Sermon, Sunday June 26, 2016, St Petri , THE STORY Week 11
Slingshot from Shepherd to King
Psalm 9: 9-20, 2 Corinthians 6:1-13, John 14:9-12
1 Samuel 17:41-50
41 Meanwhile, the Philistine, with his shield bearer in front of him, kept coming closer to David. 42 He looked David over and saw that he was little more than a boy, glowing with health and handsome, and he despised him. 43 He said to David, “Am I a dog, that you come at me with sticks?” And the Philistine cursed David by his gods. 44 “Come here,” he said, “and I’ll give your flesh to the birds and the wild animals!”
45 David said to the Philistine, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. 46 This day the Lord will deliver you into my hands, and I’ll strike you down and cut off your head. This very day I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds and the wild animals, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel. 47 All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves; for the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give all of you into our hands.”
48 As the Philistine moved closer to attack him, David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet him. 49 Reaching into his bag and taking out a stone, he slung it and struck the Philistine on the forehead. The stone sank into his forehead, and he fell facedown on the ground.
50 So David triumphed over the Philistine with a sling and a stone; without a sword in his hand he struck down the Philistine and killed him.
In his little book, “Illustrations of Bible Truth”, H.A. Ironside pointed out the foolishness of judging others by mere externals. He related an incident in the life of a man called Bishop Potter.
“The Bishop was sailing for Europe on one of the great transatlantic ocean liners. When he went on board, he found that another passenger was to share the cabin with him. After going to see his cabin, he came up to the bursar’s desk and asked if he could leave his gold watch and other valuables in the ship’s safe. He explained that ordinarily he never did this, but he had been to his cabin and had met the man who was to occupy the other berth in the cabin. Judging from his appearance, the Bishop was afraid that the other fellow might not be a very trustworthy person. The bursar accepted the responsibility for the valuables and remarked, ‘It’s all right, Bishop, I’ll be very glad to take care of them for you. The other already man has been up here and left his for the same reason!'”
The old saying goes, “Do not judge a book by its cover” and it is wise, but often hard to live.
Sometimes it seems that our whole world judges on externals; by how we look or behave, rather than what’s inside, in the heart of a person.
Shall we speak of advertising, fashion, the 24 hour news cycle, the rich and famous, the magazine article about someone’s latest hairdo? Or to really make the point, what about the never ending flow of mass trivia on social media that is here one second and gone the next, only to be quickly replaced by endless information about someone half way around the world in a place I will never know walking their dog or eating a pizza!
Where is the depth of a person? How can we find each other? Where is character and life and genuine exchange of ideas and concerns without the rush, the quick judgement, the fashion…below the surface?
This over-focus on the outward appearance can make us hollow. What if the bishop and the other guy looked past appearance and behavior, and took the time to try and find each other a little more. It might have made for a more enjoyable trip, or maybe even a life-long friendship!
Enter our Creator God, who knit us together in our mother’s wombs (Ps 139) and who we hear today in very clear terms, sees the human heart.
In the account of the how a young shepherd boy is chosen as the Lord’s anointed King (the Messiah), we hear that God does not make judgments only based on the outward things we do and say. He is aware of and more interested in where these outward things come from.
We hear repeatedly in the Word that it is what is in the human heart and mind that creates the outward things.
Nothing outside a person can defile them by going into them. Rather, it is what comes out of a person that defiles them.”(Mark 7:15)
In 1 Samuel 16-17 we hear that God goes into action in seeing the heart of a young shepherd boy named David.
Later on, the song writers of Israel describe what God saw in David.
70 He chose David his servant and took him from the sheep pens; 71 from tending the sheep he brought him to be the shepherd of his people Jacob, of Israel his inheritance. 72 And David shepherded them with integrity of heart; with skillful hands he led them. (Psalm 78:70-72)
Of course, there are always those who cannot see these things. They will let you know about too. Others did not see David with the potential to be a person of integrity and high skills needed to be a faithful king.
- Jesse, David’s father, did not even summon David when Samuel came to anoint a new king.
- David’s older brother told David off for leaving his sheep to come and watch the battle with the Philistines.
- King Saul viewed David as mere boy and not king material.
- Goliath called David “a stick” just before David killed him.
But, have you ever come across a person who has told you they could see you doing some job, or undertaking some course of study or some calling or career in life? How long did it take you to act on that vision of you? Have you ever acted on that seeing of your heart or did you ignore it or have to let it go at the time?
- I never saw myself as a Christian when I was teenager. But then the Lord and his people fixed that!
- I never saw myself as a Lay Worker while a teenager at school. But the Lord and his people fixed that too.
- I never saw myself as a Pastor. In fact, I was dead against it. But the Lord and his people fixed that!
But there is usually at least one person who just sees you differently. For David it was Samuel but also Jonathan, Saul’s son. Jonathan saw David with the potential of a king (1 Samuel 18:4).
Even though the potential is there when it come to the Lord calling a person to whatever vocation or task, there is a need for the heart to be tested and proven true. The young David had to go into “boot camp” to be trained as a leader in Israel.
King Saul, is not happy that this young man is very good at whatever he does. It gets worse when people start making songs up about how David is so much better than the current king! Saul for some time is hostile to David. For a long time, David’s enemy (Saul) is God’s tool to train David in godly, kingly character.
Who are your enemies? The Lord will use them and situations to deepen your appreciation of him, give you needed experience and shape you in the way of being a Servant leader, and person with a heart for others.
After 14 years of training, David is ready to represent God and God’s character. He is anointed as king over Israel.
Friends, we have been anointed as God’s chosen and loved person with Jesus’ calling to withhold judgement and avoid condemnation on outward appearances.
The messiah (“anointed one”) spoke his word over us in the moment in the water with the Word. There we were resurrected into Jesus’ rule.
He sees us in the heart and does not misjudge us at all.
All your words are true; all your righteous laws are eternal. (Psalm 119:160)
We are all called, we are loved, and we are all useful in God’s ongoing mission to bring his world back to his love and acceptance. He knows our heart. David can pray with trust in the Lord’s true judgement of the human heart when he prays in Psalm 139 (v 23-24)
Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. 24 See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.
Like King David, everyone needs at least one Jonathan. We need God’s people around us to be the Lord’s instruments of seeing of our hearts and shaping of our character. We all need just one person in our lives (a Jonathan) who will see us with great potential to be what God calls us to be in whatever filed or job or pursuit. We are called to be a Jonathan to someone. Who might that be at the moment?
We all need to recognise that even if the Lord shows us his heart for us by his Word and through his Word in others’ voices, we need persistence and resilience in this business of responding to the Lord’s call to follow him in our lives. Just as both David and Jesus were underestimated by others (judged on externals), so we can expect to be underestimated, too. We often underestimate ourselves. We often underestimate the Lord!
Jesus chose you, Friend, despite your external looks, words and behaviours…even your age. He still does.