"What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!'"
August 31, 2016
The story of David and Goliath is one of the best known in the Bible. I'd like to share it with you once again, for there is much that can be learned. This story is found in 1 Samuel chapter 17. I do realize that this devotional is a little long, but want to retell the story of David and Goliath to refresh our memories, then expound upon it.
David was the youngest of Jesse's sons and was a shepherd. His oldest three brothers had joined Saul's army to fight the Philistines. For forty days, the Philistines and Israelites had been in a standoff. Every morning and evening, the Philistine champion, Goliath, strutted in front of the Israelite army, taunting them. "Why are you all coming out to fight? I am the Philistine champion, but you are only the servants of Saul. Choose one man to come down here and fight me! If he kills me, then we will be your slaves. But if I kill him, you will be our slaves! I defy the armies of Israel today! Send me a man who will fight me!"
Saul and the Israelite army were terrified and deeply shaken. Here's why: Goliath was truly a giant, measuring in at over 9 feet tall. He wore a bronze helmet, and his bronze coat of mail weighed 125 pounds. He also wore bronze leg armor, and he carried a bronze javelin on his shoulder. The shaft of his spear was as heavy and thick as a weaver's beam, tipped with an iron spearhead that weighed 15 pounds. Can you imagine wearing armor that heavy while fighting; while using a spear that large?! Most of us wouldn't even be able to stand up with all that!
One day Jesse said to David, "Take this basket of roasted grain and these ten loaves of bread, and carry them quickly to your brothers. Give these ten cuts of cheese to their captain. See how your brothers are getting along, and bring back a report."
David left the sheep with another shepherd and set out early the morning with the gifts. He arrived at the camp just as the Israelite army was leaving for the battlefield with shouts and battle cries. Soon the Israelite and Philistine forces stood facing each other, army against army. David left his things with the keeper of supplies and hurried out to the ranks to meet his brothers. As he was talking to them, Goliath, came out from the Philistine ranks, and David heard him shout his usual taunts. As soon as the Israelites saw him, they begin to run away in fright.
"Have you seen the giant? He comes out each day to defy Israel. The king has offered a huge reward to anyone who kills him. He will give that man one of his daughters for a wife, and the man's entire family will be exempted from paying taxes."
David asked the soldier standing nearby, "Who is this pagan Philistine anyway, that he is allowed to defy the armies of the living God?" When David's oldest brother overheard David, he was angry. "What are you doing here anyway? What about those few sheep you're supposed to be taking care of? I know about your pride and deceit. You just want to see the battle!" David asked, "What have I done now?!? I was only asking a question!!"
It was reported to Saul that David was asking questions, so he sent for David.
"Don't worry about this Philistine," David told Saul, "I will go fight him!"
"Don't be ridiculous," Saul replied. "There's no way you can fight this Philistine and possibly win! You're only a boy, and he's been a man of war since his youth."
But David persisted. "I have been taking care of my father's sheep and goats. When a lion or a bear comes to steal a lamb from the flock, I go after it with a club and rescue the lamb from its mouth. If the animal turns on me, I catch it by the jaw and club it to death. I have done this to both lions and bears, and I'll do it to this pagan Philistine, too, for he has defied the armies of the living God! The Lord who rescued me from the claws of the lion and the bear will rescue me from this Philistine!"
Saul finally consented. "All right, go ahead. And may the Lord be with you!" Saul gave David his own armor. David put it on, strapped the sword over it, and took a step or two to see what is was like, for he had never worn such things before. "I can't go in these; I'm not used to them. So David took them off. He picked up five smooth stones from a stream and put them into his shepherd's bag. Then, armed only with his shepherd's staff and sling, he started across the valley to fight the Philistine.
Goliath walked out toward David with his shield bearer ahead of him, sneering in contempt at this ruddy-faced boy. "Am I a dog," he roared at David, "that you come at me with a stick? Come over here, and I'll give your flesh to the birds and wild animals." He cursed David by the names of his gods.
David replied, "You come to me with sword, spear, and javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of Heaven's Armies -- the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. Today the Lord will conquer you, and I will kill you and cut off your head. And then I will give the dead bodies of your men to the birds and wild animals, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel! And everyone assembled here will know that the Lord rescues his people, but not with sword and spear. This is the Lord's battle, and He will give you to us!"
