All Saints
Christ The King

Books of the Bible
Lenten Series
Christmas Dramas


Series A - Matthew
Series B - Mark
Series C - Luke
Series D - Other

To contact
Edward F. Markquart

Books of the Bible - Old Testament

Sermon Series on Old Testament     Psalm 23

The sermon for today continues a series of sermons on Old Testament personalities. Somebody asked the question of me the other day, “How did you go about selecting the Old Testament personalities?” When I went through the Old Testament, I went through and selected the highest mountain peaks through the thirteen hundred years of the Old Testament. For example, in your imagination, I would like you to take a trip to California and visit the Cascade mountain range in California. You would see Mount Shasta towering high above all the peaks in California. Then to north into Oregon, to the South Sister, the Middle Sister and then the North Sister. Then to Mount Jefferson. Then to Mount Hood. The you cross the Columbia River into Washington and you see Mount Adams. Then to the highest peak in Washington, Mount Rainier. And then north to Mount Baker.  There are these huge mountain tops along the spine of the Cascade Mountains from California to Oregon to Washington. The mountain stops stick out so clearly because these particular peaks are so much higher than the surrounding mountain range. The personalities on which I have chosen to preach stand so much higher than all the other personalities of the Old Testament. Mount Baker stands for the faith of the patriarch, Abraham. Mount Rainer stands for the Ten Commandments given to Moses. He is one who gave them the Law, the Ten Commandments, the moral law for human civilization. Mount Hood stands for Samuel. Samuel was the first of the prophets, people who were anointed with the Spirit of God who controlled their lives. King David was another tall, gigantic mountain, like Mount Shasta. David, too, was a towering figure of the Old Testament landscape of mountains.

David was a great king, the greatest king in the history of the Jewish nation. In the Old Testament, of the thirty-nine kings, only David stands out positively far above all the rest. Why was David such a great king? In David’s words, “a king who rules with justice and the does the will of God is like the sun shining on a cloudless morning, is like the grass sparking after a morning rain.” In other words, a king, president, governor or any ruler who actually loves justice and actually does the will of God is a rarity among kings and presidents. The actions of such kings or presidents are breathtakingly beautiful, as is the morning sun and the grass sparking after a morning dew. David was such a rare king.

Today, we are going to examine three stories about David: the story of the 23rd psalm, the story of David and Goliath and the story of David and Bathsheba.

First, the story of David who wrote the 23rd psalm. “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.” David himself was a shepherd boy and he knew first hand the life of a shepherd from the very beginning of his young boyhood tending sheep on the rolling hills near Bethlehem. Young David knew from first hand experience that a good shepherd faithfully fed the sheep, faithfully watered the sheep, faithfully protected the sheep from lions and bears, consistently rescued his sheep, and actually knew the names of his sheep. David then compares the Lord to a faithful and loving shepherd. A shepherd feeds his sheep, waters his sheep, protects his sheep, rescues his sheep, and knows his sheep by name, and so it is with the Lord with us. The Lord feeds us, nourishes us, cares for us, protects us, rescues us and knows us by name. In the New Testament, Jesus becomes the good shepherd who does all of these things. When we say, “the Lord is my shepherd,” are we referring to Jesus, to God or both. The word, Lord, in the New Testament, can refer to Jesus or God, and so it is with our use of the word, Lord. Sometimes we refer to Jesus; sometimes we are referring to the Lord God, creator of the universe.

The 23rd psalm has been memorized by Christians for centuries and Christians throughout history has daily recited these words. I, too, recite these words every day and this is what they sound like when I say them. I put the 23rd psalm into the mood of a prayer. “You, Lord, are my shepherd and you take great care of me. You make me lie down in green pastures which are abundant with your food. You lead me beside still waters that are filled with your Spirit and thereby you restore my inner soul and emotions. You lead me in the paths of right relationships (with family and friends) that please your powerful presence. Even though I walk through the deep green valleys of darkness and death, I will not be afraid, for you are with me. Your Word and Wisdom strengthen me. You prepare for me a table in the presence of people who do not like me. You treat me as royalty. My cup of life is running over. Surely, goodness and mercy shall follow me all of my days here on earth and I will dwell in your home forever.” These are words that I personally recite every day and those words slowly mold me and squeeze into my inner psyche. 

