Sunday, June 06, 2010

Power Struggles Part I C: "That All the Earth May Know That There Is a God in Israel"

*I split Part 1 up into 3 posts because it's SO long.*
*I know the big print below looks ridiculous, but blogger refuses to keep all the font the same size for me.*

Saul's next big battle is against the Philistines. They send out a champion to challenge them. Now what kind of leader do you have when you chose him to fight your battles for you in the first place and then he won't answer a challenge? Let's just say the enemy's size and swagger are a bit intimidating when you have no one but yourself to turn to. So, Saul calls on the men of Israel and offers tax exemption for the victor's whole family and a pretty girl as the reward.

A young man named David has been anointed by the Lord to be a future king of Israel. He happens to be delivering supplies to his older brothers in the army and hears Goliath's challenge. His first response acknowledges that these are not Saul's armies, "Who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?" (1 Samuel 17:26) His brother rebukes him saying he's gotten a bit cocky and that all he really wanted to do was see some fighting action. "And David said, 'What have I done now? Is there not a cause?" (1 Samuel 17:29)

Once David passes Saul's inspection and is on the battle field. Goliath mocks him and, " cursed David by his gods." (vs.43) David turns right around and curses the giant by his God:

" 'You come to me with a sword, with a spear, and with a 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 day the Lord will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you and take your head from you. And this day I will give the carcasses of the camp of the Philistines to the birds of the air and the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel.

'Then all the assembly shall know that the Lord does not save with sword and spear; for the battle is the Lord's and He will give you into our hands.' "

~1 Samuel 17:45-47~

David calls upon the Lord for the destruction of the enemy. He places himself in the position of a soldier, an instrument in the army of the Lord of hosts. In verse 48 it says that David "ran" towards his opponent. Unlike Saul, he knew whose battle this was and who would give the victory.

Now understand, the Philistines are not sitting there wondering who on earth this "Lord" is. They heard the stories about Egypt, Amalek, and Jericho. They've seen Samson's strength and their god Dagon fall on his face before the Ark of the Covenant. They suffered under the cancer and plague brought by capturing the Ark of God's people.

Goliath may have cursed by Dagon, Odysseus by Athena, and Augustus Caesar by Mars, but which of these men knew that their gods would stand by them every time? Which of these men saw their people preserved through eternity because they were chosen?

This is no children's story about a little boy with five stones and a sling. This is about a man who understood the power struggle in his world. He understood that his nation was losing in this power struggle, that his country was acting no better than the pagans surrounding them. However, he also knew that his country, which he would one day rule, had been set apart by the God who will win the power struggle in the end. And he had to get his people back on the winning side.

David challenged the Philistine so that "all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel." He didn't just want the little bitty Canaanite city states to know there was a God in Israel. This was to be declared to the whole world that their God would one day "have dominion also from sea to sea, And from the River to the ends of the earth. Those who dwell in the wilderness will bow before Him, And His enemies will lick the dust....Yes, all kings shall fall down before Him; All nations shall serve Him." (Psalm 76:8,9,11)

David proclaimed to all the earth that they should know that there is a God in Israel. That, they didn't just serve a god that could be added to the Philistines' or the Greeks' or the Persians' shelves of dust collectors. No, where calling on the name of Ishtar, Zeus, or Diana may or may not give you help depending on how the oracle was feeling that day, this is where the God of Israel's name stands: "His name shall endure forever; His name shall continue as long as the sun. And men shall be blessed in Him; All nations shall be blessed in Him; All nations shall call Him blessed." (Psalm 72)

Hallelujah! May we say with David and Solomon about our Lord Jesus Christ:

"Blessed be the Lord God, the God of Israel,
Who only does wondrous things!
And blessed be His glorious name forever!
And let the whole earth be filled with His glory.
Amen and Amen
The prayers of David the son of Jesse are ended"

~Psalm 72~A Messianic Psalm by Solomon the son of David

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