Summary: Second message from a conference for college-age men on what it means to be a man, God’s man and God’s leader.
Part 2 (Evening session)
This morning we talked about our predicament as men; primarily we centered on two issues.
One issue is what we face because of our inheritance from Adam in the sin nature and Adam’s abdication. The other is a bunch of cultural baggage from which we have an extremely difficult time extricating ourselves.
So, what we have inside us and what we have all around us leave us in pretty sad shape when it comes to being men -- and godly men -- and men who want God to work in us and through us.
We began with our predicament. We ended our time with the prospect of a higher calling.
This evening I want to raise in your minds a vision of what I’m calling Our Promise.
The promise is of Authentic Manhood (1 Samuel 17:12-58)
One of my favorite accounts in the Bible is the one about the boy David, being sent by his father with food and provisions to the battle lines where his brothers were serving in King Saul’s army. It’s there, of course, that he has his famous encounter with the giant Goliath.
Notice I said David was sent “to the battle lines” -- because there was no battle.
Turn to 1 Samuel 17 with me. Let me read just verse 11 to start with. 1 Samuel 17:11 says when Saul and his troops heard the Philistine’s challenge, they were terrified and lost all hope. (1 Samuel 17:11). There are words in that verse that ought to create huge contradictions in your mind. Troops -- heard words -- terrified -- lost hope.
Think about it: these are battle-hardened troops of a nation which has conquered vast amounts of territory to become the people and nation of God. You see any self-contradiction in those words? They heard some words and now they’re terrified and they’ve lost all hope. Why is that? Of course, it’s because of a big ugly Philistine named Goliath.
The account, from verse 20 to verse 30 is of David being sent by his father to bring provisions to his brothers at the front. He arrives, he leaves his load with the baggage keeper and goes off to seek his brothers.
That’s when we’re introduced to Israel’s encounter with Goliath. Apparently, one of the customs, to spare bloodshed, was for each army would choose a champion -- then each of the champions would come to the middle ground between the two armies -- and they would fight to the death. That one-on-one contest would determine the outcome of the war. If your man lost, you became the slaves of the nation whose champion won.
Goliath has come out. And for 40 long days, the text says, he taunted and trash-talked Israel’s troops, Israel’s nation and Israel’s God. But no one will go out to fight him from all of Saul’s mighty men. Now, Saul has offered treasure, tax-free living, even his own daughter in marriage -- but yet, no one will respond; no one volunteers. And big King Saul won’t go himself.
Enter the boy -- if you stretch things -- the young man, David. David exhibits what I want to hold up to you as the qualities of a real man -- an authentic man of God. Notice right off the bat, David didn’t resemble Arnold, or Mel Gibson, or even any of the so-called “real men” in his day. He’s never been in battle. Later, when he tries on Saul’s armor, he practically falls out of it -- he’s so small compared to it.
His brothers, we read, laugh and scorn -- even get ticked off over his suggestion that he fight the giant. They even question his motives for showing up at the front lines. When David goes out into the valley where Goliath has been raging, the giant curses and shows his fury because Israel has sent a boy to fight with him.
Here’s what we need to observe: it wasn’t the qualities you could have seen on the outside -- real men don’t have a look, or a physique or a sports prowess -- it’s not what you might have witnessed externally -- it’s not even what David had to offer in terms of experience.
What‘s vital to see is that inwardly David was a man -- and on this one day he’s going to be transformed in people’s eyes -- from a ruddy little handsome kid to a valiant warrior whom God has destined to rule Israel.
Robert Lewis has helped me more than any one to define manhood from a biblical perspective. Like we talked this morning, our contemporary models fall woefully short. Neither the Church nor the culture can help us much to answer the question “what’s a real man?” We’re tempted to run in one direction or the other -- like I said, either to men as dominators or passive men. We need to be convinced that neither of those is biblical nor satisfying.