Sermon by Pastor Tim Woodard

June 7, 2015

1 Samuel 17: 2-11, 32-37, 48-50

“It Takes Courage”

 

 

Allow this stunning story of young David to open your heart and your mind to new possibilities!

Hear now the story of David and Goliath as written in the First Samuel, chapter 17, verses 2-11, and verses 32-37 ending with verses 48-50.

2 Saul and the Israelites gathered and encamped in the valley of Elah, and formed ranks against the Philistines. 3 The Philistines stood on the mountain on the one side, and Israel stood on the mountain on the other side, with a valley between them. 4 And there came out from the camp of the Philistines a champion named Goliath, of Gath, whose height was six a cubits and a span. 5 He had a helmet of bronze on his head, and he was armed with a coat of mail; the weight of the coat was five thousand shekels of bronze. 6 He had greaves of bronze on his legs and a javelin of bronze slung between his shoulders. 7 The shaft of his spear was like a weaver’s beam, and his spear’s head weighed six hundred shekels of iron; and his shield-bearer went before him. 8 He stood and shouted to the ranks of Israel, “Why have you come out to draw up for battle? Am I not a Philistine, and are you not servants of Saul? Choose a man for yourselves, and let him come down to me. 9 If he is able to fight with me and kill me, then we will be your servants; but if I prevail against him and kill him, then you shall be our servants and serve us.” 10 And the Philistine said, “Today I defy the ranks of Israel! Give me a man that we may fight together.” 11 When Saul and all Israel heard these words of the Philistine, they were dismayed and greatly afraid.

32 David said to Saul, “Let no one’s heart fail because of him; your servant will go and fight with this Philistine.” 33 Saul said to David, “You are not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him; for you are just a boy, and he has been a warrior from his youth.” 34 But David said to Saul, “Your servant used to keep sheep for his father; and whenever a lion or a bear came, and took a lamb from the flock, 35 I went after it and struck it down, rescuing the lamb from its mouth; and if it turned against me, I would catch it by the jaw, strike it down, and kill it. 36 Your servant has killed both lions and bears; and this uncircumcised Philistine shall be like one of them, since he has defied the armies of the living God.” 37 David said, “The Lord, who saved me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, will save me from the hand of this Philistine.” So Saul said to David, “Go, and may the Lord be with you!”

48 When the Philistine drew nearer to meet David, David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet the Philistine. 49 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. 50 So David prevailed over the Philistine with a sling and a stone, striking down the Philistine and killing him; there was no sword in David’s hand.

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Have you ever found yourself reflecting on the beauty of life and were not confident enough in your abilities to share your experience with someone else, whereby you needed to rely on unknown authors to put across your thoughts.

[The rising of the sun over misty fields, The first birdsong of the morning, The glory of a flower opening to the sun’s warmth, The laughter of children at play, The cheery “hello” of a neighbor, The touch of a friend’s hand, A child’s, “I love you.” The first taste of our favorite meal, The pillow’s feel at the end of a long day, All come from the bounty of treasures you open up to us each day.] /Author Unknown/

It takes courage to try something new; it takes humility to know it wasn’t you that did it. Courage is something that comes from God, when you let go and trust God in all manner of things.

The walk to the end of the pier took barely a series of moments, connected by a drifting, relaxing, stirring of consciousness. Along the way the sun sparkled amidst the rippling water; a mullet flew through the air, smashing back against the crystal stillness of the waterway. Ahead, there were schools of bait fish all about, seeking this and that, then scurrying here and there, off to regroup under and beyond the pier. Off to the north was the expansive scene of the landscape, stretching as far as one could see. Sails fluttering up and dipping down, with the red, blue and orange tarp of the hang-gliders surfing through the currents of the wind. The waves slapped against the sandbar as the island foliage waved to and fro. The smell of the fresh breath of heaven drifted over the simmering waves of heat that caressed my cheek, wiping away the clutter and leaving in its stead the newness of renewal. Glancing south my eyes caught the coming dolphins, breaking through the surface of the water, which brought the fullness of God’s majestic hand gently around my heart.

Ah yes, free again, free again.

Letting go is hard, trusting God is even harder, yet only when we do so do we feel the surge of new energy and strength; leaving one, selfless and humble, ready and willing.

Courage, it takes courage.

Adrian Rogers [tells about the man who bragged that he had cut off the tail of a man-eating lion with his pocket knife. Asked why he hadn’t cut off the lion’s head, the man replied: “Someone had already done that.”] /Adrian Rogers/

Ralph Waldo Emerson once wrote that “Whatever you do, you need courage. Whatever course you decide upon, there is always someone to tell you that you are wrong. There are always difficulties arising that tempt you to believe your critics are right. To map out a course of action and follow it to an end requires some of the same courage that a soldier needs. Peace has its victories, but it takes brave men and women to win them.”

