January 26, 2014

The LORD Tests David, and Finds Him True - Jan 26, 2014

To  DOWNLOAD an MP3 of this message, first right click here then choose "save link as" or "save target as". Older audio is removed to conserve server space, but is available by request.


Our sermon meditation for today is part 3 of an 8 part series on the life of King David. So far in our study we’ve seen David testing the LORD, and finding him true.

David trusted that the LORD would fight for Israel, like he promised, so David went toe-to-toe with Goliath—and won.

David trusted that the LORD was watching over him, so he faithfully served in the army of Israel. And even though King Saul was bent on destroying David, the LORD made sure that all of Saul’s plans ended up blessing him instead.

David was successful in everything he did, and he became a household name in Israel.

But now we’re going to get into the part of David’s life when it seems like the LORD is the one doing the testing. We’re going to see the LORD placing David in all sorts of precarious situations. And what we’ll find is that when the LORD tests David, the LORD finds him true.

Our story today is going to reveal A LOT about David’s character, and how he really was a man after God’s own heart.
But first we have to get a feel for what has happened since we last saw David. The last time we saw David he was getting married. Saul had offered his daughter Michal to be David’s wife. And after David had defeated 200 Philistine soldiers as the bride price, they were married.

Saul was afraid of David, though, because the LORD was with David. And Saul thought that at any moment David might try to seize the throne. So, King Saul ordered his men to kill David. It should be noted that David hadn’t done anything to suggest that he wanted to be king. Whatever Saul asked David to do, he did. David was a faithful servant of the king. But all Saul could see was a threat to his reign. 

And so Saul himself tried to spear David to death when David was in the palace one day. After he escaped, Saul sent men to wait for David outside his house. David only escaped this attempt on his life because his wife Michal let him down from a window during the night and pretended that he was sick in bed.

After that the pursuit became even more intense. As David fled from place to place with a small band of warriors loyal to him, Saul tracked him with an army in tow.

At the city of Nob, David received help from a group of the LORD’s priests. They gave David and his men bread to eat, and armed David with Goliath’s own sword which had been stored there at Nob. When Saul found out about this he had the 85 priests at Nob executed, even though they had not known that David was on the run from Saul. And for good measure Saul’s forces massacred the whole town of Nob—men, women, children, infants—even their livestock. The message was clear: help David, and you die.

At one point David and his men were fleeing on one side of a valley with Saul and his men on the other side. They had almost caught up with them when word came that Philistines forces were raiding in Israel. Saul had to turn back to face this threat, and David slipped away.

This is where we pick up the narrative.

1 Samuel 24 (NIV)

24 After Saul returned from pursuing the Philistines, he was told, “David is in the Desert of En Gedi.” So Saul took three thousand able young men from all Israel and set out to look for David and his men near the Crags of the Wild Goats.
He came to the sheep pens along the way; a cave was there, and Saul went in to relieve himself. David and his men were far back in the cave. The men said, “This is the day the Lord spoke of when he said to you, ‘I will give your enemy into your hands for you to deal with as you wish.’ ” Then David crept up unnoticed and cut off a corner of Saul’s robe.
Afterward, David was conscience-stricken for having cut off a corner of his robe. He said to his men, “The Lord forbid that I should do such a thing to my master, the Lord’s anointed, or lay my hand on him; for he is the anointed of the Lord.” With these words David sharply rebuked his men and did not allow them to attack Saul. And Saul left the cave and went his way.
Then David went out of the cave and called out to Saul, “My lord the king!” When Saul looked behind him, David bowed down and prostrated himself with his face to the ground. He said to Saul, “Why do you listen when men say, ‘David is bent on harming you’? 10 This day you have seen with your own eyes how the Lord delivered you into my hands in the cave. Some urged me to kill you, but I spared you; I said, ‘I will not lay my hand on my lord, because he is the Lord’s anointed.’ 11 See, my father, look at this piece of your robe in my hand! I cut off the corner of your robe but did not kill you. See that there is nothing in my hand to indicate that I am guilty of wrongdoing or rebellion. I have not wronged you, but you are hunting me down to take my life. 12 May the Lord judge between you and me. And may the Lord avenge the wrongs you have done to me, but my hand will not touch you. 13 As the old saying goes, ‘From evildoers come evil deeds,’ so my hand will not touch you.
14 “Against whom has the king of Israel come out? Who are you pursuing? A dead dog? A flea? 15 May the Lord be our judge and decide between us. May he consider my cause and uphold it; may he vindicate me by delivering me from your hand.”
16 When David finished saying this, Saul asked, “Is that your voice, David my son?” And he wept aloud. 17 “You are more righteous than I,” he said. “You have treated me well, but I have treated you badly. 18 You have just now told me about the good you did to me; the Lord delivered me into your hands, but you did not kill me. 19 When a man finds his enemy, does he let him get away unharmed? May the Lord reward you well for the way you treated me today. 20 I know that you will surely be king and that the kingdom of Israel will be established in your hands. 21 Now swear to me by the Lord that you will not kill off my descendants or wipe out my name from my father’s family.”
22 So David gave his oath to Saul. Then Saul returned home, but David and his men went up to the stronghold.
The amount of things that we learn about David’s heart and character in this account is astonishing.

