Peter Misselbrook's Blog
Apr 30 2019 - 1 Samuel 17:38-18:16 – David the conquering hero

The story of how David defeated Goliath is well known. David refused the weapons and armour offered him by Saul because they were unfamiliar to him and served only to weigh him down. He went out to meet Goliath armed only with his staff and a few pebbles picked up from a stream bed.

Goliath took one look at David and roared, "Am I a dog, that you come at me with sticks?" (1 Samuel 18:43). But David shouted back, "You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the LORD Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the LORD will deliver you into my hands, and I’ll strike you down and cut off your head. This very day I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds and the wild animals, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel. All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the LORD saves; for the battle is the LORD’s, and he will give all of you into our hands" (18:45-47).

As the giant moved towards him, David ran forward and hurled a stone at Goliath using his sling. The giant was knocked unconscious and fell to the ground whereupon David quickly killed him with the Philistine's sword. He then removed his head as a trophy to be taken back to the king. The Philistine army fled pursued by the Israelite army. Many of the Philistines were slaughtered that day. Israel's soldiers seemed to regain their courage once Goliath was dead.

David was co-opted into Saul's court and into his army. Jonathan, Saul's son, was so deeply moved by David's act of bravery that he entered into a covenant with David and gave him his robe, tunic, sword and belt. It is as if he is already recognising that David has a better right than him to be treated as heir to the king.

So David continued to fight Saul's battles and soon gained a great reputation for himself in Israel. But as the people celebrated how David had even more victories in battle than the king, Saul began to fear David and then even to hate him. He sensed that David will begin to take over his kingdom and so – despite David's faithful service – he tried to kill him by pinning him to the palace wall with his spear.

As we were seeing yesterday, Jesus Christ the Son of God has entered the battlefield on our behalf and has slain the giant that held us captive – he has destroyed sin and death and has put Satan and his army to flight. But that does not mean that there is nothing more for us to do. We also have a battle to fight and a kingdom to gain. David could not go into battle with Saul's armour and neither can we fight the battle of the kingdom with the weapons of this world: "Though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ" (2 Corinthians 10:3-5). Let's be ready to do battle today, putting on the armour of God that will enable us to take our stand against the devil's schemes – weapons before whom no giant can stand. The battle belongs to the Lord.

God of heaven's armies, help me to see clearly those things that oppose Christ, especially when they are my own thoughts and attitudes. May they come crashing down before the power of your word and your Spirit. May the gospel of peace persuade many to flee from you no longer but to come and find life and hope in our Lord Jesus.

Apr 30 2013 - John 1:1-28 – The Word made flesh

John begins his account of the life of Jesus in a very different manner from all the other Gospel writers. Mark begins his Gospel with the ministry of John the Baptist. Matthew begins with the family tree of Jesus, tracing his ancestors all the way back to Abraham – Jesus is the one in whom God's promises to Abraham and David will at last find their fulfilment. Luke traces Jesus family all the way back to Adam – Jesus is the one who has come to put right all that went wrong when sin entered into God's creation; he is the Saviour of the world. But John takes us back even further, to the time before the world was made; he begins his Gospel with a deliberate echo of the account of creation with which God's Word, the Bible, begins.

Jesus is the Word made flesh; he is God incarnate. He is the power through whom all things were created and the means by which God makes himself known to his creation – the one in whom the entire revelation of God finds its focus and clearest expression. He is the source of all life; he has come into a dying world to give it life. He has become part of the world he created that it might be created anew.

This is the wonder of the gospel. God has not remained far off but has come to us in his grace and mercy in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. He has come as the Word, come to communicate himself and make himself known. He has come to show us the glory of God but he has also come in grace to save. "The law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ" (John 1:17). He is the truth in that he is the one who fulfils all that was written beforehand and who brings to fulfilment all of the symbols of the Old Testament – he is the truth of which they were the shadow. Above all, he reveals God as a God of amazing grace – a God who forgives the sinner at cost to himself. And through the fullness of God's self-revelation in Jesus we receive "grace upon grace" (1:16) – a never-failing stream of grace to meet us in all our need.

How are we going to respond to the God who stoops and speaks and saves – the God whose revelation of himself in all the Scriptures now finds its focus and fulfilment in Jesus? We can turn away from the light and skulk in the darkness of our own ignorance and rebellion, but that will be to our loss. Or we can come to the light, embracing Jesus as our light, our hope, our salvation.

Embracing him in faith gives us the power to become children of God. This is no mere acquisition of a title - 'the right to be called the children of God.' It is the power to become. The person, power and glory of God became a human being in him; he was God incarnate. And in him and through him the presence, power and glory of God finds its home also in us – in a life born of God with power to become a child of God, full of grace and truth. The power to become comes from him who in power became.

Great God, thank you that you have not left us in darkness and ignorance. You have come to us and shown us the light of your glory, truth and grace in the Lord Jesus Christ. You have made yourself known and embraced us in your love in Jesus. Live in us by your Spirit and help us to shine in the darkness and to make you known.

Peter Misselbrook