I have been gathering thoughts in preparation for posting something about legalism (defined as adding rules not specified in the Bible in an attempt to gain favor/improve your standing with God) and its harmful effects on the Christian. However, I found an excellent article on the subject that expresses some of the thoughts I had plus a few more. The article, Legalism and its Antidotes, is well worth reading.
Archive for September, 2008
Everyone who has heard of Jesus Christ has probably heard of David and Goliath. David wrought a great victory when he faced Goliath. Here’s is the passage from the Bible:
And Jesse said unto David his son, Take now for thy brethren an ephah of this parched corn, and these ten loaves, and run to the camp to thy brethren; And carry these ten cheeses unto the captain of their thousand, and look how thy brethren fare, and take their pledge. Now Saul, and they, and all the men of Israel, were in the valley of Elah, fighting with the Philistines. And David rose up early in the morning, and left the sheep with a keeper, and took, and went, as Jesse had commanded him; and he came to the trench, as the host was going forth to the fight, and shouted for the battle. For Israel and the Philistines had put the battle in array, army against army. And David left his carriage in the hand of the keeper of the carriage, and ran into the army, and came and saluted his brethren. And as he talked with them, behold, there came up the champion, the Philistine of Gath, Goliath by name, out of the armies of the Philistines, and spoke according to the same words: and David heard them. And all the men of Israel, when they saw the man, fled from him, and were sore afraid. And the men of Israel said, Have ye seen this man that is come up? surely to defy Israel is he come up: and it shall be, that the man who killeth him, the king will enrich him with great riches, and will give him his daughter, and make his father’s house free in Israel. And David spoke to the men that stood by him, saying, What shall be done to the man that killeth this Philistine, and taketh away the reproach from Israel? for who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God? And the people answered him after this manner, saying, So shall it be done to the man that killeth him. And Eliab his eldest brother heard when he spoke unto the men; and Eliab’s anger was kindled against David, and he said, Why camest thou down hither? and with whom hast thou left those few sheep in the wilderness? I know thy pride, and the naughtiness of thine heart; for thou art come down that thou mightest see the battle. And David said, What have I now done? Is there not a cause? And he turned from him toward another, and spoke after the same manner: and the people answered him again after the former manner. And when the words were heard which David spoke, they rehearsed them before Saul: and he sent for him. And David said to Saul, Let no man’s heart fail because of him; thy servant will go and fight with this Philistine. And Saul said to David, Thou art not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him: for thou art but a youth, and he a man of war from his youth. And David said unto Saul, Thy servant kept his father’s sheep, and there came a lion, and a bear, and took a lamb out of the flock: And I went out after him, and smote him, and delivered it out of his mouth: and when he arose against me, I caught him by his beard, and smote him, and slew him. Thy servant slew both the lion and the bear: and this uncircumcised Philistine shall be as one of them, seeing he hath defied the armies of the living God. David said moreover, The LORD that delivered me out of the paw of the lion, and out of the paw of the bear, he will deliver me out of the hand of this Philistine. And Saul said unto David, Go, and the LORD be with thee. And Saul armed David with his armor, and he put a helmet of brass upon his head; also he armed him with a coat of mail. And David girded his sword upon his armor, and he attempted to go; for he had not proved it. And David said unto Saul, I cannot go with these; for I have not proved them. And David put them off him. And he took his staff in his hand, and chose him five smooth stones out of the brook, and put them in a shepherd’s bag which he had, even in a scrip; and his sling was in his hand: and he drew near to the Philistine. And the Philistine came on and drew near unto David; and the man that bore the shield went before him. And when the Philistine looked about, and saw David, he disdained him: for he was but a youth, and ruddy, and of a fair countenance. And the Philistine said unto David, Am I a dog, that thou comest to me with staves? And the Philistine cursed David by his gods. And the Philistine said to David, Come to me, and I will give thy flesh unto the fowls of the air, and to the beasts of the field. Then said David to the Philistine, Thou comest to me with a sword, and with a spear, and with a shield: but I come to thee in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom thou hast defied. This day will the LORD deliver thee into mine hand; and I will smite thee, and take thine head from thee; and I will give the carcasses of the host of the Philistines this day unto the fowls of the air, and to the wild beasts of the earth; that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel. And all this assembly shall know that the LORD saveth not with sword and spear: for the battle is the LORD’s, and he will give you into our hands. And it came to pass, when the Philistine arose, and came and drew nigh to meet David, that David hasted, and ran toward the army to meet the Philistine. And David put his hand in his bag, and took thence a stone, and slung it, and smote the Philistine in his forehead, that the stone sunk into his forehead; and he fell upon his face to the earth. So David prevailed over the Philistine with a sling and with a stone, and smote the Philistine, and slew him; but there was no sword in the hand of David. Therefore David ran, and stood upon the Philistine, and took his sword, and drew it out of the sheath thereof, and slew him, and cut off his head therewith. And when the Philistines saw their champion was dead, they fled. And the men of Israel and of Judah arose, and shouted, and pursued the Philistines, until thou come to the valley, and to the gates of Ekron. And the wounded of the Philistines fell down by the way to Shaaraim, even unto Gath, and unto Ekron. And the children of Israel returned from chasing after the Philistines, and they spoiled their tents. And David took the head of the Philistine, and brought it to Jerusalem; but he put his armor in his tent. 1 Samuel 17:17-54
Some have used this passage to exhort Christians to muster up the courage to face the giants in their lives. However, I want you to notice a few things about this passage and the victory wrought by David:
He was sent by his father to his brothers.