First of all we learn that David was LOYAL. He was loyal to the LORD his God. And because Saul was the man the LORD had chosen as king, David was then conscience bound to be loyal to Saul. It didn’t matter that Saul was trying to murder him, David refused to stand against the LORD’s king.

David’s loyalty is like the loyalty of the Japanese samurai, who would sooner disembowel themselves than rebel against their emperor. If it came to a fight between David and Saul, I get the feeling that David would have let Saul run him through before lifting a finger against him.

We also see that David had a SHARP AND ACTIVE CONSCIENCE. It appears that when David crept up behind Saul in the cave he wasn’t thinking about killing him. It seems that he had it in mind to get proof that he really wasn’t a threat to Saul. But after cutting off the corner of Saul’s robe, David feels horrible. Guilty. Soiled. This wasn’t right to be sneaking around behind the king’s back. This was disgraceful.

And so David’s conscience leads him to sharply rebuke his men, and make sure that none of them are going to rush forward and do what David refused to do.

Beside being acutely aware of the goodness or badness of his own actions, David was also acutely aware of the LORD’s hand in his life. He doesn’t consider Saul’s entrance into THIS particular cave to be a chance happening. When David addresses Saul outside the cave he says,

“…the LORD delivered you into my hands in the cave” (1 Samuel 24:10 NIV).

What is conscience other than awareness? Awareness of your own actions, whether they are good or bad. Awareness that the LORD is moving mysteriously in your life, and watching all that you do. David was aware. His conscience was honed to a razor’s edge.

And as a result, David was a HUMBLE man. Just imagine that scene outside the cave for a moment. Saul is walking away when suddenly he hears a voice address him as “my master the king.” When he turns, a man drops to his knees, and then bows before him, face to the ground. Only then does the man address his king with further words. Even though Saul’s recent behavior had been anything but honorable, David bows before him.

And David’s posture isn’t the only thing that shows his humble attitude. He says,

“Against whom has the king of Israel come out? Who are you pursuing? A dead dog? A flea?” (1 Samuel 24:14 NIV).

These are the words David uses to describe HIMSELF. Next to the king of Israel, David considers himself worthless. A dead dog. A tiny pest of an insect.

But David’s character is revealed to be still more complex. For while he is humbly addressing the LORD’s anointed, David also expresses his hunger for truth and justice. While respectfully speaking to the king, David also rebukes the king. He says,

“Why do you listen when men say, ‘David is bent on harming you? …See that there is nothing in my hand to indicate that I am guilty of wrongdoing or rebellion…” (1 Samuel 24:9, 11b).

“May the LORD judge between you and me. And may the LORD avenge the wrongs you have done to me...” (1 Samuel 24:12 NIV).

David was a humble man, but also a man who hungered for TRUTH AND JUSTICE. But even so, he was no vigilante. He would not take the law into his own hands and strike Saul down. David knew that vengeance belongs to the LORD. If justice doesn’t come through the LORD’s representatives in the government, then it will come from the LORD’s own hand in good time.

In this David reveals his strong TRUST IN THE LORD’S SOVEREIGNTY over all things, and his TRUST IN THE LORD’S JUSTICE. David trusted implicitly that the just God would settle all accounts sooner or later. Justice WOULD be served by the LORD. David didn’t need to do it for him.

David bears his soul here as he bows in the dirt before Saul. And as a result, Saul is deeply moved by David’s pure character. For the time being Saul is convicted of his wrongdoing and decides to stop hunting David. He even expresses that he knows that David will be the king someday. And then Saul also asks for a favor. He asks David to swear that he will not wipe out his family after David ascends to the throne.

This was common practice in the ancient world. When you rose to power, you secured your throne by wiping out any possible threats to your rule. That meant any sons of the last king, any close relatives, and anyone that showed ambition to wear the purple, and so on. Saul wanted David’s promise that this won’t be his plan of action later on.

It’s kinda sad that Saul asks this favor. He apparently didn’t know David very well. It wasn’t in David’s heart to do this kind of thing. This was more like something Saul would do. And so David freely gives his promise, and reveals that  he was NOT POWER HUNGRY man, and he WASN’T A GRUDGE KEEPER. He was a man of God who made it his practice to shun evil.
The Bible says that after a person comes to trust in Jesus as their Savior from sin, the Holy Spirit begins remodeling that person on the inside. Through the Word of God, the Holy Spirit molds and changes our character to more closely mirror God’s character. We see this in David. He trusted in the LORD’s promises, and by the Holy Spirit’s power David began to take on the character traits of Christ. You know, all the things that we’ve seen in David today, were shown in purest form in Jesus Christ.

Like David, Jesus was LOYAL to the LORD. He praised his Heavenly Father, and paid taxes to the government God had established.

Like David, Jesus had a SHARP AND ACTICE CONSCIENCE. He prayed to his Father in heaven often, and, unlike David, Jesus succeeded in never sinning.

Like David, Jesus was HUMBLE. He left his throne in heaven to become the human son of a poor Galilean girl named Mary. But Even though he was the very Son of God, Jesus wasn’t a showy bragger. Instead, the world barely knew he existed for the first thirty years of his life.

