Fight Evil Like David

 

A Sermon by the Rev. James P. Cooper

Toronto, September 9, 2012

We covered some of the basic story of David and Goliath in the children’s talk. Now, let’s go back over the story in more detail, but this time looking for those things in the story that will be helpful to our spiritual life.

A few key representatives will help us get started. The Philistines as a nation represent “faith alone” in its various forms. Although it may include that doctrinal position that was formalized at the time of the Reformation, it refers to a more general situation that occurs when a person knows what is true – from his parents, teachers, or the community he grew up in, but he chooses to ignore those cultural or religious norms and instead do whatever pleases him.

Goliath represents the kinds of evils we can let ourselves get into when we ignore the truth. It starts out with just failing to do what is good and useful, but soon leads into actual evils of life. When evils are done from intent a few times they can be almost impossible to remove – like the giant warrior Goliath.

David represents the Lord’s power to heal and protect us by means of Divine Truth.

The story begins with armies of the children of Israel and the Philistine camped on either side of a valley.

(1 Sam 17) {4} And a champion went out from the camp of the Philistines, named Goliath, from Gath, whose height was six cubits and a span. {5} He had a bronze helmet on his head, and he was armed with a coat of mail, and the weight of the coat was five thousand shekels of bronze. {6} And he had bronze armour on his legs and a bronze javelin between his shoulders. {7} Now the staff of his spear was like a weaver’s beam, and his iron spearhead weighed six hundred shekels; and a shield-bearer went before him.

This description sets the scene. Goliath is a picture of some evil that we have discovered within ourselves, that needs to be removed. The problem is that we love this evil – a lot – and it’s going to take a lot of work and be painful to remove it. So we armour it with all kinds of excuses. Yes, we make the problem a giant in our own minds, we cover it with armour, and give it weapons in order to have a good excuse to avoid fighting it and removing it.

{8} Then he stood and cried out to the armies of Israel, and said to them, “Why have you come out to line up for battle? Am I not a Philistine, and you the servants of Saul? Choose a man for yourselves, and let him come down to me. {9} “If he is able to fight with me and kill me, then we will be your servants. But if I prevail against him and kill him, then you shall be our servants and serve us.” {10} And the Philistine said, “I defy the armies of Israel this day; give me a man, that we may fight together.”

Here’s an interesting question: Who gave Goliath the right to set the conditions of the battle?

Just because Goliath demanded a one-on-one winner-take-all battle doesn’t mean that Saul and the army of Israel had to agree to it.

Sure, we can talk about all kinds of historic and cultural norms that influenced Saul’s behaviour on the historic battlefield, but what about the Goliath that represents some kind of temptation in your life. Why fight spiritual temptation in the place and at the time that it demands.

RUN AWAY FROM IT! GANG UP ON IT! LURE IT INTO A TRAP! Who says you have to play fair with evil spirits? If you have discovered that you become angry and destructive while watching a hockey game on TV, turn the TV off and go for a walk instead. Don’t keep watching in the hopes that this time you’ll be able to keep it under control. Whatever it is, remove yourself from the situation that triggers it.

If Saul had been a little bit more clever, he would have hidden 100 archers in the rocks and the second time Goliath came out to challenge them, filled him with arrows. End of problem. Evils are always easier to take care of when you deal with them before they become habits. But then we wouldn’t have this historic lesson that reflects what actually happens in our own spiritual lives when we let evils loves and false ideas take control in our lives.

The hells are really good at identifying the times when we are at our weakest. We need to turn the tables and take the fight to them when we are ready, when we are strong, when we feel the Lord’s presence with us.

That part of our mind that is represented by Saul and the children of Israel cannot fight Goliath. We need to awaken David, that strong, confident, youthful spirit within us.

{11} When Saul and all Israel heard these words of the Philistine, they were dismayed and greatly afraid. {12} Now David was the son of that Ephrathite of Bethlehem Judah, whose name was Jesse, and who had eight sons. … {16} And the Philistine drew near and presented himself forty days, morning and evening.

Another key representative is the number 40. It rained 40 days and nights on Noah; the Lord went into the wilderness to fast for 40 days; I’m sure we can all think of others. It always means that the subject of the story is a person’s personal battle against the evils and falsities that they find in their lives.

[David is asked by his father to take food and supplies to his older brothers, who are in Saul’s army. Being a curious lad he did not go straight to his brothers but went through the camp checking things out. He was at the front just as Goliath came out and shouted his challenge to the soldiers and his insults to their God.]

{26} Then David spoke to the men who stood by him, saying, “…Who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?” ….

