Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Way of the Cross (13)

Facing Your Giants. It's something you hear all the time, isn't it? You're up against your Goliath, whatever it might be - sickness, unemployment, stress, family troubles, work, poverty - but just be like David, stand up to your giant and you'll win through. The underdog armed with a slingshot and stones can defeat whatever your pertinent problem might be.

It might be the way you hear the story, but that's not why David and Goliath is recorded in the Scripture for our learning and encouragement. You see, while this might come as a surprise, you aren't David in the story. In fact, to find yourself in the story, look over David's shoulder, at the men of Israel cowering in fear, frightened by the great enemy of God's people.

For forty days, morning and evening, the mighty Goliath of Gath, the Philistine, has came out from the camp and uttered his challenge. One to one, hand to hand fighting. The winner takes the victory.

For forty days, morning and evening, the men of Israel have been dismayed and greatly afraid. Not just the men of Israel, but the King of Israel too. Saul hasn't been very effective these last months, ever since his persistent rebellion against the LORD. The LORD no longer seems to be with him. Who can possibly save Israel from this great danger?

Saul may have lost the Lord's power, but there comes to the camp one who is the Lord's anointed. In the previous chapter, Samuel the prophet came to Bethlehem to anoint the new king, rejecting the first seven sons of Jesse. David was so unlikely, he hadn't even been called in for 'King Factor'. Yet he is the man after God's own heart, he is the one anointed to lead and save God's people.

Despite being mocked, rejected, and looking completely unlikely for the job, David goes out and takes his stand against the nine-foot giant.

"You come to me with a sword 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 host 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 and spear. For the battle is the LORD's, and he will give you into our hand." (1 Samuel 17:45-47)

David, the Lord's anointed, wins the battle, toppling the giant, and defeating the greatest enemy to the people of God. That's why you aren't David - because it took the anointed to do for the people of God what they could not do themselves.

In the same way, The Anointed, The Messiah, The Christ, by himself, stepped up to face the enemy we could not face ourselves - death. The Lord Jesus took on death, and defeated it - the one for the many. Jesus did it on our behalf, so that our enemy has been destroyed.

David and Goliath isn't written to encourage us to face our giants, but rather points to the Lord's anointed, who faces our giants on our behalf, and gives us the victory - what grace that we can share in his victory, having contributed nothing to the effort!

What a transformation we find from the start of the chapter to the end - the people of God were dismayed and greatly afraid as they saw their enemy. By the end of the chapter, 'the men of Israel and Judah rose with a shout and pursued the Philistines as far as Gath... and the people of Israel came back from chasing the Philistines, and they plundered their camp.' (1 Sam 17:52-53). David won the victory, and the people shared the rewards of winning.

Jesus has faced our giant, we stand on the winning team, and share in his blessings.

Thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Cor 15:57)

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