In his words Jesus was also humble. He was patient with sinners, and with his disciples—who were constantly misunderstanding him and doing foolish and arrogant things.

Like David, Jesus was a SEEKER OF TRUTH AND JUSTICE. He stuck up for the poor and oppressed. He denounced the Pharisees for obscuring the true way to heaven, which was through faith in God’s Messiah. And he even rebuked his closest friends when the need arose.

Like David, Jesus also TRUSTED IN THE LORD’S SOVEREIGNTY over all things. Jesus willingly went into the wilderness to be tempted by the Devil. And on the night when he was going to be betrayed to his enemies, Jesus prayed that the Father’s will, not his own, might be done.

Like David, Jesus was NOT A POWER HUNGRY MAN, and he WASN’T A GRUDGE KEEPER. He gladly set his powers as the eternal Son of God on the shelf, and gave himself to suffer hell on the cross. And he did this for people like you and me who have sinned against him time and time again.
And here’s the amazing thing. When we compare ourselves to David, or to Christ, we find that we are nowhere near their level of faithfulness or goodness. But because the Holy Spirit has moved us to trust in Jesus as our Savior from sin, God imputes Christ’s character TO US. Let me say that again. Through the faith connection we have with Jesus, we are covered with Christ’s character. It blankets our true sinfulness, and makes us pure and holy in the sight of the pure and holy God.

In David we have an role model to look up to. A man to model our own lives after. But as we seek to be “people after God’s own heart”, let’s ALWAYS remember, that because of what Christ did in our place, we ALREADY stand forgiven and holy before our Creator. We are already pure in God’s eyes, because of Christ’s imputed righteousness.

PRAYER:  Lord Jesus Christ, we praise you today. We praise you for giving us the example of David’s pure character to aspire to. But more than that, we praise you for taking our sins on your back, and spreading your holiness and worth on us. Continue to hold our hearts in your hands. Help us always to trust in you as the one who took our sins away and brought us into the Father’s family. By your Holy Spirit, continue to remodel us to be more like you. And as we struggle to live in ways that honor you, comfort us and empower us with the gift of your unconditional and eternal forgiveness. Amen.

January 19, 2014

A Man After His Own Heart - Jan 19, 2014

To  DOWNLOAD an MP3 of this message, first right click here then choose "save link as" or "save target as". Older audio is removed to conserve server space, but is available by request.


In our sermon meditation today we continue our study of king David. This is the second in an eight part series dealing with the life of this Old Testament king.

While David was admittedly a sinner, just like every other human being born since the fall, David was also a faithful follower of the LORD. In the Bible God says,

“I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after My own heart, who will do all My will” (Acts 13:22 NKJV).

In David we have a role model to look up to. That’s an amazing thing for God to say about a person, “He’s a man after my own heart.” Today we’ll begin to see what that means.
Before we read, we need to set the historical context. At this time in history, the LORD had brought the nation of Israel up out of slavery in Egypt, and had begun to settle them in their own new land. But the land that the LORD had given to Israel was inhabited by other nations when they arrived on the scene.

These other nations had abandoned the LORD and had pledged allegiance to false gods. They worshiped these false deities in many different and horrible ways. Some even gave their own children as offerings, consigning infants to the flames at the altars of their pagan idols.

And so the LORD had told Israel to destroy these nations completely and to take the land for themselves. They were not to be afraid even if these nations seemed powerful and intimidating, because the LORD would fight for Israel.
Until recently, Israel had been led by the LORD alone. That is, they had no central government or king. But when the people looked at the nations around them, they were unsatisfied. It wasn’t enough to be led by God, they wanted their own human king, just like their neighbors. So, God granted their request and anointed a man named Saul as Israel’s first king.
Now, before we read we also need to know a little about Saul. Saul was a head taller than most people in Israel, so at least he looked like a good candidate for the kingship. But from the beginning of his reign, Saul showed that he was a fearful man. But sadly, he didn’t fear the LORD as much as he feared the warlike nations around him. Over and over, Saul’s reign was marred by unfaithfulness to the LORD’s direct commands.

Saul prayed to the LORD and tried to listen to the LORD’s prophet Samuel, but when things didn’t go just the way Saul thought they should, he was quick to depart from God’s plan.

Once, when the Philistine army was threatening the nation, Saul called the armies of Israel to gather. Before going to battle, Saul was supposed to wait for Samuel to present a special offering to the LORD. But while Saul was waiting for Samuel to get there, the soldiers became uneasy and began to desert. So, Saul took it on himself to act as the LORD’s prophet and offered the prescribed sacrifices before Samuel ever arrived. Essentially, Saul panicked when he saw his forces diminishing instead of simply trusting that the LORD would give them the victory.
Another time, the LORD instructed Saul to go to war against the Amalekites and to totally destroy them. Even their livestock and animals were to be wiped out. But when Saul won the battle he decided to harbor the defeated king instead. He also decided not to destroy the best of the livestock, but to set them aside.

Over and over Saul’s reign was marked with fear, mistrust of the LORD, and disobedience to the LORD’s commands.

