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1 Samuel 17:1-9, 26, 32-37, 45-49 Our Hero Sermon preached May 26, 2013 Opening It was a day

just like any other when morning dawned on April 23rd in Salt Lake City. Kent Hendrix, a pharmaceutical statistician and 47-year-old father of six, was getting dressed when his teenage son pounded on the door and told him a woman was being mugged right out in front of their house. He rushed outside while his son stayed inside to dial 911 and saw a melee between a man and a woman. But Kent Hendrix was no ordinary mild-mannered pharmaceutical statistician. He is also a martial arts instructor and the owner of a samurai sword with a 29-inch high-carbon steel blade. And on his way out he had grabbed his sword. When he stepped in front of the attacker, His eyes got big as saucers and he kind of gasped and jumped back, said Hendrix. The man then ran down the street with the barefoot Hendrix and others in pursuit. The man jumped in his car and roared off but not before Hendrix picked up the mans chapstik and memorized his license plate. I yelled at him, I've got your DNA and I've got your license plate: You are so done, Hendrix said. The suspect later turned himself in to the authorities and was promptly jailed. Hendrix, who has a fourth-degree black belt in the Kishindo form of martial arts, said its the first time hes used the sword. Some people have bats... said Hendrix, I have my sword.1 Israelites vs. Philistines An ordinary man, standing up to a threat...were going to look at another story like that this morning, as young David went up against mighty Goliath, the champion of the Philistines. Now - these Philistines - they were the ancient, perpetual enemy of the Israelites, a people that had superior technology - Philistines were a constant threat, raiding Israelite villages, cutting off pieces of Israelite territory, at one point even seizing the ark of the covenant after they sent the makeshift Israelite army running away like the knights in Monty Pythons Holy Grail. And theyre fighting again. Two armies drawn up on hillsides with a valley in the middle - Valley of Elah - shouting and taunting one another - remember the scene in Braveheart when the kilt-wearing Scots moon the English army?

But then Goliath steps up - he challenges them to put up a champion and let the two of us fight it out This was not a uncommon practice in those days - I remember a commercial from the 60's or 70's that had two leaders from hostile countries duking it out and saying wouldnt this make more sense than the death of thousands of soldiers and civilians in war? So this is what happens - Goliath stood and shouted to the ranks of Israel, "Why do you come out and line up for battle? Am I not a Philistine, and are you not the servants of Saul? Choose a man and have him come down to me. 9 If he is able to fight and kill me, we will become your subjects; but if I overcome him and kill him, you will become our subjects and serve us. And all the Israelites are terrified of him. Think of the biggest, meanest guy in your high school class - then add a foot in height and 150 pounds of muscle and armor and a sword and you have to fight him. Even King Saul is afraid - not leading, hes cowering too, hes got no one to send up to fight him and despite that Saul was a very big man, hes not going out there either. Davids story And David is there, too. Hes still young, probably a teenager. Until this story, he had stayed home, watching the sheep. And hes there now with the army only because his brothers are serving and his father sent him there to bring his big brothers bread and cheese to eat.. So David sees whats going on, steps up to say who is this guy to defy Israel - and hes rebuked by his older brother! Hes just the snot-nosed little kid who used to tag along with his big brothers and they wanted him to get lost, what do you know about fighting in the army? But what they dont know about David - that before this - the prophet Samuel comes to Bethlehem and anoints David as the future king of Israel - and the scriptures tell us that the Spirit of the Lord comes upon him. So word of Davids defiance comes to Saul...David says hell got out to fight Goliath... and David is the only one who shows courage. What is courage? Courage is facing down your fears and doing whats right even when youre afraid, even when youre terrified. So courage is mastering your fears so you can do what needs to be 2

