6th Sunday of Easter May 21, 2017
1 Samuel 17:45-47
1 Corinthians 15:50-58
210, 201, 206:1-3&8-10, 794 (Alt. 618)
Hymns from The Lutheran Hymnal (1941) unless otherwise noted
Prayer of the Day (Collect): Lord Jesus Christ, giver and perfecter of our faith, we thank and praise You for continuing among us the preaching of Your Gospel for our instruction and edification. Send Your blessing upon the Word and by Your Holy Spirit increase our saving knowledge of You, that day by day we may be strengthened in the divine truth and remain steadfast in Your grace. Give us strength to fight the good fight and by faith to overcome all the temptations of Satan, the flesh, and the world so that we may finally receive the salvation of our souls; for You live and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
Dear fellow servants of the King of kings, fellow sinners cleansed by the blood of the Lamb and made righteous through faith in Him, grace and peace to you in His name.
Our Sunday School teacher can’t get over it. He keeps telling me, “This is so real!” Whether it’s the stubborn and repeated backsliding of the Children of Israel or Peter thinking he was a stronger follower of Christ than he really was, our Sunday School teacher loves sharing with his students how the actions and reactions of people in the Bible thousands of years ago are just as real as they would be today. He sees some people in the Bible with the same problems and weaknesses we face today and how God was their help then, just as He is today. The Word of God is indeed living and active and powerful. It is very real!
Perhaps as you’ve spent time in the Word, you’ve found some of these same joys. Reading through the psalms, you find you are not the first believer to struggle with some of the feelings you have. Reading about the sons of Jacob, you realize dysfunctional families are nothing new to this sinful world. Reading how Solomon had wisdom, wealth, and power handed to him by the Lord, only to throw it away in pursuit of false gods, you realize that our generation is not the first to have children of believing parents fall away from the faith.
The Old Testament Scriptures have been written and preserved for you today for a very specific purpose. The Apostle Paul writes of the Old Testament, “For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.” (Rom 15:4) Jesus Christ Himself says of the Old Testament Scriptures, “These are they that testify of Me.” (Jn 5:39)
For the next three Sundays, we plan to take a look at one particular figure from the Old Testament that we might find hope for today—namely King David. This morning, as we close out the Easter Season of the Church year, I’d have you consider how the battle is the Lord’s. It is based on the familiar account of David verses Goliath in 1 Samuel 17, where we will be especially focusing on verses 45, 46, and 47—the words of David to the giant on the battlefield:
“You come to me with a sword and a spear and with 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 defied. This day the LORD will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you down and cut off your head. And I will give the dead bodies of the hosts of the Philistines this day to the birds of the air and to 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 saves, not with sword or spear. For the battle is the LORD’s, and he will give you into our hands.” (ESV)
So far the Word of God. With the psalmist we pray, “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart Be acceptable in Your sight, O LORD, my strength and my Redeemer.” (Psalm 19:14)
For 40 days, the armies of Israel and the armies of the Philistines had been facing off at the Valley of Elah, some 10 miles West of Bethlehem. Each day, as the armies would assemble, a giant warrior would emerge from the Philistine ranks to taunt the Israelites. His appearance was daunting. Goliath was over 9 feet tall, a trained warrior from youth, armed to the teeth, ready for a one-on-one battle with the best warrior Israel had. “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 be your servants. But if I prevail against him and kill him, then you shall be our servants and serve us. …I defy the ranks of Israel this day. Give me a man, that we may fight together.” (1 Samuel 17:8-10)
One can almost hear the ranks of the Philistine army laughing at such a proposition. NO ONE could defeat their warrior giant—he had superior size, superior strength, and superior weaponry. And the Israelites? We read that “they were dismayed and greatly afraid.” (1 Samuel 17:11) Even King Saul, who was a head and shoulders taller than the rest of the Israelites seems to have headed back to his tent in fear. Armies on both sides of the Valley of Elah were viewing this giant as man always does—with the eyes of their flesh.
However, everything changed when the young shepherd from Bethlehem visited his oldest three brothers at the battlefield. David did not see a giant with huge muscles and large weapons, he saw an ungodly heathen defying the armies of the LORD. With eyes of faith, David saw Goliath as an ANT next to the LORD, the God of angel armies.
While Goliath entered the battle with sword and spear, David approached this heathen ant in the name of the LORD to squash him. “I come to you in the name of the LORD,” the young shepherd told the giant Philistine. “I will strike you down and cut off your head…the LORD saves not with the sword and the spear. For the battle is the LORD’s and He will give you into my hands.” With a sling and a stone, David fell the giant, and used the giant’s own sword to cut off his head. David knew by faith that this battle was the LORD’s and the LORD won!
It is not uncommon to hear allegories about David and Goliath. Sport coaches like to retell the story as their team faces bigger and tougher opponents. The small town lawyers like to reference it when going up against the government in court. To many, this encounter nothing more than a story about the little guy succeeding against the bigger, tougher opponent.
But that is not it at all the reason the Holy Spirit recorded and preserved this encounter in Scripture. In this account we find a theme common today in the Church. We find the world’s opposition to the LORD and His people. And we also find the confidence of faith that the battle is the LORD’s and that the might of this world means nothing to Him.
Think about the giants that great David’s GREATER Son, Jesus Christ, faced. For 40 days in the wilderness He was tempted by that crafty serpent of old, the devil. As temptations came His way, Jesus did not flex His muscle as the Son of God, but instead reached into the Scriptures, pulled out a Bible passage and flung it at the devil, knocking Him down.
And what about that menacing giant of death, which, like Goliath, fills us with dismay and great fear? Great David’s greater Son rushed onto the battlefield and confronted death face to face. Crucified, dead, and buried it looked like the giant had won. But in this Easter season, we remember that the battle is the LORD’s and He has won the victory! Christ is risen, He is risen indeed, and the head of the giant has been cut off by it’s own sword! Now death is not a menacing giant for God’s people, but a yellow-jacket without a stinger. It’s buzz may annoy, but it cannot harm us. “O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?” The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 15:55-57)
And now, what of us, dear brothers-in-arms? What giants are you facing? Some of them seem pretty daunting. Our nation seems to be more secular and less concerned about the things of God. Attendance at church may be dwindling. So many from my generation seem interested in every passing fad, but not the lasting treasures found in God’s Word. Finances may be scarce. It looks like the giants of this world are flexing their muscles and taunting us.
Or maybe the giants are more personal. Maybe it is our own spiritual battles and the number of ways we have “missed the mark” in our lives. Maybe we have been unable to off that secret sin by our own power. We struggle with our temper, our impatience, our worrying, our lust, our greed, our laziness.
What would King David remind us? What does Easter remind us? THE BATTLE IS THE LORD’S! How big do those problems look next to Jesus? Approach them all in HIS name. He’s overcome that looming giant of death, He’s taken our giant load of sin onto Himself and removed it forever. Suddenly all of these “big” problems look like ants next to our risen Lord. As Paul writes to the Romans, “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?” (Rom 8:31-32)
The battle is the LORD’S! May He give you the strength of faith to face the “ants” of this world in His name and with such confidence. As the writer to the Hebrews says, “We are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who believe and are saved.” (Heb 10:39 NIV) Thanks be to God that the battle IS the LORD’s and He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ! Amen.
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All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Scripture quotations marked (ESV) are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Scripture quotations marked (NIV) are taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. NIV®. Copyright© 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.