Saul was clearly not a man, “after the LORD’s heart.” Saul was a man who was more interested in following his own heart. And it was because of this that the LORD sent his prophet Samuel to anoint another man as king, even while Saul was still ruling. Samuel anointed the young David as God’s chosen king. And from that point on, the LORD was no longer “with” Saul, but was “with” David.
Our text begins after David had defeated the might warrior Goliath on the field of battle, and had begun to serve king Saul as a commander in his army. Here we’ll see just how different David’s character is from Saul’s.

1 Samuel 18:12-30 (NIV)

12 Saul was afraid of David, because the Lord was with David but had departed from Saul. 13 So he sent David away from him and gave him command over a thousand men, and David led the troops in their campaigns. 14 In everything he did he had great success, because the Lord was with him. 15 When Saul saw how successful he was, he was afraid of him. 16 But all Israel and Judah loved David, because he led them in their campaigns.
17 Saul said to David, “Here is my older daughter Merab. I will give her to you in marriage; only serve me bravely and fight the battles of the Lord.” For Saul said to himself, “I will not raise a hand against him. Let the Philistines do that!”
18 But David said to Saul, “Who am I, and what is my family or my clan in Israel, that I should become the king’s son-in-law?” 19 So when the time came for Merab, Saul’s daughter, to be given to David, she was given in marriage to Adriel of Meholah.
20 Now Saul’s daughter Michal was in love with David, and when they told Saul about it, he was pleased. 21 “I will give her to him,” he thought, “so that she may be a snare to him and so that the hand of the Philistines may be against him.” So Saul said to David, “Now you have a second opportunity to become my son-in-law.”
22 Then Saul ordered his attendants: “Speak to David privately and say, ‘Look, the king likes you, and his attendants all love you; now become his son-in-law.’ ”
23 They repeated these words to David. But David said, “Do you think it is a small matter to become the king’s son-in-law? I’m only a poor man and little known.”
24 When Saul’s servants told him what David had said, 25 Saul replied, “Say to David, ‘The king wants no other price for the bride than a hundred Philistine foreskins, to take revenge on his enemies.’ ” Saul’s plan was to have David fall by the hands of the Philistines.
26 When the attendants told David these things, he was pleased to become the king’s son-in-law. So before the allotted time elapsed, 27 David took his men with him and went out and killed two hundred Philistines and brought back their foreskins. They counted out the full number to the king so that David might become the king’s son-in-law. Then Saul gave him his daughter Michal in marriage.
28 When Saul realized that the Lord was with David and that his daughter Michal loved David, 29 Saul became still more afraid of him, and he remained his enemy the rest of his days.
30 The Philistine commanders continued to go out to battle, and as often as they did, David met with more success than the rest of Saul’s officers, and his name became well known.
Right away, we’re told that Saul was afraid of David. And we’re told why as well, because the LORD was with David but had departed from Saul. But instead of responding with humble repentance over his unfaithfulness to God, Saul responded with a murderous plan. He sent David out to lead his forces to war. His hope was that David would die in battle.

But the LORD blessed David instead, and he was successful in everything.

So, Saul redoubled his efforts. He offered his daughter Merab to David with the stipulation that all David had to do for her hand was to continue to fight valiantly in battle. Again, Saul was just trying to keep David on the battlefield. The more skirmishes, the more chances David might fall.

But David’s response to Saul wasn’t what Saul expected. David thought himself unworthy of such an honor. By this time, David has been secretly anointed by Samuel as the LORD’s chosen king. But David remembered that Saul had been anointed first. And to David this was a BIG DEAL. Saul was the LORD’s anointed king. No man ought to rise up against him. Only the LORD had the right to take this king down from the throne.

David thought, “Why should I be given such an honor as being closely related to the LORD’s anointed king? I’m poor. Nobody knows me. What Saul offers is too great an honor for me.”

And so when the time came, Merab was married off to another man.

But Saul wasn’t going to give up on his plan so easily. So, when he found out his daughter Michal was enamored with David, he offered her to David. Again, the hope was that David would try to fight valiantly for Saul because of this favor, and would do something foolish on the battlefield that would prematurely end his life.

Saul even told his men to encourage David to take the offer, “The king likes you, and everyone near the king LOVES you. Become the king’s son-in-law!”

But David was still hesitant. He still didn’t feel himself worthy to be so closely associated with the LORD’s anointed.

And that’s where Saul found his advantage. In David’s desire to honor the LORD and the LORD’s anointed. David would not accept a marriage from Saul as a favor, but if the matter was presented as a challenge to SERVE the king, then David would accept.

So, Saul said that the bride price would be 100 Philistines defeated in battle. You see, David had the heart of a faithful servant. If he could do some great service to the king and in this way to honor the LORD who had placed this king on the throne—well then he was going to do it!

This servant mentality was highlighted when David went out and defeated 200 Philistines instead of the required 100. He was serving the LORD’s anointed, not just winning a bride for himself.
And so Michal got her wish, and David became her husband. And then Saul realized how sideways his plan had slipped. Our text says,

28 When Saul realized that the Lord was with David and that his daughter Michal loved David, 29 Saul became still more afraid of him, and he remained his enemy the rest of his days” (1 Samuel 18:28-29 NIV).

