Why was David, a young shepherd boy willing to face a challenge that left battle-hardened soldiers paralyzed with fear?
What did he know that they didn't know? We'll find out today on Truth for Life. Alistair Begg is teaching from 1 Samuel chapter 17. We're looking today at verses 31 through 40.
Well, we left it this morning with David having turned away from the encounter with his elder brother Eliab and found another small group of people to engage in the same conversation with which we have already become familiar. And since he had made these inquiries about why it was that nobody apparently was prepared to step forward and take up the challenge of this giant Goliath the Philistine, it was inevitable that the word would eventually reach Saul the king himself. Now, we know that Saul is in poor repair, but ostensibly he is still the king.
There is no reason for us to think that he knows anything about what had happened in that private incident recorded in the earliest part of chapter 16. And certainly the word reaching him of a possible volunteer to deal with this great marauding rascal would be very, very quickly responded to, and he would have regarded it certainly with great appeal—someone that would finally step up or, if you like, step out and do what actually he, as Saul in a position of leadership, should himself have been doing. And so we read in 31 that when the words that David spoke had been heard and had reached Saul, he then sent for him.
Actually, the verb is even stronger than that. It is he took him. You get a picture of saying, Hey, come here. I hear that you are a volunteer. It's hard to imagine, actually, in the initial encounter, just in terms of first blush, somebody said, We have a volunteer, and eventually in comes young David. I can't imagine that it did anything immediately to enliven in Saul any sense of impending victory, as he had a proper look at him. And if, as we've been saying all along, the events in the second half of chapter 16 follow the events that we're considering now, then this actually is the first meeting between Saul and David. This is their first encounter.
The God-forsaken king meets the Spirit-filled David. And the story, as we are saying, has been building to this point. I wrote down in my notes during the week, it's go time.
I didn't really know what it meant, and so I googled it, and I discovered that it means in slang and a number of things with which I really don't want to be identified. But I did also find in my researches a group in South Carolina which is called Go Time—and apparently I don't know if it's a cycling club or whatever else it is—but their strapline is Go Time, events where great things can happen. I said, That's good. That's good.
So I'll keep it. It's Go Time, where great things can happen. And so I want simply to follow the line of the text in which we have a reference to going. And you will notice that this comes very, very quickly, where in verse 32 David said to Saul, Your servant will go. Your servant will go. That's the first one.
All right? In fact, he prefaces that declaration by saying, Let no man's heart fail because of him. The him being, of course, Goliath.
And I could imagine that Saul might have said, I'm glad you clarified that. Because just the prospect of you going out there actually almost gave me a heart attack without any thought of the giant. So, Let no man's heart fail because of the giant. Notice, actually, how quickly in this encounter David is in the driving seat.
Saul sends for him, and without any further introductions, David makes this statement. Do not be afraid. Do not be afraid. Let no man's heart fail because of him.
Now, that is quite amazing, isn't it? They are all completely paralyzed by this character. They are afraid of him. When they see him now, they run away from him.
They don't like to hear what he has to say, because he keeps challenging them, and they have no answer at all. And up comes this little fellow, and his opening gamut is, Don't let anybody be afraid of him. Your servant will go and find. So, big, tall, handsome Saul and the wee, ruddy-faced shepherd boy. And it is the voice of the shepherd boy that now is in the ears of the king.
His reaction is straightforward in verse 33, and it seems to be immediate. David says, Your servant will go. He replies, You are not able to go. Okay, so that pretty well wraps it up. Now, again, if you think of this, if you allow your mind to ponder the way in which it would unfold—you know, sometimes when you go for an interview and they try and let you down gently, you know, they couch it all, they say certain things to get to the point which is like, No.
It would be a lot less painful if they just said, No, and then you could go and find a job somewhere else. But anyway, so, here, you are not able to go. Background… David, let me put it to you this way. You know, when I heard that there was a possible champion who had stepped forward, I was excited.
I actually assumed it would be someone a little more suitable, somebody more of a match for the big, ugly foe. David, I don't doubt your bravery. In fact, I'll tell you something. I wish I had a whole force of fellows just like you with the same mentality, and I wish I had them in my army. But by all appearances, you just don't have the capacity. You just don't have the ability to take this on. After all, David, you're only a youth, and Goliath has been involved in warfare for a lifetime. And so, realistically, as I say, I'm impressed.
But your experience is not up to par, not to see anything of the absence of any kind of equipment necessary for warfare. Now, this is where you have to have your Bible open. So David said, Well, thanks for the interview.
I knew it was a long shot. That is why you have to have your Bible open, because you look down and say, I didn't remember it said that. It's because it doesn't say that. He didn't say that. And he doesn't say either, You know, Saul, there's one thing you ought to know.