From the person of David, we get the little Hebrew word, “olam,” which means “forever.” He said, “My kingdom will last forever.” He wrote the beautiful words of Psalm 23 and its last eternal line, “You shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” David is the one who taught us about the word, forever. We come to the New Testament and we hear the words of Jesus, who said, “Whoever lives and believes in me will never die but live forever.” John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in him, will never die by live forever.” Forever is a huge and important reality in the New Testament. When we come to church on Easter, we hear the triumphant words, “you will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” When you come to every Christian funeral, you heard those mighty words, “you will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” Of this I am sure: every person in this room is going to die. Many of you are going to die soon than you want and many of you are going to die later than you want. There is never that perfect time to die. But of this I am sure: we will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. Forever is a big mountain. It is a huge mountain.

There is a second story from the life of David and this story, too, is immensely popular. It is the famous story of David and the giant Goliath. The Jews were in battle with the Philistines. Let me tell you about the Philistines. The Philistines had copper; the Philistines had iron; the Philistines had chariots; the Philistines had horses. The Philistines were a technologically advanced, civilized society compared to the nomadic Hebrews. The Philistines had iron and copper, chariots and horses. The Hebrews had none of these. The Hebrews had been wandering in the desert for decades. They had emerged from their nomadic ways of the desert. The Hebrews did not have one blacksmith in the whole country. They had to go over to the Philistines to buy their iron tipped plows, any time the Hebrews wanted to sharpen their plows, they had to go back to the Philistines, sharpen their plows and eventually turn the tips of their plows into weapons of war. The Hebrews were a very primitive people compared to the Philistines. In the battles between the Hebrews and the Philistines, it was a technological mismatch.

On top of that, the Philistines had this tall, muscular character by the name of Goliath. The Bible says that he was nine feet tall. He was an enormously large man. On the giant Goliath was a bronze helmet that wrapped around his head. He wore a coat made of bronze that weighed one hundred and twenty-five pounds. Goliath wore sheaves of bronze to protect his lower legs. He had javelin slung over his back and that javelin was the thickness of a baseball bat, and the tip of his javelin was made out of iron. His javelin was fifteen pounds heavy. In front of Goliath was his shield bearer. Talk about an evil, gigantic monster, it was Goliath. He would shout to all the Israelites, “I challenge any of you to a fight.” The Bible says that King Saul and the Israelites were “very afraid” of Goliath. … Meanwhile, back at the sheep ranch, there was this boy by the name of David. Young David was a special guy, handsome with a ruddy complexion. The Bible says that he had sparkling eyes. Young David had proven to be a person of enormous courage. David’s three older brothers had gone off to war to fight the Philistines, and Jesse, the father, sent his youngest son, David, with ten loaves of bread to his brothers at the war front. The Bible is very specific in its colorful details. Young boy David went up to the battle front, with all this food, to see what was going on. At that moment that young David arrived at the front, giant Goliath was challenging the Jews by taunting them to come over and fight him. For forty days and forty nights, Goliath had been taunting the Jews and they were all terrified of him. David came up to his brothers and asked, “How long has this been going on?” The brothers answered, “Forty days and forty nights.” David asked, “What is the reward for killing the guy?” Yes, David was cocky by asking, “What is the reward for killing the guy?” The reward? The person who kills Goliath will become very rich, marry the king’s daughter, and won’t have to pay taxes. We like this story, especially the part about not paying taxes. David said, “That sounds good to me. I think that I can take that guy on.” The rumors about David started to spread, even to King Saul, and King Saul sent for David. David was brought before King Saul and said, “I can take Goliath.” King Saul said, “You are only a boy.” David said, “I am only a boy but I have killed lions. I have killed bears. I have killed cougars. It doesn’t matter how big a person is because God is with me. The Spirit of God is with me. The same God who delivered me from the jaws of the bear. The same God who delivered me from the jaws of the lion. That same God will deliver me from that giant Philistine Goliath.”  Well, King Saul was impressed with young David’s speech and thought to himself, “Maybe this kid knows what he is doing.” So Saul said, “I will get you all dressed up in my armor.” So he gave the boy a helmet of bronze, probably the only one they had in the Hebrew camp. They put Saul’s sword on David’s side and David stumbled around as he walked. If someone was doing a movie of the scene, it was the comic relief. Young David was stumbling around with the sword on and King Saul’s bronze helmet was much too big for him and he couldn’t see. David said, “This doesn’t work” and he threw off all the armor.  Instead, David got his sling out. You know, the sling that was powerful, that sling that he had grown up with, that sling that could fire rocks as fast and straight as bullets. Those rocks would fly a thousand miles an hour as they shot out from the sling. He put the sling in his pocket and stooped down to a stream and pulled out five smooth stones and put those stones into his pocket. (I love a book written by Edna Hong entitled, FIVE SMOOTH STONES. In this book, we are convinced that each one of us has five smooth stones in our pocket, five resources to combat the evil in our lives around us.) David then walked out onto the battlefield. Goliath strolled out onto the battlefield and saw David for the first time. “What! They have only sent a boy to fight me. I am going to chop you up like meat that will be served to the birds.”  David said, “Don’t kid yourself. You have been taunting God. You have been taunting the armies of God. The same God who delivered me from the lion. The same God who delivered me from the bear. It is the same God who will deliver me from you.” … David and Goliath moved towards each other on the battlefield and all were watching. David then reached into his pocket and pulled out the first of his five smooth stones. He put the smooth stone into this sling, twirled that sling around his head and fire that rock a thousand miles an hour and popped Goliath right in the forehead. That rocket stone knocked the giant Goliath down and out cold. David went over to Goliath’s tall body, pulled out his sword from its sheath, and stabbed him and killed him. He lifted Goliath’s head up and cut off his head at the neck. Whew! That is quite a story.