Saul’s plan was finally working! But then Saul realized that his position was worse now than it had been before. He had hoped to lure David into battle and get him killed. But now David’s position was more secure than ever! Now David was an even greater threat to Saul’s throne! He was a mighty warrior before the people for his exploits in battle. He was now a member of the royal family by marriage. And he now had a wife who loved him!

Everything that Saul had done to destroy David had been guided by the LORD so that David was blessed instead.

In Romans 8, it says…

28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28 ESV).

We can see this happening in David’s life. As a faithful follower of the God, David had simply trusted in the LORD’s power and promises and had been greatly blessed as a result. All of Saul’s well laid plans had been turned upside down by the Almighty.
David was a man after the LORD’s own heart. Above all, he wanted to do the will of God. Do we have the same attitude? Or do our hearts look more like Saul’s? Do we pray to God, but then treat his commands loosely? Do we seek God’s will only until things get a little tight, and then seek other methods to get the result we desire?

We need to be more like David. When he saw Saul, he saw the LORD’s anointed. And to him, that was a BIG DEAL. He was going to do whatever he could to honor God by honoring Saul. Even if Saul was acting like a fool, or sinning against the LORD, David was going to honor him as God’s representative.

In the New Testament we’re told that our own government officials are placed in their offices by the LORD’s hand. In Romans 13 it says…

“Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God” (Romans 13:1 ESV).

Do we treat government officials with the honor that God’s placement demands?

When we make decisions,  do we stop to think, “Will this bring respect and glory to God” Or do our decisions merely reflect what our own hearts want to do at any given time?

So often we fall woefully and sinfully short of God’s will for our lives.
Thank God that we have Jesus Christ as our great Savior. Every sinful decision we’ve ever made, every thought, every word, every action that wasn’t in line with what is right—those sins have been forgiven through the suffering and death of God’s greatest ANOINTED KING.

Think about that for a second. David was hesitant to become the son-in-law of Saul because Saul was the LORD’s chosen king. But you and I have been chosen by God to be HIS OWN CHILDREN through faith in Jesus. THAT is an even BIGGER deal than what David was thinking about.

You see, this whole Christianity thing isn’t just a social club, or a weekend hobby. Jesus is the LORD’s greatest CHOSEN ONE. And he suffered and died in our place. We’ve been forgiven and invited to belong to God’s family as a result of his sacrifice.

When we hear the amazing message of God’s free forgiveness in Christ, we might be tempted to think, “I’m forgiven? For free? Great! I guess the things I do in life aren’t really all that important anymore.” But instead we should think with David’s mind. “I’m forgiven? For free? Wow. I’ve been made an eternal child of the KING. That’s a BIG DEAL. Everything I do in life from this point forward will be done to honor my Savior.”

None of us deserve this great honor, this unconditional gift of forgiveness from God, this adoption into his family by faith. But in Christ that’s what we have.

PRAYER: Father in heaven, thank you for preserving the record of David’s life so that we can see what it means to be a “person after your own heart.” Thank you for connecting us to Christ through the waters of Baptism, and for continuing to build our faith in Christ through your Holy Word. Give us humble hearts which constantly asks, “How can I honor my God and Savior today?” Let our lives be songs to that praise your mighty and forgiving hand. Amen.

January 12, 2014

David Tests the LORD, and Finds Him True - Jan 12, 2014

To  DOWNLOAD an MP3 of this message, first right click here then choose "save link as" or "save target as". Older audio is removed to conserve server space, but is available by request.


David is one of the most remarkable characters found in the Old Testament. He rose from being a humble shepherd boy, taking care of his father’s sheep in the fields, to reigning over hundreds of thousands of people as Israel’s greatest king.

As a youth David faced the mighty Goliath, a real life giant, and defeated him with a single stone. He ruled in Israel for over 40 years, and received a promise from our LORD that one of his descendants would be the Eternal King—the Messiah.

Far from being just a warrior, David was also a skilled musician, a poet, and a deeply introspective man. In the book of Psalms he has left us over 70 songs and prayers, written straight from the heart.

And yet, for all his greatness, David consistently gave credit to the LORD. Early in his life David was called an arrogant man his oldest brother, but David’s words and actions show him to be the opposite. He was a humble man. A man who regularly approached the throne of God in prayer. A man who depended on the LORD’s guidance, and in every situation sought to do that which would honor the Almighty.

It would be true to say that David was a great man. But it is more accurate to say that David was a simple man made great, by the LORD that he trusted in. The same LORD we still pray to today.
For the next eight weeks we’re going to study the life of David. We’re going to get to know this man of faith, and learn from the record of his life which the Holy Spirit has preserved for our benefit.

PRAYER: Father in heaven, you made David great. As we study his life, use your Word to reveal ways in which we are like David. Reveal our weaknesses. Reveal our strengths. Amaze us by his faith, and help us to grow in our own faith through his example. Amen.
In our study of David, we’re going to divide his life up into four chapters. In chapter one of David’s life we’ll watch as “David Tests the LORD, and Finds Him True.” This is also the period in David’s life when he grows to be a great warrior.

