Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Vision (10.27.11): Where is Christ in 1 Samuel?

Image:  Reading John 14-15 at CRBC midweek Bible Study and Prayer meeting (10/26/11).

I began last Lord’s Day morning’s sermon on 1 Samuel 17 (the David and Goliath narrative) by noting that this kind of passage is perhaps the most difficult to preach. I would much rather preach a text that is less familiar to most people than one that is overly familiar. The problem with such passages is that we have a hard time listening to them, because we think we understand them or that we don’t have anything new or fresh to learn from them. My hope in preaching such a passage is to make the familiar seem strange and the strange familiar.

I also suggested that one of the dangers of preaching a passage like 1 Samuel 17 is our tendency to fall back on a “moralizing” interpretation. As Dale Ralph Davis notes:

If we don’t listen to this text, then we’ll end up bringing in all the junk about being courageous in the face of “your Goliaths,” whether the bully down the street (for primary Sunday School kids) or—everyone’s preoccupation—one’s poor self-image. We must protect ourselves from such deafness to the text (1 Samuel: Looking on the Heart, p. 179).

I further suggested that one of our ongoing tasks in listening to 1 Samuel (as well as the rest of the Old Testament) is looking for Christ and the gospel. Christ does not appear in the Scriptures only at the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem and forward. The Son was there with the Father and the Holy Spirit as the one true God from the very beginning. He is in both testaments.

Here are my notes from the conclusion of the message on 1 Samuel 17:

There is much to meditate upon in this great chapter. In the end, I hope you’ll agree that the center of this passage is not some moralizing point about how you can overcome your “Goliaths.” It is about God’s own zeal for his glory and how he sees fit to raise up men like David who want God’s glory more than their own, men who rest in their weakness rather than in their strength.

And where is Christ? I see him in the question of David in 1 Samuel 17:26: “What shall be done to the man that … taketh away the reproach from Israel?” Christ is the one who took away the reproach of spiritual Israel not by killing but by being killed on the cross. David trusted the Father to win a victory over Goliath; Christ trusted the Father to lose his life and then to take it up again.

Did you see any of those horrific images of Libya’s dictator Kaddafi this week? Many rejoiced to see this man getting what they believe he deserved. But when we look at Christ, we see an innocent man, a righteous man, suffering and dying for what he did not deserve. He took on our sin to take away our reproach.

Christ showed God’s power most perfectly in his weakness. The Goliath of sin and death, all the weight of sin and death fell defeated, never to rise again, as Christ arose victorious.

I look forward to looking for Christ with you as we continue listening to 1 Samuel in the days ahead.

Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle

Note: We will begin a new series in afternoon worship this Sunday (10/30/11) through the questions, answers, and scriptural proofs in Spurgeon’s Baptist Catechism.

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