Meditations on ‘Focusing Faith’ : 27. Such all round faith
Heb 11:32,33 And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel and the prophets, who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised;
My original intention was to simply make a courtesy mention of the men in these verses but when I paused and thought about them I realised that each one was a mine containing immense wealth that needed digging out. When it comes to David it is more like open-cast mining because his faith is everywhere to be beheld, so near the surface all the time. Here he is hidden among this list of Old Testament saints, just another name, and yet he is a giant of faith, a man who in many ways stands head and shoulders above most others in both Old and New Testaments.
Faith, we have observed many times, comes from hearing God. With some people we’ve looked at there were specific limited times it seems when they heard and responded. With David, this definition seems almost an insult. David didn’t just once or twice hear God, he clearly had a living, vibrant relationship with the Lord. If we start with the historical accounts, we need to wait until David’s words are recorded for us, and the first time he comes to light really, is in the incident involving Goliath. Listen to the words of this young man when he comes to the battle front bringing supplies from home for his brothers who are there in Saul’s army and he finds everything at a standstill before the taunts of this giant.
Listen to some of his opening words. Three times he reveals his knowledge of the Lord. Let’s first start with his question when he arrives: “Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living God?” (1 Sam 17:26b) Uncircumcised Philistine? An enemy who has no relationship with the Lord. The living God? This is the language of reality. Now, second, listen to his testimony to Saul: “Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, because he has defied the armies of the living God. The LORD who delivered me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.” (1 Sam 17:36,37) Again exactly the same language, the language of one with a relationship with the Lord, and then ‘The Lord who delivered me’ again speaks of real relationship, experience of the Lord.
But then, third, see how he addresses this Philistine giant: “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 hand you over to me, and I’ll strike you down and cut off your head. Today I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds of the air and the beasts of the earth, 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.” (1 Sam 17:45-47) Look at the living relationship language of those verses that I have put in bold. No question about the faith level of this young man. He KNOWS God!
Let’s move from his testimony to his actions, a few little examples of his reliance upon the Lord: “When David was told, “Look, the Philistines are fighting against Keilah and are looting the threshing floors,” he inquired of the LORD, saying, “Shall I go and attack these Philistines?” The LORD answered him, “Go, attack the Philistines and save Keilah.” (1 Sam 23:1,2) and then, “When David learned that Saul was plotting against him, he said to Abiathar the priest, “Bring the ephod.” David said, “O LORD, God of Israel, your servant has heard definitely that Saul plans to come to Keilah and destroy the town on account of me. Will the citizens of Keilah surrender me to him? Will Saul come down, as your servant has heard? O LORD, God of Israel, tell your servant.” And the LORD said, “He will.” Again David asked, “Will the citizens of Keilah surrender me and my men to Saul?” And the LORD said, “They will.” (1 Sam 23:9-12) and later, “Now the Philistines had come and spread out in the Valley of Rephaim; so David inquired of the LORD, “Shall I go and attack the Philistines? Will you hand them over to me?” The LORD answered him, “Go, for I will surely hand the Philistines over to you.” (2 Sam 5:18,19) So easy, so natural and yet beyond so many of us! This is what relationship is all about – faith, seeking God, hearing God, obeying God. Awesome and yet no natural and what God expects.
Finally, just a glimpse or two at the psalms written by David that speak of his faith relationship with the Lord: “The Lord is MY shepherd.” (Psa 23:1) or “In the LORD I take refuge.” (Psa 11;1) or “I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation. I will sing to the LORD, for he has been good to me.” (Psa 13:5,6) or “I said to the LORD, “You are my Lord; apart from you I have no good thing.” (Psa 16:2) We could go on and on and on. The psalms are a constant testimony to the relationship David had with the Lord, a relationship of faith, of talking to the Lord, of hearing the Lord, of obeying the Lord.
David, I suggest, is possibly the greatest challenge to our lives of faith. There is a simplicity about it, an obviousness about it, a sense of all-round faith, if I may call it that, faith that is obvious in every area of his life. Was he perfect? By no means. We are probably all familiar with his failure in respect of Bathsheba and Uriah. Later on in the history of Israel we find David is used as a measuring stick for subsequent kings and so we find, for example, in respect of Abijah, “He committed all the sins his father had done before him; his heart was not fully devoted to the LORD his God, as the heart of David his forefather had been. Nevertheless, for David’s sake the LORD his God gave him a lamp in Jerusalem by raising up a son to succeed him and by making Jerusalem strong. For David had done what was right in the eyes of the LORD and had not failed to keep any of the LORD’s commands all the days of his life–except in the case of Uriah the Hittite.” (1 Kings 15:3-5)
What a testimony of this man of faith. On only one occasion did he get is wrong, oh yes, very wrong. But a man of faith he still was. There is more we could say, but let’s leave the challenge there. Could that be our testimony: fully devoted to the Lord… did what was right in the eyes of the Lord… and if you are worried about how a sinful, repentant person prays, read Psa 51. Faith people will also be repentant people at some time or other in life. Faith does not preclude failure, but faith seeks out the forgiving God who has given His Son to make a way back for us.