Before we read, let’s set the historical context. By this time in history, the LORD has brought the people of Israel up out of Egypt and has begun to settle them in their new land. But there are still other nations and people inhabiting this land. The nation of Israel has been instructed by the LORD to destroy these other nations as God’s judgment over their idolatry.

This is a very different time than we live in today. Today battles are fought with machine guns, laser guidance systems, missiles and all sorts of high tech weaponry. In David’s time battles were fought hand to hand, with sword and spear and javelin.

During this specific time, Saul was serving as the first king of Israel. As such he led the armed forces to war with sword in hand. In our sermon reading we find Saul and the armies of Israel encamped on one side of a valley, and the Philistine army encamped on the other. At this time David’ was serving Saul as an armor bearer, but not as a soldier. When his work for Saul was complete, he would hurry home to tend his father’s flocks of sheep. The present battle line was only 14 miles away from Bethlehem, where David’s father grazed his animals.

1 Samuel 17:4-11, 32-37, 45-50 (NIV)

A champion named Goliath, who was from Gath, came out of the Philistine camp. His height was six cubits and a span. He had a bronze helmet on his head and wore a coat of scale armor of bronze weighing five thousand shekels; on his legs he wore bronze greaves, and a bronze javelin was slung on his back. His spear shaft was like a weaver’s rod, and its iron point weighed six hundred shekels. His shield bearer went ahead of him.
Goliath stood and shouted to the ranks of Israel, “Why do you come out and line up for battle? Am I not a Philistine, and are you not the servants of Saul? Choose a man and have him come down to me. If he is able to fight and kill me, we will become your subjects; but if I overcome him and kill him, you will become our subjects and serve us.” 10 Then the Philistine said, “This day I defy the armies of Israel! Give me a man and let us fight each other.” 11 On hearing the Philistine’s words, Saul and all the Israelites were dismayed and terrified.

32 David said to Saul, “Let no one lose heart on account of this Philistine; your servant will go and fight him.”
33 Saul replied, “You are not able to go out against this Philistine and fight him; you are only a young man, and he has been a warrior from his youth.”
34 But David said to Saul, “Your servant has been keeping his father’s sheep. When a lion or a bear came and carried off a sheep from the flock, 35 I went after it, struck it and rescued the sheep from its mouth. When it turned on me, I seized it by its hair, struck it and killed it. 36 Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, because he has defied the armies of the living God. 37 The Lord who rescued me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will rescue me from the hand of this Philistine.”
Saul said to David, “Go, and the Lord be with you.”

45 David said to the Philistine, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. 46 This day the Lord will deliver you into my hands, and I’ll strike you down and cut off your head. This very day I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds and the wild animals, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel. 47 All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves; for the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give all of you into our hands.”
48 As the Philistine moved closer to attack him, David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet him. 49 Reaching into his bag and taking out a stone, he slung it and struck the Philistine on the forehead. The stone sank into his forehead, and he fell facedown on the ground.
50 So David triumphed over the Philistine with a sling and a stone; without a sword in his hand he struck down the Philistine and killed him.
Goliath was an intimidating figure to say the least. First of all, he was huge. In our measurements, he stood somewhere around 9 foot 9 inches tall. Standing on his toes, Goliath could have bumped his head on a regulation size basketball hoop.

And Goliath was no string-bean. The weight of his war gear reveals he was an immensely strong man. His armor alone weighed 125 lbs! His spear was compare to a “weaver’s rod”. I’m not sure how big a weaver’s rod is, but I do know that the spear’s tip weighed 15 lbs. That’s about as much as two 12 inch cast iron skillets. Imagine the strength it would take to just hold up a nine foot long spear with two skillets attached to the end. This was a ridiculously large weapon wielded by a ridiculously large man.

And Goliath wasn’t just enrolled in the army of the Philistines to look mean. We’re told that he was a “champion,” and that he had been a warrior since he was a boy. This was a seasoned veteran who had taken many lives in his service to Philistia. The fact that he was bold enough to challenge anyone in Israel’s army to a winner-take-all fight to the death pretty much says it all.

When Goliath marched out to challenge Israel, he found no takers. For forty days the armies of Israel and Philistia camped opposite each other without meeting each other in battle. Each day Goliath had made his challenge, and no one stepped up to take him on.

This is a sad commentary on the state of Israel’s faith. You see, when the LORD brought his chosen nation to this new land he had told them the following:

17 “If you should say in your heart, ‘These nations are greater than I; how can I dispossess them?’— 18 you shall not be afraid of them, but you shall remember well what the Lord your God did to Pharaoh and to all Egypt: 19 the great trials which your eyes saw, the signs and the wonders, the mighty hand and the outstretched arm, by which the Lord your God brought you out. So shall the Lord your God do to all the peoples of whom you are afraid. 20 Moreover the Lord your God will send the hornet among them until those who are left, who hide themselves from you, are destroyed. 21 You shall not be terrified of them; for the Lord your God, the great and awesome God, is among you” (Deuteronomy 7:17-21 NKJV).

