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God in the Mess of it all

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Heavenly Father, May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts, be acceptable in your sight – Our strength and our saviour – Amen

Our God is an Awesome God!

            Despite it all, God keeps coming back – God lives in the mess of all our lives

                        Our God is an awesome God!

It has been said that there ‘the God of the Old Testament - and there is ‘the God of the New Testament’

Well that might be a view for some of the attributes of God

But that is not true for the most important attributes of God

            In particular – God’s mercy

Today we had yet another passage from the prophet Samuel – again this week from 2nd Samuel

            Again today we had another story in the life of David

                        At this point King David

                                    You we are reading the semi-continuous part of the lectionary

Which means we are reading through large chucks of books of the bible – in a somewhat continuous fashion – over the course of three years we will cover the majority of the Bible on Sundays

            The high points – or main stories of each book

And so we are yet again walking through the on-going sage that is David – the most important King that Israel has ever had.

Here are some of the high points of what we have covered in the last few weeks

First, on the day that I first met most of you, when I ‘preached for the call’ we were on an early part of Samuel, in which young Samuel – a son of a thought to be barren women – is pledged to serve the temple for all of his life for the very gift by God of his life

Young Samuel is living in a time when The word of the Lord was rare in those days; visions were not widespread. (1 Sam 3:1b)

  - and yet… to this one …God speaks

            And the lesson from that message was that God communicates to all of us

In fact the very means in which God is in relationship with us all is by communicating to us

through the good times in the way God blesses us and through the difficult times when God is our strength when we ourselves don’t have the strength within us – God communicates to all of us

Then skipping through a few weeks we started in mid June to hear the story of How David as a young boy was selected and anointed to be the future King of Israel

            Selected by Samuel – now a well advanced in his years – now THE prophet of Israel

                        King Saul’s closest advisory – after the Sprit of the Lord had left King Saul

And after Samuel had lamented over the loss of God’s anointing on his friend and King

But sent away from the royal court and on an errand for God to anoint the future King of Israel

This was a task that Samuel did with some trepidation and in fact thought he could hurry through

As you may remember, he was shown 8 of David’s older brothers – 8 of Jessie’s sons that were invited to the banquet

And yet it was the uninvited, youngest, smallest that was chosen by God for Samuel to anoint

And we heard God’s view about David’s brothers…

“Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for the Lord does not see as mortals see; they look on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”

                                    And the lesson from that message was of the ‘surprising choices of God’

Whereby we had the contrast between the way the world views things and the more important way that God views the world

And then we had the account of David and Goliath, with a surprising twist

            We had the long reading of how David found himself at the battle front, while he was still a boy

                        How all he was supposed to do was an errand for his father Jessie

To bring some food for his three eldest brothers – the only ones old enough to be soldiers in Saul’s army.

We heard the absurd details of a story in which it appears that the deck is completely stacked against David ever being there, against David ever having Saul agree to let him stand and fight as the representative risking all of Israel on a boy

We see the dramatic contrast between the super-human giant, Goliath, battle trained and experienced

And the young, inexperienced, 8th son, shepherd, out on an errand

And the lessons from that week was

Yet again, like the story of the previous week, God rejects the obvious choices

We of course were told a central message of the story that God's strength is sufficient – but also so much more than that

We were given a window into understanding the doctrine of Election – where God shows us in the election of David – that election is for a purpose

We were also given a lesson on the preparation for leadership that David underwent, by the grace of God

How the menial job of tending to the sheep, protecting them from the bear and the lion – was good conditioning for the Giant Goliath

That God is faithful through all the lessons in life

And we were challenged to face the Goliath shadows in our own lives  - face them while remaining in faith of God’s provision

And of course the surprise twist of the story that David wasn’t the underdog after all – Because it was the team of David and God

                        The true underdog was the Giant Goliath

We learned that we all can bring glory to God’s name by living the good news that God is with us – now and forever – that by living the purpose of our lives and not being sidetracked by the Goliath’s shadows, we are both the blessing and the blessed

Then two weeks ago - we switched from David’s story to hear of the how much a parent will do for their child

We heard of the Jewish religious leader that risked everything and faithfully believe in Jesus of Nazareth – to heal his deathly sick child

            We learned from that lesson that God is the victor over death and all that is death

We learned that God defies all standards and values even those thought to be beyond healing

Ones thought to be dead are given new life,

that which is thought to be lost are found

found by God, given new life in Christ

                                    That we are all God’s very own children

Then last week, where our account from Samuel tells us of how David is at long last selected by all of Israel, the tribes in the north and the tribes in the south to be the King

            We heard how David at that moment made a covenant with the elders

How, like God with Abraham, where the balance of power was entirely in David’s hands – and yet a sacrificial covenant is made with them

            We also heard of Jesus’ humbling return visit to His hometown

We heard of how at first his hometown people, like the rest of Galilee, marvelled at his teaching and wisdom and the incredible power of his deeds, his power to heal

            And yet once they resorted to their old ay of thinking

Once they saw Jesus, not for what He was, but for what they wanted to remember Him by, as the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon, and are not his sisters here with us?”  – their unbelief crippled Jesus’ power – He was not able to do many miracles

