Thursday, November 12, 2009

Mid-Day Devotion 11/12/09

David and Goliath, Church of the Holy Cross, Van, Turkey

“And Saul armed David with his armour, and he put an helmet of brass upon his head; also he armed him with a coat of mail. And David girded his sword upon his armour, and he assayed to go; for he had not proved it. And David said unto Saul, I cannot go with these; for I have not proved them. And David put them off him. And he took his staff in his hand, and chose him five smooth stones out of the brook, and put them in a shepherd's bag which he had, even in a scrip; and his sling was in his hand: and he drew near to the Philistine.”
1 Samuel 17:38-40

They had set up camp overlooking the valley of Elah, the Philistines entrenched in their own camp just beyond them, yet they were held at bay, unable to move forward for the hero of their enemies stood before them with power and strength, ready to stop any advance they made. The challenge was now set. If the children of Israel were to lose the battle they would be sent to captivity and slavery, their lives then controlled by the idolatrous Philistines who mocked God, and held their lives to be cheap and meaningless, without any real value or worth.

They wanted to march forward, to make their stand against the unrighteousness and the wickedness that was now their across from them, but they couldn’t. The contest was clear: the champion of Israel versus the champion of the Philistines. To lose was to forfeit their lives and their homes and their country. Their family and their friends, their children and their grandchildren would be given over to dark bondage as they were taken prisoner and given to the evils of their enemy. There was not one amidst the armies of Saul who were willing to stand against him, not one who was willing to take the chance that he would lose the fight and thus lose his life and subject his people to the life that they would be given to.

The mocking and the derision of Goliath would go unanswered…

That was until David would step forth.

A Shepherd boy from Bethlehem, he wasn’t a soldier. He was there only really by chance, having been sent by his father to bring food to his brothers who were in the army. Otherwise he had lived for his flock amidst the fields and the pastures of his home. He had no dreams of being a hero or dreams of being a great man. Yet, as he heard Goliath calling out, he knew the challenge could not go unanswered. “What shall be done to the man that killeth this Philistine, and taketh away the reproach from Israel? for who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?” (1 Samuel 17:26) Whatever fear he might have felt, whatever may have scared him, David would stand ready to go forth against Goliath, a boy against the Giant of Philistia.

As he prepared to go forward, Saul would clothe him in his armor, giving him his helmet and his sword. Yet, David, as said, wasn’t a soldier, he was shepherd. He had no military training, he had never before put on the heavy brass or taken up the weighty sword. Now, as he did, he couldn’t move. It was too much for him. He had no practice or training in all of this, and it just too difficult for him to move in it. He would have it all taken off. Then, picking up five stones he would stand in the valley against Goliath dressed as he was, with his staff and his sling in his hand.

The giant would be unable to believe it. Was this the best that his enemies had to offer? “Am I a dog, that thou comest to me with staves?” (1 Samuel 17:43) In a moment he knew the battle would be over. After all, what chance did this boy have against him, a seasoned soldier, the feared adversary, strong and powerful, able to kill him with one stroke of his sword. Yet David would not flinch. Taking one of his stones, he would swing his sling and release. The rock would fly through the air. It would land, square between Goliath’s eyes.

We don’t know what the last thoughts were of Goliath as he fell to the ground, but one has to imagine he wondered how it was that he bested by this boy. He had no experience, he no weapon except that which he used to chase away the bears and the lions from his flock, and yet he had won. For all of Goliath’s strength, the boy had won the day. If he had any final thoughts they had to be ones that wondered how this was at all possible. With all the armies of his enemy their it just all seemed like it would have been so improbable that he would die at the hands of an Israelite boy.

God sends us the most unlikely of situations as we look to the wickedness of unrighteous men who mock the Lord our God through their words and their actions. We see them all around us. They take captive men and women with no thought or consideration, making them slaves and hostages, persecuting them and oppressing them as they work their will in this world. They operate with such bitter hatred, putting enmity between them and God. Yet, even when it seems like we are ill equipped to understand the gravity of the situation or the pain they inflict, when it seems like we are ill equipped to comprehend the power that they have the Lord wants us to make a stand. For, through their actions, they ridicule God and show disdain to their fellow man, whom God tells us to love.

Like David we may not be able to put on the armor of this world to march forward against their dark power and their grim hold. Yet there is a protective covering that He wishes for us to wear as we take up these challenges. It is an armor that is more powerful than the forces of this world, and one that will let us stand against evil in all of its forms. “Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.” (Ephesians 6:11-13)

Girding our loins with truth, and taking on the breastplate of righteousness, tying the boots of the gospel peace, while lifting high the shield of faith, while we march forward with the helmet of salvation, welding the sword of the Spirit, the Word of the Lord, (Ephesians 6:14-17) which is sharper than any double edged sword of this world, (Hebrews 4:12) we go forth with the strength of the Lord against all the challenges of this world, amidst any trial or tribulation. Though it then may seem as if evil is on the rise and chaos surrounds us, though it may seem as if darkness and wickedness is on the march we shall have the preserver through the mysteries of God and the love that He has for us.

Therefore pray for the prisoners and the hostages, pray for the captives and the slaves, knowing that the Lord our God, our Heavenly Father, wants you to make a stand for them. In the lessons of Christ, which tell unto us to love our fellow man that we may prove ourselves his disciples, (John 13:34) stand up for the poor and the afflicted, letting your deep and abiding profession of faith be one that looks upon the cause and the plight of those who suffer or those who would be ripped away from all that they knew or loved, and taking it up as you own.

Like it was unto David, the armor of God is sufficient for us through our lives and in our lives, strengthening us and shielding us against even the deepest of challenges that we face. Here then we know that when we take up the cause that the Lord has for us, putting the name of His Spirit, that Spirit which brings liberty, (2 Corinthians 3:17) first in our lives, even above the fear or the weight or the burdens that we feel, we know that we are doing the Lord’s work in our lives and that He shall give us the strength to go on and to make this deep and abiding stand. For when we are weak then shall He make us strong, for His grace is sufficient for us. (12 Corinthians 12:9-10)

Take the cause of all of those who suffer and are taken captive by this world and the forces in it as your own, and know then that God shall guide you and protect you all the days of your life. This is the promise and the assurance that He has given unto you in the love that He has for all of us regardless of what we may face in this world and amidst this world.

In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost, Amen.

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