But Saul and all the Israelites were dismayed and terrified when Goliath stepped out to challenge them. He was just too big, too mighty, too deadly.

Israel’s mistake was judging Goliath by his outward strength, and estimating their chance of victory their according to their own military might. They should have remembered the promise of the LORD, and the power he had displayed in Egypt when Moses brought them out of slavery with miracles from God’s own hand.
And this is where we first see the faith of David displayed. He was just a young man, but he was immediately appalled that this Philistine had been permitted to challenge the armies of the LORD without repercussion. And so David offered himself. He told Saul that HE would battle Goliath.

Saul shows his lack of faith again, by telling David that surely he can’t face Goliath because he is just an inexperienced shepherd. But David reassures him that while he hasn’t fought in wars, he has fought wild animals to protect his father’s sheep. He tells Saul that he’s killed both lion and bear in defense of the flock.

But even in this David wasn’t showing a reliance on his own ability. He gives God the credit for giving him the victory over lion and bear. David says,

36 Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, because he has defied the armies of the living God. 37 The Lord who rescued me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will rescue me from the hand of this Philistine” (1 Samuel 17:36-37 NIV).

The story of David and Goliath is often held up as an example of what the little guy can do when he gives it his best shot. But this story isn’t about self confidence at all. This story is about faith.

When David steps out on the field of battle he says as much to Goliath and all who are listening. He says,

“…You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. 46 This day the Lord will deliver you into my hands, and I’ll strike you down and cut off your head” (1 Samuel 17:45-46 NIV).

In other words, Goliath’s confidence for victory rested in his weapons of war and his own strength, but David’s confidence rested in the LORD. The LORD was David’s weapon. David emphasizes where his strength lies by saying,

“…it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves; for the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give all of you into our hands” (1 Samuel 17:47 NIV).

From David’s faith in the LORD, courage sprang forth. When Goliath moved forward to silence this little gnat who was lipping off to him, David RAN to meet him. He didn’t even have a shell in the chamber when he ran either. As he ran he reached into his bag to find a stone for his sling. And the rest is history.

From faith in the LORD’s promise and power, courage sprang up and David ran forward. And while David gained notoriety for this act of bravery on the field of battle, his intention was actually to honor the LORD by simply trusting his promise.
There’s so much for us to learn here. From David’s faith which brought about courageous action, our faith can learn to do the same.

First, we need to know God’s promises. We learn of these by reading God’s Word, together here, and at home with our families, and by ourselves.

Then, we need to learn not to let outward circumstances weaken our faith in God’s promises. The LORD wasn’t intimidated by Goliath, so why should we be intimidated by people or circumstances that face us today? The LORD has promised to be with us also. We are his followers.  

With confidence in God’s almighty power, we can then learn to CHARGE into the fray just like David did. And the result will be the same—victory for us, and praise for the LORD.

Here’s a few of God’s promises for us to remember today. Jesus once said…

24 “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life” (John 5:24 NKJV).

Later, Jesus made this promise…

“…If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him” (John 14:23 NKJV).

Paul spoke of this assurance we have in Christ…

28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28 NKJV).

So the promises that we have from God are these: Those who trust in Jesus, are forgiven all their sins. They will live forever with him in heaven. Those who love Jesus, are loved by the Father and he makes his home right in our hearts. And nothing can then happen in our lives that God will not cause to benefit us.

These are promises to hold onto. From them comes courage. From them comes power from God which can overcome anything we face in this life. Through simple faith in the LORD’s power and promises, WE become the giants, and the giants of the world become the defeated.
What’s really neat about the story about David and Goliath is that it also reminds us of our Savior from sin.

Like David, Jesus also trusted in his heavenly Father above all else. Like David, Jesus bravely stepped forward to meet his betrayer in the garden of Gethsemane, and his greatest battle on the cross of Calvary. Like David, Jesus triumphed when no one else thought he could. Through his suffering and death our sin was overthrown, and the power of Satan over us was destroyed.
Are you an ordinary person? Not known in the world for your great deeds of courage and faithfulness? So was David.

Do you trust in the LORD who is greater than all obstacles this world can raise up? So did David.

May the LORD’s promises ever be the soil from which our souls find their sustenance. And may the LORD produce great things in our lives, courageous words and actions which give glory to the LORD—who can topple our greatest giants with ease and grace.


January 5, 2014

Jesus - Name Above All Names - Jan 5, 2014

To  DOWNLOAD an MP3 of this message, first right click here then choose "save link as" or "save target as". Older audio is removed to conserve server space, but is available by request. This sermon was written by Pastor David P. Schaller and provided through the CLC’s “Ministry by Mail”. For more, go to www.lutheransermons.org


Luke 2:21
When eight days were completed for the circumcision of the Child, His name was called JESUS, the name given by the angel before He was conceived in the womb.

Dear fellow Christians:
January 1st, was a noteworthy day. It was noteworthy not only because it was New Year's Day according to our calendars, but also because it was the eighth day of the twelve days of the Christmas season. When we look at what happened on the eighth day of that first Christmas, we find an important event. Now, Scripture doesn't tell us much about the Lord's childhood, but we are told about that particular day. An important day in the life of Jesus, it was the day of His circumcision.

