Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Crushing the head of the enemy

ONE SMOOTH STONE


And so David prevailed over the Philistine with a sling and a stone, and struck the Philistine, and killed him.  There was no sword in David's hand.  Then David ran and stood over the Philistine and took hold of his sword, and drew it from its sheath and killed him, and cut off his head with it.  And when the Philistines saw that their champion was dead, they fled.  1 Samuel 17:50-51


WE can never repeat it often enough, that the Old Testament is a Christian book.  Jews may claim it as their own, and Muslims pay it lip service, but it is our book, our divine scripture that  makes us wise unto salvation which is by faith in Jesus Christ!

No portion of the Old Testament stands on its own, so we dare not preach the Old Testament without showing its fulfillment in the death of Jesus on the cross for our sins.  Today's lesson is a perfect example.  As it stands it teaches us to have courage in the face of overwhelming odds, especially where God is concerned.  That is a good lesson, one that will serve you all the days of your life, but it goes deeper than that.  It teaches us to train and be prepared for any contingency.   The sling and smooth stones David chose as his weapons were not a spur of the moment decision but something he had trained with extensively.  In the hand of a skilled operator the sling was deadly and accurate hundreds of yards away.  It was the sniper rifle of antiquity.  Slingers, once they had mastered their equipment, could hit a target the size of a hair hundreds of yards away.  (Judges 20:16)  Neither were the stones ordinary, but carefully chosen and uniformly honed and smoothed to perfect roundness about the size of a tennis ball.  The result was a projectile so lethal that even Goliath the mighty Philistine giant, could not stand against it.  Yet the account we have before us today is more than a lesson on preparedness, important as that is.  Rather, these things were written for the church so that we might learn what Samuel writes in verse forty-seven, namely that "the battle is the LORD's," and He is the one who subdues Satan and every enemy under our feet, and redeems what you cannot possibly fix.

If only the world could learn this lesson, that it cannot save itself; that it cannot end war or poverty or injustice or sorrow or tears or man's cruelty to man, or conquer death however high its hopes, its technology, or its vaunted pride.  "Salvation belongs to the Lord;"  to Christ the "Smooth Stone," whose atoning death on the cross strikes the carefully-aimed and deadly blow to the Philistine devil and crushes his murderous head.  Until we connect those particular dots to David's Sling and David's Stone, we have little more here than a "value tale," and if Jesus is the Smooth Stone, then let us not forget about the Sling that sends the Stone hurdling forth on its mission!

Scripture says that "God loved the world in this way:  that He sent forth His one and only Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life;" and again in 1 John 4:9 "In this the love of God is made manifest among us, that God sent forth his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him."

This divine love of the Father is displayed, demonstrated and exhibited most perfectly in the death of Jesus on the cross!  This is the glory of God, the Kingdom of God, Christ crucified for us!  This life, salvation, relief and release from the disaster we make for ourselves by the sins of our twisted minds, venomous tongues, and by our duplicitous deeds.

Scripture further says that:  in the fullness of time God sent forth His Son, born of woman,  so let us hear the whole counsel of God this day and not just its protestant interpretation.  God did not drop His Son from the clouds into the manger of Bethlehem, but caused Him to become incarnate by the Holy Ghost in the womb of the Virgin Mary.  She, too is the sling  from which the Stone was cast.  We learn this as early as the second chapter of Genesis if we read it with a Christian lens, for our Lord Jesus is the:  Man who left his heavenly Father and the womb of his Blessed Virgin Mother so that by His death He might cleanse the church of her sins and take her as His holy bride.  You are that church!  You are that unblemished bride washed clean from every stain of sin in the living waters of holy baptism.

Though it is not our practice to pray to the Blessed Virgin Mary, or ask her to pray for us, we must still join all generations in calling her blessed, for if she is the Lord's mother, she is our mother as well, for we are Christ's brothers.  Yet she is not our birth mother.  That honor goes to a different "woman," our Mother the Church.  (Galatians 4:26 & Cyprian of Carthage ca.270 AD)  As the Father sent His Son into the world, as Jesus sprang forth from the virgin's womb, the church is David's sling that sends forth the light and truth of Christ  crucified into all the world.  By this Gospel we preach and the sacraments we administer in the mass, we strike deadly blow after deadly blow to Satan the Philistine giant whom our Lord defeated in the wilderness and on the cross.

Baptized into His name, and by the power of His Spirit, you too can now turn from your sins.  You too can send the devil packing and live a new, rational and productive life of "faith towards Thee and fervent love towards one another."  You too can say to Goliath as often as he threatens you, as often as he tempts you to fall down and worship him, "Be gone, Satan!   For it is written"  You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only shall you serve."  Then as the Philistines fled the Israelite army, and as Satan took flight from Jesus in the wilderness, he will dash away from you as well like the defeated bully that he is.

All glory be to Jesus our Smooth Stone; Son of God, Son of David and Son of Mary.  Amen.

~  Rev. Dean Kavouras

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