Many churches throughout the world use a Bible reading schedule called a "lectionary." It's just a fancy word meaning "selected readings." Posts like this reflect on the readings for an upcoming Sunday or other Church holiday, as found in the historic one-year lectionary.
In 1 Samuel 17 when David is face to face with Goliath the Philistine, there is an even greater battle in progress. We may think that a young shepherd and a giant warrior would be enough of a battle. However, by God’s providence, there is something much bigger happening. And, oddly enough, it’s a battle that we can see repeated many times in many places, on any given day.
Goliath is very strong. He is able to operate in all the ways that our world sees as forceful. He is big, strong, and presumably experienced in warfare. If there is an enemy, he is able to wipe the enemy out. He is the not-so-secret weapon of the Philistine army. He is not used to having opposition, at least not any sort of serious opposition. He is certainly not used to being threatened by someone who uses nontraditional weapons. It looks a little like a SWAT team being approached by a little old lady carrying a frying pan. Really? Who are you trying to kid?
Goliath not only considers David’s presence insulting, but he also considers the idea that David would be God’s representative to be an insult. So he piles insults onto not only David, but also David’s God. Why would he think of coming against someone like Goliath armed with sticks, as you might use to break up a dog fight? Couldn’t the people of Israel come up with a real warrior? Maybe they don’t have a real God.
The powers of this world have the same attitude. Christians speak of prayer, of faith in God, of Christ’s triumph over death through his own death and resurrection. Yet our world can’t understand this. It doesn’t seem to be a show of power. What’s prayer going to do in the face of injustice, famine, and war? What’s faith in God going to do when you are dealing with a dread disease that will kill you? What does Jesus’ resurrection have to do with the horrors of genocide? He didn’t seem to stop that, did he?
What was David’s response? What is the response of a Christian today? We don’t come to this battle with mere earthly power. We come with the power of the God of all. He is the one who can create and sustain all things by his word of power. He is the one who understands all of the consequences of every earthly action, and can keep those consequences orderly. He is the one who raises people and nations to prominence and then diminishes them again according to his perfect will in his perfect time. And he is the one who can raise the dead, whether they die of natural causes in their beds at a ripe old age or they die of disease, famine, or warfare. He’s the God of life. Why would you threaten my life? You should rather be concerned that our God will take your life so as to preserve countless others.
Our world will not understand this attitude. They may find it hostile, offensive, and even dangerous. They will mock and scorn it. But it is exactly the same attitude David brought to the fight with Goliath. What happened to Goliath? God happened to Goliath. He guided David’s hands and his words. God’s purpose was accomplished, in that instance, rescuing his people from a battle with the Philistines. What is God’s purpose this day in our encounters? We may not know. But God will still work through His word, dealing with all the affairs of this world. We come with the Word of God.
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