God’s calling by unkind words or actions of others.

When Eliab, David’s oldest brother, heard him speaking with the men, he burned with anger at him and asked, “Why have you come down here? And with whom did you leave those few sheep in the desert? I know how conceited you are and how wicked your heart is; you came down only to watch the battle.”  “Now what have I done?” said David. “Can’t I even speak?”  He then turned away to someone else and brought up the same matter, and the men answered him as before.  What David said was overheard and reported to Saul, and Saul sent for him.  David said to Saul, “Let no one lose heart on account of this Philistine; your servant will go and fight him.  (1 Samuel 17:28-32)

Fourth, remember the victories God has granted us in the past; don’t lose faith that God will deliver us from evil.  It is not our strength, but the Lord God’s that arms us.

David said to Saul: The LORD who delivered me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.”??Saul said to David, “Go, and the LORD be with you.  (1 Samuel 17:37)

David said to the Philistine [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.  This day the LORD will hand you over to me, and I’ll strike you down and cut off your head. Today I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds of the air and the beasts of the earth, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel.  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.  (1 Samuel 17:45-47)