Courage and fear is discussed from every venue in life. From this unknown source we hear this rendition of [A condemned prisoner, who was awaiting execution, was granted the usual privilege of choosing the dishes he wanted to eat for his last meal. He ordered a large mess of mushrooms. “Why all the mushrooms and nothing else?” inquired the guard. “Well,” replied the prisoner, “I always wanted to try them, but was afraid to eat them before!”] /Source Unknown/

There are many who want in on this subject regarding courage. Eddie Rickenbacker tells us that “Courage is doing what you’re afraid to do. There can be no courage unless you’re scared.” Whereas W.T. Sherman reflects saying: “I would define true courage to be a perfect sensibility of the measure of danger, and a mental willingness to endure it.” Jim Fiebig believes that “There’s a fine line between courage and foolishness.” He concludes by saying: “Too bad it’s not a fence.”

It was recorded in “Today in the Word, July 13, 1993” that [During his years as premier of the Soviet Union, Nikita Khrushchev denounced many of the policies and atrocities of Joseph Stalin. Once, as he censured Stalin in a public meeting, Khrushchev was interrupted by a shout from a heckler in the audience. “You were one of Stalin’s colleagues. Why didn’t you stop him?” “Who said that?” roared Khrushchev. An agonizing silence followed as nobody in the room dared move a muscle. Then Khrushchev replied quietly, “Now you know why.”]

Today, with Jane’s assist, we have lifted up the story of the young shepherd boy named David and the giant soldier called Goliath. The story sets the stage for young David to accept the challenge of the Philistines best soldier Goliath, winner takes all and wins the battle and the waging war between the two armies. It seems quite apparent that David is destined to lose for the mighty warrior Goliath is far superior in battle to a young shepherd boy! The ultimate key to this scripture is to understand the central verse, verse thirty seven, wherein [David said, “The Lord, who saved me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, will save me from the hand of this Philistine.” So Saul said to David, “Go, and may the Lord be with you!”] /1 Samuel 17:37/ Faced with an impossible scenario young David, puts his fear behind him, just as he surely did while facing off fierce beasts that threatened the sheep under his care, and lifts up his faith and trust in God, clearly believing, against all odds that the power of God would once again prevail. Samuel Giere shares his thoughts on the subject. “The story of David slaying Goliath, violent though it is, has been used for generations to open the imagination of children to the… to the power of God.” Oh if only we all could show such courage, so that we too could feel such power when we face difficulties and seemingly impossible situations.

There are a lot of Goliaths out there waiting to take us out of the race. Where will you, where will we get the strength to fight that next battle that will surely present itself to us? Where did the young shepherd boy get his? How are we going to deal with that next overwhelming challenge? Young David, like us, had a choice, he could live in fear or he could choose to live trusting in God. If we expect to step out and make new choices, trying new things, we will need to let go and allow a new inner courage to be born as we find a surge of new found faith.

When I was young I sometimes displayed a complete lack of fear. Yet, at other times I was paralyzed with fear. There are many ways to view those experiences as I look back. Perhaps you will be able to relate. My sister took me ice skating one winter. The ice was crystal clear, you could see the fish swim under your feet. We skated for a long time, I lived it, laughing and smiling as we finally wound down out of sheer exhaustion. Only as the ice cracked as we skated for land did my confidence in our safety falter. Later I overheard my grandfather say how it would be foolish to go skating so early in the season as the ice was not yet frozen enough to support the weight of a group of skaters. One might conclude that my lack of fear was out of sheer naiveté.

Another time I was at the peak of a large building referred to as the needle in Toronto Canada. I was all the way up in the observation deck standing on tempered heavy glass looking down and out over the city lights, as the room virtually swayed back and forth about three to six feet. It was spectacular, yet I was totally terrified, dropping to my knees and crawling back toward the center of the room near the elevator. The building still stands without incident, even after the passing of these thirty long years. If only I could have pushed past my fear trusting in my friends words that assured my safety. Surely, a man destined for ministry could have summoned more faith!

We cannot all be David’s nor can we allow ourselves to be foolishly naiveté. Rather, we do need to dig deep into our faith; we need to trust that God will be with us, even in the most perilous of times. Risk stepping out where only God’s grace and mercy can protect us, especially, when needed for the sake of another. Individual members of the Universal Church of Jesus Christ have done this, over and over again. The scriptures have shared with us the faithfulness of characters such as young David. The courage of those that came before us have provided us with the opportunities necessary to carry on the work of a faithful people. Let us do likewise.

All it takes is a bit of courage.

Amen.

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