done. I did a little research on the Internet - found several surveys of the top fears people have. Want to guess what they are? Heres the list: 1. Flying 2. Public speaking 3. Heights 4. Dark 5. Intimacy 6. Death 7. Failure 8. Rejection 9. Spiders! 10. Commitment2 Some fears we can overcome pretty easily - youre afraid of flying, take a Xanax before you get onboard the 737 and pray a lot. But some fears - they stop us like a cinder-block wall. There are some fears - our greatest fears - that can utterly paralyze us, can even ruin our lives. Our Greatest Fears Most people would say death is the greatest fear - and for some people, it is death - they will do anything to avoid it, avoid acknowledging it and that leads to all kinds of crazy behavior. But death is not the greatest fear for many people - some people will prefer death to humiliation or failure - and that shows that death is not the greatest fear, humiliation, shaming is. You remember the movie 300? This Is Sparta! The Spartans stand and fight and die against an overwhelming Persian army because they are far more afraid of the shame of retreating and running away, than they are of dying. Another of our greatest fears is failure - it can paralyze us - people avoid trying anything new and stay in jobs they hate because they know at least they are secure and dont want to venture out and risk failing, and being thought of a failure - theyd rather die - or die a slow death in a life they hate. The cowardice the results from giving in to fear Now, sometimes we ought to run away when threatened - its the sensible thing to do A funny thing happened in Darlington, Maryland, several years ago. Edith, a 3

mother of eight, was coming home from a neighbors house one Saturday afternoon. As she walked into the house, she saw five of her youngest children huddled together, concentrating with intense interest on something. As she slipped near them, trying to discover the center of attraction, she couldnt believe her eyes. Smack dab in the middle of the circle were several baby skunks. She screamed at the top of her voice, Children, run! Each kid grabbed a skunk and ran!3 But sometimes, running away or avoiding the issues we face, is cowardice. And it can be ruinous. Families are ruined because of cowardice. For example, a parent works too much because of fear of failure and they dont have time for children and they know it and their children are getting bitter and resentful but they cant stop overworking because their greatest fear is not that their children are going to be harmed, but because the parent is afraid she wont be successful and make money. Or parents who wont discipline their children because fear of rejection so great that you cant even stand it if your children pout and are mad at you - their need for approval, and fear of rejection, makes the parents cowards and prevents them from giving their children what they really need. Churches are ruined because of cowardice - when the church leadership is afraid to confront the need to change - like that their neighborhood is changing and it isnt 1957 anymore and people arent coming and the church is aging, shrinking and dying - but the church would rather die than change. Or confront the people who prevent change. And individual people ruined through cowardice by allowing themselves to be abused and walked over. We have two examples of dealing with fear in the story So what do we do, when we have to confront our fears? How do we find courage? Well, our default mode for summoning up courage is the Goliath approach - let me explain: There is lots of detail in this story, unusual for ancient literature - and never in Hebrew narrative - very spare - but here Goliath gets very detailed description. A champion named Goliath, who was from Gath, came out of the Philistine camp. He was over (eight) feet tall. He had a bronze helmet on his head and wore a coat 4

of scale armor of bronze weighing 125 pounds. On his legs he wore bronze greaves, and a bronze javelin was slung on his back. His spear shaft was like a weaver's rod, and its iron point weighed fifty pounds. The point of this is to show that Goliath has a particular approach to heroism - hes called a champion twice in the text - he uses fear, violence and technology - and so Goliath represents one way to try to be a hero and deal with fear. And this is the way the world does it - Goliath has brute strength, hes high-tech - bronze armor and iron weapons - quite a contrast with David - he just has a sling and staff - and because of his strength and weaponry, hes full of self-confidence - and hes got a track record of bloody success - the story tells us that hes wiped out whole platoons singlehandedly. How we emulate the Goliath approach We try to armor ourselves -work out, practice being tough and assertive, vow youre not going to take any nonsense from anyone, bowl people over if they get in your way. Or in order to deal with fear of disappointment, we become hard and cynical and mistrusting. Or if the problem is another person - we nurture our hatred - replay the grievance in our minds and stoke the fires of resentment - and we use the energy from the hatred to overcome fear - and this is exactly what nations do in time of war - you make the other side into an enemy, caricature them - theyre not people, theyre monsters. And the Goliath approach can work, can help us push back our fear - but there is a pretty dramatic downside - you are more vulnerable than you think - there is always going to be someone bigger or meaner or better equipped, or like in Davids case, someone smarter who can see a vulnerability you are blind to. Goliath is armed to the teeth and brimming with self-confidence, but - hes about to die. The other way to deal with our deepest fears, is with a champion who fights for us So David is drafted into Sauls army and heads out towards Goliath. And when the guys on Israelite lines see him with his little sling and bag of stones their mouths go dry because they know hes gonna get slaughtered. And if David dies, they get enslaved by the Philistines. How David fights - he fights through what looks like weakness - hes little - too small for 5

