THE BRIDGE SUNDAY 12 JULY 2020
1 SAMUEL 17: 44-49
GOD CONFIDENCE – GODFIDENCE
You have to hand it to David. Here we have a thumping nine-footer in Goliath, all geared up ready for fight, taunting the Israelites who are paralysed with fear. Then David strolls onto the scene, says he’s happy to have a go at Goliath, doesn’t waste his time with armour – marches down into the valley whilst Goliath mocks him. So he picks out one of the pebbles from his bag and the next thing is that Goliath is laid out cold on the ground.
What is so extraordinary is that before this point, everyone in the Israelite army – even the King – was terrified. Yet David had this confidence.
What is this confidence?
In 1965 Julie Andrews sang this song in The Sound of Music when she was faced with what she considered was the daunting prospect of being a Governess to 7 children:
“I have confidence in confidence alone;
Besides, which you see, I have confidence in me”
Now – this is what we would call self-confidence. That is to say, that the foundation of self-confidence is self. No matter what comes along – I can sort it out. I will deal with it. I have what it takes. Well, you know what they say about a self-made man – he loves his maker!
So what is this confidence of David? And therefore what is the confidence of the Christian?
- God-confidence looks back and sees the hand of God
Before David went into battle, he had a conversation with Saul and this is what he said (verses 34-37)
But David said to Saul, “Your servant has been keeping his father’s sheep. When a lion or a bear came and carried off a sheep from the flock,I went after it, struck it and rescued the sheep from its mouth. When it turned on me, I seized it by its hair, struck it and killed it. Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, because he has defied the armies of the living God.The Lord who rescued me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will rescue me from the hand of this Philistine.”
The self-confident person would look back and say: “I killed the lion and the bear. It was me. I did it in my strength.”
That’s the self-confident person. But what about the person lacking in self-confidence? How do they look back? Look at the Israelites. They saw this giant of a man, and no doubt would recall that when the Israelites were on the verge of entering the Promised Land that reports came back of how giants lived there and so they did not enter the Promised Land because of fear. For you maybe you go back to your old fears? Maybe they continue to affect you today. The unsaid, unspoken fear that is the backdrop to your life.
So what does the God-confident person do? David says: The Lord who rescued me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear
They look back and recognise that God was with them. That it was God who ultimately rescued them.
I’ve got a little notebook which, sometimes, I write down in it some of my thoughts, concerns, and worries and about what God might be doing. Re-reading these later I can see that God rescued me from all of those concerns. Why don’t you do that? Recall when you noticed God working in your life. Fill your mind with what God did and therefore what God is like.
And if you are struggling to look back and see that God was working in your life, why not look back to the ultimate work of God in Jesus. Paul says in Romans 8: 32:
He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all – how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?
So if God gave up his own Son for you – how extraordinary is that? Amazing love how can it be – that our great Jesus would die for you and me.
- God-confidence looks forward and anticipates God working
So now having looked back, we look forward and see the matter ahead of us. What does the self-confident person do? They trust in their own judgement and ability. Here is a situation: “I have what it takes to see me through.” We see this in Goliath. He would (possibly) sing: “I have confidence in me!”
What about the person lacking in self-confidence? They see the same situation ahead and, like the Israelites, they would see no way through and be paralysed with fear as to what is to happen. They look forward but through the prism of the old fears.
Now, David has already looked back and saw that God delivered him. Now here he is in what is a similar position but it is a bit different; this is Goliath, not bears or lions.
Quite often we may look back and reluctantly admit that God may well have been with us back then, but this is different. So God might have been with me then; but not now. Or I can’t be sure that God is for me now. This is too big. Or I’m not exactly a perfect Christian and God will use this to somehow teach me a lesson.
But David concludes that somehow God will save him. He doesn’t know how. But he trusts that he will.
I was talking about this to a colleague at work – and how when we look ahead and start to consider all the details of what could go wrong, she said: “The devil is in the detail!” The work of the devil is to convince you that God cannot be trusted. That (if you are a Christian) – you are not actually a Christian – and if you are, you’re hardly a good one. He’ll get you worrying about all sorts of details and how things may or may not work out. It is at that point we need to stop and tell the devil where to get off.
What David does is not get bogged down in the detail of what might happen but in the character of God himself. God delivered me in the past. God never changes. God will deliver me again. Now he doesn’t seem to spend time working out what might or might not happen. He simply trusts in what God is like. Whilst no doubt he hears the voice of Goliath, he listens to the voice of God. The devil will get you worrying about the past – worrying about the future.
- God-confidence produces action
So we have looked back – we have seen God’s hand in our lives. We look forward and anticipate what God will do. We now move to the here and now; the present. We don’t necessarily know what God will do (but we know the devil is in the detail – so we’re not going there!) But now is the time for action. We don’t stew in inaction but now step into action. Our minds have been cleared of fear as we realise God is with us. So what is he saying?
So maybe there is something ahead that the Lord is nudging you towards. It maybe that you sense it is of the Lord but you are filled with doubts as to whether you can do this. Actually that is a good place to be. Confident that this things – somehow – is of God but you not confident about yourself. What that will mean is as you take that first step, you can be confident that God will be with – that his purpose will be done – through your weakness. You will just rely on him more – that’s a great place to be.
GK Chesterton said this: People were meant to be doubtful about themselves but undoubting of the truth. This has been exactly reversed.
A man was once being conducted by a guide over a dangerous Alpine trail. At length they came to a place where a great rock jutted out over the precipice, leaving only the fragment of a pathway. The guide laid hold on the rock with one hand and put his other hand down on what was left of the trail, the hand extending out over the abyss. He told the other man to step on his hand and forearm and thus pass around the rock in safety. The man hesitated and was afraid; but the guide said, “Do not fear to stand on my hand. That hand has never yet lost anyone!”
The pierced hand of Christ has never yet lost anyone who took that hand and put their trust in him.
May we all be modest about ourselves yet confident in God.