Sunday, June 28, 2009

June 21 Sermon, If the Shoe Doesn't Fit.....

Scriptures: 1 Samuel 17

Ben’s Shoes:

The thing about this passage that really strikes me: this narrative about Saul insisting that David wear his armor, and then the comment that the armor hung on him like a little boy wearing his dad’s t-shirt like Wesley did yesterday.

Why would the storyteller include this point? It has something to do with God’s relationship with us.

The scripture is particularly fascinated with armor. Even though Goliath is a giant, we hear much more (3 verses) about his weaponry than we do about his height.

Actually the texts don’t agree on his height—the Masoretic text (Hebrew tradition from the 10th century) describes him as 6 cubits and a span—9ft. 9 inches--In other words, standing next to a basketball goal, his head would be just under the rim. The Greek text (the Septuagint, and the oldest known Hebrew text, the Dead Sea Scrolls) measures him at 4 cubits and a span, which is about 6 ft. 9 inches.

In either case, he is a giant by the day’s standards. The average Hebrew male in 1000 bc grew to full height of 5ft3inches. Saul, who stood a head above everyone else, would probably have been around 5ft. 7. (So, even though the more ancient texts describe Goliath as around 6ft 9, most Bible translations keep the less reliable text because, well, we like our stories the way they look in the children’s books)

No need to embellish the story with supernatural height. Just imagine LeBron James in bronze armor and high-tech weapontry coming at a farm implement-wielding Danny DeVito and you'll have an idea of the dread the average Israelite solder would've felt! (James Michael Smith)

So, back to the story, we get the point in this great epic story of two champions meeting in the desert that God uses the most unlikely of people to speak and act for Him. This is an important theme all throughout the scriptures, and something I want to accentuate for us.

but it is also about this: God wants us as we are.

The story describes this as well. David “can barely walk” in Saul’s armor. Instead he sheds the metal, and walks out bare skinned, with his leather pouch and sling.

Saul may have uttered the divine name, but he cannot give up his own reliance on human military power. He attempts to clothe David in his own armor (vv. 38-39).

Saul does not understand anything. He has uttered Yahweh’s name. But he wants to outdo Goliath on Goliath’s terms. . . . So he offers armor, helmet, coat of mail, sword—David “tried in vain to go” with such encumbrance. David’s contrast is with both Saul and Goliath. Unlike them, he goes unencumbered (“I am not used to them”). Both of them—the one a braggart, the other a coward—trust in arms.123

David is the model of another way, of those without the benefit of superior arms and armies who nevertheless trust that God can make deliverance possible against the odds, that there is hope even when faced with apparently hopeless situations. David refuses the armor, and he takes only his staff, his sling, and five smooth stones—the equipment of a shepherd (v. 40)—to meet the Philistine.

Be not conformed to this world.

His actions are reported throughout the chapter, but especially in the climactic moment of the battle with the Philistine champion, David becomes a man of bold and effective action. In vv. 48-51, David is the subject of fifteen verbs, placing him at the center of a bold action drama. He ran—put his hand—took out—slung—struck—prevailed—striking down—killing—ran—stood over—grasped—drew—killed—cut off. David is now introduced to us not only as God’s man and Saul’s man, but also as his own man.

More than that, in the ancient near east, to die by one's own weapon was a sign of humiliation and disgrace. David's use of the giant's sword--rather than the stone--to kill him was a powerful symbol to all who witnessed it, as well as the generations who would read about it in the future. God's messiah defeated the most powerful enemy with his own weapon...sound familiar??

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