And Jesse said unto David his son, Take now for thy brethren an ephah of this parched corn, and these ten loaves, and run to the camp to thy brethren; 1 Samuel 17:17
He was rejected by his brothers.
And Eliab his eldest brother heard when he spoke unto the men; and Eliab’s anger was kindled against David, and he said, Why camest thou down hither? and with whom hast thou left those few sheep in the wilderness? I know thy pride, and the naughtiness of thine heart; for thou art come down that thou mightest see the battle. 1 Samuel 17:28
The people feared the enemy.
And all the men of Israel, when they saw the man, fled from him, and were sore afraid. 1 Samuel 17:24
David defeated the enemy that the people of God could not.
And David put his hand in his bag, and took thence a stone, and slung it, and smote the Philistine in his forehead, that the stone sunk into his forehead; and he fell upon his face to the earth. So David prevailed over the Philistine with a sling and with a stone, and smote the Philistine, and slew him; but there was no sword in the hand of David. 1 Samuel 17:49-50
The victory was won in the valley of Elah.
Now Saul, and they, and all the men of Israel, were in the valley of Elah, fighting with the Philistines. 1 Samuel 17:19
According to Hitchcock’s Bible Names, Elah means “an oak; a curse; perjury.”
A skull was associated with the victory.
And David took the head of the Philistine, and brought it to Jerusalem; but he put his armor in his tent. 1 Samuel 17:54
David cut off Goliath’s head, took it to Jerusalem and showed it to Saul as a sign of victory over the enemy.
David was sent by his father to his brothers, rejected by his brothers, defeated the enemy that the people feared, won the victory in the valley of Elah that the people of God could not win for themselves, and declared victory by showing the head (skull) of the enemy.
Now let us look at the Lord Jesus Christ:
He was sent by his father to his own.
As the living Father hath sent me… John 6:57a
But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel. Matthew 15:24
He was rejected by his own.
He came unto his own, and his own received him not. John 1:11
The people feared the enemy – that enemy is death.
The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death. 1 Corinthians 15:26
And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. Hebrews 2:15
Jesus defeated the enemy that the people of God could not.
O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Corinthians 15:55-57
The victory was won in the valley of Elah.
Wait a second you say? Jesus won the victory on the cross. That’s right. But remember what Elah means? An oak; a curse; perjury. Jesus died on a wooden cross (oak), he became a curse for us (Galatians 3:13), and there were those who bore false witness – committed perjury (Mark 14:57).
He declared victory in Golgotha – the place of a skull.
And when they were come unto a place called Golgotha, that is to say, a place of a skull, Matthew 27:33
When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost. John 19:30
In Genesis 3:15, the serpent is told that the coming Messiah would bruise his head. The fulfillment of this promise was pointed to by David cutting off the head of Goliath. Jesus won the victory for us (bruised Satan’s head) when he died in the place of a skull.
Jesus was sent by his father to his brothers, rejected by his brothers, defeated the enemy that the people feared, won the victory in the valley of Elah that the people of God could not win for themselves, and declared victory in the place of a skull – in Golgotha.
David’s defeat of Goliath is not written as an encouragement to us to face the giants in our lives. It is written as an encouragement to us to let us know that the giant we cannot defeat has already been defeated by the Lord Jesus Christ. What have we to fear when our King has already defeated the enemy? We are more than conquerors through him that loved us (Romans 8:37). More than conquerors because the victory has already been won and we didn’t suffer any casualties or even any wounds. We didn’t even have to lift a finger – we did nothing. He did it all!
Jesus wrought a great victory!