Monday, August 17, 2009

God of the Impossible: David & his sling

Sometimes in our lives we reach a wall that would seem impossible to climb. There are moments in our lives when we find ourselves facing a humongous feat before us and there's no way we can conquer it. There's that one moment in time when everything around us just fades into the picture as we stand face to (thighs?) the giant of a problem standing before us. We feel so small, so inadequate, so helpless, so exposed, so weak. 

Whatever insurmountable situation or circumstance we are facing today, let us try to go over a very familiar story in the bible of a young boy who stood against a towering giant and be reminded that our God is mighty and able to save His own. This is the No. 2 in my list of victory stories in the bible.

#2 - DAVID and His sling
(1 Samuel 17)

David must have been excited as his father called him and gave him the task of bringing food over to his older brothers who were in the battlefield against the notorious Philistines. "Don't ever take your eyes off any of them, and if a lion or a bear comes, don't be afraid to fight it!" He must have hastily left a reminder for the young lad he left his father's sheep with as he went hurriedly in excitement to the place called the Valley of Elah where all the men of Israel gathered to fight against the Philistines.

It has been 40 days since his brothers left for this war, as all capable men were summoned to fight for Israel. "See how your brothers are doing and bring back some assurance from them." His father, Jesse's, words echoed in his head as he headed out towards the camp with the grain and ten loaves of bread in a bag. "Don't worry, father. I know God is taking care of my brothers over there as He is taking care of us here!" He reassured his old man as he set out for the trail to the camp very early that morning. Now David had been serving King Saul already since the day he was summoned to his court to play the harp for him. Saul had been tormented by an evil spirit and it was only David's playing of his harp that calmed him. David had been used to going back and forth from Saul's home in Gibeah and back to tend his father's sheep in Bethlehem. He was used to traveling probably about 6-8 miles north to Gibeah if Saul needs him to play for him in his court. But as wartime came about, his 3 older brothers followed Saul wherever the battle was - the reason why he had to set out for a longer journey this time to check on them and bring back some proof to his father that they are still alive.

From afar, David could already hear the loud voices of men shouting out the war cry as they were going out to the battle line. As it was with battles in biblical and ancient times, the opposing armies will draw up their battle lines to meet with each other. A champion from either army will come forward to challenge the other's to a man-to-man fight! The victor's side then, will partake of his victory. As David reached the camp, his brothers were already on the battle line. So excited was he that he left the things he brought with him with the supplies-keeper and ran towards his brothers in the battle line! His timing, though, was perfect. As he greeted his brothers there, the Philistine's champion named Goliath came forward and for the umpteenth time gave out his challenge to the Israelites army.

"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." (1 Samuel 17: 8-9)

Now Goliath, as a champion, was unlike any other Philistine army in the ranks behind him. The bible stated that he was from Gaza. In Joshua 11:22, Gaza had been mentioned to be one of the few places left in the land where "Anakites" lived.  Numbers 13: 32-33 gives us a picture of what these Anakites were like. Ten out of the twelve spies sent out to Canaan gave a discouraging report to the Israelites about it as they were engulfed with their fear and lack of faith in God's provision of the promised land.  They described the inhabitants they saw as taller and stronger than the Israelites, and moreover the sons of Anak dwell in the land, and that they felt like grasshoppers in their presence. Goliath was a literal giant, probably descendants of the Nephilim, one of the kind of people mentioned in the bible that dwelled on earth. (Google them up if you want more study on them.) This champion of a Goliath was literally considered as a 'super-human', the villain of villains! No wonder the Israelites army was described to be "dismayed and terrified". Who wouldn't be? I mean, think about standing there on the battlefield holding your position in the battle line and there came forward from the enemy's camp (thank you, very much) a man who's more than nine feet tall with full armor and that goodness-me-humongous spear! I mean, his armor was honestly heavier than I am. It was described to be 125 lbs heavy! I'm only 115 lbs for crying out loud! Whew! I could picture myself shaking in my armor by the sight of him (or maybe they already yelled "Medic!!!" as I flop to the ground faint).

But David, the boy, didn't really consider him for his size. He wasn't focused at all by how big his HELMET was, or how HIGH that shield was, or how TALL that spear he had in his hand was, or how impenetrably tough that bronze ARMOR he's wearing must be! He didn't see that at all. What did David focus on? Listen to his very words:

"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 Philistine." (1 Samuel 17:36-37)

David was courageous enough to fight against this giant because He knew who he belongs to. He knew who this Philistine was in the sight of God, and this Goliath is nothing else but an enemy of God. I'm sure David knew very well that if God is for us, who can be against us?! No-one will stand against the living God, not even this giant! To cut the story short, Saul agreed to have David fight for them (what a cowardly king, don't you think?). Saul even had David use his battle gear thinking it might make a difference! But David didn't use it and he instead came forth to face Goliath just as he was - puny, defenseless, frail. It was his usual get-up, and his only weapon was his old, sturdy, dependable sling. 

Now this handsome boy took his staff in his hand... "The Lord watches over the way of the righteous..." He chose five smooth stones from the stream, "The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble...", he placed them in the pouch of his shepherd's bag, "Keep me safe, O God, for in you I take refuge. I love you, O Lord, my strength." He held his sling in his hand... "It is God who arms me with strength and makes my way perfect." The valley was silent as David approached Goliath... "In you, O Lord I have taken refuge, let me not be put to shame." Goliath gave his surprised and despising speech to David with his voice booming in the valley, "Am I a dog that you come at me with sticks?! Come here and I'll give your flesh to the birds of the air and the beasts of the field!" But David was unshakeable for he knew EXACTLY, in faith, what is going to happen as he cried back in his loud, young voice, "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 you all into our hands." 

With that reply, Goliath the giant was stirred probably in anger and moved closer to attack David. David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet him, "Summon your power, O God, show us your strength as you have done before..." reached into his bag and took out a stone, "The Lord reigns let the nations tremble," slung it and whackkkk! then THUDDD!!! The stone sank into Goliath's forehead and he fell facedown on the ground. The battle truly is the Lord's and he will give ANY enemy, any GIANT into our hands!

The end of the story is this. David ran and stood over Goliath, took hold of the Philistine's sword (must have been one heck of a sword!) and cut off his head! What a victory that was! All of the Philistines army must have peed in their pants as they saw Goliath's head roll off on the ground! Oh! I could hear the shout that the Israelites gave as they surged and pursued the Philistines who were running away. The valley must have literally shook that day from their voices and their thunderous running after the enemy!

Are you facing a gigantic, humongous, gargantuan, immense trial in your life right now and you feel like you're so puny, helpless and incapable of winning over it? Listen, the battle is the LORD's! Know who your God is and know who you belong to. Don't focus on how BIG the enemy or the trial is, but focus on the GREATNESS & the POWER of GOD Himself! Giants will fall before your very eyes with just a sling and a stone.  

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