Saturday, September 10, 2011

The Power of God, verse 6

O Lord, I have so many enemies; so many are against me. So many are saying, “God will never rescue him!” But you, O Lord, are a shield around me; you are my glory, the one who holds my head high. I cried out to the Lord, and he answered me from his holy mountain. I lay down and slept, yet I woke up in safety, for the Lord was watching over me. I am not afraid of ten thousand enemies who surround me on every side. Arise, O Lord! Rescue me, my God! Slap all my enemies in the face! Shatter the teeth of the wicked! Victory comes from you, O Lord. May you bless your people. Psalm 3

You might not have been familiar with the story of Namaan, but I bet you know this one! The Israelites are at war with the Philistines and they are facing each other on opposite hills with a valley in between. One day, Goliath comes out of the ranks of the Philistines to challenge Israel.

Goliath was no ordinary man.

Then a champion came out from the armies of the Philistines named Goliath, from Gath, whose height was six cubits and a span. He had a bronze helmet on his head, and he was clothed with scale-armor which weighed five thousand shekels of bronze. He also had bronze greaves on his legs and a bronze javelin slung between his shoulders. The shaft of his spear was like a weaver’s beam, and the head of his spear weighed six hundred shekels of iron; his shield-carrier also walked before him. I Samuel 17:4-7

Goliath was a champion from the region of Gath and he was over nine feet tall! In addition to his imposing height, he was all decked out in heavy armor. 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 tipped with an iron spearhead that weighed 15 pounds. As if that wasn't enough, he had an armor bearer who walked ahead of him carrying a shield!

Goliath didn't come out of the ranks just to stand there. He had something to say. He had a challenge for the Israelites.

He stood and shouted to the ranks of Israel and said to them, “Why do you come out to draw up in battle array? Am I not the Philistine and you servants of Saul? Choose a man for yourselves and let him come down to me. If he is able to fight with me and kill me, then we will become your servants; but if I prevail against him and kill him, then you shall become our servants and serve us.” Again the Philistine said, “I defy the ranks of Israel this day; give me a man that we may fight together.” I Samuel 17:8-10

Goliath didn't just come out and challenge the Israelites once. He did this same routine, every morning and every evening, for 40 days!

It appears that Goliath's ego is as big as his armor. He obviously doesn't think there's a worthy opponent among Saul's army. They don't think so either! Look at their response:

When Saul and all Israel heard these words of the Philistine, they were dismayed and greatly afraid. I Samuel 17:11

Clearly, they couldn't see the plan that God had for them, to rescue them and save them from their enemy. His power is like that sometimes - even though we don't see it, He is at work, putting all the pieces in place so that His will is accomplished and He is glorified. We see part of that plan being hatched in the next part of the story. The Bible tells us about David, the son of Jesse. He was the youngest of Jesse's eight sons, and the three oldest sons were with Saul's camp, fighting against the Philistines. David used to go between the camp and back to his father's in Bethlehem, because he was in charge of tending the flock - he was a shepherd.

David's father was about to send him on an important errand. Jesse knew that the men would need good food, and he also wanted a report on how they were doing. So he sends David out.

Then Jesse said to David his son, “Take now for your brothers an ephah of this roasted grain and these ten loaves and run to the camp to your brothers. Bring also these ten cuts of cheese to the commander of their thousand, and look into the welfare of your brothers, and bring back news of them. For Saul and they and all the men of Israel are in the valley of Elah, fighting with the Philistines.”
I Samuel 17:17-19

David obeyed his father and left early in the morning, taking the supplies as Jesse had requested. When he got to the camp, the army was in battle array shouting the war cry. Israel and the Philistines were ready to fight, army against army.

David ran to the battle line to greet his brothers. (That wouldn't have been my first response! We already see that David is a brave young man!) As David talks with his brothers, Goliath again comes out of the Philistine ranks and challenges the Israelites, just like he had done the previous 40 days. This time, David heard it.

And the Israelites have the same old response. They flee.

When all the men of Israel saw the man, they fled from him and were greatly afraid. The men of Israel said, “Have you seen this man who is coming up? Surely he is coming up to defy Israel. And it will be that the king will enrich the man who kills him with great riches and will give him his daughter and make his father’s house free in Israel.” I Samuel 17:24-25

But David has a very different reaction. He already knows who Goliath would be fighting against - not man, but the living God!

Then David spoke to the men who were standing by him, saying, “What will be done for the man who kills this Philistine and takes away the reproach from Israel? For who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should taunt the armies of the living God?” The people answered him in accord with this word, saying, “Thus it will be done for the man who kills him.” I Samuel 17:26-27

David's brothers thought he was being arrogant and told him he should get back to the sheep and quit trying to barge in on the battle. But David had other plans. He tells Saul not to worry, that he will fight the Philistine.

Saul tells David that he's being ridiculous! Saul tells him that he is just a boy, and Goliath has been a warrior since his youth. This is not an even match! But David knows his capabilities, and more importantly, knows God's power.

But David said to Saul, “Your servant was tending his father’s sheep. When a lion or a bear came and took a lamb from the flock, I went out after him and attacked him, and rescued it from his mouth; and when he rose up against me, I seized him by his beard and struck him and killed him. Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; and this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, since he has taunted the armies of the living God.” And David said, “The LORD who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, He will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.”
I Samuel 17:34-37

David, even though just a boy, clearly has an unshakable faith in his God. And God had been faithful to deliver David before when he was in trouble, so David knew God would do the same thing again.