I'm a lot tougher than I look. He doesn't say that either. It may at first seem as if that's exactly what he's saying, but no. What he is testifying to is not his ability but the Lord's enabling. And so, if you look at verses 34, 35, and 36, he gives essentially his resume as a shepherd in the face of the animals and the creatures that would come against his flock. And so he says, quite honestly, in the role that I've fulfilled as a shepherd, I've dealt with lions, I've dealt with bears.
If they took one of my sheep, I would go after them, I would get a hold of them, and I would rescue the sheep. Your servant has had success in these things. And I'm going to tell you this, that having struck down both lions and bears, this uncircumcised philistine will go down, just like one of them. For he has defied the armies of the living God. And then you will notice in verse 37, David interrupts the silence. And he takes it forward again. And David said… Well, he just said.
That's why I say I think there's a gap. Why do you have to say, And David said? Because he was still speaking. And David said, The LORD who delivered me from the paw of the lion, the paw of the bear, will deliver me. Now we're at it, you see. David breaks the silence and explains the ground of his confidence. The Lord, Yahweh, the living God, the God of the army, the Lord who has delivered is the Lord who will deliver. Now, you see the logic of faith. You see the foundational logic of faith. Loved ones, this is essential if you are a follower of God. On what basis are you able to take on all that comes against you, like a giant in the day, like a monster in your sleeplessness in the middle of the night?
On what basis? How do you know that you will be there? How do you know that you will succeed? How do you know that you will run another hundred yards?
Well, because I know. Because the LORD, the LORD delivered, and the LORD will deliver. You see, this is the note that has been missing. And it rings a bell with Saul, and so we advance. From your servant will go.
No, you can't go. And Saul said to David, Go, and the LORD be with you. Imagine the voice of the giant in the background shouting out again, Come on, send out a man!
What's wrong with you people? And you can just hear that in the background. And Saul says, Go, and the Lord be with you. And then under his breath, And he better be. But actually, remember what we discovered in verse 18 of chapter 16, when a young fellow gives a description of David, one of the young men—remember, when we're looking for somebody who can play the harp—and one of the young men said, Behold, I've seen a son of Jesse the Bethlehemite who is skillful in playing. So he can play the harp.
But that's not all. He's a man of valor, a man of war, prudent in speech, and a man of good presence. And notice, And the LORD is with him. So what do you have here in chapter 17 in the statement made by Saul? The narrative, again, is arranged in such a way that we know in advance that Saul is, if you like, saying more than he knew.
When he says, And the LORD be with you, we know that that is exactly the case. But says Saul, Before you go, I need to make sure that you are properly dressed. You can't go out there looking like that. That's the kind of thing that your mother says. But that's essentially what he's saying. You can't possibly go out there.
First order of business is you need to suit up. And so here we have what is a memorable little scene. I think it's a comic scene in many ways.
It's a tragic scene, but it is rather funny. You can imagine him saying as he fishes out his armor, You know, I'm getting this for you, David, because otherwise there's just no chance at all. After all, it only stands to reason. Anybody knows, says Saul, that hand-to-hand combat demands that you are equipped in this way, otherwise you have no chance at all. Now, the fact that Saul was, if you like, his measurements for a suit would be forty-eight long. Or he could even have been a fifty-two. He was a big guy, and long. And David is, like, thirty-six regular. And so how in a world are you gonna wear this chap's armor? And it is exciting to see.
And I think this is fantastic. He put a helmet of bronze on his head. Have you ever worn… Has someone ever given you a loan of their crash helmet? And, you know, it's like a person with a normal-sized head, and you've got a head like a pea, and you put it on, and there's no way that you look cool, and there's no way that it would save you for anything. The chances are you kill yourself with a strap because it's just strangling around your throat.
Well, that's the kind of picture here. So he says, Now, let's start with a helmet. And then, as he tries to position on his head, he goes, Okay, well, we'll come back to that. Let's not start with a helmet after all.
No. Let's get the chainmail on. Put the chainmail on, we'll get that. Now, David, just try and be comfortable with it. Just be comfortable. Move your arms a little bit. Just get in the feel of it. And as he tries and struggles with that, eventually he reaches for the sword and the belt of the sword, and he says, Look, this might answer it for us. If we put this sword on you with a belt that goes around your chest, if I just tighten it up, you know, just good, then I think it'll hold everything in place, and then, you know, we can stick something in the helmet, and you'll be fine.
I think I can already see victory in my mind's eye as you get ready to go. And what do we discover? He tried in vain to go.
He tried in vain to go, for he hadn't tested them. Now, there is a lot in this, isn't there? There's a drama inside the drama here. Because remember, what you're dealing with is the king who has collapsed, still thinking that the armor that he wore when he became a king so that the nation could be like all the other nations, that if he could dig out his old armor, as it were, and put it on this boy, that the armor would be sufficient to see him through despite the odds that were so clearly against him. So you have the king who is on his way out trying to make the king who's on his way in just like him. If the armor was not sufficient for Saul to put on and go out against Goliath, why in the world did he think for a New York minute that the armor—the ill-fitting armor on the shepherd boy that stands before him—and remember, he has no idea about what has happened in the early part of chapter 16. He has no notion of this shepherd boy as the anointed king of Israel.
