John Andersen – Elder
Perhaps some of us remember a vintage TV ad (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=34wJt3pRY0w) in which two older brothers are looking at a bowl full of this unfamiliar breakfast cereal and debating whether or not to try it. After shoving the bowl back and forth and challenging each other unsuccessfully to be the first to pick up the spoon, one of them gets a brilliant idea about the youngest brother and says “let’s get Mikey, he hates everything.” Mikey, looking at them both with a puzzled “what’s wrong with you” look, without fear picks up the spoon and dives right in.
Leading up to today’s reading, the Israelites have been shoving back and forth the “bowl of their circumstances,” a military contest, trying to find someone amongst their ranks bold enough to pick up the spoon (sword rather), and dive into battle to silence the taunts of the seemingly invincible Goliath. Finding no one who will act as the tip of the spear, King Saul has resorted to bribery, willing to give great wealth, his daughter, and exemption from taxes to anyone who will start the battle by confronting Goliath. In comes David, the youngest of the sons of Jesse on a mission from his father to find out how the brothers are doing. After detecting the apprehension and timidity of the armies of the Living God, and with good reason hating what he sees, David goes with boldness and announces to the King that he’s the man for the job. One would think that as king, Saul would have led the charge. What’s behind David’s boldness?
“O my strength, I watch for you; you, O God, are my fortress, my loving God.” (Ps. 59:9.) It’s total dependence on God and his strength. As a humble shepherd, David had time to experience quiet and peaceful times of communion with God, who was nurturing and preparing him for greater things. As part of that training, God also allowed to come into David’s life sudden, life threatening events that served to put his growing faith into action. With courage and godly trust, David in an instant, remembering his Strength, would seize a lion or bear by the hair with his hands and kill it. I can imagine a short, quick prayer, then action with the tools that David had at his disposal.
But wait! This isn’t a lion or bear; it’s Goliath. There are giants in the land! In fact, this was the reaction of Saul and the army. Hmmm, I think I’ve heard that one somewhere before.
To David, this challenge from the perspective of physical danger was no different than what he had faced in the past. From a spiritual standpoint, however, verbal insults were being issued ultimately to God, David’s Strength. With godly indignation; he could not allow them to go unchallenged. In the end, David, a man after God’s own heart, is victorious physically and spiritually. And, by God’s grace, Saul and the army are also victorious.
Lord Jesus, whatever I find today in the “bowl of my circumstances”; help me to keep my eyes on you. Be my Strength and Deliverer to get me through this day’s battles.