Mark 4: 35-41, 1 Samuel 17: 32-49
“A Storm Ready Faith”

A Storm Ready Faith

June 23, 2024 – Northwood United – Rev. G. Scott Turnbrook - Mark 4: 35-41, 1 Samuel 17: 32-49.


What is on your list of perfect things for a hot summer day? Freckle-blessed children selling lemonade, a high-flying kite dancing over the beach, sand tickling between your toes, giggling children filling their water guns, and of course stories of a little boy with a slingshot. Yet this is not any little boy, and this is not just any slingshot. This is a story of David with Goliath-like proportions. Well, actually, this is the story of David and Goliath.


And as we consider the spirit of its teaching, we consider a very odd situation, indeed. You recall that this David is Jesse’s kid. The runt of the litter; the youngest son, the shepherd who is normally working in the back forty tending the sheep. Last week, we recalled Elijah’s anointing of this boy shepherd who is to become King. We recalled how very odd this was for the monarchy of Israel and Judah to have this little boy be called by God to rule as king. Yet, he was anointed, and he was on the path to become king of the monarchy.


To set the scene, the area that David and Goliath meet is a territory that had been in dispute between the Israelites and the Philistines. While David was trying to shepherd in a new way of gently living as God’s children, he still had a lot of teaching ahead of him. So, the Israelite army fitted him up with shield and spear as they would send any warrior for battle. Of course, David wasn’t just any warrior – he was a shepherd, not a warrior, he weighed 99 pounds soaking wet! And the battle armour didn’t fit. It was so big and cumbersome on this gentle little shepherd that he couldn’t move a muscle. So, he shed this battle armour, and he chose to take on the protection of God instead. He chose to be a person of faith and lead with his spirit. It is no accident that he carried five smooth stones as his defence. The Torah – the Israelite law is constructed of the first five books of the Bible and David was teaching the Israelites what will happen when they truly let God lead – when they follow Torah.


He took his five stones and his little slingshot along with his shepherding faith that could move mountains and went on to challenge the giant Goliath to a new way of being. Goliath said: “Come to me, and I will give your flesh to the birds of the air and to the wild animals of the field.” Yet, David did not live by the same reality as Goliath. He said “You come to me with sword and spear and javelin; but I come to you in the name of the LORD of hosts …so that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel, and that all this assembly may know that the LORD does not save by sword and spear.”


Now, I should pause here this morning and give you a disclaimer. Every occupation has its hazards and preachers are no different. Preachers have a reflex of constantly looking at the world and seeing biblical application. The preaching reflex in the modern-day application here is to start drawing parallels with the modern “David and Goliath” battles. Shell, Nike, Nestle and many others have been the illustration from many a pulpit over the years. And before we jump too quickly to find our newest modern-day analogy, we need to pause and seek the transformative essence contained in this text. This text is not saying big is bad and small is good. What is occurring, is that this text is ushering in a new way of being God’s people. This text is transforming us into what it means to be God’s children. There is a transformational teaching that shifts our focus from fierce warrior to gentle shepherd. A transformation from using sword and spear to face our enemies… to face them naked with only five smooth stones/ the core foundations of our faith. David did not want to fight; he did not want to kill; David came to transform. And following that death of Goliath, there was transformation; there was absolute silence. We can only imagine the crowds…David won?...he…won? David…won? The way of God is not war and violence; the way of God will be further learned through this gentle shepherd who led by his faith.


The same type of dilemma was at play in the life of Jesus. His sole purpose was not to die but to transform. God used Jesus’ teaching, his healing, his loving to transform…and in the end, God even used Jesus’ death as transformation the ways of the world.


Does this text have the power to transform? or will it be filed merely as fuel to root for the underdogs of our world? I wonder. It has amazing potential for transformation, yet it asks a lot of us. Who among us is ready to shed our armour that protects us and live wholly as spiritually guided people? If we were in another part of the world where armor might be worn regularly, I would call us to stand up and remove our armor. You might a friend remove your bullet proof vest and take off your battle helmet. A friend who is currently living in Texas told me how common this is. Offices have signs at reception: “please check your firearms before entering the office” We laugh, yet we don’t laugh when the armour is a little closer to home.  Always having to be right, always having our way, sarcasm, harmful jabs and jokes at the expense of others are but a few. Our armour is much more discrete, so well hidden. It often tries to camouflage as a part of our personality. What is the armour we wear? If you can picture it, then you are half way there. Because if you can picture it, you can visualize taking it off, throwing it aside, and allowing God’s ways to replace it.


Some of you will be reading ahead on this one. Don’t make this guy out to be a saint! Thumb a few chapters ahead and you’ll meet Bathsheba! And you are right, this David is far from perfect. And that is why he is so perfect, because we too are far from perfect. Yet, the grace in this story is that if God can be alive in David’s life, just imagine God alive in yours.


Shifting over, a little more briefly, to the gospel story in mark we find an interesting parallel. Jesus demonstrates pure faith through the rough, turbulent storms that threaten. They do not concern him or worry him or cause him any upset. The disciples are deeply troubled, yet Jesus demonstrates a pure faith. I wonder if the summer season is offering a rich opportunity to reset, renew, and reform the depth of faith that will help us through the turbulent seas that are ahead? That will help us through the struggles and the Goliath like battles that seem to present?


And so, as we move into this summer season of kite-flying, lemonade stands, and sandy beaches, may it be also one of reflection. Reflecting on how God’s transformational presence shepherds our lives in the way of Light.