In the name of the Father and of the +Son and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.
Saul had failed to do what the Lord had commissioned and commanded him to do. He was rejected by the Lord not because he was a sinner—he was that, but so are we. Not because he failed to believe—we all waiver of ourselves, but the Holy Spirit calls, gathers, and enlightens us in the Christian faith. So we all pray regularly, “Lord, I believe, help thou my unbelief.” No, Saul was rejected because he had been specifically authorized by the Lord, through Samuel, to do a certain task: to be the king, and follow certain commands. He didn’t do them. The more he departed from the Lord’s ways, the Lord’s commands, the Lord’s foreordained paths for him, the more he turned away from the Lord’s word. That was key. He turned away from the Word of the Lord. As in, he turned away from THE Lord, from the word of God who would later be made flesh to save sinners like you and me and Saul. But when you turn away from the Lord, from His word, from His judgment of your sin and His salvation of you from your just punishment, then there is nothing left for you.
And Samuel was grieved. Not because of great love for Saul, not because he’d been a great king, or Samuel was a fan of his might, beauty, or any such thing. No, Samuel was grieved because servants of God’s word—prophets, pastors, ministers of that Word—always are grieved when people cut themselves off from the pure word of the Lord. We grieve for them. Pray for them. Hurt for them. For they are turning away from the one needful thing: from the Lord’s Word that gives sinner faith and salvation.
So Samuel had to anoint a new king. He was sent by the Lord to search out David, a shepherd, the youngest of 8 sons. Not the eldest. Not the tallest. Not the one you’d expect. Not the one the world would choose. Saul was what worldly eyes wanted: tall, dark, good looking. David wasn’t hard on eyes--ruddy and handsome--but was the pipsqueak of the family. The 8th son. Maybe there is something in that. 8, is the number of the new creation. For God created in 6 days, rested on the 7th, and all was new on the 8th. 8 souls in all exited the ark into that new world after the Flood. David, the 8th son, an image and ancestor of his greater Son to come.
David was chosen not because he was so faithful, but because the Lord was faithful to His promise to bring the world’s saviour through this family. This is why Jesus comes from the “stump of Jesse”. David is the stump. The rump. The tail end of Jesse. God’s choice of David is a choice of pure grace without any merit or worthiness in him. For the Lord does not judge by appearances or the height of a man’s stature, nor by any merit or worthiness in a man. He judges and chooses in grace. Unmerited grace on account of the righteous flesh of Jesus which was given into death for you.
And by that gracious choice the Lord gave David great faith! He gave him a heart after the Lord. A desire to do all His will. Faith that clung to the name of the Lord. Faith is always what credits you as righteous, not your own works. David was a sinner, but in faith he was a man after God’s own heart! His faith was credited, counted to him as righteousness. David’s actions lacked righteousness (as we’ll here next week), but his heart was full of righteousness. For his heart was full of faith! And the Lord looks at the heart. He looks at faith. Hence: Saul who had no faith was rejected. While David who had faith was chosen and accepted.
But with the Lord’s usual irony, this David chosen purely by grace and grace alone was a fabulously talented man: good looking, musical, brave, compassionate, a valiant defender, a skilled fighter, a poet and wordsmith. But David learned very quickly that he could never boast of own accomplishments. He must always depend on the Lord. For only by the Lord’s promises do we stand in the Lord’s ways and and in the Lord’s kingdom, and do the Lord’s work. Our strength comes from the Lord—His promise to us of life and salvation through His Son of David’s line, Jesus Christ.
From the very first promise to believing Eve, “Your offspring will be at enmity with the Serpent’s offspring, but He will crush his head, and he will strike His heal,” it has been true: unbelievers are always envious of, have problems with, are at enmity with believers in the Lord’s promises. Just like Saul. He was jealous of David. He sought to kill David repeatedly. So too with Goliath, the Philistines’ monster, their giant. Taunting Israel. Taunting God’s people. Taunting them to unbelief. To look with their eyes, their reason. To judge according to their own physical strength and to doubt God’s strength. Goliath was a manifestation of the Serpent, of his offspring, of his enmity toward the people of God.
And he was winning. The Israelites were cowering. They were looking to themselves. They were taking their eyes off the Lord and His promises to them. Gigantic Goliath goaded them into gospel-less gloom.
Well, Goliath was an old, satanic foe if ever there was one. He defied the ranks of Israel. Which means he defied the hosts of Heaven. He defied the Lord God of Sabaoth. Sabaoth is a fancy Hebrew word which means: God of hosts. And who were God’s hosts? The Israelites whom Goliath defied! And throwing down the gauntlet at the Lord God of hosts’ feet is never a smart move. Soon would Goliath’s loss be effected! For now a champion came to fight whom God Himself elected: David. God’s chosen king. A man after the Lord’s own heart. The man who would be the Lord’s own forebear.
David was a man mighty in the Lord. Mighty in faith. He heard Goliath’s taunts and said, “What?! Why haven’t you gone out and smote this guy? Gone upside his head? He can’t say that stuff about Lord, about the armies of the living God and live!”
Saul didn’t have the faith to face Goliath but he did wish to steal the glory. Thus, he tried to cloth David in his armor. But the Lord does not fight with weapons of the flesh, of the world. He does not accomplish his spiritual purposes by physical weapons, but by spiritual weapons. David came against Goliath in the name of the Lord of hosts, in faith in His promises to Israel and all the families of earth.
In +Jesus’ name, Amen.
—Pastor David Haberstock
Epiphany Lutheran Church
Thunder Bay, ON