We learned the most incredible, characteristic of God’s Good News – the Gospel… that God has risked it all on us

            That we still need to be part of the Gospel

We need to have faith in the gospel, in order for the Gospel to affect us – in order for our salvation to be effectual

God’s risked it all on our participation

And finally we come to our reading from today

Today we have the story of Ark of the Covenant – basically the elaborate container that held the stone tablets of the Ten Commandments that Moses brought back

            We have the Ark of the Covenant coming to Jerusalem

                        This story has its ups and downs

                                    We are told that David put it on a new cart for the journey

That at one point, when it came to the uneven ground of the threshing floor of Nacon

That Uzzah, one of Abinadab’s sons reached out and grabbed hold of it – and for his efforts was struck down dead

            Why – why did God strike Uzzah dead

Certainly many would speculate that since God was very exacting when it came to the Ark of the Covenant – that Uzzah’s action displayed both disobedience and also a form of arrogance,

since the very power of God was present in the Ark of the Covenant

Uzzah by grabbing hold of it was in effect domesticating God

in a way grabbing hold of God Himself

it is stories like this that lead people to believe that there was a God of the Old Testament that was different than the NT

            We are told of David’s fear of the Lord

                        Maybe, because David too, was trying to domestic God

                                    David was bringing the Ark of the Covenant into battle and winning

                                                That the very sight of it brought fear into Israel’s enemies eyes

And now David is trying to bring the power of God into “the new city of David” – Jerusalem

So, for a while, the journey is interrupted and David leaves it with the Gittite, Obed-edom

Only when David realizes that it is bring blessing to his whole household that David reconsiders and continues the journey

All through the travels David and others are dancing and celebrating with great exuberance in front of and as part of the parade of Ark of the Covenant

            Leaving the side story about Michal, Saul’s daughter, and David’s first wife, aside

Only focusing on how it adds emphasize to David’s exuberance for things of God

What is seldom the focus of the story is the fact that David is using the Ark of the covenant as a crafty political move

            He certainly ingratiates himself to his people

He certainly brings it when it is politically expedient, after a messy battle with the Jebusites to gain control of the city that is renamed Jerusalem, literally meaning city of David

Yet leaving it along the way when it appears to be a thing that might bring a curse against its handlers

What is seldom the focus of the story of David and Goliath, is that three times he asks what the reward would be if he was the victor over Goliath – prior to making any brave claims

            David is three times sure of potential wealth, fame and promise of a royal bride

                        Also we focus on David’s remarkable aim by bringing Goliath down - with a single shot

Yet we can miss the detail that he gathered 5 smooth stones from the riverbed

One thing that is certainly missed from every childrens’ version of the story, which is a good thing, is that David, after levelling Goliath, continues running forward and jumps on top of Goliath and then cuts his head off

Not only that, but walks around for a few days, carrying the severed head around

            Bringing it with him during a visit with King Saul


Why don’t we ever question David’s motives in either of these stories

We generally like to tell of David’s great faith and complete commitment to God by standing up to Goliath.

We like to tell of David’s faith, being so great that he danced with abandonment as he led the procession of the Parade of the Ark of the Covenant

            We don’t like to tell the whole story and we sanitize it

By sanitizing, making it safe for the children to read and learn about it – we can fall into the trap of missing out on the full story as adults

And the full story has more to tell us - Not less

We don’t dilute the story by telling of David ‘warts and all’

We bring another layer to the story

In fact, it is a fundamental story of God’s relationship to us

God is not a safe God

            God is not one that deals with only the righteous, the holy

                        The people that are perfect and therefore worthy of God – no!

                                    In fact God deals with even the greats of the faith – warts and all

We, are like David, his faults don’t show his weakness so much as they show God’s greatest even more

            God is a merciful God


Whether that be God choosing a young boy in the temple to show that God communicates… and communicates with all - even the unlikely

Or whether that be God’s surprise selection for the future King, the boy David, not even invited to the banquet – yet the one that was to become the greatest King ever for Israel

Or whether it be young David’s ambition in triple-checking the reward he would get for winning against Goliath

            Or grabbing 5 stones – or carrying around the severed head of Goliath

                        (although that one is harder to see the redeeming grace in it)

Or whether it is the way in which David used the Ark of the Covenant as a good luck charm – How he might have manipulated the situation masterfully to gain favour with his people

Sin is real and faith is real; at times they are concurrent in one event and one character.

Regardless of the situation … the details of the story matter

The blemishes of the people matter

God is made greater by the problems because – God is that much more merciful

            God’s mercy is the lesson

                        God gets into the mess of it all

                                    Then as now… Old Testament or New

                                                                        God gets into the mess of all our lives

                                                                        This is part of the essence of the gospel message

God came as a fragile little baby – God came as one of us

            God knows first hand – what we are… What a mess we truly are

And yet… And yet…  - God keeps coming back

            God is not intimidated by our problems

But keeps stepping into our shoes and keeps saying – I came for all of this – Christ came and died once and for all – so that we wouldn’t have to

                                                                        Our God is an awesome God

Thank you Abba – Thank you Jesus - Thank you enabling Spirit - Amen

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