But For Us Fights The Valiant One
There is a need for justice. When someone cuts you off in traffic; When someone bullies you on the playground; and most of all, when the name of our Lord God is dragged into the mud—for all of these times that hurts our souls and cause us pain, there needs to be justice. This morning we hear about justice. And we hear about what Godly people do about justice. In 1 Samuel 17, we read, “4 A champion named Goliath, who was from Gath, came out of the Philistine camp. His height was six cubits and a span. 5 He had a bronze helmet on his head and wore a coat of scale armor of bronze weighing five thousand shekels; 6 on his legs he wore bronze greaves, and a bronze javelin was slung on his back. 7 His spear shaft was like a weaver’s rod, and its iron point weighed six hundred shekels. His shield bearer went ahead of him. 8 Goliath stood and shouted to the ranks of Israel, “Why do you come out and line up for battle? Am I not a Philistine, and are you not the servants of Saul? Choose a man and have him come down to me. 9 If he is able to fight and kill me, we will become your subjects; but if I overcome him and kill him, you will become our subjects and serve us.” 10 Then the Philistine said, “This day I defy the armies of Israel! Give me a man and let us fight each other.” 11 On hearing the Philistine’s words, Saul and all the Israelites were dismayed and terrified.” (1 Samuel 17:4–11 NIV11-GKE)
The context in these words is war. In ancient battle they would gather all their troops against each other. Often there would be a valley in the middle. And on the high ground on one side and on the high ground on the other the troops would assemble. And there they would stay since each side did not want to fight up hill. What you need in these circumstances is someone to pick a fight. In these words you meet that man. His name is Goliath. The man is almost 10 feet tall. He is a champion among champions. He was the one who, day after day, started to pick a fight. And when he stood up in the middle of the valley, the Israelites on the other side would tremble. What they needed was a valiant one. They needed a valiant soldier to stand up to this 10 foot tall enemy. And, as we follow these words, we soon meet one. His name is David. He goes out to visit his brothers at the battle line. And one by one, he invites the soldiers to go out against the Philistine and fight him. And one by one, they decline. Finally David is brought before king Saul. And so, we read the words which follow: “32 David said to Saul, “Let no one lose heart on account of this Philistine; your servant will go and fight him.” 33 Saul replied, “You are not able to go out against this Philistine and fight him; you are only a young man, and he has been a warrior from his youth.” 34 But David said to Saul, “Your servant has been keeping his father’s sheep. When a lion or a bear came and carried off a sheep from the flock, 35 I went after it, struck it and rescued the sheep from its mouth. When it turned on me, I seized it by its hair, struck it and killed it. 36 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. 37 The Lord who rescued me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will rescue me from the hand of this Philistine.” Saul said to David, “Go, and the Lord be with you.” 38 Then Saul dressed David in his own tunic. He put a coat of armor on him and a bronze helmet on his head. 39 David fastened on his sword over the tunic and tried walking around, because he was not used to them. “I cannot go in these,” he said to Saul, “because I am not used to them.” So he took them off. 40 Then he took his staff in his hand, chose five smooth stones from the stream, put them in the pouch of his shepherd’s bag and, with his sling in his hand, approached the Philistine. 45 David said to the Philistine, “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. 46 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. 47 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.” 48 As the Philistine moved closer to attack him, David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet him. 49 Reaching into his bag and taking out a stone, he slung it and struck the Philistine on the forehead. The stone sank into his forehead, and he fell facedown on the ground.” (1 Samuel 17:32–40, 45–49 NIV11-GKE)
Finally then, justice is served. Everyone that day was looking for a warrior, a champion, who would be valiant for them. And finally on that day they found one. David became for them what everyone deep down wanted to be, but could not. These words make us want to pray to be David. They make us want to stand up to all the Goliaths in our own lives—the times people cut us off, bully us, and even insult our Lord God.
What if, my friends, I told you that there is more going on in these words? I mention this because, for years I would go to Sunday School as a child and the conclusion I reached was this: David trusted in the Lord, therefore you, little Stevie, go out and trust the Lord too. But my dear friends, David isn’t the valiant one in these words. The Lord was the Valiant One. And if we go back and read these words a little closer we see this. David talks to Saul and he says the Lord delivered him from the jaws and paws of bears and lions. And when he stands up against the Philistine what he says sounds like no movie that I’ve ever watched. Instead of talking about how amazing he was, he talks about the Lord—how he goes against this Philistine in the name of the Lord. And before it began, it was over.
As we look back at these words, it’s hard not to see our own sin and weakness. For there are so many areas in our lives where Jesus is the one who has to stand for us, in our place. And instead of trusting him, we trust in ourselves. We cannot convert ourselves to faith. We cannot take away our own sin. We cannot change our thoughts, words, and attitudes. We cannot change anything in our lives—at least for good. All this is in the hands of Jesus. Jesus is the real and true Valiant One.
And in our gospel for this morning we see such and amazing example of this don’t we? Again and again and again, Satan is hurling one lie, one trap, one deception after another at Jesus. But Jesus neither gets too hot nor too cold. Jesus never says too little nor too much. He perfectly quotes God’s word and perfectly applies God’s word.
And all of this is such good news for us. For all the times we thought we had to have the perfect word or response—and failed. For all the times we thought we could get through this world by raw power or pretty persuasion. For all the times we thought we were the ones who needed to be in control; For all the times we tried to be the Valiant one, Jesus is the Valiant one in our place. He is the one who fights for us.
So my dear friends in Christ, when you read these familiar words of David and Goliath, they are not written for perfect people who never mess up. They are written for us; for all the times we have not let Jesus be our Valiant One in our place. When you go home tonight, go home content. Go home content knowing that because Jesus is the Valiant One, when God looks at you he does not see the times you should have stood up and didn’t. He does not see the times you pushed your Savior out of the way to take control, only to mess it up. God sees his sinless Son in your place. For for us fights the Valiant One. Amen.