armor - so he fights using a shepherds sling and a handful of smooth stones, river rocks. And David doesnt win despite weakness - wins because of it - Goliath thinks this is a big joke - and David nails Goliath right on the forehead - knocks Goliath out cold, and David runs over and takes the big mans sword and cuts off his head. And remember, David is a representative for all Israel - he goes out to fight in place of them all - he wins, they win, he loses, they lose and are slaves. David is their champion. Usually books and devotionals on this story tell us that we need to be more like David. Swallow our fears and pick up our slings and knock down the giants. I would suggest that there is another message here. The message is not, be like David, but rather, we need a champion like David who can defeat the enemies we cant defeat ourselves - our deepest fears, our most deadly enemies. You see, what God does here for the Israelites is not to send them an example to emulate - God sends them a champion who fights for them.4 And in Jesus Christ we have a champion As Christians, we have a champion in Jesus Christ - he is called our champion in the book of Hebrews - chapter 11:2 goes like this: Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Our translation has author - but the Greek word means champion And look at what he fought - he went into the valley of death to fight the power of death, and there he himself suffered our deepest fears and nightmares - rejection, failure, humiliation, physical pain, abandonment - a thousand times worse than we every face. Christ fought what we cannot fight - the sources of our deepest fears. Death? When we croak out our last breaths, Christ saves us from the dying of the light, and we live forever. Suffering? What we see says suffering is meaningless. Christ suffered and promises that our sufferings will be turned to our glory. The seemingly random bizarreness of life? Like, you wake up and you never know what the day will bring. May be a great day. Or you may get hammered. 6

This morning I wake up and look for my glasses, my new glasses....cant find them...always put them right on my nightstand - look behind it, look under the bed, theyre not there, stumble around blindly, see the dog out in the hallway chewing something...my new glasses! Anyway - no matter what happens, we have security in life and in death because Jesus promises, I will never leave you or forsake you. And no matter what happens - when you have Christ - when your worth is in Him...when you know he has your life in your hands...and even should you die...then you become filled with courage - because as the Psalm says, in God I trust; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me? Closing Turn with me now to the Memorial day insert...an amazing list of names of men and women who gave their lives for this country. Each name represents a life - a child, a spouse, a parent, a friend...each name represents someone who was precious to God. I was struck in particular by one name - Gene Wilsons mothers first husband who was a B-17 pilot and shot down in 1943. The Army Air Force ran daylight bombing missions over Germany, which were incredibly dangerous. B-17 crews would fly in formation in a straight line to their targets. And in 1943, the Luftwaffe was still a potent air force, and the planes would run a gauntlet of fighter planes who would dive into the formations again and again, riddling planes with machine-gun fire; there was flak bursting all around, yet these bomber crews flew straight on to their targets and released their bomb loads and only then turned for home. I cannot imagine the bravery of those men who flew mission after mission. And we honor those who died for their sacrifice. And many of us have wondered, would we be so brave if called upon? But heres what you need to know - were in a battle everyday when we determine to follow the Lord Jesus Christ. The world is not hospitable to the gospel. And add to that, the suffering and craziness that are part of life - well, youre in for a fight. So its good to know we have a champion in Jesus Christ, whom we can trust in life and in death, every moment of our lives. Amen. Endnotes 1. http://www.ajc.com/ap/ap/religion/samurai-sword-wielding-lds-bishop/nXT8f/ 2. http://www.selfhelpcollective.com/top-10-fears.html 7

3. Charles R. Swindoll, Hand Me Another Brick , (Nashville: W. Publishing Group, 1978), p. 81. 4. From a sermon preached by Tim Keller of Redeemer Presbyterian Church, Courage - the Impossible Dream.