Lenten Choral Vespers – Immanuel Lutheran School
1 Samuel 17:40-51
March 13, 2019
Do you believe in monsters?
Our word monster comes from the Latin monere, which means “to show” or “warn.” I’ve never seen for sure, but I suspect that monster stories arose to warn people about dangers in general. The monster put a scary, if imaginary, face on the general danger that is outside the safety of home and village.
So our history is filled with monster stories: Leviathan, the sea monster; Cyclops; Beowulf’s Grendel; up to more modern monsters like Tolkien’s Smaug.
Some people even believe there are real monsters that exist today, like Bigfoot or the Lochness monster.
Do you believe in monsters? You don’t need to be afraid of any monster underneath your bed or hiding in your closet. Those things aren’t real. But even if you are afraid, you can call on the name of JESUS for help, and God’s holy angels will protect you.
But what about Goliath in tonight’s first Bible reading? He seems kind of like a monster, doesn’t he? He’s called a giant, and everybody is afraid to fight him. He’s not a monster, but he was a really big man, and a very skilled warrior. No one had ever beaten him. He may as well be a monster, a terrible creature that makes everyone afraid.
But one person is not afraid. And he was just a boy! David was not old enough to be in the army. He just showed up to bring food for his big brothers. When David heard about this terrible, giant man named Goliath, he knew one thing: Goliath was insulting God. David knew that that kind of man, that kind of monster can be beaten. Not with swords or armies, but with the name of God.
David went to the brook, scooped his hand into the water and selected five smooth stones. Now the number five is super important. It’s the number for God’s Word. The most important books in the Old Testament are the first five. They’re called the Torah or Pentateuch. Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy.
It’s a lot like when Jesus went out into the wilderness and was tempted by the devil. His only weapon was the Word of God.
So David goes up against the monster, and he doesn’t have a sword or a shield. He doesn’t have any armor - they tried to put some on David, but he was too small and it didn’t fit! But here comes this young man, no sword, no armor, no protection, and the giant makes fun of him. “I will kill you, you little worthless boy!” he shouted.
Do you ever feel like that, when the whole world is shouting at you that you are worthless, that you are a loser?
Look how David replies. He doesn’t boast about himself. He just says, “I come in the name of the Lord of hosts.” That’s what it takes to fight the monster. The name of the Lord.
And amazingly, the monster goes down. The giant is dead.
Well, I said there aren’t really any monsters. And that’s true. But there’s one terrible thing that we still have to face. And that’s death. It’s like a monster, because it’s scary and we never know when it’s coming.
But Jesus already fought that monster. Jesus went to battle against death, and the devil, and every evil thing in this world. Did Jesus take a spear, or a sword, or armor? No. Jesus goes into battle with nothing but the name of God.
And at first, it seemed like the monster had won. Jesus was dead. But here’s the amazing thing. When Jesus died, death was dead. Jesus trampled down death by death.
So now, every monster is just like a growling dog with no teeth. The bark sounds terrible, but there’s no bite. Death to us has become harmless.
So every year we ponder on what Jesus did for us. We remember how Jesus killed the greatest monsters. Jesus slew Goliath, He conquered death and the devil, and hell is torn asunder.
So don’t ever be afraid. The monster is dead. Sins are forgiven. Death is undone. The devil has no power. Jesus is risen from the dead - and so will you.