As said before, in general, the Philistines represent people who have truth, but do not do what they know to be good. It’s also called “faith alone.”

Goliath, who is here called “uncircumcised,” represents what happens when people who have the truth ignore it to the point that they begin to do things that they know to be evil and filthy. These filthy loves that develop out of faith alone make for a powerful, difficult to remove, spiritual state. It’s not something you just fall into by accident. This has been developed and thought about for some time.

{31} Now when the words which David spoke were heard, they reported them to Saul; and he sent for him. {32} Then David said to Saul, “Let no man’s heart fail because of him; your servant will go and fight with this Philistine.”

It’s pretty clear that the children of Israel have not had a king long enough that they have developed any kind of customs about speaking to the king respectfully! David, the shepherd boy from the hills, speaks to King Saul as an equal. This is because both David and Saul represent aspects of our own minds. They are equal because they are different parts of one mind. When we are in doubt, when we are trying to figure out the best course of action, we sometimes say that we are of “two minds.” Here, David is a picture of the confident, aggressive, problem solving part of our mind, while Saul is the part that is cautious, thinking about all the things that could go wrong.

{33} And Saul said to David, “You are not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him; for you are a youth, and he a man of war from his youth.” {34} But David said to Saul, “Your servant used to keep his father’s sheep, and when a lion or a bear came and took a lamb out of the flock, {35} I went out after it and struck it, and delivered the lamb from its mouth; and when it arose against me, I caught it by its beard, and struck and killed it. {36} “Your servant has killed both lion and bear; and this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, seeing he has defied the armies of the living God.” {37} Moreover David said, “The LORD, who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, He will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.” And Saul said to David, “Go, and the LORD be with you!”

the power was given to David to smite the bear and the lion, to represent and signify the Lord’s power to defend by His Divine truth His own in the church from the falsities of evil that are from hell (AE 782:2 emphasis added).

{38} So Saul clothed David with his armour, and he put a bronze helmet on his head; he also clothed him with a coat of mail. {39} David fastened his sword to his armour and tried to walk, for he had not tested them. And David said to Saul, “I cannot walk with these, for I have not tested them.” So David took them off.

Saul, the cautious side, wants to make things as safe as possible, but the David side sees that what is needed is to keep things simple and direct. Go with his true strength, the power of the Lord’s own Divine Truth.

{40} Then he took his staff in his hand; and he chose for himself five smooth stones from the brook, and put them in a shepherd’s bag, in a pouch which he had, and his sling was in his hand. And he drew near to the Philistine.

Appearance vs. Reality. We think we can arm ourselves, protect ourselves against these assaults on our spiritual life, but our best efforts to do this only weigh us down.

On the other hand, 5 smooth stones from a brook will serve the Lord’s purposes quite nicely – truth from the Lord through the Word that has been worn down and made smooth through constantly being brought to mind in one’s life.

{41} So the Philistine came, and began drawing near to David…. {42} And when the Philistine looked about and saw David, he disdained him; for he was only a youth, ruddy and good-looking. {43} So the Philistine said to David, “Am I a dog, that you come to me with sticks?” And the Philistine cursed David by his gods.

Here’s another insight into the character of evil. When it gets to this point, it is not enough to be selfish, or worldly, or hurt other people in some way – it begins to involve a hatred for God Himself. Thus we read that Goliath, curses God. There is an element here that if the Philistine wins the single combat, it will be seen as a defeat of Jehovah Himself. Yes, the love of self can get to the point where it shows itself as hatred of the Lord and the desire to pull Him down and rule in His place!

David is a better warrior than Saul. He is both courageous and smart. David has set a trap as was mentioned earlier. A boy with a sling approaches Goliath instead of an armed warrior. He is tricked into letting his guard down, and is destroyed by simple, fundamental truths from the Word.

{44} And the Philistine said to David, “Come to me, and I will give your flesh to the birds of the air and the beasts of the field!” {45} Then David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with a sword, with a spear, and with a javelin. But I come to you in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. {46} “This day the LORD will deliver you into my hand,”

When praying for the Lord’s help in temptation, these are powerful words to remember and use. “I come to you in the name of the LORD of hosts, and this day He will deliver you into my hand.”

and I will strike you and take your head from you. And this day I will give the carcasses of the camp of the Philistines to the birds of the air and the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel. {47} “Then all this assembly shall know that the LORD does not save with sword and spear; for the battle is the Lord’s, and He will give you into our hands.”

This theme is repeated throughout the OT. The 10 plagues, the drowning of the Egyptian army, Jericho, Ai, etc., etc. We like to think that we are doing the fighting – but it is ALWAYS the Lord who fights, at our invitation.

