And when the Philistine looked and saw David, he disdained him, for he was but a youth, ruddy and handsome in appearance. And the Philistine said to David, “Am I a dog, that you come to me with sticks?” And the Philistine cursed David by his gods. The Philistine said to David, “Come to me, and I will give your flesh to the birds of the air and to the beasts of the field.” Then David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with a sword and 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. This day the LORD will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you down and cut off your head. And I will give the dead bodies of the host of the Philistines this day to the birds 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 that all this assembly may know that the LORD saves not with sword and spear. For the battle is the LORD’s, and he will give you into our hand.” 1 Samuel 17.42-47.
This reading comes at a good time for me. On holiday last week my wife and I met a lovely young couple but a couple who, as we got to know them, turned out to have very great needs. He (D) is an alcoholic and has liver cancer for which treatment begins on 2 January; but he has been told that unless he gives up alcohol completely by then, he has little chance of survival. She (M) has been abused all her life. First by her father who broke her jaw, then by an ex-husband and more recently by a partner who has just been gaoled for beating her up. Now she has D whom she loves but whom she believes will die in the new year.
The Lord brought us into a relationship with these two at the very start of the holiday and we quickly came to love them dearly. We were able to pray with them and share the good news with them, and they responded to our love … But now they are back home and we have been feeling so powerless to help them. “All we can do,” I have been saying, “is to pray.
ALL we can do? All?
I see now that I have been seeing myself as Goliath saw David — coming against a powerful enemy with nothing but sticks; but this morning’s reading reminds me that, in reality, the situation is the exact opposite to the way that Goliath sees things. I can come against D’s cancer and alcoholism and against the legacy of M’s past and her fear and brokenness “in the name of the LORD of Hosts” and when I do that it is simply “no contest”. God is greater than all the evil that is trying to destroy D and M. I needed my eyes opening again, just as the eyes of Elisha’s servant were opened to see that “those who are with us are more than those who are with them” (2 Kings 6.16).
As I write this post, there comes back to mind (thank you, Lord) a prophecy I heard given at City Church, Leeds, on 12 February 2006. I jotted it down at the time and I am just referring back to it: “There are giants in the lives of some who are here this morning; but God is bigger than the giants and has given you a stone with which to kill them. It is the name of Jesus. There is real power in the name of Jesus. All heaven stands to attention when that name is used.”
The name of Jesus is “the name of the LORD of Hosts” and as I pray for D and M in that name this morning, I am reassured that the Lord (who loves D and M far more than I can ever love them) will hear from heaven and bring them his healing and deliverance and salvation. In the name of Jesus! Amen.