Expository Sermon on 1 Samuel 16 & 17
by Maylan Schurch
Bellevue Seventh-day Adventist Church 4/27/2019
©2019 by Maylan Schurch
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Please open your Bibles to first Samuel chapter 16.
Somewhere about now, four of our Bellevue Pathfinders – Leo Bosanko, Aaron Olfert, Jonathon Roberto and Eric Rojas, along with other Pathfinders from other conferences — are taking part in the North American Division Pathfinder Bible Experience competition in Rockford, Illinois. Our young folks have ascended through the local, regional, and union-level competitions, and are now testing their knowledge of the gospel of Luke against other young experts from all over North America.
This last Sabbath evening, the two pastors of the Kirkland church and I competed against these two teams. In preparation, I read through the book of Luke one and three-quarter times. We three pastors sat at a table close to the stage, and watched as the Pathfinders acted out skits from Luke, repeating each story word for word the way that gospel tells it.
But it was when two brothers from the same family got up on stage and repeated the names in Luke’s long genealogy of Christ, in order, without skipping a beat, it was then that one of the Kirkland pastors leaned over to me and muttered, “We’re toast.”
And we were toast. A third Bible experience team had been formed from the younger brothers and sisters of the two main teams. This team was called the “younger siblings.” They were also competing that evening, and what made it so deadly for us pastors was that these younger kids were almost as good as the older kids – because the younger kids were the ones who had drilled the older kids on their knowledge.
Anyway, to make a long story short, we pastors were beaten by the two main teams by at least 20 points, and we just barely managed to beat the younger siblings by a measley two points.
So I have no doubt that whenever the competition happens today, all those other kids from across the nation had better be on their toes. Pathfinder leader Willman Rojas, as I understand, was the one who got our kids involved to start with, and now, co-leader Linden Goffar is carrying the torch. Can you imagine how overjoyed heaven is as they watch this worthwhile activity?
A couple of weeks ago I preached a sermon in a series called “Bible Sidekicks.” That sermon was about David, who for a time was a sidekick to King Saul. Even though David was subordinate to the king of his country, David had qualities which I think we can learn from. Before I continue with the qualities we’ll learn from today’s Bible passages, let me review the two David sidekick qualities we discovered a couple weeks ago.
The first sidekick quality was that David was God-hearted. When King Saul turned out to be a failure, the prophet Samuel relayed God’s message to Saul – God was going to choose someone “after God’s own heart” instead.
Sometimes we wonder what it means to be someone “after God’s heart,” but God makes it very clear. In first Samuel 13: verses 13 and 14, God says that a God-hearted person does what God wants him or her to do. That’s the only definition of “God-heartedness” which God gives. And in the New Testament, Paul tells this story about David, and in Acts 13:22, he quotes the Lord as saying, “‘I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after My own heart, who will do all My will.’” So it’s simple. If you want to be somebody after God’s own heart, you do what God wants you to do. You find out what His agenda is, and you put it to work.
David’s second “sidekick” quality we discovered was that not only was David God-hearted, but David developed and used his talents for the Lord. David didn’t waste time out there watching the sheep. Somehow he had got hold of a harp, so he carried that harp out with him and learned how to strum it. And he probably composed a lot of his earlier Psalms out there with nothing but sky and pasture and sheep in front of him.
David also got really good at hand-to-claw combat with beasts who were trying to lunch off his flock. He must’ve carried a bag of stones out to the field with him, and developed his skills during those summer afternoons.
From David we can learn how important it is to be brave in accepting challenges to improve our skills to serve God. If you been with our church a while, you’ve watched our young pianists sit tremblingly at our piano, and quickly develop into confident performers. You have watched grown-ups suddenly get up and play the bass guitar and the bowed psaltery, simply because they said, “You know, I think I could do that. Let me try.” We’ve seen people become elders who didn’t think they’d ever be one. We’ve seen people teach Sabbath School classes who never thought they’d do that either.
This past Monday night during our nominating committee meeting, there was great happiness because our children’s division leaders and helpers by and large agreed to take on these tasks for another year. And there were some new people we were able to add. So over the next two or three weeks, if one of our committee members phoned you, remember David, and how devoted he was to letting the Lord use his talents. Think of all the people down through the centuries who been encouraged by the Psalms David strummed. And think of all the difference you will make in the lives you touch because you moved out of your comfort zone in response to the call of the Lord.
