Herrenhuter readings for Tuesday, the 16th December 2014

david-goliath“All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves.” (1. Samuel 17:47) and “Everyone who confesses the name of the Lord must turn away from wickedness.” (2.Timothy 2:19)

David facing up to Goliath – now that was an epic battle. The odds were stacked highly in favour of that giant – apparently. I’d guess, that shepherd David should run for it while he still could. That blaspheming mercenary would carry the day and have the rest cower in fear. Israels enemies obviously had the upper hand and they were condemned to servility and eating humble pie. At least that’s what it looked like for outsiders, for people without insight into God’s plans and who didn’t account for his wondrous and miraculous dealings.

At the end of the day everything had changed. God had intervened. He had defeated Goliath by using that little shepherd expertly handling that slingshot. One stone and that giant came tumbling down – felled like a tree with just one stroke. For God does not need our sword or spears to accomplish his miracles and wonders. On the contrary, he often puts us down and out – so that we with all our merits and qualifications and certificates sit on the wayside and besides all the action – just to prove, that he’s in control and leads all things most perfectly. So don’t trust in kings nor princes, not in horses or chariots, not in drones or MIGs, gadgets or apps, not in your own abilities and strengths, nor in other power and might, but rather put all your hope in the Lord, the living God. He does, what he does for us and our salvation without fail.

That does not only hold true for our own personal lives, but also for that of God’s people as a whole – his holy Christian Church. Look how he helped through that shepherd David – through that prophet Elijah – through that little virgin Mary – and his own Son Jesus Christ, who was but a carpenter’s son, not going through the venerable schools of the day, not sitting at the feet of learned nor learning to wield the sword and the spear like the strong and powerful soldiers and fighters of the day and not even growing up under the tutelage of mighty politicians, the wheelers and dealers of the day. It’s our Lord’s speciality to help, save and deliver through insignificant and minor things and people. He changes water into the best wine. Feeds 5, 000 with just a few pieces of bread and fish. Heals blind with spit and mud. Calls the dead to life with his plain voice and works salvation by hanging lifeless on the cross. He brings everlasting life through suffering and death. He works through the very opposite. He really is the almighty God indeed.

This wonderful way of our Lord and God should keep us on the straight and narrow way of his most holy will and good commandments. We don’t need to go crooked ways to reach our perceived goal in life. It doesn’t pay do leave God’s holy ways and try to grab what we deem is ours by all sorts of sly wheelings and dealings. That’s what King Saul did – and he lost it all. David on the other side let one opportunity after the other go by to lay hands on his king and to grab the crown for himself, but he never did that. He knew, God had his own time and his own way of doing this. Although Saul himself tried to kill David more than once using every trick of the trade, David escaped with the help of God and never fell into the traps set by his assailant. Even when David was King he did not hold on to this royal privilege and power like something that was his, but rather fled Jerusalem giving up all and everything to his rebellious son Absalom. He didn’t even have cursing Shimei punished, but rather let him be: My son, my own flesh and blood, is trying to kill me. How much more, then, this Benjamite! Leave him alone; let him curse, for the Lord has told him to. It may be that the Lord will look upon my misery and restore to me his covenant blessing instead of his curse today.” (2.Samuel 16,11f) So in all this David did not sin, but rather accepted God’s strange guidance and even hidden ways, trusting in him alone and putting all his hope in God’s never failing deliverance and salvation, committing his life and all into God’s omnipotent hands and omniscient care. 

The crafty Jesuits supposedly use the Machiavellian maxim that the goal justifies the means. Yet this is not so. We people – and that holds true for leaders in the church – don’t know enough to always pick the right way. We err and falter. We are sinful and deluded in our ways. We’re not perfect by a long shot. That’s why we make mistakes. We pick the wrong course and go down a route that proves misleading in hindsight. Even if we want to do the right and best thing, we are often blind and work exactly the opposite. That’s why we should humble ourselves, be ready to repent, gladly let go of all wickedness and follow God’s lead all the days of our lives,  following his calling to lead holy and blessed lives under his guidance and care. His will is the best and he surely will lead all and everything to its predestined goal and perfect completion. Praise his holy name – now and always. Amen.

Who Trusts in God a Strong Abode
By: Joachim Magdeburg

Who trusts in God a strong abode
In heaven and earth possesses;
Who looks in love to Christ above,
No fear that heart oppresses.
In you alone, dear Lord, we own
Sweet hope and consolation,
Our shield from foes, our balm for woes,
Our great and sure salvation.

Though Satan’s wrath beset our path
And worldly scorn assail us,
While you are near, we shall not fear;
Your strength will never fail us.
Your rod and staff will keep us safe
And guide our steps forever;
Nor shades of death nor hell beneath,
Our lives from you will sever.

In all the strife of mortal life
Our feet will stand securely;
Temptation’s hour will lose it power,
For you will guard us surely.
Our God, renew with heavenly dew
Our body, soul, and spirit
Until we stand at your right hand
Through Jesus’ saving merit.

Hymn # 414 from Lutheran Worship
Author: Claudin de Sermisy
Tune: Was Mein Gott Will
1st Published in: 1572

About Wilhelm Weber jr

Rector of the Lutheran Theological Seminary in Tshwane
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