Remember how the spies were afraid to go into Canaan because the people of the land were strong, but Joshua and Caleb pointed out that it didn’t matter because it was the Lord who would be doing the fighting, and nothing can stand before Him.

{48} So it was, when the Philistine arose and came and drew near to meet David, that David hastened and ran toward the army to meet the Philistine.

Once the decision is made and the time for action is at hand, there is no longer any need for hesitation. David runs to meet Goliath.

{49} Then David put his hand in his bag and took out a stone; and he slung it and struck the Philistine in his forehead, so that the stone sank into his forehead, and he fell on his face to the earth. {50} So David prevailed over the Philistine with a sling and a stone, and struck the Philistine and killed him. But there was no sword in the hand of David. {51} Therefore David ran and stood over the Philistine, took his sword and drew it out of its sheath and killed him, and cut off his head with it.

The smooth stone kills Goliath. The battle truly is won by the Lord. But, there still needs to be some kind of external sign, something as-if-from-self that gives us an outward sign that the battle is won. In Egypt it was the waters closing over the Egyptian army; in Jericho it was the walls falling down at the sound of the trumpets. Here David is permitted the dramatic, though unnecessary, action of cutting Goliath’s head off with his own sword.

The watching soldiers would not have been able to see the small wound caused by the stone. The beheading made everything quite clear to all.

And when the Philistines saw that their champion was dead, they fled.

The Philistines fleeing the field of battle at the sight of their champion falling reveals something about our enemy, the evils spirits who are causing the temptation. The are not invincible. When we use the tools and procedures outlined for us in the stories of the Word, the evil spirits find themselves faced with the power of Divine Truth itself. This is the power that created the universe, that spoke the word, and it was so. And they flee from it in terror.

  • We need to start with the recognition that there is such a thing as evil, and that we need to remove it from our lives through our own efforts.

  • We need to examine our own motives and actions in the light of the Word to discover the evils that are holding us back.

  • Having discovered and evil, we pray to the Lord for forgiveness, and then stop doing it. This is the hard part: making the decision to give something up that has been a part of your life and then sticking to it. This is the battle, this is the test. And this is where we need to remember and hold firm to what we have learned from the story of David fighting Goliath – that if we are making this effort in the name of the Lord, because it is what He asks of us – He will fight for us and drive away even the most ferocious attack from the hells. All we need to do is to ask for His help with sincerity of heart.

  • In the process of reforming our lives, little by little we are reborn into an angel of heaven. Amen.

First Lesson: MAT 22:34-46

(Mat 22:34-46) But when the Pharisees heard that He had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. {35} Then one of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, and saying, {36} “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?” {37} Jesus said to him, “ ‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ {38} “This is the first and great commandment. {39} “And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself.’ {40} “On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.” {41} While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them, {42} saying, “What do you think about the Christ? Whose Son is He?” They said to Him, “The Son of David.” {43} He said to them, “How then does David in the Spirit call Him ‘Lord,’ saying: {44} ‘The LORD said to my Lord, “Sit at My right hand, Till I make Your enemies Your footstool”’? {45} “If David then calls Him ‘Lord,’ how is He his Son?” {46} And no one was able to answer Him a word, nor from that day on did anyone dare question Him anymore.

Second Lesson: AE 782:2

Power was given to David to smite the lion and the bear that took away the sheep from the flock, because “David” represented the Lord in reference to Divine truth in which those who are of His church are instructed; and a “lion” signifies the power of spiritual Divine truth, and in the contrary sense, as here, the power of infernal falsity against Divine truth; while a “bear” signifies the power of natural Divine truth, and in the contrary sense the power of falsity against that truth. But “a sheep from the flock” signifies those who are of the Lord’s church. And as this was represented, the power was given to David to smite the bear and the lion, to represent and signify the Lord’s power to defend by His Divine truth His own in the church from the falsities of evil that are from hell. David’s taking hold of the beard of the bear involves an arcanum that may be disclosed, indeed, but can scarcely be comprehended. The “beard” signifies the Divine truth in ultimates, in which its essential power rests. This truth also the evil who are in falsities carry indeed in the mouth but they misuse it to destroy; but when it is taken away they no longer have any power. This is why he killed the bear and smote the lion. But this will be further explained elsewhere. But “Goliath,” who was a Philistine and was therefore called “uncircumcised,” signifies such as are in truths without good; and truths without good are truths falsified, which in themselves are falsities. “The uncircumcised” signifies those who are in filthy corporeal loves; for the foreskin corresponds to those loves. From this it is clear what the victory of David over Goliath represented.

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