Summary: Courage, confidence, and deep faith help us overcome life’s obstacles.
Sermon for 2 Pent Yr B, 22/06/2003
1 Sam 17:32-49; 2 Cor 6:1-13; Mk 4:35-41
Grace Lutheran Church, Medicine Hat, Alberta
By Pastor Garth Wehrfritz-Hanson
Today’s first lesson is perhaps one of the most popular biblical stories—especially among Sunday School children. Although some today would like to prevent children from being exposed to such stories because it is not politically correct; it is too violent; nonetheless there is much to be learned from David’s encounter with Goliath as it is not the violence that is the central focus of the story—rather, it is the ring of authenticity in the character of David that is highlighted. David as a person of courage, confidence, and deep faith in God is underscored in the story. The story is timeless in that it speaks to real-life situations we all experience sooner or later. The story brilliantly shows us HOW TO FACE AND OVERCOME LIFE’S OBSTACLES.
Here we have Goliath the Philistine of Gath, a giant, who is nine feet tall and a champion warrior. No one in the army of Israel really wants to face up to such a giant. The entire Israelite army, including King Saul, was filled full of fear and felt defeated before they even considered facing such a giant. It didn’t help matters much when Goliath took advantage of every opportunity to verbally insult them and the LORD God. What were they to do?
Enter David into the scene, the youngest son of Jesse. A humble shepherd boy—not even an adult yet and fully grown. He hears of the problem and instead of shaking in his sandals and running for his life; HE FACES THE SITUATION WITH COURAGE AND CONFIDENCE, PLACING HIS LIFE COMPLETELY IN THE HANDS OF THE LORD GOD. He tells King Saul that he has faced dangers before—and against the odds, he ended up on top. As a shepherd he had to fight off and was successful in killing lions and bears. This, so he tells Saul, had prepared him to face Goliath the giant. Moreover, David knew and trusted COMPLETELY IN THE LORD GOD TO BE WITH HIM AND GRANT HIM THE VICTORY OVER GOLIATH. According to David, it didn’t matter how big an obstacle the enemy was; how strong and skilled they were; how well equipped; NO INDIVIDUAL, NO ARMY COULD FIGHT AGAINST THE LORD GOD AND WIN. CLEARLY THE LORD GOD WOULD DEFEAT THEM.
So, after David displays such courage, confidence, and faith in God to Saul; the king then has his own armour placed on David. But what a humorous sight it must have been! Small boy David swimming in an adult’s armour. It was so cumbersome that he froze inside of it—he could barely move, let alone fight a champion! So he chooses not to wear it, picks up five smooth stones, his slingshot and his staff-that’s it. Such a small fellow, so ill-equipped to face this overwhelming obstacle of a champion warrior giant in full armour—it seemed as if all odds were in favour of Goliath winning hands down! BUT NO! SURPRISE! With his courage, confidence, and bedrock trust in the LORD, David faces his overwhelming obstacle of a giant; takes careful aim with one of his stones and sling; and the next thing we know that stone manages to find its way into an opening in Goliath’s armour to strike him on the forehead; causing him to fall dead face down on the ground.
This story is close to us because each one of us, sooner or later face what, at first, may seem giant-sized obstacles. Whether it is the school-yard bully, the intimidating boss or fellow-employee at work, the overly-authoritative teacher at school, the cantankerous neighbour next door, or any person or group of people whom we find it difficult to deal with; sometimes we may feel like that ancient army of Israel and become filled with fear and feel defeated before we even begin to face our obstacles. We wonder what to do or how we can possibly face or overcome our obstacles. Yet, it is at precisely such times that we need to remember that, like David, GOD IS ALWAYS WITH US. GOD WILL GIVE US THE COURAGE AND CONFIDENCE TO FACE AND OVERCOME OUR OBSTACLES—JUST AS GOD DID FOR DAVID. Therefore, we need not be afraid like the Israelite army and like disciples were when the storm threatened them on the sea. Rather, we can have confidence that no matter how many or how overwhelming life’s obstacles, life’s storms may be—NONETHELESS GOD IS WITH US LIKE HE WAS WITH DAVID; CHRIST IS RIGHT THERE WITH US LIKE HE WAS FOR THOSE FIRST DISCIPLES. He will help us and see us through all of our obstacles, if we keep our courage, face our situation at hand, and trust and remain confident in the LORD’s strength and presence to see us through.