As Goliath moved closer to attack, David quickly ran out to meet him. Reaching into his shepherd's bag and taking out a stone, he hurled it with his sling and hit the Philistine in the forehead. The stone sank in, and Goliath stumbled and fell down on the ground. So David triumphed over the Philistine with only a sling and a stone, for he had no sword. Then David ran over and pulled Goliath's sword from its sheath. David used it to kill him and cut off his head.
When the Philistines saw that their champion was dead, they turned and ran. Then the men of Israel and Judah gave a great shout of triumph and rushed after the Philistines.
One thing that stands out to me in this story is the fact that an untrained, non-military boy is willing to fight a battle that soldiers, who had been trained and had the right armor, were too frightened to attempt. He never even contemplated fear or worry about possible failure. He didn't say, "Let me pray about it and see if God gives me a sign that I should do this." He didn't consider the possibility that he could have been killed by this giant. He had confidence in his abilities, and most importantly, complete confidence in his God.
Many times, I daresay, that most of us fail to function in immediate attack mode when we are faced with seemingly impossible looking situations. We will first worried and fret, think of all the possible scenarios of what could go wrong or what has gone wrong, experience fear, cry and whine. Our prayers are not ones of faith, but more along the line of, "God, why me? I don't understand why this is happening (or why You are allowing this to happen)! I don't know what to do! This feels hopeless!" Then we often either become angry that we're having to deal with this giant in our life, or we wallow in self-pity. Even after we pick ourself back up and fortify ourself to face our difficulty and continue on, we do so with worry and doubt. Eventually, we may come to a place of true faith, but it often takes us a while to get there. But if the situation lasts longer than we think it should and that giant just keeps taunting us, our faith begins to waver and is shaken.
David didn't do that. He had a deep understanding of who God was, and what God was capable of doing. His immediate spontaneous reaction was, "Okay, this giant has defied God and the armies of Israel long enough! Something needs to be done, and since everyone else is afraid, I'll fight this giant and get rid of him!" It didn't matter what his brother and the king said, David knew that God was well able to defeat this giant, and was willing to be the vessel through which God worked to accomplish this feat. He didn't tip-toe towards the giant, but he ran at him full force -- no fear! David's attitude was, "How dare you taunt and defy my God! How dare you defy my people! Today you are going to die, and the whole world is going to see that there is only one true God! This battle isn't going to be fought with a spear and sword, but everyone will see that God rescues His people." That's my goal that I want to attain! I want this to always be my immediate, spontaneous, instinctive reaction whenever "life" happens and "giants" taunt me; "How dare you taunt and defy my God! I come against you in the name of the Lord God, Almighty! Today you will be defeated and God will be exalted!" I'm not there yet, but wow, what a goal!!
David didn't even have the support of his own brother. In fact, he didn't seem to be too concerned for David's welfare and safety, but instead saw him as the pesky baby brother, full of pride and deceit. Perhaps, the older brothers were all jealous of David, due to the fact that prior to this, Samuel had already chosen and anointed him to be the next king. In fact, after God rejected Saul as king, due to his disobedience and refusal to obey God's commands, the Spirit of the Lord had left Saul and the Lord sent a tormenting spirit that filled him with depression and fear. Some of Saul's servants said to him, "Let us find a good musician to play the harp whenever the tormenting spirit troubles you. He will play soothing music, and you will soon be well again." When Saul agreed, one of the servants said, "One of Jesse's sons from Bethlehem is a talented harp player. Not only that -- he is a brave warrior, a man of war, and has good judgment. He is also a fine-looking young man, and the Lord is with him." Although he was only a shepherd, David had already obtained a good reputation for himself. He was already known for his bravery, good judgment, and that God was with him. Saul sent messengers to Jesse requesting that David be sent to him. David went to Saul and began serving him. Saul loved David very much (that later changed!), and David became his armor bearer. Saul sent a message to Jesse asking that David be allowed to remain in his service, for he was very pleased with him. (I Samuel chapter 16) So the older brothers knew that this little brother of theirs was not only going to one day became king, but he was currently living in the king's palace, and was beloved by the king, himself.
I'm not sure why David was once again tending sheep for his father, when he had been previously serving Saul. Perhaps David only resided with the king when he was not at war; but when he left with his army to fight, David went back home to his father. Or perhaps he went back and forth between shepherding his father's flock and being in Saul's service.
When David's oldest brother heard him asking questions about Goliath, he became angry and told David to go back home to tend to the sheep, and asked, "What are you doing here anyway?!" David's response was a typical sibling response, "What have I done now?! I was only asking a question."
Saul gives David permission to fight Goliath, probably more out of desperation than anything. No one else in his army was willing to face the giant. Even though at first, he accused David of being ridiculous, he gave in and granted permission.
