The danger in a passage like 1Samuel 17 is that it becomes “skim material”. Bible accounts so familiar that we just breeze through them because we think we know them so well. Stories told and retold so many times and in so many ways that we remember the flannel graph or the object lesson rather than focus on the Word of God. We read the passage and before we’re done we’re re-applying the applications that we’ve heard so many times before. But when we do that with a portion of Scripture, such as the story of David and Goliath, we run the risk of not allowing the living and active word of God to engage our souls. It’s the reason I do my morning readings with colored pencils at the ready to mark what I see before noodling on what it means and what difference it should make.
This morning my blue pencil crayon was at work as I read through 1Samuel 17. Amidst what is written concerning David and Goliath, I’m also noticing what’s revealed concerning my God. And the phrase “the living God” catches my eye.
The phrase is found twice as David shows disdain toward Goliath, the uncircumcised Philistine, because of the giant’s defiance of “the armies of the living God” (17:26, 36). And it’s not that David is wanting to protect the reputation of Israel’s soldiers. No, it’s a much broader, more earth transcending perspective David operates under. His God is THE God, and his God is the LIVING God. It is not Israel Goliath mocks, it is “the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied” (17:45).
Oh, how right theology and internalized theology affects our actions. How it creates a perspective, a filter, through which life is understood and circumstances are encountered.
David’s God is the living God. He is not some invention of the religious mind. He is not merely a concept. He is not some world view. Our God is the living God.
My reading in Psalm 102 this morning further reveals to me something of the living God. He looks down from “His holy height” (Ps. 102:19). From heaven the LORD shows regard and pays attention to what’s happening on the earth. God is not some distant God. He is not unaware. He is not dormant. Rather, God is the living God . . . the God who is engaged in the affairs of man . . . the God who is engaged in the affairs of this man in this chair this morning.
When I get that, then I too can boldly face the enemy’s opposition. I can look to the heavens in the time of distress. I can remember that the battle is His. I can cry to Him knowing that He has promised that He will never leave me nor forsake me.
And so David goes forward. With Saul’s armor lying on the ground . . . with a sling in his hand . . . with five smooth stones in his pouch . . . and with a ton of confidence–not in himself, but in the living God. The Psalmist too, though facing his own giants and distress, goes forward. Knowing that the LORD will build up Zion . . . sure that He will appear in His glory . . . believing that He will respond to the prayer of the destitute . . . confident that He will not reject the psalmist’s plea (Ps. 102:16-17).
And what will be the result of the psalmist’s victory? What is the legacy of David’s triumph?
Let this be recorded for a generation to come,
so that a people yet to be created may praise the LORD
(Psalm 102:18 ESV)
I’m that generation to come. Thousands of years removed from the shepherd boy, David, on the battlefield with the giant. Centuries and centuries after the heart wrenching cry of the psalmist to His God. I’m that people, yet to be created, now reading what was written so long ago–inspired and preserved by God–that I might praise the LORD.
That I might grasp afresh that my God is the living God. That I might be reminded that the Creator of heaven and earth is the re-Creator of this man in this chair–by grace alone–through the blood of Christ and the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit. That I might know with assurance that He is living and He is high and He is holy and He alone is worthy of all glory.
Our God is an awesome God!