27th July 2012

True Victory

“May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy.”
Colossians 1:11 (RSV)

If there had been an Olympics Games in 1000 B.C. or thereabouts, David would have walked away with the gold if it had included sling-shot alongside the shot-put, javelin, and archery. His ability to send a stone hurtling to the centre of a target was impressive: When King Saul and his army were facing the Philistine army and had been challenged to settle the battle by single-handed combat, only David was brave enough to fight the Philistine’s champion, who just happened to be a giant of a man.  He knocked out Goliath with just one shot smack into his forehead.

Many years later the challenge King David faced was not a man who could put all Olympic strong men to shame, but his own son who had staged a carefully planned and successful coup. As David and his supporters fled from Jerusalem, they were tracked down by Shimei, a man from Saul’s clan. “As he followed along he shouted insults and threw rocks right and left at David and his company, servants and soldiers alike. To the accompaniment of curses he shouted, “Get lost, get lost, you butcher, you hellhound! God has paid you back for all your dirty work in the family of Saul and for stealing his kingdom. God has given the kingdom to your son Absalom. Look at you now—ruined! And good riddance, you pathetic old man!” (2 Samuel 16:7-8, The Message).

“This mangy dog can’t insult my master the king this way—let me go over and cut off his head!” Abishai demanded, verse 9. In former days David would have responded unhesitatingly; he had only just been prevented from murdering a man and all his family because he refused to pay what David thought he owed him.  But now he rejected his incensed general’s urging, while Shimei kept pace with them on a nearby hillside, cursing as he went and throwing stones at David. It was a godly triumph over his human reaction to strike back. This battle of the mind was a greater victory than felling Goliath with a well-placed stone. 

And that is what God’s power is for. It’s not for the strength to throw a javelin a few feet further than all other competitors or to run a tenth of a second faster than anyone else.  The strength of God enables us to endure the intractable problems of life, be patient with those who rile us or delight in badmouthing others – or if you are in London to just be patient and uncomplaining when the transport system grinds to a halt in getting-to-the-Olympics dead-lock.

Prayer
And so let us thank our Father who has lavished on us all the things we need for life, not so that we can be the greatest, nor receive the recognition or applause of the crowds, but unknown and often unobserved, grow into a measure of the stature of Jesus Christ, through whom we are truly victorious (from 2 Peter 1:3, Ephesian 4:13).
Amen

Study by Hilary Buck

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