"For thou art an holy people unto the LORD thy God, and the LORD hath chosen thee to be a peculiar people unto himself, above all the nations that are upon the earth." ~ Deuteronomy14:2

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Raising The Standard: Courage Is Confronting An Opponent With The Confidence That I Will Ultimately Succeed

How Does Scripture Illustrate Courage In Confidence of Victory? It would have been easy for the young shepherd to become discouraged. He was the youngest of eight boys and had been given a responsibility which none of his older brothers wanted.
Not only did his job require constant exposure to the heat of the day and the cold of the night, but if he lost even one of the sheep under his care he faced the displeasure of his father and the scorn of his brothers. Rather than becoming discouraged though, this young man turned his job into a special classroom, learning two skills which brought success to his life and instilled in him true courage - based on the confidence that God was with him. First, he purposed to do a better job in protecting and caring for his sheep than anyone. Second, he purposed to delight in God and in His Word more than anyone or anything else. This skill involved learning how to meditate on Scripture day and night. He turned his long hours into a classroom as he strove to perfect these two skills. One night he had an opportunity to put his courage to the test. A vicious lion smashed through the brush and lunged at one of his lambs. Quickly the young man put a stone in the pouch of a long leather thong. In an instant the stone went sailing directly to its mark. Long hours of practice enabled him to hit his target with great accuracy. He rushed toward the stunned lion and with all his might ripped open its mouth and released the bruised lamb. Later, a similar incident occurred with a bear, and this gave him the confidence he needed to face a giant. But his second weapon, the skill of meditation, gave him an even greater advantage than his skill with a sling. In learning this, he discovered a new way of looking at the enemy. On the day he faced the great adversary, the young shepherd demonstrated his unwavering courage. All the soldiers of Israel heard the vile threats of this foe and thought, "He's defying the army of Saul." But this young man heard the boastful cursing and because of his meditation on Scripture, realized instead that this adversary was defying the armies of the living God. The army of Saul looked at the giant and thought, "He's too big to hit." The young man, though, regarded the giant in an entirely different way, thinking, "He's too big to miss." Knowing that God was on his side, young David could boldly approach his enemy with the confidence that he could only succeed. (From 1 Samuel 17:1-54)
Why Was David Rebuked By His Oldes Brother Eliab?
When David expressed concern that no one would oppose Goliath, Eliab angrily accused his brother of neglecting his duties and said, "I know thy pride, and the naughtiness of thine heart; for thou hast come down that thou mightest see the battle." (1 Samuel 17:28) Eliab is an illustration of the hypocrite who seeks to remove the speck out of his brother's eye without first removing the log out of his own (Matthew 7:1-5). Eliab was guilty of the very things for which he was accusing his brother (cf. Romans 2:1). Eliab had not been chosen for leadership because God saw the condition of his heart (1 Samuel 16:6,7). David no doubt had pricked his brother's conscience by reminding him of his responsibility to defend the Lord's reputation. Now Eliab was trying to justify his actions by condemning his brother.
What Were The Results Of David's Courageous Act?
The immediate result was victory in this critical battle. If the Philistines had won, they would have reduced Israel to a slave state. A more lasting result was the nation of Israel's new respect for the power of their God. No longer would Saul's men need to shrink in fear at the sight of their ironclad enemies.
Why Was David So Confident That He Would Win?
Psalm 106 reveals David's understanding of the working of God through the history of the nation of Israel. It is certain that he knew these things before his battle with Goliath. His deep concern and disgust for an uncircumcised Philistine who taunted the armies of the living God was an indication of many hours of reflection on the power of God, His past deliverance's, and His commands to possess the land. It was the responsibility of the father to teach the Law and the history of Israel to his children (Deuteronomy 4:9-10) but it was the responsibility of the child to learn his lessons. Not only did David learn the Law, but he obeyed it, memorized it, loved it and meditated on it (Psalm 119:10-11, 97).
How Does The Striped Skunk Illustrate Courage In Its Confidence Of Victory?
Two wounded and weary soldiers stumbled into a clearing as dawn began to brighten the sky. The shoddily clad men had escaped from the enemy's encampment, and they were now within a few days journey to freedom. Worn out from the battle, imprisonment and a two day chase by a Union patrol, the men were near exhaustion. Now they needed to rest. Beyond the next wooded ridge, the fugitives spotted a small clearing and an old weather-beaten barn. The barn would make an excellent place to sleep, and it could also serve as a hideout from the Union patrol which was in pursuit. Approaching warily, they entered the barn, pulled themselves up to a pile of hay, and concealed themselves in the damp, musty straw as well as they could. Their quarters were crowded by an unusual abundance of field mice which scurried along the floor, feeding on remnant grain. After several hours of restless sleep they were startled by a noise. Both men instinctively reached for the one musket which they had managed to grab during their escape. Looking in the direction of the noise, they saw a family of skunks wander into the barn. The soldiers breathed a sigh of relief. This was the friendliest sight they had seen for a long time. The two men had come from the farmlands of Tennessee and knew the ways of skunks. They remained motionless so they would not startle the visitors. Then quietly they began talking to them. The skunks looked at them curiously and then resumed their search for mice. Several minutes later, as they lay amused by the skunks, they heard the dreaded sound of the Union patrol. As the hoof beats grew louder, the patrol on horseback coming close, one of the soldiers had an idea. He knew that the skunks would not be intimidated by the patrol because of their confidence in their effective weapon. He also realized that if he could get the skunks to go out of the barn when the soldiers arrived, they might possibly turn the patrol away. This would mean escaping inevitable recapture. He knew that the skunks weapon might be more effective than the one shot they could get off with their ball and cap musket. As the horses could be heard stopping out side of the barn, the soldier nudged his partner and motioned him to be silent. He searched among the hay for a mouse, grabbed it and threw it toward the opening of the door. The stunned mouse lay there. The skunks spotted it and began pursuing it. The wounded soldiers held their breath. A long tense moment passed. Finally there came that reassuring commotion - the sound of the Union men noisily and quickly trying to get themselves and their horses out of range of the skunks. Their commotion frightened the skunks into positioning themselves to spray. The men quickly mounted their horses and rode away. Relieved, the men flopped back against the straw with a sigh of relief. They had been saved by an unexpected friend in enemy territory.

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