Seward United Methodist Church
Thursday, August 16, 2018

A God-Filled Imagination

King David Series- 3

 

1st Samuel 17:1-11 and 32-51

You probably noticed I didn’t read the whole story. I didn’t have to, did I? I mean you already know it, don’t you? It just might be the most familiar story in the whole Bible. People who have never read a single word of Scripture almost certainly know that David, the little shepherd boy, killed Goliath, a giant warrior many times his size. How do they know it?

Because they heard the story as children. And to some, that’s all it is: a children’s story. After all, isn’t it rather silly to think that in real life a young teenage boy, armed with nothing more than a sling and some rocks could kill a man at least four times his size who had been trained as a warrior, trained to kill men for many, many years?

That’s certainly what everyone who was there that day thought! In the minds of the Israelites and the Philistines Goliath was great, awesome, fearful, intimidating. And David was insignificant, unimpressive. Dare I say it? Pathetic!

But his story endures to this day because it reminds us of a great truth: Unless we fill up our minds with God, we will always be intimidated by giants.

Is it just a children’s story? No, not at all. Because it’s a good story. And good stories are always true stories, regardless of our age. They are always true because they put us into touch with fundamental realities of life. And we never move past fundamental truths. As Eugene Peterson says here in his book, as we grow up, we get farther and farther away from the ground, but we never leave the ground!

What is true is always true. We just experience it in different ways as we grow older. We experience it in more mature ways. When we are children, we learn what love is from our parents. Our understanding of love matures as we develop friendships, as we get married. And if we ourselves have children, we understand love in a different way. And if we come to know God’s love for us in Jesus Christ, then we gain a whole new perspective on love. Love hasn’t changed. We just understand its mysteries better.

So good stories are always good stories. They help us to grow and expand our imaginations.

But just as imagination can propel us forward, it can also hold us back. The imaginations of Saul and his soldiers were filled with Goliath. They were filled with a

brutal, ugly reality: A giant warrior trained from his youth to kill men, to cut them limb from limb, to terrorize them with his size and strength and skill and weapons. Whoever went out there to face him was going to die. They couldn’t imagine anything else!

With Goliath filling their imaginations, they could no longer conceive of goodness or hope or beauty. With each passing day, they became more fearful, more cynical, more demoralized.

Into the midst of this scene comes David. David, whose imagination is God-filled. God is more real to David than Goliath. The God he can’t see with his eyes or hear with his ears is more real to him than the great, giant warrior Goliath, standing right in front of him. David is immersed in God. God fills his life. And unless God fills our lives, and unless we immerse ourselves in stories of God, we will also lose hope and courage!

David offers to fight Goliath. And surprisingly, Saul takes him up on it! Maybe he was just desperate for someone to do something! But if David is going to fight this guy, then he’d better be prepared! Saul tries to outfit David with his own armor and weapons.

Sometimes when we gather the courage to face our giants, other well-meaning people will try to protect us from our own foolish courage. They’ll armor us with warnings and advice and instructions. It can be downright paralyzing.

Sure enough, David can’t even move in Saul’s armor! He has to be authentic to himself. So he takes off the armor. And he goes down to the Kerith Brook and kneels down to gather five smooth stones.

Kneeling is an act of submission and trust and humility. We should live our lives from our knees. Because it’s only from our knees before God that we can gain the perspective to face the giants. If God is God, and if God made you and I, then the most authentically human thing that we can do is to trust in him!

Israel had lost that trust. In between brutal Goliath and trembling Israel knelt faithful David, the most authentically human, the most God-filled person in the Valley of Elah. He was the only who was fully in touch with the fundamental reality that is God. And in that reality, steeled by the courage that only a person who trusts God can have, he rose, ran out to meet Goliath, and he was victorious.

As only a God-filled person could be!

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