There are times in our life when we may feel like God is impressing us to do something in particular. Sometimes it may be a dream that we have and would like to pursue. Other times, we may see a need and feel urged to respond. When we tell others our plan and let them know what we are going to do, they are negative or criticize or try to talk us out of it. We find little, or no, support from anyone; especially family. Too often when that happens, we tend to cave and give into the pressure to give up or quit. We start feeling inadequate and think perhaps we were really aren't qualified, so listen to what others are saying and allow their opinions to influence us.
I believe that God is looking for people who have the courage of David! People who will not waver or let the opinion of others sway them. People who refuse to allow doubt or worry hinder them from stepping out in faith and doing what God has placed within their heart. People who realize how big their God is, and are confident that He is greater than whatever it is that they're facing. There may be others who seem more qualified or better equipped, but they're not stepping out and doing what needs to be done; therefore, God calls me or you to step up and do it.
When we respond in faith and say, "Yes Lord! I am willing to place my faith in you and face down this giant!"; God will go before us and make a way when there seems to be no way. He can accomplish the impossible through us. We may be facing something that looks huge and as if there is no way we can defeat it. It may be standing there in heavy armor with a huge spear pointed at us, taunting us, but we can look whatever it is in the eye and say, "I'm not afraid of you! I come to you in the name of the Lord God Almighty!!" A pebble can defeat a sword, when the power of God is behind the throw, giving it momentum and force.
I encourage you today to not allow those giants in your life (I'm not necessarily talking about people, but situations or whatever it is that makes you feel defeated), overcome you and make you feel as if you have no hope. You have the power of God to help you overcome those things so that you can live in victory.
Don't allow the words of others to bring you discouragement or fear. You're not a loser! You're not weak! You're not stupid! Sometimes people speak words of discouragement out of personal jealousies, out of worry, out of fear, or because they know that if God intervenes or you fully submit to His authority, then it could bring about a big change and they don't like change.
Romans 8:31 says, "If God is for us, who can ever be against us?" Verses 35 and 37 say, "Can anything ever separate us from Christ's love? Does it mean He no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us."
All of us have the potential to become men and women who have the characteristics of David. We can be bold in our faith in God! When we face trouble, calamity, persecution, hunger, destitution, danger, or are threatened, we can have overwhelming victory; not in our own self or abilities, but through Jesus Christ!
David turned down the armor because he wasn't used to it. So, he was better off not having it on at all. Fortunately, his battle was just against a flesh enemy.
Ephesians 6:11-13 says, "Clothe yourselves with the full armor of God so that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world rulers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens. For this reason, take up the full armor of God so that you may be able to stand your ground on the evil day, and having done everything, to stand." It goes on to itemize the armor: belt of truth, breastplate of righteousness, shoes of preparation of peace, helmet of salvation, and sword of the Spirit (or Word of God).
But when a battle comes, will we try on the armor, and say, "I don't know how to use this."? We need to practice the truth, righteousness, preparation of peace, salvation, and the Word. But how do we do this? By recognizing when the spiritual forces of evil are at work, and resisting. We can't practice by diving into an all-out war. But we see spiritual forces of evil on TV everywhere, in public, and at work. It might be as simple as a hateful remark from someone that we need to resist with peace, or a suspicious rumor that we need to resist with truth. If you look, you'll see it everywhere.
Cocoa Brownies Supreme
(This was the very first brownie recipe I learned how to make when I was a young girl.)
1 cup shortening
3/4 cup cocoa
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoon vanilla
1-1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
Cream shortening and sugar together; add in vanilla and eggs. Add dry ingredients and mix well. Grease and flour 9x13 baking pan. Bake at 350 for 25 minutes or until done.
Kids can be quite entertaining!! My sister shared this story with me and Jon, and we've chuckled about it off and on since. My great-nephew Owen if age 4 and has quite a vivid imagination. A few days ago he was playing at his grandma's house and had a little Lego figurine. She overheard him playing and talking. He was doing all the voices himself for this. The mommy had a very high-pitched voice. Here was his imaginative conversation:
Lego guy: Mommy, mommy!
Mommy: What honey?
Lego guy: I'm blind!
Lego guy: Mommy, Mommy!
Mommy: What honey?
Lego guy: I have hair in my eyes.
Mommy: That's OK, you are blind anyway!
Determine to make every setback the foundation for a comeback, not a reason to quit. - Christine Caine
We love you!
Loretta & Jon