The story of David and Goliath has become a symbol of the little person winning the battle against a gigantic evil force. The story has become a symbol of the little person destroying the evil monster that the world thought was impossible to kill.

For example. Think of polio as that evil monster. Polio was a terrible disease. Polio crippled people by the tens of thousands and hundreds of thousands. People would say, “It is impossible to defeat polio. You just have to live with polio. That is just the way it is.”  Not Jonas Salk. Jonas Salk was like David, and he got his little rock out and he fired it at that giant called polio and that giant polio, like Goliath, came crashing down.

Another example. Smallpox as that evil monster. Smallpox wiped out the world by tens of thousands, by the millions, throughout the human race. There was this man, this David, by the name of Bill Foege, Dr. Bill Foege from Pacific Lutheran University, who was director of the Center Disease Control in Atlanta. He said, “I am going to take small pox on. I am going to eliminate small pox from the face of the earth.” “Impossible,” the crowd said. “Impossible,” the world said. Dr. Bill Foege took out his sling and shot that rock and the gigantic disease of small pox came crashing down to the ground.

Another example. People said that slavery was inevitable. They say, “There always have been slaves and there always will be slaves.” The little Davids such as Martin Luther King, Jr. rose up, and they put their smooth stone into their sling and fired that rock at slavery and hit slavery right in center of the forehead and knocked slavery off its feet and it came crashing down to the ground. They took that knife and cut off its ugly head and killed it. There is no slavery in the United States any more.  At one time in our history, some people said, “Slavery is inevitable. Slavery is the will of God. That’s just the way it is and will always be.” How shortsighted.

We have evil monsters that are part of our lives. We can give up and say, “That monster in my life is inevitable.” Or we can be like David, and have the courage and confidence to fight and win those battles against the monsters in our own lives. You see, the story of David and Goliath is true. The story is symbolic of David having the courage and confidence to fight the evil giant monster in his life. The story of David and Goliath is a great, great story that is part of our lives. For example, today here at the contemporary service, is sitting Cheri Jennings. This young woman has been battling the monster cancer for the past eleven months. Tomorrow is her last radiation treatment that she has been having for eleven months. She has her five smooth stones in her pocket; she has the resources provided by God to do battle with the evil in her life. She wants to take that smooth stone and slay that monster cancer from her life. So it is with all of us. God has provided resources for us to do battle with the evil monsters in our lives.