But now let’s discover another of David’s sidekick qualities. To set the stage, we need to know that every once in awhile King Saul goes into a severe. And what pulls him out of it is hearing somebody play skillfully on a harp. So word gets back to him about the young David, and David is recruited for this responsibility.
1 Samuel 16:19 – 22 [NKJV]: Therefore Saul sent messengers to Jesse, and said, “Send me your son David, who is with the sheep.” And Jesse took a donkey loaded with bread, a skin of wine, and a young goat, and sent them by his son David to Saul. So David came to Saul and stood before him. And he loved him greatly, and he became his armorbearer. Then Saul sent to Jesse, saying, “Please let David stand before me, for he has found favor in my sight.”
What’s another of David’s sidekick qualities? If you’re taking sermon notes, I’ll repeat the first two, and then add this third one:
Not only was David God-hearted, and not only did David develop and use his talents for the Lord, but David was lovable.
And Saul wasn’t the only one who loved David. Jonathan loved David. Michal, Saul’s daughter, would eventually fall into romantic love with David. And it says in 1 Samuel 18:16 that “the whole nation” loved David.
Okay, what can I do with this now that I know it? After all, doesn’t the Bible say that David was handsome? At one point it literally does say that David had “bright eyes.” Does this mean that you have to have a certain amount of handsomeness or prettiness to qualify for this sidekick quality?
Well, if you would just pause a moment and think back over your lives, remembering the people you have developed a deep appreciation for, you will quickly realize that most of them – maybe none of them – had the looks of a Hollywood “A-list” star. The Bible never says one thing about Jesus’ good looks – in fact, Isaiah 53:2 hints that he had no natural handsomeness that would make us physically desire Him. Yet in Luke 2:52 it says that the young Jesus “increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.” Jesus was greatly beloved, especially by those who traveled with Him and got to know Him. As the old 1960’s pop song said, “To know, know, know him is to love, love, love him, and I do!”
But is being lovable something God requires of us? What if we have a cranky personality?
Well, keep in mind that the first of the Galatians 5 fruit of the Spirit is love. And the rest of the qualities are definitely ones which make people deeply appreciate us: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.” Paul insists in Romans 12:10, “Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another.” So yes, God does require us to be lovable.
And I also noticed what is probably another reason why David was so beloved. Flip a page or two ahead to First Samuel 18:16.
1 Samuel 18:16: But all Israel and Judah loved David, because he went out and came in before them.
You see what was happening here? When David showed up someplace, he didn’t sneak in the side entrance. He doesn’t seem to have been shy. Or if he was shy, he didn’t act like it. He came in the front door. He didn’t parade in proudly and pompously, but he just walked over to where the people were. He was probably smiling, and giving every impression that he was delighted to see them.
And if you’re relatively new to this church – or maybe you’ve been here for a while – that’s the way to become friends with people, and eventually even an influencer. You show up at Sabbath School at 9:30. You attend the Sabbath school class and take part in the discussion. You stay for potluck when there’s potluck. You go to where the people are, and even if you think you’re naturally shy, you gradually get used to people. And if you’re a smiler, and a listener, and an encourager, people will come to deeply appreciate you.
And now let’s go to 1 Samuel 17. This is the “David and Goliath” story, and here we’ll find one more of David’s “sidekick” qualities.
To set the stage, we need to know that at this point, the nation of Israel was at war with the Philistines. The Philistines were always harassing them. And at this point, the Israelite army is on one ridge of hills and the Philistines are on the opposite ridge of hills, and in the valley between, a grotesquely tall Philistine soldier is walking back and forth, challenging any man from the Israelite forces to come and fight him. The idea is that, whichever soldier wins this one-on-one combat, that soldier’s army gets the victory.
Naturally, this challenge causes the Israelite army to cower back in fear. They don’t have any giants on their side. It’s at this point that David shows up, to bring some care packages to his brothers who are serving in the army.
