*Good morning. It's Friday! Rain is in the forecast, and lots of it for Madison. But, hopefully not as much as we received on this date one year ago when 23 people lost their lives in Southern West Virginia.

Today, we will continue looking at the rise of David. Now, yesterday I thought of something after I finished my study. I mentioned that Saul was discovered and chosen while he was out "chasing" the donkeys. David was called in from the field where he had bend tending the sheep. I just wonder if we were not supposed to see something in this. Was the fact that Saul was "chasing" and David "tending" significant in their character study? Well, keep this in mind as we continue. O.K., yesterday we concluded with David playing the harp for King Saul. The music soothed Saul's troubled soul. Now, it was Saul's servants who suggested that David be brought to Saul. Keep in mind, Saul has no idea that David is the one whom God has chosen to take Saul's kingdom. Saul likes David and has requested that David remain with him and serve him. Now the story really gets interesting. Here we go.

"The Philistines occupied one hill and the Israelites another, with the valley between them. A champion named Goliath...came out of the Philistine camp. He was over nine feet tall. Goliath stood and shouted to the ranks of Israel, 'Why don't you come out and line up for battle? Choose a man and have him come down to me...On hearing the Philistines words, Saul and all the Israelites were dismayed and terrified." (I Samuel 17:3-4,8,11)

Well, a lot more was said about this giant as far as his size and his armor. He was a giant to say the least, and he was a warrior. He was in every sense of the word someone to be feared and the Israelites feared him. Even King Saul was terrified. Goliath offered a stipulation: If the Israelites could defeat him, the Philistines would be the servants of the Israelites, if Goliath won, then vise versa. Not long ago Zander and I went to watch the Harlem Globetrotters. About half way through the first half as the Globetrotters were beating up on the opponent the opponents' coach called time out and introduced his "secret weapon." A guy came out of the locker room and I kid you not was the tallest human being I have ever seen. (And I've seen many tall individuals...hmmm...anybody is tall compared to me) This guy could stand flat footed and dunk the basketball. So, the game became a "David verses Goliath" affair. (Warning! If you ever go watch the Harlem Globetrotters they are not the Globetrotters of the Meadowlark Lemon era) Well, anyhow, back to our story. Who will fight this giant? Who will defeat this giant? David answers: "I will!" I can just see it now. David continues to answer: "I'll kill this giant!" while everyone continues to shake in their boots and wonder, "Who?" David's brothers (whom we are told more about in this passage) get frustrated that David is even there with them. They accuse him of leaving the sheep and coming to watch the battle for gratification. Basically, they want David to go back home. Years ago, I had to stay with a baby sitter. My grandparents were away on a trip and I couldn't stay with them. The worst two weeks of my life. The folks who kept my sister and I were hog farmers. One day the pigs got out. The man was putting his boots on to go after them. The wife asked: "Do you want me to call Joe, John, or Jack (I can't remember the real names) to come and help you?" "Well," he answered, "I think Joe's fishing, John's working and Jack's sick." I started putting my shoes on. He asked, "What do you think you're doing?" "I'm going to help you," I answered. What do you think the response was? "I'm not going to have a kid out there chasing my hogs all the way to tin-buck-two." (Wherever that is)

David, like a good boy, doesn't listen. He argues: "I have killed a lion, and a bear. What's one giant Philistine, especially when the Lord is the one who delivers?" (Paraphrased from verses 34-37) Saul said to David, "Go and the Lord be with you." (I Samuel 17:37b) Well, most everyone has heard the story of how David faced Goliath armed with only a slingshot. A very interesting verse is verse forty: "Then he took his staff in his hand, chose five smooth stones from the stream..." This is interesting because, as we are told, David only used one stone to slay the giant. What you may not know is, according to the Book of the Chronicles, Goliath had four brothers whom David would eventually face. Well, David kills Goliath and secures the victory of the Philistines. David remains with Saul. David is so successful that Saul "gave him a high rank in the army," which "pleased all the people, and Saul's officers.." (I Samuel 18:5) All is well...(every time I say that guess what? Yep...All (you know what) breaks loose.

"When the men were returning home after David had killed the Philistine, the women came out from all the towns of Israel to meet King Saul with singing and dancing...As they danced they sang: "Saul has slain his thousands, and David his tens of thousands." (I Sam. 18:6-7)

Um...well...a victory parade is held. Imagine this scene as Saul hears the women singing his praises as he has killed his thousands. I can hear Saul: "That's right! I'm the man! Yep, sing it girls!" Then, can you imagine the look on Saul's face as he hears them continue: "and David has killed his tens of thousands?" Uh Oh! I still remember when Mitt Romney was campaigning for the presidency. His running mate was Paul Ryan. At one rally Ryan had been speaking to the crowd when they erupted with a rally cry. They were saying: "Ryan, Romney! Ryan/Romney!" All of a sudden Mitt Romney makes his way to the stage and says: "Umm..Umm. that's Romney/Ryan! Romney Ryan!" Well, Saul is not the kind of fellow that bothers with corrections. No, he does something else.

"Saul was very angry; this refrain galled him. 'They have credited David with tens of thousands,' he thought, 'but me with only thousands. What more can he get but the kingdom?' And from that time on Saul kept a jealous eye on David." ( I Samuel 18:8-9)

Saul now realizes that this young fellow is a threat to his kingdom. Saul is now jealous of David and does not trust him. This becomes a very sad tale of just how far, or low, jealousy will take a person. What's interesting is: while Saul is jealous of David, Saul's son Jonathan treats David as though he were a brother to him. This becomes Saul's greatest battle. And what is even sadder David really is never Saul's enemy. No, Saul is his own worst enemy. He now becomes a man bent on destroying one person, but at what cost?

Well, there is so much more to talk about. Monday we will continue this saga and, we will even have a laugh or two. Yes, there is even humor mixed in with this sad tale as we will see. I hope you have a great weekend. The Coal Festival is still going on here in Madison. Last year I got to watch one of my all-time favorite singers perform. That was Ronnie McDowell. I like him, not so much for his own music, but for the fact that he sounds almost identical to Elvis Presley and has performed soundtracks to many movies about Elvis. This year there is a group from the 1960's performing and I'm excited to hear them. (Yes, I like old music.) So, if you see me sitting by myself come over and sit awhile. God Bless! -Pastor Rick

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