Faithlife Sermons

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Joshua Chamberlain was a student of theology and a professor of rhetoric, not a soldier.
But when duty called, Chamberlain answered.
He climbed the ranks to become colonel of the 20th Maine Volunteer Infantry Regiment, Union Army.
On July 2, 1863, Chamberlain and his three-hundred-soldier regiment were all that stood between the Confederates and certain defeat at a battlefield in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.
At 2:30 P.M., the 15th and 47th Alabama infantry regiments of the Confederate army charged, but Chamberlain and his men held their ground.
Then followed a second, third, fourth, and fifth charge.
By the last charge, only 80 blues stood standing.
Chamberlain himself was knocked down by a bullet that hit his belt buckle, but the 24-year-old schoolteacher got right back up.
It was his date with destiny.
When Sergeant Tozier informed Chamberlain that no reinforcements were coming and his men were down to one round of ammunition per soldier, Chamberlain knew he needed to act decisively.
Their lookout informed Colonel Chamberlain that the Confederates were forming rank.
The rational thing to do at that point, with no ammunition and no reinforcements, would have been to surrender.
But Chamberlain made a defining decision: in full view of the enemy, Chamberlain climbed onto their barricade of stones and gave a command.
He pointed his sword and yelled, "Charge!"
His men fixed bayonets and started running at the Confederate army, which vastly outnumbered them.
They caught them off guard by executing a great right wheel.
And in what ranks as one of the most improbable victories in military history, 80 Union soldiers captured 4,000 Confederates in five minutes.
Historians believe that if Chamberlain had not charged, the Confederate army would have gained the high ground, won the Battle of Gettysburg, and eventually won the war.
One man's courage saved the day, saved the war, and saved the Union.
Chamberlain’s story falls into a familiar but inaccurate category of story, David and Goliath.
Was it written to be a story of inspiration and emulation?
Today’s text is one, if not the, most famous stories in all of literature.
It is a tale of might versus right in which the little guy beats up the bully.
It is the David versus Goliath stories that sell out movie theaters and send books to the top of the New York Times bestseller’s list.
Everyone wants to have a David experience.
It fills our dreams and daydreams.
This story, like no other, appeals to our psyche and our heart.
Preachers have poached this passage for amens and applause building up in the minds of their congregants and image that they too can become a champion like David.
Abuse of this story is not relegated to adult congregants but begins in the children ministries of those same churches.
For example, millions of church children grew up watching Veggie Tales.
One episode called, Dave and the Giant Pickle, is based on today’s story.
In this episode in which “Dave, upset over not being allowed to join his brothers who have all gone off to war, is resigned to staying at home and taking care of the farm.
When a giant pickle is sent to attack his village, Dave relies on God’s teachings, and his own self-esteem, to fight the monster.”1
And, what is the problem with that interpretation?
It’s wrong!
The story is not primarily about David, but about the Lord whom David represents.
Furthermore, we teach our students to identify with David, and this is wrong.
We are not like David, and we are not intended to be David.
We are to identify with those in the army!
We are those fearful people who desperately need a champion to defeat our enemy that we are incapable of facing.
Today’s text must, like all other texts, be interpreted in light of the previous chapters of Scripture (Genesis 1 – 1 Samuel 16).
When we isolate a story, we indoctrinate ourselves with an inaccurate theology.
Many are frustrated with God today not because He is frustrating because they have listened to false teaching.
Right interpretation begins at CREATION.
The encounter between David and Goliath is a human portrayal of a spiritual reality, a spiritual battle, which began in Genesis 3. When Satan defeated Adam and gained dominion over the earth
the Lord promised that a champion would come, born of a woman, who would crush the serpent/Satan (Genesis 3:15).
Right interpretation continues through the COVENANT.
In Genesis 12:1-2 God chooses Abraham and gives him a promised land and a plentiful lineage.
Through his line, one would come to bring deliverance to humanity.
God promises a cruse.
If it is true that Goliath is both cursing Israel and her God, then if God is a covenant-keeping God, we would expect Goliath to be divinely cursed.
Right interpretation continues through the COMMANDMENTS.
Right interpretation continues through the CONQUEST.
In Numbers 13:27-33 we learn that the Promised Land was permeated with giants.
In Joshua 6 we see these giants defeated with praise.
As we arrive in 1 Samuel 17, Abraham’s people are unable to enjoy their land because they are being harassed by their idolatrous enemies, the Philistines, who are represented by the blaspheming, arrogant Goliath.
Israel needs a champion to deliver her from the Satanic oppressor.
The people’s king, Saul, proves to be unworthy, so the Lord raises up a new champion, David, defeats Israel’s enemies through God’s strength, thus delivering the people.
David’s victory points ahead to Jesus, the son of David, who will win the ultimate victory over Satan, thus securing everlasting deliverance for the people of God, Abraham’s children.
1 Samuel begins at the end of the Judges.
Remember that though Ruth follows Judges it took place during the time of the Judges.
As we came to the conclusion of Judges we read these chilling words
Israel had a king but they had rejected that king just as their first had in The Garden of Eden.
The Lord agreed to give them what they wanted.
However, He had Samuel warn them of the impending consequences of their request.
The people responded . . .
Instead of being God peculiar people they wanted to be like everyone else.
Instead of being set apart they wanted the status quo.
Instead of being unique they wanted to be universal.
Instead of being different they wanted to blend in.
The Lord gave His people what they wanted so that they could want what they really needed.
1 Samuel 9 begins the journey of God’s people learning to want what they really needed.
God chooses for them a man that they would have chosen.
Now that Saul has ascended to king Israel begins her decent into further chaos.
It does not happen overnight but sin’s effect is hardly ever noticed immediately.
As our story arrives in chapter 15 we see fully the real Saul.
Saul sets up a moment to remind everyone that he was their champion.
Why is this significant?
Samuel set but a memorial to remind God’s people that God was their champion
As chapter 15 closes The Lord through Samuel announces His rejection of Saul as king.
He now sends Samuel on a mission to choose the king of His choice in
Now that we have arrived at our text notice first the people’s champion Saul.
He is offering a reward for someone to fight the giant.
The king, Israel’s champion, is really a coward.
As the chapter unfolds David arrives by order of his Father with food for his brothers.
Before we finish this story let’s stop and correct the error that is about to be made.
Where do you and I fit in this story?
Most people identify with David.
Everybody wants to be David.
However, we are not David.
We are not intended to be David.
We are Saul.
We are the army.
We are cowards and if someone doesn’t save us from our cowardice our lives are going down the tubes.
David is not an example of how not to be a coward.
Notice he doesn’t say, “Come on let’s all rush Goliath together.
We can do it!”
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