06/24/18 – Connected to the Power Source


June 24, 2018
5th Sunday after Pentecost
1 Samuel 17:32-49; Psalm 9; 2 Corinthians 6:1-13; Mark 4:35-41
Rev. Denise Clark-Jones


In a time when our society was more biblically literate than today, most children knew the story of David and Goliath. It is a classic tale of the underdog defying the world’s expectations to defeat the reigning champion.  For children, the story is especially attractive because the child defeats the adult. With the crisis of migrant children separated from their parents and, now, the puzzle of how to reunite them, we are being reminded of how vulnerable children are. We like to identify with the good guys of our Bible stories; but, for these children, we are Goliath.

If you were in church last week, or read the sermon online, you will have read that David, a shepherd boy, was chosen by God and anointed by Samuel to replace Saul as king of Israel. Because Saul did not rule as God willed, Saul’s son was not to inherit Israel’s throne.  God passed over Saul’s heir to choose Jesse’s youngest son, David, to start a new line of succession for Israel’s throne. David was now God’s chosen. Saul did not know he had been voted out of office. God had warned the people, who begged for a king, that they would be sorry. He was not going to rush in to rescue them. The Israelites were going to have to put up with Saul a few more years before a change in leadership.

It was their fear of the Philistines, Israel’s archenemy that drove the people to demand a king over God’s objections and dire warnings. They were afraid of “those other people” across the border and they wanted a king to lead an army against them.

Our psalm for today fits like hand and glove with the Saul-David saga. In Jewish worship, the psalm is the congregation’s response to the reading from the Torah. In our New Revised Standard Lectionary Psalm 9 verses, 9-20 have been chosen to be our response to the reading from First Samuel. Listen to verses 15-20:

15The nations have sunk in the pit that they made; in the net that they hid has their own foot been caught.

16The Lord has made himself known, he has executed judgment; the wicked are snared in the work of their own hands.

17The wicked shall depart to Sheol, all the nations that forget God.

18For the needy shall not always be forgotten, nor the hope of the poor perish forever.

19Rise up, O Lord! Do not let mortals prevail; let the nations be judged before you.

20Put them in fear, O Lord; let the nations know that they are only human.

I would add, and sometimes we even forget that others are human too – nothing less than human.

Saul lost his kingdom because he did not trust God’s promises.  He became so enthralled and overwhelmed by a worldly power that he lost his connection to the source of his power. Saul was fearful. He had a lot to lose — a kingdom. Saul did he did not know it was no longer his to lose; but, more important, he forgot it was always God’s kingdom.

We look at the evils and injustices of the world and say, “what can I do” which ultimately means “what will I lose if I do what God wants me to do, what Jesus teaches me to do, what the Holy Spirit pulls at me to do.  David declined King Saul’s offer of heavy armor and trusted in his God-given skills to defeat Goliath.  When Saul’s soldiers were asked to volunteer to fight for God, not one stepped forward, only David.  But, that one volunteer was enough to fulfill God’s purposes for that particular day.

David’s victory was not a sudden miracle.  It was a miracle that was years in the making. All that David did before his famous battle against Goliath prepared him for that dramatic showdown.  David had fended off wild beasts that threatened his father’s sheep.  He developed strength and skills as a shepherd, his vocation that prepared him to fight the giant Goliath.  And that is what belonging to a faith community does for us. We support and encourage each other to face the Goliaths that stand before us – Goliaths in our careers, our relationships, Goliaths in our loneliness, our mourning, aging, illnesses, and anxieties.

Paul described the hardships and fears that threatened the Corinthian congregation as  “obstacles” that were “in the way,” Goliath was David’s obstacle as the Philistines were Israel’s. Goliath was the champion who possessed the resources that the world deemed most powerful. He was the biggest bully the Philistines had to offer. Yet, with God’s power, a young boy with no armor and no state of the art weaponry defeated him. David had something neither Saul nor Goliath had to enable him. David had the Spirit of the Lord.

Like Saul, we all fear a challenge will come along that will defeat us –the worldly Goliaths that stand boldly in our paths and refuse to be moved unless we act.  It is whether we choose to fight or how we choose to fight that determines whether we overcome or surrender to our Goliaths.  If we accept that there is no greater power than God.  If we accept that our very existence means God has chosen us like God chose David, then there is no Goliath that can defeat us. If we accept that Jesus is with us as he was with his disciples in that storm-tossed boat, then we are never alone or powerless.

These two stories each show two different reactions to a fearful situation. Saul and Jesus’ disciples in the boat were overwhelmed by their fear. David and Jesus trusted God and remained calm. And that’s the key, isn’t it?  How we react, how we respond to the world’s Goliaths that challenge us in the arena of life.  How we travel amidst life’s storms.  Do we ride the waves as though we are fighting for our lives or do we ride with the trust that God is with us and we will reach the shore?  Do we protect ourselves with the armor the world offers? Do we step back when God asks for volunteers –let someone else do it — or do we take on these challenges with what we have been given by God. We can be bound by our fears, as were Saul and the disciples, or we can allow ourselves to be empowered by God.  That power comes through both love and commission, through both acceptance and expectation.

David became the greatest, most revered, King of Israel of the Old Testament – the chronicle of God’s covenant with the people of Israel.  Jesus, the Son of God, a descendant of David, opened God’s covenant to all humanity.  Both challenged the powerful.  Both were a threat to the political leaders of their day – the Israelite king and the Roman emperor.  In the face of a fearful challenge, both, as the Kipling poem says, “kept their heads when all about them were losing theirs.” They remained fully connected to the source of their power.

So, stay connected to the power of God. The church, our worship, and our mission serves to keep us connected to God and to one another. That is truly powerful!

All power, honor, and glory to our Triune God.



© Rev. Denise Clark-Jones, 2018, All Rights Reserved
Westminster Presbyterian Church – Peoria, Illinois