Saul was persuaded and told David to go ahead. But he made sure David was clothed in armor (Saul's own, in fact) and a bronze helmet. Saul was much bigger than David, so the armor didn't really fit well. David took a few steps and told Saul that he couldn't possible wear the armor since he hadn't tested it. So he took it off! David has another plan.

He took his stick in his hand and chose for himself five smooth stones from the brook, and put them in the shepherd’s bag which he had, even in his pouch, and his sling was in his hand; and he approached the Philistine. I Samuel 17:40

He went down to the valley to approach Goliath with a slingshot and FIVE stones. When Goliath saw David approaching, I think he thought this was some kind of joke. David was a good looking young boy, not protected for battle (at least not with armor) coming to face a giant. Goliath's ego is hard at work again as he taunts David.

The Philistine said to David, “Am I a dog, that you come to me with sticks?” And the Philistine cursed David by his gods. The Philistine also said to David, “Come to me, and I will give your flesh to the birds of the sky and the beasts of the field." I Samuel 17:43-44

David knows that WHO is fighting for him is much more important than what he is fighting WITH. And so he tells Goliath as much.

Then David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with a sword, a spear, and a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have taunted. This day the LORD will deliver you up into my hands, and I will strike you down and remove your head from you. And I will give the dead bodies of the army of the Philistines this day to the birds of the sky and the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel, and that all this assembly may know that the LORD does not deliver by sword or by spear; for the battle is the LORD’S and He will give you into our hands.” I Samuel 17:45-47

Get ready to see some of God's awesome power on display so that all the earth will know that He is God!

Then it happened when the Philistine rose and came and drew near to meet David, that David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet the Philistine. And David put his hand into his bag and took from it a stone and slung it, and struck the Philistine on his forehead. And the stone sank into his forehead, so that he fell on his face to the ground. I Samuel 17:48-49

ONE STONE! Slung by a boy into the giant's head. Goliath tumbles to the ground and the Philistines run for cover! "If Israel's God can do this to Goliath, what must He be able to do to us?", they must be thinking.

Thus David prevailed over the Philistine with a sling and a stone, and he struck the Philistine and killed him; but there was no sword in David’s hand. Then David ran and stood over the Philistine and took his sword and drew it out of its sheath and killed him, and cut off his head with it. When the Philistines saw that their champion was dead, they fled. I Samuel 17:50-51

David was right, God gave the Philistines into Israel's hands - the Philistines couldn't get away fast enough and they lay slain in the hills and valleys for miles and miles.

The men of Israel and Judah arose and shouted and pursued the Philistines as far as the valley, and to the gates of Ekron. And the slain Philistines lay along the way to Shaaraim, even to Gath and Ekron. The sons of Israel returned from chasing the Philistines and plundered their camps. Then David took the Philistine’s head and brought it to Jerusalem, but he put his weapons in his tent.
I Samuel 17:52-54

David knew there was no enemy capable of overpowering the living God. He knew that God's power would deliver him and the Israelites from this bully who had taunted them. He put his trust in God and walked by faith, knowing that God's power would give them victory over the whole Philistine army.

One stone. That's all it took to defeat an egotistical giant who didn't know the power of God. David put his trust and faith in God and relied on His strength, putting himself, a young boy, out on the battle line, alone and without armor.

God delivered David and the Israelistes and He will deliver you too. Trust in His power to defeat the enemies you are facing today. Your enemy may not be a physical giant. Maybe it's Satan taunting you to sin. Call on the living God and trust in His power to deliver you. And when He does, give Him the glory that all the earth may know that He is Lord!

For the LORD your God is the one who goes with you, to fight for you against your enemies, to save you. Deut. 20:4

The Power of God
Words by Frederick A. Graves

When Abraham and Sarah had been promised a son,
They were surprised and knew not what to say;
But they knew what God had promised He was able to perform:
And the power of God is just the same today.

The pow’r of God is just the same today,
It doesn’t matter what the people say;
Whatever God has promised
He’s able to perform:
And the power of God is just the same today.

When Moses wanted water to quench the people’s thirst,
He knew that God would then provide a way;
Although his rod was useful he had the power first:
And the power of God is just the same today.

When Moses made a serpent and placed it on a pole,
The bitten ones were told to look that way,
And then while they were looking Jehovah-rophi made them whole:
And the power of God is just the same today.

When Joshua was commander, he spoke—the sun stood still,
The moon its onward course was made to stay;
Thus he won a mighty battle, for he did his Father’s will:
And the power of God is just the same today.

When Naaman, the leper, before Elisha stood,
He thought he knew just what the seer would say,
But he had to wash in Jordan, though he thought it wasn’t good:
And the power of God is just the same today.

When David met Goliath he meant to have a fight,
The leaders put the battle in array;
Of course he killed the giant, for he was in the right:
And the power of God is just the same today.

When Jonah went to Tarshish to flee away from God,
A mighty fish was waiting for its prey;
It quickly swallowed Jonah, then threw him on the sod:
And the power of God is just the same today.

When Malachi, the prophet, was preaching all abroad,
And cutting like sickle and the scythe;
The people were accursed, for they were robbing God,
They filled to bring the offering and the tithe.

Then came the blessed Savior, with power to cleanse and heal,
To bear my sin and sickness all away;
My burdens, too, He carries, and doth my sorrows feel:
And the power of God is just the same today.

Through Paul and Silas singing and praying in the jail,
For Paul and Silas knew the way to pray;
The prison doors were opened, for locks could not avail,
And the power of God is just the same today.

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