He is simply the shepherd boy, the son of Jesse, the Ephrathite. And so now he says, This is probably the answer. I appreciate you coming forward." But David says, No, this is not the time for me to try on a new outfit.
I appreciate the offer. But you will notice, I cannot go with these. So, did you see the progression? It's go time. Your servant will go. No, you're not able to go. Okay, go, and the Lord be with you. He tried in vain to go, and then he said, I can't go. And imagine him giving him the stuff, giving it… What do you want me to do with all this stuff? So I says, Don't worry, I have a guy, he looks after me, he's my valet, he hangs everything up.
That's fine. And then verse 40, the closing observation. Look at him go. Look at him go.
He goes with what he knows. Imagine Saul standing there watching him go. He must have done so.
I can't imagine otherwise. It's a sad picture, isn't it? Because there in the doorway, as it were, stands the king from whom the Spirit of the Lord is departed. He's not even a shadow of the person that he was with all of his potential, even when he was hiding in the baggage. When people pin such great hopes on him that he would be the leader of the people, that they would become a nation like all the other nations, that they would be able to be successful. And there he stands, absent God's Spirit, losing sight of God's glory, devoid of God's favor, his courage pretty well gone, and with it his joy and his peace and the security of his mind as we're going to see.
And as he looks off towards the brook in the valley goes a ruddy-shaped youth, pausing to pick up five stones. He goes looking to God, relying on God's Spirit, about to come face to face with the enemy who threatens to destroy the work of God at this point in history—one a depleted king and the other a Spirit-filled king. And still, if you're reading the story, we have to wait and see what will happen. Don't be afraid. Don't be afraid. Your servant will go.
Fast-forward now. Let's get to Bethlehem again, because we're right there. What's the first word of the angels to the shepherds?
The shepherds were abiding in the fields, keeping watch over their flocks by night. And the glory of the Lord shone around, and the angels said to them, Don't be afraid. Don't be afraid. I bring you good news, great joy. There is a champion. There is a Savior. Into the darkness of this night comes the light of the world.
Here it is. And this picture of this battle is, as I say again to you, not a picture to cause us to say, Oh, I'd like to be a hero like David, but to say we have in Jesus the ultimate David. We have in Jesus the ultimate King.
And when the disciples are disconcerted, what is it that Jesus says to them in John 14? Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God. Believe also in me. In my Father's house are many mansions.
If it were not so, would I have told you? I'm going to prepare a place for you, and I'll come again and receive you unto myself, that where I am, there you may be also. Now, what did they have to go and accept the Word? Accept his Word! My troubled soul, why so cast down? You were not made to bear this heavy load.
There is a champion. Jesus has walked straight into death. The punishment for sin has borne its curse, has triumphed over it, and by grace united to him, we are able to say, as we sing in the hymn, One with himself, I cannot die. In other words, it is an ontological impossibility for us, then, to be lost because of our union with Christ. And you see, it is that, and that alone, that will allow us to face that valley, fearful as it is.
Because it's not possible—and some of you deal with this in medicine—it's not possible to be there and not say, This is me in five minutes. Do I have an answer for this? Do I have a champion for this?
Can I walk through the valley of the shadow of death and fear no evil? For thou art with me. Your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
It's all here. And the story of this big giant who comes to say, I have you in my grasp, I have you defeated, is to be laid low by the servant of the living God in the same way that Jesus Christ has triumphed, and in him we may triumph too. You're listening to Truth for Life with Alistair Begg. Alistair is reminding us today that our faith is grounded in a living God who has delivered and will deliver his people. It is easy for any of us to find ourselves thinking and acting more like Saul's soldiers than like David, lacking confidence in God's deliverance.
And if that's something you've wrestled with, there's a book we want to tell you about today. It's titled Assurance, Resting in God's Salvation. When it comes to the certainty of our salvation, some of us may find ourselves in the category of quiet doubters. We know that the Bible affirms that salvation is from the Lord and we can have confidence in that, but fleeting concerns may creep in and shake our confidence. This 31-day devotional will guide you through key scripture passages to help you put those concerns to rest. Request your copy of Assurance, Resting in God's Salvation when you give a donation to Truth for Life.
You can give through the mobile app or online at truthforlife.org slash donate. I'm Bob Lapine. By all appearances Goliath was about to score a sure victory, but David had a secret weapon. We'll find out more about what that was tomorrow. The Bible teaching of Alistair Begg is furnished by Truth for Life, where the Learning is for Living.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-04-20 07:31:15 / 2023-04-20 07:39:38 / 8