Sermon Notes, Seventh Sunday after Trinity, 30 July 2017 Anno Domini
St Andrews Anglican Orthodox Church, by Jerry Ogles, Bishop
1 Now the Philistines gathered together their armies to battle, and were gathered together at Shochoh, which belongeth to Judah, and pitched between Shochoh and Azekah, in Ephesdammim. 2 And Saul and the men of Israel were gathered together, and pitched by the valley of Elah, and set the battle in array against the Philistines. 3 And the Philistines stood on a mountain on the one side, and Israel stood on a mountain on the other side: and there was a valley between them. 4 And there went out a champion out of the camp of the Philistines, named Goliath, of Gath, whose height was six cubits and a span. 5 And he had an helmet of brass upon his head, and he was armed with a coat of mail; and the weight of the coat was five thousand shekels of brass. 6 And he had greaves of brass upon his legs, and a target of brass between his shoulders. 7 And the staff of his spear was like a weaver’s beam; and his spear’s head weighed six hundred shekels of iron: and one bearing a shield went before him. 8 And he stood and cried unto the armies of Israel, and said unto them, Why are ye come out to set your battle in array? am not I a Philistine, and ye servants to Saul? choose you a man for you, and let him come down to me. 9 If he be able to fight with me, and to kill me, then will we be your servants: but if I prevail against him, and kill him, then shall ye be our servants, and serve us. 10 And the Philistine said, I defy the armies of Israel this day; give me a man, that we may fight together. 11 When Saul and all Israel heard those words of the Philistine, they were dismayed, and greatly afraid.
1 Samuel 17:1-11
What does the term ‘giant’ mean? Uncommonly large….strong and formidable…terrifying….great in power (such as a nation, person, football team, etc)
Giants may also be great and challenging problems in your life. We may have giant debts we owe, giant exams to pass, giant challenges in getting into the college of our choice, etc.
Giants are always bigger than we are whether a real giant person, or a giant problem.
Extraordinary courage is required to take on a giant. Sometimes that courage is beyond us as well as the means to battle a giant, but faith is not simply the equalizer, but also the advantage.
In the early days of the Creation of the world, there were giants – human beings conceived outside the bounds of normal human capacity.
Let’s examine the following texts:
Genesis 6:4 There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown.
These may have no longer been angels of God, but fallen angels which had rebelled against God, took part with Satan in war against the sovereignty of God, and been cast down by Michael, the Archangel, to the earth – as we read in Rev 12:7
And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, 8 And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven. 9 And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.
Giants of finance, banking, and investment often become so – not through Godly living and obedience to God, but through unnatural zeal and greed.
Such was the giant, Goliath. A strong and huge man of war. One of his arms were heavier than the entire body of the youth, David.
The giant, Goliath, mocked the men of Israel twice each day by presenting himself between the lines and challenging the Israelites to send their best man for battle – winner take all.
. 4 And there went out a champion out of the camp of the Philistines, named Goliath, of Gath, whose height was six cubits and a span. 5 And he had an helmet of brass upon his head, and he was armed with a coat of mail; and the weight of the coat was five thousand shekels of brass. 6 And he had greaves of brass upon his legs, and a target of brass between his shoulders. 7 And the staff of his spear was like a weaver’s beam; and his spear’s head weighed six hundred shekels of iron: and one bearing a shield went before him. 8 And he stood and cried unto the armies of Israel, and said unto them, Why are ye come out to set your battle in array? am not I a Philistine, and ye servants to Saul? choose you a man for you, and let him come down to me. 9 If he be able to fight with me, and to kill me, then will we be your servants: but if I prevail against him, and kill him, then shall ye be our servants, and serve us. 10 And the Philistine said, I defy the armies of Israel this day; give me a man, that we may fight together. 11 When Saul and all Israel heard those words of the Philistine, they were dismayed, and greatly afraid.
Nations and armies also face their giants. The manner in which an individual, or nation, or army, responds to the giants they face makes all the difference in the outcome – victory or defeat.
Having the faith to know that the battle is not our but God’s is the element that will assure victory against any giant.
Let me give you an example of a Imperial giant being overthrown by a far lesser power. The lesser power appealed only to God for salvation as it could not be gotten from their meager armies.
In June, 1812, the combined allied armies of the French Emperor, Napoleon Bounaparte, undertook his famous invasion of the Holy Russian Empire. Crossing the Nieman River which divided Prussia from Russia’s western front, he deployed an army of 600,000 troops with the right flank anchored on the Dnieper River and the left on the Baltic Sea – an 800 mile front.