1 Samuel 17:22 – 25: And David left his supplies in the hand of the supply keeper, ran to the army, and came and greeted his brothers. Then as he talked with them, there was the champion, the Philistine of Gath, Goliath by name, coming up from the armies of the Philistines; and he spoke according to the same words. So David heard them. And all the men of Israel, when they saw the man, fled from him and were dreadfully afraid. So the men of Israel said, “Have you seen this man who has come up? Surely he has come up to defy Israel; and it shall be that the man who kills him the king will enrich with great riches, will give him his daughter, and give his father’s house exemption from taxes in Israel.”
Now, in just a few verses, we are going to hear David respond with not only incredible bravery, but also with great indignation. How can this young shepherd, maybe just barely out of his teens, speak so boldly?
Well, first let’s hear what he has to say.
Verse 26: Then David spoke to the men who stood by him, saying, “What shall be done for the man who kills this Philistine and takes away the reproach from Israel? For who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?”
And here we get our first hint that this is not just an information-seeking question. As we’ll see in the next verse, David seems to be getting the word out that he wants to get involved. And sure enough, word gets back to Saul, which was maybe David’s plan.
Verses 30 – 32: Then he turned from him toward another and said the same thing; and these people answered him as the first ones did. Now when the words which David spoke were heard, they reported them to Saul; and he sent for him. Then David said to Saul, “Let no man’s heart fail because of him; your servant will go and fight with this Philistine.”
Saul stares at this young man. And finally, a rueful grin comes to his lips.
Verse 33: And Saul said to David, “You are not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him; for you are a youth, and he a man of war from his youth.”
And David has his answer ready.
Verses 34 – 37: But David said to Saul, “Your servant used to keep his father’s sheep, and when a lion or a bear came and took a lamb out of the flock, I went out after it and struck it, and delivered the lamb from its mouth; and when it arose against me, I caught it by its beard, and struck and killed it. Your servant has killed both lion and bear; and this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, seeing he has defied the armies of the living God.” Moreover David said, “The LORD, who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, He will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.” And Saul said to David, “Go, and the LORD be with you!”
And then comes the armor test. Saul is a very tall man, and when they try to put Saul’s armor on David, it just doesn’t work.
Verses 38 – 39: So Saul clothed David with his armor, and he put a bronze helmet on his head; he also clothed him with a coat of mail. David fastened his sword to his armor and tried to walk, for he had not tested them. And David said to Saul, “I cannot walk with these, for I have not tested them.” So David took them off.
Let’s lay down what I think is David’s next sidekick quality, and we’ll talk about it. What’s another of David’s attitudes which we can put to use this week?
So far we’ve found that not only was David God-hearted, and not only did David develop and use his talents for the Lord, and that David was lovable, but David’s goal was to stay on the same page with God.
So what is it that tells me that David wanted to be on the same page with God? That seems to have been his goal all through his life. There were a few times, of course, when David definitely did not stay within God’s will – and the results were always disastrous. But for most of his life, David seeks God’s will. After he becomes king, he will often send for a priest, and the priest will use the high priest’s breastplate to communicate from God what David is supposed to do. Again and again, David wants to find out what God’s plans are, and fit in with them.
I think back to another Bible sidekick, Joshua. As we looked at his life while he was still Moses’ assistant, we found that Joshua was devoted to God’s plans. This means that Joshua knew those plans well.
And it’s the same way with David. Out there herding the sheep, David probably ran over in his mind the stories Moses had written in the Bible’s first five books. Maybe Joshua and Judges had been written by this time, and of course he knew very well the story of his great grandmother Ruth.
You see, I believe that David had immersed himself so completely in these Bible stories, that he knew and had confidence in God’s agenda better than the king of Israel did. The average Israelite soldier, crouched safely on the hilltop trying to be invisible, could never have had the courage that David did. And the reason was that the average Israelite had not made it his business to find out what was on God’s agenda, the way David had.
David didn’t simply remember or read Bible stories. David wrestled with them, prayed over them. Just like Gideon in the book of Judges, David was restless because God’s promised land was captive to people who shouldn’t be there. David wanted them gone. David had zeal – and that zeal was accompanied by some skills he had developed out there herding the sheep. After all, there’s a good chance that Goliath wouldn’t have known what to do if a bear or a lion came toward him, unless he had his armor on and his sword drawn.
