Sermons

Summary: What made David a man after God's heart? David's confrontation with Goliath demonstrates David's committed, confident, and courageous heart!

David: A Man after God’s Heart (2)

Scott Bayles, pastor

Blooming Grove Christian Church: 2/28/2016

Last Sunday we started a new series exploring the life of David. The Bible dedicates more pen and parchment to the life of David than to anyone other than Jesus himself. His adventures are chronicled in great detail. The Bible calls him shepherd boy, king, mighty warrior, musician, poet, sinner, saint. But what I find most compelling about David is God’s description of him: “I have found David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart.” (Acts 13:22 NLT)

That’s intriguing, isn’t it? As Christians, I would think that all of us want to men and women after God’s heart. But what does that even mean? How do we become a man or woman after God's heart?

Well, last Sunday we learned that God doesn’t judge by outward appearances; rather, God looks at the heart. Others may measure your waist size or wallet. Not God. He examines hearts. So what did God see when he looked at David’s heart? He saw what no one else saw: a hardworking, humble, hallelujah-filled heart—but that’s just the beginning. As we journey through the life of David, we come to another story that sheds even more light on David’s heart—the story of David and Goliath.

This was always one of my favorite Bible stories as a kid. There’s something about this story that resonates with us. It almost makes us want to stand up and cheer. Both life and literature are overflowing with these “David and Goliath” stories—timeless tales about triumphant underdogs. Whether it’s Abraham Lincoln going from a log cabin to the White House or Rocky going the distance against Apollo Creed, these stories will always be in style. It’s just more fun to root for the little guy, isn’t it? We like to see losers become winners.

But the story of David and Goliath started it all. The story of told in 1 Samuel 17, so if you have a Bible, you can open it there. When last we left David, King Saul hired him as his personal musician to play the harp whenever Saul got a bit agitated. But when he wasn’t making music, David traveled home and continued caring for his father’s flock—so he was going back and forth from the palace to the pasture.

Before long, Saul mustered his army and prepared for battle against their recurring rivals, the Philistines. The two opposing forces met in the Valley of Elah, a vast gulch about a mile wide, with a narrow stream flowing through the center like a line drawn in the sand. The Israelite army encamped along the northern hills while the Philistines occupied the southern mounds.

Before the battle cry could be sounded, however, the Bible says, “Then Goliath, a Philistine champion from Gath, came out of the Philistine ranks to face the forces of Israel” (1 Samuel 17:4 NLT). Surrounded by his Philistine comrades, Goliath towers above them all—arrayed in bronze armor, brandishing a swords, spear and javelin, and snarling like the main contender at Monday Night Raw.

Now before we go any further, I need to have a little aside with you. Every English translation of this passage perpetuates a copyist error that dates back to the ninth century. Prior to 1943, all English translations of the Old Testament relied primarily on the Masoretic text. For a long time, it was our oldest Hebrew manuscript, but it only dates back about 1,000 years. The Masoretic text identifies Goliath as six cubits and a span (roughly 9’9”) tall. That’s odd, however, because the Septuagint identifies him at four cubits and a span (6’9”). The first century historian, Josephus also identified Goliath as four cubits and a span. But English translators opted for the taller version of Goliath, perhaps because it sounded more impressive. In 1943, however, archeologists discovered the Dead Sea Scrolls, a collection of ancient documents dating back hundreds of years before Christ, included among them were ancient Hebrew copies of the Old Testament. The DSS copy of 1 Samuel (100 BC) also clearly identifies Goliath as four cubits and a span, proving that somewhere between the 1st and 10th centuries a copyist exaggerated Goliath’s height, which led to an error in the Masoretic text. While every biblical scholar is aware of this, no English translation has been willing to break with tradition (although the NLT, ESV and others do include a footnote).

So Goliath’s true height is 6 feet 9 inches (not 9 feet 9 inches), but don’t let that diminish your view of Goliath’s imposing presence. Keep in mind that archeologist’s tell us a tall man in David’s day stood 5’6” tall. Most believe David himself to have been around 5’2”. So Goliath still towered over his friends and foes, much like NBA legends Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, or Shaquille O'Neal would tower over us today.

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