Friday, July 17th 1 Samuel 17:45-49

“But David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with sword and spear and javelin; but I come to you in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This very day the LORD will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you down and cut off your head; and I will give the dead bodies of the Philistine army this very day to the birds of the air and to the wild animals of the earth, so that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel, and that all this assembly may know that the LORD does not save by sword and spear; for the battle is the Lord’s and he will give you into our hand.” When the Philistine drew nearer to meet David, David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet the Philistine. David put his hand in his bag, took out a stone, slung it, and struck the Philistine on his forehead; the stone sank into his forehead, and he fell face down on the ground.” 1 Samuel 17:45-49

Now we reach the end of this story. The end of THIS story, not the end of THE story. Goliath falls. THIS Goliath falls. But David will face many more Goliath-sized challenges in his lifetime. There will be more battles for him to fight. More struggles for him to face.

His greatest battles will be fought within himself as he struggles between faithfulness and faithlessness. The struggles of marriage and infidelity, parenting and children who go their own way. There are many battles ahead for David. But Goliath has fallen.

Martin Luther often talked about the difference between a theology of glory and the theology of the cross. The theology of glory is about victory, progress, “every day with Jesus is sweeter than the day before.” It is about human striving, human ability, human accomplishment. It sees Jesus as the great hero, the great example, the one we emulate and ask ourselves “What would Jesus do?”

The theology of the cross calls it as it sees it. A rejected and humiliated man hanging in agony on a cross – a vivid portrayal of God’s suffering love for his own, the central act of history. The cross defies any kind of easy categorizing of the world into good or evil. Saint and sinner, good and evil, death and new life are all there, both/and, always.

So we come to the end of the battle with Goliath and we are tempted to see it only as the triumph of brave David against evil Goliath. We are tempted to hear David’s reliance upon the God whom he trusts to bring victory as our example.

“Come on everybody, David slew Goliath by trusting in God, go on out there and get ‘em. You can do it!”

But that isn’t where I end up in my reading. I see the bigger picture. Yes, God is there in with and around David. Yes, David saw the reality of Goliath, he confronted his fear, he considered his own gifts, he responded to the call to serve, and he nailed him on the first shot. There are times when it works like that for us – when the Goliath-sized challenges of our lives melt away.

But the bigger picture tells us that there is always another Goliath just over the hill. And the Goliaths on the outside are often easier to defeat than those on the inside.

So we best not fight alone.

Let us pray: Dear Lord, all week long we have been listening to this story of David and Goliath. Each day, my heart has gone out to those who are facing challenges that feel bigger than life – sickness, unemployment, relationship struggles, war. Encourage us, each in our own battles, with the reminder that the battle truly does belong to you and that you will not abandon us in the fight. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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