The Beautiful Advent Collision (from 1 Samuel)

The book of 1 Samuel contains collision after collision. Beginning with Eli and Hannah, moving onto Eli and Samuel, then to Saul and Samuel, and finally to Saul and David there is no shortage of drama, wisdom, and gospel grace to be gleaned in this wonderful historical account.

The book begins with the birth of Samuel and in a sad downward spiral it ends with the burial of Saul. In chapter 29 we see God deliver David from death, and in chapter 31 we see God deliver Saul to death. In chapter 30 we see David conquering his enemies the Amalekites, and in chapter 31, perhaps even on the very same day, we see the Saul being conquered by his enemies the Philistines.

What should we remember about this book? I want you to remember 1 Samuel 16:7.

1 Samuel 16:7 is the summary statement of the whole book of 1 Samuel. God had brought Samuel to Jesse to anoint one of his sons and after seeing his oldest son Eliab God told Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the LORD sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart.” All throughout the book we see this, what looks as tall and strong and faithful in the eyes of man isn’t so tall and strong and faithful in the eyes of God.

Hannah, a then barren woman, was more righteous than Eli the priest. David, a then young shepherd boy, was more righteous than Saul the king. An aware Bible reader will remember Isaiah 55:8-9 “God’s ways are not our ways, God’s purposes are higher than ours.”

But what about Advent? Do we not see the same things?

To the eyes of man the child of a young newly married couple born next to animals in Bethlehem was nothing worth mentioning. Yet, He was the long awaited One who would teach us the truth, who would fulfill all righteousness for His people in His perfect law-abiding life, who would atone for and pay the penalty as the substitute for His people’s law-breaking lives, and who would rise again from death to usher in a whole new kind of life.

The Gospel Transformation Bible picks up on this and says the following: “1 Samuel is about kings, but more importantly it’s about the great King, God Himself. In these stories we catch glimpses of who God is, what He does, what life is like with Him and without Him, and what life can become by the power His grace and the power of His Spirit. These stories are part of our family history as believers, they’re meant to instruct us, encourage us, and give us hope. These stories are gospel-filled stories, honest about sin and society, saturated with the hope of heaven.” (page 341).

To the world, nothing special happened that night in Bethlehem. But for those who have eyes to see and ears to hear, this Child is both David’s Son and David’s LORD, the Prince of peace and the wonderful Counselor, the mighty God and everlasting Father. All of the collisions between the people in 1 Samuel were only a foreshadow of the greater collision to come, when the author of the play Himself, would walk on stage and change everything! When His divinity met our depravity, there was a beautiful collision.

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The Greater David

The story of David and Goliath, found in 1 Samuel 17, is a very familiar story for most of us. But let’s not miss the important truths in this passage. There are five things to notice here.

First: God uses the unlikely

From this passage we are told that David is young (v14, 33, 42). As a result, he is not the likely candidate to fight Goliath.  But God uses him regardless, and he defeats the mighty giant. Through the power of God David defeats Goliath with a sling and a stone. And God can use us too, as “great” or as ordinary as we are. He can use us to do great things for Him, not because we are awesome, but because He is. He can do awesome things even with ordinary people.

Second: God uses current circumstances to prepare people to do future work for Him

In verses 34-37 of this passage we are told that Saul did not think that David should fight Goliath as he was too young. However, David brought up the fact that he had spent time as shepherd. As a shepherd, God worked through him to kill bears and lions and God would use him now to kill Goliath. His experience as a shepherd prepared him to fight Goliath. God used David’s time as a shepherd to prepare him to do future work for Him. God may be using your current circumstances to prepare you to do future work for Him. So be encouraged that your circumstances, as great or as bad as they may be right now, are not in vain.

Third: God’s reputation matters

In this passage (v26, 36b, 46-47) we can see that David is offended that Goliath would defy the armies of God. David thinks, “Who does this guy think he is that he can defy God’s people in this way? Does he know who he is dealing with? Does he even know who God is?” David had a zeal for God’s reputation and honor. We too should have a zeal for God’s reputation and honor. Sin should sadden us. Defiance toward God should offend us. We need to ask God to give us boldness to confront sin in love because His name and reputation matter.

Fourth: Great faith in a great God

David shows tremendous faith in God to give him victory over Goliath (v 37, 45-47). He was just a youth and Goliath was a giant and a champion. Although no one was willing to fight Goliath, David showed no fear and trusted fully in God to give him the victory over Goliath. Some of us have bold faith like that, but there are some of us who are less trusting. But no matter where we are on the “faith scale” we need to ask that God would grant us greater faith to trust Him no matter the circumstance.

