1 Samuel 17-18, Romans 11

The Mercy of God.

1 Samuel 17-18, Romans 11

Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! – Romans 11:33 ESV

Too often, we read the Bible as a collection of independent books contained in two separate sections – one that chronicles the ancient history of Israel while the other records more recent events. We fail to see the Scriptures as a cohesive story written by the Spirit of God through the pens of men. We overlook the central theme that pervades the book and the unmistakable reality that the entire Bible is the revelation of God, from beginning to end. We turn the Bible into a collection of Sunday School stories, told in isolation from the rest of the content of the book. Then we assign to these stories man-centered, morality-based lessons that we hope will help us live better lives. The story of David and Goliath is a perfect example. There are very few people who attended church as children who don’t know that story. And if asked, they could probably provide what some of the life lesson’s from David’s defeat of Goliath. They might talk about facing the giants in our own life through the power of faith. Their recollection of the story might have Goliath as a representation of all the trials and troubles of life. David might represent the underdog, or the individual who finds himself facing seemingly insurmountable odds. And while there is nothing inherently wrong with some of these ideas, the problem is that we tend to miss out on the real story behind the story. We can also fail to see that the story of David and Goliath is really not about either one of these characters. It is about God.

What does this passage reveal about God?

God had chosen David. The prophet Samuel had already anointed David as the God-chosen replacement for king Saul. And David was already working part-time for Saul as a court musician, playing his harp any time Saul had one of his fits of anger. God’s hand was on David. He was orchestrating the entire situation, preparing for the time at which David would succeed Saul as the king of Israel. In the story of David’s defeat of Goliath, it seems that David is the only Israelite who had faith in God. He alone, as a young shepherd boy, had the gumption to ask, “For who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?” (1 Samuel 17:26 ESV). He could believe that the entire army of Israel was shaking in its sandals as a result of the taunts of this one Philistine. David told King Saul, “Your servant has struck down both lions and bears, and this uncircumcised Philistine shall be like one of them, for he has defied the armies of the living God” (1 Samuel 17:36 ESV). It would be easy to make this statement all about the faith of David. But the real point is the ONE in whom David’s faith was placed. This is about God. David even told Goliath, “You come to me with a sword and 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” (1 Samuel 17:45-46 ESV). David’s faith is not the issue. It is the God in whom his faith was placed. The entire story of the Bible up to this point has been about the faithfulness, power, mercy, love and goodness of God toward His people. David knew the history of Israel, so he knew the character of God. It wasn’t David’s faith that was great. It was his God.

What does this passage reveal about man?

One young man was willing to stand on the character and trustworthiness of God and face the enemies of God. While the rest of Israel stood by, quaking in their sandals and doubting the ability of their God to do what He had done hundreds of times before, David was going to step out on nothing more than God’s reputation and past track record. This story is just one of many stories found in the Bible that reveal man’s inability and unwillingness to trust God. The fear and faithlessness exhibited by Saul and his army is not an anomaly. It is the norm. From Old Testament to New Testament we see the continuing struggle of men to recognize God for who He is. When Jesus came, the people of Israel had been waiting and searching for their Messiah for generations. But when He showed up on the scene, they refused to acknowledge Him for who He was. They rejected the very one they had waited for for so long. But Paul tells us that even their rejection was part of God’s plan. The story is NOT about their rejection or their lack of faith, but God’s divine plan for the redemption of mankind. Paul writes, “So I ask, did they [the Jews] stumble in order that they might fall? By no means! Rather through their trespass salvation has come to the Gentiles, so as to make Israel jealous. Now if their trespass means riches for the world, and if their failure means riches for the Gentiles, how much more will their full inclusionmean!” (Romans 11:11-12 ESV). The rejection of Jesus by the Jewish people was part of God’s plan to open up the gospel to the Gentiles or non-Jews. But God was not rejecting the Jews. He was simply using their refusal to recognize His Son as an opportunity to share His grace outside the household of Abraham. In so doing, God would make Israel jealous. All along they had thought they were the exclusive recipients of God’s mercy and grace. Now they were learning that God’s love was available to all. The story is not about the faithless of Jews and the faithfulness of Gentiles. It is about the love, mercy, grace, and sovereignty of God. “Their rejection [of Jesus] means the reconciliation of the world” (Romans 11:15 ESV).

How would I apply what I’ve read to my own life?

The Bible is about the mercy of God. All men have sinned against His holy commands. All men stand condemned before a righteous, just and holy God. There’s not a one of us who can claim to have lived in perfect obedience to God’s will and yet, only perfect obedience is acceptable to a holy God. From cover to cover, the Bible reveals the sinfulness of men. And it doesn’t matter if they are pagan Philistines or the chosen people of Israel. Saul was just as faithless as Goliath. He put his trust in his armor and sword just like Goliath did. But the story here is not about the battle, slings, stones, David, Saul or even Goliath. It is about God and His unwavering mercy shown to men who don’t deserve it. Again, Paul writes, “For just as you were at one time disobedient to God but now have received mercy because of their disobedience, so they [the Jews] too have now been disobedient in order that by the mercy shown to you they also may nowreceive mercy.For God has consigned all to disobedience, that he may have mercy on all” (Romans 11:30-32 ESV). God showed mercy to David that day. David didn’t deserve to defeat Goliath because of his faith. David’s faith isn’t the issue. David’s God is. He showed mercy to Israel by overlooking their faithlessness and giving them victory over their enemies. He showed mercy to Saul by not forcing him to face his own death at the hands of Goliath. God is still showing mercy on mankind. And there is a day coming when He will shower His mercy on Israel once again, fully fulfilling His promises made generations ago to Abraham.

God is a merciful God. He is a compassionate, faithful, loving God. He is a sovereign God. “Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!” (Romans 11:33 ESV). To Him be the glory forever. Amen.

Father, it is all about You. We are not the stars of the story, You are. It is not about our faith. It is not about our obedience. It is not about our victories in battle. It is always about You. Your love. Your mercy. Your power. Your plan. Your Son. Your salvation. Your Kingdom. Your glory. Your righteousness. Help me learn to stop making the story about me. May I learn to see You on every page of Scripture and recognize You in every moment of my life. Amen

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men

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