Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Though None Go With Me

David was a shepherd.  It was a lonely job.  Out in the middle of nothing leading sheep from green pasture to green pasture.  Out there in the middle of nothing with his sheep, David had faced many dangers, like bears and lions, and David learned about God.

David the shepherd boy says in Psalms 23 "The Lord is MY Shepherd...  even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear NO evil...  You prepare a table before me IN THE PRESENCE of my enemies." 

Everybody thought being a shepherd was insignificant, but it was David's training ground for his future call.  Out there in the wilderness David had learned some things about God and those things made him brave.  He learned that in the Name of the Lord he could face any enemy. 

I've read the story of David and Goliath many times before, but this morning when I was reading something stuck out to me that I had never paid attention to before... 

"And Saul and the men of Israel were gathered together, and encamped by the Valley of Elah, and set the battle in array against the Philistines."   1 Sam. 17:2

The men of Israel prepared themselves for battle with the Philistine army everyday.  From all appearances they were ready to go to war.  They set themselves up day after day for battle, one army against another army, but when one man, Goliath, made a challenge for man to man combat, every man in that Israelite camp including King Saul, was shaking in their boots.  For forty days Goliath called out for one man to be brave enough to come fight against him and for forty days not one man could muster up the courage. 

"When Saul and all Israel heard the words of the Philistine, they were dismayed, and greatly afraid." vs 11

David the Shepherd was the only man brave enough to fight the giant and when Saul heard this he called David to him, but when he saw that he was just a youth he tried to discourage him.  David's response to Saul clues us into why God calls him "a man after my own heart" and reveals a lot of why he was called by God and chosen to be King. 

"And David said to Saul, Your servant kept his father's sheep, there came a lion, and a bear, and took a lamb out of the flock: and I went out after him, and struck him, and delivered it out of the mouth: and when he arose against me, I caught him by his beard, and struck him and slew him.  Your servant slew both the lion and the bear: and this uncircumcised Philistine shall be as one of them, seeing he has defied the armies of the living God.  David said moreover, The Lord that delivered me out of the paw of the lion and out of the paw of the bear, He will deliver me, out of the hand of this Philistine."  vs 34-37

Out there alone in the wilderness with those sheep, doing the job that no one else wanted to do, the insignificant job of tending sheep, David had learned things about God that the men in that army had not learned.  He was ready to face any enemy even, if it was all by himself with only his God. 

He knew that God was BIG as he looked out at the night sky, every night and saw all that God had made.  When you read through the Psalms that David wrote you can see that he had an intimate relationship with God.  David knew that if God had made all that his eyes could see, then he was the living God.  Israel was surrounded by countries who worshipped dead gods, made by the hands of men, and I think that most people in Israel forgot that their God was the living God.  He is powerful and sufficient and David knew that. 

David knew that it was God who had delivered him from his enemies and he had nothing to fear.  If God be for me, who can be against me, was David's mantra.  He had seen what those men of war had not seen.  He had been one on one, with God on his side, and he had prevailed.  He knew that as long as God was fighting the battle the victory was sure.

Sometimes we have to follow Jesus alone.  Though none go with me, I still will follow.  What we have seen God do, in the past, will give us the courage for the battle.  The enemies that we have faced with God before prepare us for the battles that we will face in the future.  When we have walked with God in the valley, we will be able to stand with God on the battle field.  He reminds us again and again "Don't be afraid, I'm going before you.  The battle is mine."  He whispers "Be still, and know that I am GOD: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth."  Psalms 46:10

You know the rest of the story... David went on to defeat Goliath in the Name of the Lord.  David's victory ignited the courage, in the men of Israel, to pursue the Philistine army and defeat them.  Sometimes it's one person's courage to follow God alone that leads others to follow God.  Will you be the one?  Will you believe God and go when none go with you?

I'm reminded of two songs this morning... The old hymn "I have decided to follow Jesus..."

I have decided to follow Jesus,
no turning back, no turning back,
though none go with me,
I still will follow,
though none go with me,
I still will follow,
I have decided to follow Jesus,
no turning back, no turning back.

and "You make me brave"

You make me brave
You make me brave 
You call me out beyond the shore into the waves
You make me brave
You make me brave
No fear can hinder now the love that made a way

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