Fifth (and most important): Jesus is the Greater David

As we read about David slaying a giant and rescuing his people, let’s be reminded of the greater David – Jesus. Jesus slays the greater giant of sin and death through His life, death, and resurrection. The Greater David would come to save His people from their sin. This story is not just about a boy and a giant; it’s about pointing us to the Greater David – Jesus! Let’s never forget the mighty work Christ has done for us.

The End which 1 Samuel Desires to Take Us

Third, this story exists to show us God. It’s ironic that a “what looks like nothing young kid” saved God’s people from slavery under the Philistines. It’s ironic that a boy who couldn’t wear armor and probably didn’t even weigh 140 lbs. defeated a champion who had 140 lbs. of armor on. It’s ironic that an untrained sheep herder, killed a learned man of war quickly. It’s ironic that no one thought David was anything at all, when God clearly used him and raised him up to do crazy ridiculous things. Why point this out? Because I think God is screaming at us through this chapter to prepare us for a greater irony to come one day in the future. It’s more ironic that the Creator of all things would become one of the created to bring us back to Himself. It’s more ironic that the Man who was mocked as a “King” on the cross really was the King. It’s more ironic that the Man who seemed utterly powerless on the cross is more powerful than 4 billion nuclear bombs combined. It’s more ironic that the Man who died on the cross is the only One who can give us true life. It’s more ironic that the One who bore the sin of the world never sinned at all and can now save us from our sin. It’s more ironic that this Man who died defeated death once and for all by rising from the dead. It’s more ironic that Jesus would willingly receive condemnation so that those who trust in Him could gain celebration. In David we have a glorious foreshadow of Christ.

So Church, lets be confident, courageous, and calm in battles and trials, standing firm in front of any giant we have to face in life. Not because we trust in our own strength, but because we boast in Gods strength to overcome for those who are overcome. Our God is strong, nothing is too hard for Him.

And may we rejoice that in the David vs. Goliath matchup we find a glorious picture and preview of what Jesus would one day do (and now has done) on the cross for His glory and for the good of those who trust in Him.

Two Reasons 1 Samuel 17 is in Our Bibles

It is indeed an understatement to say we can learn much from this battle. So let’s pause and reflect and ask one question: Why is this story in the Bible? Out of all the wars, all the encounters, all the crazy adventures David was a part of, why this one? I’ve got 3 reasons:

First, this story exists to show that God sees not as man sees. David was anointed as King because 1 Samuel 16:7 says, “For the Lord sees not as man sees, man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” Jesse, Samuel, David’s brothers, the men of Israel, Saul, and Goliath laughed at, looked down upon, and mocked David because from the appearance of things he was nothing special. Clearly, God sees differently than man sees, and what man can’t see past, God sees. How many of you have felt or feel like David? Laughed at, looked down upon, and mocked because from the way things appear, you don’t look like anything special. Most of us feel like this at certain times in life. You know Jesus felt like this? In a prophecy about Jesus (Isaiah 53:2) says there was nothing about Jesus that would have drawn us to him, no beauty that we should desire him above others. Jesus knew what it felt like to be overlooked and mocked, but Jesus knew his identity came from one place alone, His Father. David was anointed king as a teenager, and became king 20-25 years later! Talk about overlooked! This teaches us that God’s plan for David was better than Jesse’s plan for David, or Samuel’s plan for David, or Saul’s plan for David, probably even David’s plan for David. Man often overlooks what God takes great pleasure in. There’s a rest that comes to the heart when you know that God’s opinion of you is really the only one that matters and that tour future is secure in Gods hands, not left alone in mans hands. For some of you this is easy to believe, while others of you this is a hard pill to swallow. I personally tend to go back and forth with this, finding it easier in some seasons than others to accept the sovereign plan of God for my life. But one thing remains true, I know Him, and when I cannot see His hand, I can trust His heart. Trust Him.