The Russians had no army to speak of. The Russian heartland lay, like a helpless virgin, before the massed armies of Napoleon.
The Russian Emperor Nicholas and the Russian humble peasantry of Russia had no hope of victory against such and army led by the military genius who had never been defeated in battle. Knowing of no other source of help than from the Throne of Grace, they prayed to God and sang their anthem – Save us O God. The same is in our hymnals as “God the Omnipotent”
This Russian hymn was later included in the score of the great Russian composer, Petr Tchaikovski’s masterpiece – The Overture of 1812 – the consecration hymn written specifically for the opening of St. Catherine’s Cathedral.
Only God could do battle with Napoleon on behalf of the Russian people.
Is there no power for the people of God when the dark angels of the enemy scream and curse over the battle lines?
Tchaikovski interlaces the faint tones of the Russian hymn at the beginning of his piece with that of la Marsellais or French National anthem and concludes, when Napoleon is frozen out at Moscow, with live cannon fire and church bells – reinforcing the fact that the Battle belongs to the Lord –
2 Chron 32:8 – With him is an arm of flesh; but with us is the LORD our God to help us, and to fight our battles.
Now the people of Israel face such an enemy in the person of Goliath.
Further along in the chapter text we read: 32 And David said to Saul, Let no man’s heart fail because of him; thy servant will go and fight with this Philistine. 33 And Saul said to David, Thou art not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him: for thou art but a youth, and he a man of war from his youth.
Now the account of David’s courage in God demonstrated in his actions (as our own courage in God should be demonstrated in our own actions):
David refused the armor and sword offered by King Saul. Our natural, God-given weapons will always be sufficient unto us.
40 And he took his staff in his hand, and chose him five smooth stones out of the brook, and put them in a shepherd’s bag which he had, even in a scrip; and his sling was in his hand: and he drew near to the Philistine. Why five stones? Look at 2 Samuel 21:20 – Goliath had four sons! Would it be reasonable to take precautions in case the sons attempted to avenge their father?)41 And the Philistine came on and drew near unto David; and the man that bare the shield went before him. 42 And when the Philistine looked about, and saw David, he disdained him: for he was but a youth, and ruddy, and of a fair countenance.(The pride of the enemy always disdains what he perceives as weakness in the enemy)43 And the Philistine said unto David, Am I a dog, that thou comest to me with staves? And the Philistine cursed David by his gods. 44 And the Philistine said to David, Come to me, and I will give thy flesh unto the fowls of the air, and to the beasts of the field. (the elevated boasts of an ungodly man) 45 Then said David to the Philistine, Thou comest to me with a sword, and with a spear, and with a shield: but I come to thee in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom thou hast defied. 46 This day will the LORD deliver thee into mine hand; and I will smite thee, and take thine head from thee; and I will give the carcases of the host of the Philistines this day unto the fowls of the air, and to the wild beasts of the earth; that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel. 47 And all this assembly shall know that the LORD saveth not with sword and spear: for the battle is the LORD’S, and he will give you into our hands. This account comports with the 2nd line of Martin Luther’s hymn – A Mighty Fortress us our God.
Did we in our own strength confide,
our striving would be losing,
were not the right man on our side,
the man of God's own choosing.
Dost ask who that may be?
Christ Jesus, it is he;
Lord Sabaoth, his name,
from age to age the same,
and he must win the battle.
Please note how a true Christian hymn reflects Scripture and Truth in every line and reinforces faith unlike the light and whimsical modern gospel song.
48 And it came to pass, when the Philistine arose, and came and drew nigh to meet David, that David hasted, and ran toward the army to meet the Philistine.(this is courage personified! Run to face your giants head-on as David does here) 49 And David put his hand in his bag, and took thence a stone, and slang it, and smote the Philistine in his forehead, that the stone sunk into his forehead; and he fell upon his face to the earth (the trajectory of the stone was guided by the Hand of God)50 So David prevailed over the Philistine with a sling and with a stone, and smote the Philistine, and slew him; but there was no sword in the hand of David.
All the inventions of modern warfare are useless against the Hand of God. If we, as a nation, will turn our hearts from iPods, and TV sex, and inordinate focus on sports and romance, drugs and alcohol, and fix them upon God, He will heal our land as well as our souls and spirits. David had only the armor of God, but it was sufficient.
It is sufficient for you as well!