You don’t need me to tell you that the world outside these walls is a very uncertain place. I’m not going to recite the news stories – you know them at least as well as I do. But I think you and I need to do what David did—continually go to our Bibles. David did not know what his descendent Jesus would say about the specifics of the end times and the Savior’s return in the clouds of glory. But we do.
We need to go back to those passages, and read them carefully. We can’t depend on what we think we know they say. Every time I prepare a sermon like this, and go over what I thought was familiar Bible material, I always find things I missed because when I studied them before, I was not mature enough to catch the finer nuances.
Somehow, David was able to glance around and look at the cowering Israelite soldiers, and then across the valley to the hooting and hollering Philistines – because after all, it had been more than a month since Goliath started roaring his challenges, and no Israelite had taken those challenges up. David could scan this scene and still have courage. The Philistines are probably saying that it was just a matter of time. Pretty soon, Israel would become so demoralized that all the Philistines could simply run down into that valley, and then up that other ridge, and start the massacre.
But David had become so thoroughly acquainted with the pages containing God’s agenda items, and he had personally seen how the Lord protected him while he was protecting his sheep, that David believed that he had every right to expect that God would fulfill His own agenda—and that David could be a part of that plan.
Which is why he seems so calm in the next few verses.
Verses 40 – 42: Then he took his staff in his hand; and he chose for himself five smooth stones from the brook, and put them in a shepherd’s bag, in a pouch which he had, and his sling was in his hand. And he drew near to the Philistine. So the Philistine came, and began drawing near to David, and the man who bore the shield went before him. And when the Philistine looked about and saw David, he disdained him; for he was only a youth, ruddy and good-looking.
And of course David still has his shepherd’s staff with him, which irritates Goliath even more.
Verses 43 – 44: So the Philistine said to David, “Am I a dog, that you come to me with sticks?” And the Philistine cursed David by his gods. And the Philistine said to David, “Come to me, and I will give your flesh to the birds of the air and the beasts of the field!”
I’m sure that this was no quiet conversation. I’m sure that Goliath roared out these words with the same volume he had broadcast his other challenges.
And I’m sure David’s words were meant for all those listening ears as well. Notice how confident he speaks. Here is someone who knows God so well, that he is able to recognize that this is the time that God’s agenda needs to be put into practice. David and God are on the same page, and David knows what needs to be done.
Now, David could simply have quietly put stone number one in the sling and started into his windup. But first he speaks. Goliath has cursed David by his own gods. And now David is going to introduce Goliath – and all those watching Philistine eyes – to the true God.
Verses 45 – 52: Then David said to the Philistine, “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 this 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.” So it was, when the Philistine arose and came and drew near to meet David, that David hurried and ran toward the army to meet the Philistine. Then David put his hand in his bag and took out a stone; and he slung it and struck the Philistine in his forehead, so that the stone sank into his forehead, and he fell on his face to the earth. So David prevailed over the Philistine with a sling and a stone, and struck the Philistine and killed him. But there was no sword in the hand of David. Therefore David ran and stood over the Philistine, took his sword and drew it out of its sheath and killed him, and cut off his head with it. And when the Philistines saw that their champion was dead, they fled. Now the men of Israel and Judah arose and shouted, and pursued the Philistines as far as the entrance of the valley and to the gates of Ekron. And the wounded of the Philistines fell along the road to Shaaraim, even as far as Gath and Ekron.
So when David fearlessly put God’s agenda into action, that’s all it took. The Philistines fled, the Israelites scrambled after them, and God’s side won.
I believe that it’s in God’s best interest that you and I take David’s qualities into the week ahead of us.
I think that you and I must be God-hearted, willing to live God’s way and fulfill God’s plans.
I think that you and I must be willing to develop our talents and use them even more powerfully in God’s service.
I think that you and I must respond to David’s example, and to the commands of Jesus and other Bible writers, and be lovable people. We need to be people who do not intimidate others, but in whose presence people can feel safe.
And I think we need to find out, with deeper and deeper certainty, what is on God’s page, so that we can be on that same page. Jesus tells us that life won’t get any easier on this crumbling old planet, but He beckons us forward into the uncertainties, because in our Bibles He has told us the end of the story. And He has already won the war.
What about you? Do you want to accept these challenges the way David did?