2007-07-07 - Two Lessons from a Familiar Text
1 Samuel 17:36, 37, "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. The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Phlistine," Saul said to David, "Go, and the Lord be with you."
We all know the story of David and Goliath, but I hope in our short examination today, we can glean a new insight into how the mindset of David is instructive to us today. Let us get right into it.
The first matter I would like to notice is that David says God has been with him in the past, when he has been in need. David remembers how God has always been a help to him when he has needed help. He had just been told that he was but a boy, and the Goliath was a fierce warrior. How would David stand up against him? David remembers the past. He recollects that neither the lion nor the bear had been a problem for him in the past, and that this man, who was taunting the living God, would not be a problem for him, either.
Here is the lesson: We ought to be mindful of the ways the Lord has been with us in the past. When we forget His mercies to us in our past experiences (which we are all too prone to do), we find ourselves unequipped to deal with the new challenges that face us. We tend to have short memories concerning the Lord's mercies. We remember our struggles. We retain, to the point of memorizing or learning by heart, our times of trial - but we quickly forget God's deliverances to us, time and time again. In this, we are much like the Israelites throughout their history, but most notably in the wilderness. If we were more mindful of God's mercies to us, our faith would be greatly strengthened.
The second matter I would note this that David gives the glory for his past deliverances to the Lord. He says, "The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear..." He does not present his argument to King Saul in such a way as to make himself look good, or capable of taking on Goliath on his own. He gives God the glory for his past successes. He has confidence that the same God will go out with him against Goliath. He puts front and center that his ability in the past was a gift from God, and his confidence was that the same God would go out with him in this new battle. He gives glory to God.
Here is the lesson: We also should give glory to God for making possible those things that we often seek to take credit for ourselves. We all too frequently look to ourselves as our own enablers. In this, we rob God of his glory. It is the height of lacking wisdom, to seek to eclipse the Glory due to God and place our own works, thoughts, efforts or strivings in His place. Any victory we have, the Lord has allowed. The Lord makes possible our boastings. But our lesson here is that if we are going to boast, let us boast in the Lord (I Cor. 1:31, 2 Cor. 10:17).
Soli Deo Gloria,