Second, this story exists to show what being bold for the glory of God looks like. David wasn’t firstly concerned with Goliath. He was concerned about God! God’s reputation was being put to task, the glory of God was being defamed, and David felt it. Every response David makes about Goliath or to Goliath He talks about God’s glory. “Saul, how can this Philistine talk about the Lord like this? He must be silenced!” “Goliath, when I kill you and cut off your head, all the earth will know that there is a God in Israel.” When you get to the bottom of it, David did what David did because David loved God! The point of this story of isn’t that little people can do great things if they’ll only try or that strong people can be overcome by weaker people who put their mind to it. No it’s this: the LORD does not save by sword and spear; for the battle is the LORD’S and it’s he who gives the victory. God intentionally sets up situations to put His strength and His might on display, to glorify Himself, to show the nations His might and power, and to show us that we can trust Him, and that nothing is too hard for Him, which increases our love for God, while inspiring us and invigorates us to be bold for the glory of God in our lives!

One last, and more glorious and splendid reason tomorrow.

5 Little Stones and a Heart on Fire

After hearing two people tell him no David responds in 17:34, revealing his life-giving, exuberant heart full of passion for the glory and honor of God. He says, “Your servant used to keep sheep for his father. And when there came a lion, or a bear, and took a lamb from the flock, I went after him and struck him and delivered it out of his mouth. And if he arose against me, I caught him by his beard and struck him and killed him. Your servant has struck down both lions and bears, and this uncircumcised Philistine shall be like one of them, for he has defied the armies of the living God. The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.” Saul responded with a quick word, “Go, the Lord be with you!”

So off David went, unable to bear the weight of Saul’s armor, but instead taking a sling, 5 little stones, and a faith on fire. David then did what no Israelite had done thus far, he spoke back to Goliath, probably in a manner that no one else ever had (17:41-47). Goliath quickly responds, not with words, but by coming at David to end this boy’s youthful boasting. David, again showing great courage and trust in the Lord, ran to meet him, pulled out his sling with one stone in it, slung it and watched his stone sink into the forehead of his foe. The Philistines horrified, watch David use Goliath’s own sword to cut off the champion’s head. They flee.

Well, that’s it. That’s the story. Can you see why this is an epic underdog matchup of history? A boy defeating a well trained champion? No one would believe this unless it were in the Bible.

The Champion of Gath

The introduction to chapter, 17:1-11, clearly shows that they had great reason to be afraid? You can almost picture it, once they lined up for battle, it got quiet, the line of the Philistine army opens up, revealing their champion, six cubits and a span in height, that’s 9 feet 9 inches tall. His helmet, coat of mail, and spear together weighs 5600 shekels of bronze, or 140 lbs. This is a weight that would prohibit any normal man from being able to move at all, let alone move with any agility necessary for fighting. Goliath not only wore this armor to fight, he wore it well and was able to move in it quickly. It’s easy to see why he had the reputation he did right? Goliath then opens his mouth, taunting Israel’s army. “Choose a man to come face me, and lets settle this like men! He kills me we’ll be your servants, but if I kill him, you shall serve us.” Verse 16 says Goliath did this for 40 days, each morning and evening. Verse 11 says that when all Israel heard this, they were dismayed and greatly afraid. This is no simple fear, this same word “yare” in the original Hebrew is used to describe “standing in dread”, “terrify”, this is an intense fear. Notice it says, “When Saul and the people heard this….they were afraid?” Saul heard this? He’s the king, it’s his duty to come out and not only meet challenges like this head on confident and courageous, its his job to silence challenges like this. Interesting word on leadership huh? What else can the people do when they see their leader in such fear?

The passage continues in 17:12 bringing David back into view. 3 of David’s brothers had gone out to war with King Saul, and we find Jesse telling David in verse 17 to bring his older brothers some supplies in the camp. David did this, and when he got to the ranks, as he was talking with his brothers, guess who came out to taunt Israel? Right, Goliath. In direct opposite mentality, while Israel was shaking in their boots, verse 23 ends with a simple phrase, “And David heard Goliath.” Israel again flees, goes back to camp and begins talking about this challenge. “Have you seen this man who has come up? Surely he has come up to defy Israel. And the king will enrich the man who kills him with great riches and will give him his daughter and make his father’s house free in Israel.” David for the first time in our passage speaks, and says in 17:26, “What shall be done for the man who kills this Philistine and takes away the reproach from Israel? For who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?” After some of the men told David the prize for killing Goliath, David’s older brothers show up and think David is just there to watch the fight. David didn’t care, but kept asking, and apparently kept asking so much that word got around to Saul that a young boy was eager to know who would fight this champion, so Saul sent for David. And David’s immediate word to Saul is in 17:32, “Let no man’s heart fail because of Goliath, I will go fight with this Philistine.” Saul, as you can imagine said, “You are not able to fight him, for you are a youth, and Goliath has been a man of war from his youth.”

