The longer I live, the more I ask this question of society and sometimes of Christians, “Is this the best we can do?” Here are some more specific examples of things that make me ask that question.
We are going to talk about two stories for the Bible where godly individuals looked at their situation and asked themselves, “Is that the best we can do?” Enter the story of David and Goliath. The story begins with the Israelite army, led by King Saul are battling the Philistine army. The Philistines had a giant in their army named Goliath.
I Samuel 17:4-6, 10-11 “A champion named Goliath, who was from Gath, came out of the Philistine camp. His height was six cubits (9’9”) and a span. 5 He had a bronze helmet on his head and wore a coat of scale armor of bronze weighing five thousand shekels (125 lbs); 6 on his legs he wore bronze greaves, and a bronze javelin was slung on his back…10 Then the Philistine said, “This day I defy the armies of Israel! Give me a man and let us fight each other.” 11 On hearing the Philistine’s words, Saul and all the Israelites were dismayed and terrified.”
Goliath was like King Kong and Ironman combined! The Israelites faced what seemed to be an immovable force. What made matters worse is that this giant’s arrogance was bigger than he was.
Are we like the Israelite army in today’s swiftly changing society? Do we run from the problem and fear the consequences of conflict? This went on for 40 days!!
Now David was the 8th son of Jesse and David’s three oldest brothers were fighting in the Israelite army. David spent most of his days shepherding his father’s sheep but on this particular day, Jesse sent David to bring food to his brothers.
1 Samuel 17:23,26 “23 As he was talking with them, Goliath, the Philistine champion from Gath, stepped out from his lines and shouted his usual defiance, and David heard it. 26 David asked the men standing near him, “…Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living God?””
In verse 26, David basically asks, “Is this the best we can do?” He is appalled at the state of his nation’s mentality. Sound familiar? Rather than accept the fear which seems so infectious, he becomes righteously impatient with the state of things. David tells Saul that he wants to fight Goliath and Saul tries to put all his armor on David and it just weighs him down. So he says to Saul, I’m just a boy, but I’ve killed bear and lion defending my father’s sheep so I’m going to use the skills God has already given me to take down “IronKingKongMan”.
1 Samuel 17:45-47, 51b “David said to the Philistine, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the LORD Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. 46 This day the LORD will deliver you into my hands…and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel. 47 All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the LORD saves; for the battle is the LORD’s, and he will give all of you into our hands.”…51b When the Philistines saw that their hero was dead, they turned and ran.”
Let’s move onto Elijah.
1 Kings 18:18-19, 22-24, 26-38 ““I have not made trouble for Israel,” Elijah replied. “But you and your father’s family have. You have abandoned the LORD’s commands and have followed the Baals. 19 Now summon the people from all over Israel to meet me on Mount Carmel. And bring the four hundred and fifty prophets of Baal and the four hundred prophets of Asherah, who eat at Jezebel’s table.”…22 Then Elijah said to them, “I am the only one of the LORD’s prophets left, but Baal has four hundred and fifty prophets. 23 Get two bulls for us. Let Baal’s prophets choose one for themselves, and let them cut it into pieces and put it on the wood but not set fire to it. I will prepare the other bull and put it on the wood but not set fire to it. 24 Then you call on the name of your god, and I will call on the name of the LORD. The god who answers by fire – he is God.” Then all the people said, “What you say is good.”…26 Then they called on the name of Baal from morning till noon. “Baal, answer us!” they shouted. But there was no response; no one answered. And they danced around the altar they had made. 27 At noon Elijah began to taunt them. “Shout louder!” he said. “Surely he is a god! Perhaps he is deep in thought, or busy, or traveling. Maybe he is sleeping and must be awakened.” 28 So they shouted louder and slashed themselves with swords and spears, as was their custom, until their blood flowed. 29 Midday passed, and they continued their frantic prophesying until the time for the evening sacrifice. But there was no response, no one answered, no one paid attention. 30 Then Elijah said to all the people, “Come here to me.” They came to him, and he repaired the altar of the LORD, which had been torn down. 31 Elijah took twelve stones, one for each of the tribes descended from Jacob, to whom the word of the LORD had come, saying, “Your name shall be Israel.” 32 With the stones he built an altar in the name of the LORD, and he dug a trench around it large enough to hold two seahs of seed. 33 He arranged the wood, cut the bull into pieces and laid it on the wood. Then he said to them, “Fill four large jars with water and pour it on the offering and on the wood.” 34 “Do it again,” he said, and they did it again. “Do it a third time,” he ordered, and they did it the third time. 35 The water ran down around the altar and even filled the trench. 36 At the time of sacrifice, the prophet Elijah stepped forward and prayed: “LORD, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, let it be known today that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant and have done all these things at your command. 37 Answer me, LORD, answer me, so these people will know that you, LORD, are God, and that you are turning their hearts back again.” 38 Then the fire of the LORD fell and burned up the sacrifice, the wood, the stones and the soil, and also licked up the water in the trench.”
What can we take away from these two stories?