Circumcision was the outward sign God had given to the Jews that they were children of the promise. It was similar in significance to the New Testament sacrament of Baptism. It reminded the Israelites that they had been set apart as the people from whom the Savior of the world would be born—that they were the people of the covenant.

The eighth day was also significant in the life of Jewish boys because it was the day they were officially given their names. In the case of Jesus, there was no suspense or surprise about the name He would have. Before He was born, even in an age without ultrasound machines, Mary already knew she was having a boy, and she knew what He would be called. Nine months earlier she had been visited by the angel Gabriel who had told her “You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus” (Luke 1:31 NIV).

Notice when Jesus’ name was chosen. Luke recorded for us in our text that this was “the name given by the angel before He was conceived in the womb.” See the timing of the choosing of Jesus' name. The name was chosen before Jesus had ever been conceived. It was picked out beforehand. Can this tell us something about God? Does it mean something for us?

This tells us that God was sure this was going to happen. Imagine a mother saying to her friends, “Yes, and the name of my next child will be...” when she doesn't even know if she will even have a child in the future. There was no such trouble in the case of Jesus. God knew this was going to happen, because He had been planning this birth for a long time. He had been getting ready for it in many ways. He was sure of it.

Down to the last detail everything had been made ready. For hundreds of years the prophets had been announcing that the Savior would be born. They had been telling the people to get ready. The wheels of history had been turning in this direction—turning faithfully toward the manger and the swaddling clothes and the shepherds in the field.

Mary, the mother, and stepfather, Joseph, were in place. They were descendants of King David as had been prophesied. The family had been brought to Bethlehem by royal decree, so that too had been worked out and fulfilled prophecy.

God knew what He was doing, and this birth was no accident. It was planned and carried out in the mind and by the power of God. It was specially engineered by the Father in Heaven—specially engineered for you. It is because of you that God got everything ready like this. Because you needed someone to save you from yourself. You’re not perfect. You never have been and you never will be, so someone needed to come for you and live a life that really could please God. This Jesus came to do.

God was sure about all this. He didn’t change His mind back and forth even when He saw mankind on earth sinning against Him and straying away from Him like foolish sheep. That isn’t the kind of God you have. You don’t have a God who one minute determines to help you and the next minute decides to withdraw that help. That’s how we are sometimes, and so we tend to think of God in those terms too. We think sometimes that God gives things to us and takes them away on a whim without any thought for our feelings and needs. But God isn’t fickle that way. You can count on the fact that He is absolutely unchanging with regard to His decisions and judgment. That’s a great blessing for it means also that His love toward you does not change and you need never doubt it.

Jesus was named before He had been conceived. This tells us too that God was excited and anxious to send this child.

When you see a husband and wife paging through a baby name book before a child is officially “on the way,” it means they are very anxious to have a baby. How much more does it mean when God chooses a name for His Son even before the child has been conceived! It means God was eager for this Child to come into the world! God was not only sure He was going to save you, but He was eager to do so! God couldn't wait to send Him to you!

That’s how the Lord is with you. He can’t wait to share with you His greatest gifts. When you sometimes think that He is slow and forgetful with His blessings, He perhaps has them named already in preparation for sharing them with you. Have you ever thought of that?

It does not give our Heavenly Father any joy when He sees His children depressed and sorrowing any more than we earthly parents are joyful when a child of ours is hurting. So it did not give God joy to see the world fall under condemnation for its sin, so He sent His only begotten Son—not to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. Indeed, God wanted with all His heart to do this for you.

The name “Jesus” also fit this Child perfectly. We have something of an interest in names “fitting” people too. My sister and I had a game we would play sometimes. We would see people in a mall or in a grocery store and we would try to guess what their names were. Sometimes we were able to find a sneaky way to tell if we were right. For example, by getting behind them in a checkout line and overhearing a conversation. During this game wee would ask each other things like, “Does she look like an Amy or a Nancy? I don’t know, what do you think? With that color of hair she has to be an Amy!”

Did you know people have certain stereotypes in their minds when it comes to names? Many hear a name and they make some kind of association, sometimes without even thinking about it. I found a survey on the computer about name stereotypes. I discovered that 45% of people think the name Alfred suggests a grumpy old guy. 63% think Brad suggests a high school athlete. Ashley is a cheerleader. Mary is a Sunday School teacher. Shelly is a hairdresser. Mario is a drug dealer, and so on.

What do you think the Lord’s mother thought when the angel said to her, “Jesus”? Would she have thought: Shepherd? Businessman? Farmer? No, none of these. For there was a clear association with that name. Jesus is the same name as the Hebrew Joshua. They mean, “Jehovah saves.” Jesus’ name suggested that through Him God would save all people. It was a name that fit Him perfectly!
It is the name the Apostle Paul proclaimed to the Philippians when he said of the Lord: “... being found in appearance as a man, He humbled himself and became obedient to death—even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth” (Philippians 2:8-10 NIV).

At the name of Jesus we bow down—for He is our Savior. At the name of Jesus we rejoice, we enjoy forgiveness, we find peace, we have hope for all time. Bless His holy name! Amen.

— Pastor David P. Schaller