More tomorrow….

The Stage is Set in Chapter 16 for Chapter 17

When 1 Samuel 16 begins we hear God telling the prophet Samuel, “How long will you grieve over Saul, since I have rejected him as king? Fill your horn with oil and go to Jesse the Bethlehemite, for I have provided myself a king among his sons.” So off Samuel went and when he arrived he had Jesse bring all his sons before him so he could see who God had chosen as king. All of Jesse’s sons walk by Samuel and when he sees his oldest son Eliab, Samuel thinks to himself in verse 6 saying, “Surely Gods anointed is here among before me.” God then responds in verse 7 with a word for Samuel that sets the tone for our message today, “Do not look on his outward appearance or the hieght of his stature, I have rejected him. For The Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance; but The Lord looks on the heart.” Samuel takes this to heart and after all the other sons of Jesse walk by, he still has not heard from God about who is to be king, so he asks if all the sons are present. Confused, Jesse says, “There remains the youngest, but he’s keeping the sheep.” Samuel asked for him and as soon as Samuel sees him he hears God say, “Arise, anoint him, this is he.” Samuel got up, and in the sight of his older brothers he anoints David as king, and leaves town. Can you imagine the awkwardness here? The youngest brother just got anointed to be king of Gods people by Gods prophet while the older brothers are left standing there. Not only is this awkward, this is just plain wrong in the eyes of the brothers, but can you imagine the anger and jealousy toward their brother at this point.

From verse 13 to the end of chapter 16 we see Holy Spirit activity. The Holy Spirit rushes upon David from this time forward while at the same time leaving King Saul. Then we see what seems like a conundrum present here when David is being used of God to calm King Saul from the evil spirit that came from God. From God? Yes. This teaches us a few things.

First it is helpful to point out that in the Old Testament the Holy Spirit came on and came off people at God’s bidding, and this was normal operation. Anytime God wanted, He would send upon someone for a specific reason for a time only. This is why David prays in Psalm 51:11 for God not to take His Holy Spirit from him. In the New Testament this is not so. We have been sealed with the Spirit, never to leave us again. It is the deposit evident of our inheritance one day in the new heavens and new earth. (Ephesians 1:12-14)

Second, the fact that this verse says it was God who sent this evil Spirit is telling for sure. This does not mean that God is in heaven waiting and ready to crush random people with evil spirits who displease Him. It does mean that God is sovereign and nothing enters or exits your life without His permission. We see this exemplified most in the Bible in the story of Job when God allows Satan to test Job with severe trials. Job knows and even says it was God who did these things to Him in Job 2:10. Job learned in the end that God is good and God is sovereign. So when we see God sending an evil Spirit on Saul here in our text do not be alarmed, trust that whatever God is up to He has good reason for doing such things.

Then we get to chpt. 17, the most well known battle in all of Biblical history, the little boy vs. the champion of Gath, David vs. Goliath.

Epic Underdog Match ups of History

What comes to mind when you think of the epic underdog victories of history? Perhaps the boxing movie “Cinderella Man” where James Braddock, defeats the mammoth sized boxing champion Max Baer. Maybe you think of Super Bowl 3 (1969) where Joe Namath led the New York Jets to an amazing victory over the robust Baltimore Colts. Maybe you think of the “Miracle on Ice” in 1980 when the US Olympic hockey team made up of college athletes and amatuer hockey players defeated the professional Soviet Union hockey team. Maybe you think of American Colonists overcoming the British to gain independence, maybe you think of the overweight fowel mouthed obscure German monk who began what came to be known as the Protestant Reformation, maybe you think of the tortoise and the hair, or Rudy, William Wallace, Joan of Arc, Rosa Parks, maybe you even think of Frodo Baggins and Samwise Gamgee. No matter who you think of, underdog matchups are a big part of our lives because they display a reality we all have tasted, that one of us, a normal person, can at any time can rise up and surprise the world.

The passage in focus for the next few days is an underdog story and without a doubt, the story of David vs. Goliath is one of the most well known, if not the most well known, story in the entire Bible. It is so well known in fact, that it has become normal experience for us to label any underdog situation as a “David vs. Goliath” match up. And there’s good reason for this, David was just a young shepherd boy when he faced the champion from Gath named Goliath who was a well trained warrior, learned and skilled in warfare, known for his ability to kill other men. If we were betting on the winner, we wouldn’t pick David.

But as we’ll see in the next few days on the blog, God had other plans.