The third famous story about David is the story of David and Bathsheba. There is so much triumphant about David but there is also tragedy. We discover that in the next story that David was flawed to the core, even though he was the greatest Jewish king who ever lived, even though he loved justice and righteousness. Even so, David was flawed to the very core…and so are we. That is the next story.

All the Hebrew men went off to battle in the spring time, but David stayed home where he had built the palace. God would not let David build the temple, but God allowed David to build the palace. So God allowed David to built a palace for himself. One day, David was strolling along on the top walkways of the walls of his palace, and he looked down and saw this gorgeous woman bathing. This was truly a gorgeous woman. David said to his servant, “Go and find out who that woman is.” The servant came back and reported that was Bathsheba. “She is the wife of Uriah, the Hittite soldier.” David said, “Bring her up to me.” The servant brought her up to David who made love with her. Bathsheba went on her way but later sent a message to David that she was pregnant. It seems that David was not seeing her every day, that he saw her one night, used her, and then went on his way. So Bathsheba had to send a message to David that she was pregnant. So David, being the kind of person who wanted to protect himself, decided to cover his tracks. David then sent for Uriah to come back from the battlefront. David said to Uriah, “Uriah, why don’t you take the night off and go and see your wife, Bathsheba.” Uriah said, “Well, I will go home but I won’t go into the house. It is not appropriate for me to go into the comfort of my house when all my soldiers are out fighting the battles and risking and losing their lives.” So the next night, David took Uriah out and got him drunk and sent him home, hoping that Uriah would go into Bathsheba when he was in a drunker stupor and not thinking of his fellow troops. Not Uriah. Uriah slept right in the entry doorway to his house. David then sent Uriah back to the battlefield and also sent a note to the commander of the Hebrew army, his name was Joab. David informed Joab, “I want you to attack the city real hard. Then I want the forces to fall back and Uriah exposed, so that Uriah will be killed.” Joab, being a faithful general, did what he was told. The Hebrew army attacked the walls of that city and the army was much too close to the city wall, so that women on top of the wall were throwing stones down on the soldiers and killing the very best soldiers. Many soldiers were killed that day. Then the soldiers all withdrew from the wall, as commanded by Joab and Uriah was killed. So a message was sent back to David which said, “We attacked the city. We came in too close to the wall, and we pulled back and Uriah was killed.” Bathsheba politely mourned the loss of her husband and then moved in with King David at his palace and David married her.

Now, God was not pleased was not pleased with this. So God sent in a prophet. His name was Nathan. Nathan was a true prophet and a sign of a true prophet is that he or she is not afraid to tell the truth. The prophet Nathan came up to King David one day and asked, “How are you doing?” David said, “Just fine.” The prophet Nathan said, “Could I have a moment of your time, sir, that I could tell you a story, a riddle.” “Yes.” Nathan continued, “There once was a rich man who had a thousand sheep, and there was this poor servant who lived on the rich man’s property, and that poor servant had only one little lamb that was fed out of a cup every night. (Notice the intricate details found in these Bible stories.)  The poor man let his little lamb eat off of the plate every night. He held the little lamb like a pet. In fact, this little lamb was like the poor man’s daughter. He just loved this little lamb. Well, the rich man had a friend come to visit, and the rich man wanted to prepare a lamb dinner, a mutton dinner of lamb chops. So the rich man went and had a lamb killed so he could serve lamb chops for dinner for his friend. Did the rich man kill one of his thousand sheep to eat for dinner? No. He went and took the pet from the poor man and had that lamb butchered.” Nathan then asked, “What do you think about that, David?” David was incensed, “That is just terrible.” The Bible tells us that David became angry and inflamed. The man should die and he should pay back four fold for what he has done wrong.” Nathan lifted his finger and pointed at David and said, “You are the man.” David was dumbstruck, shocked, and stunned. Nathan continued, “You and your family will be punished for the rest of your life for what you have done.” David broke down, went off by himself, and wrote the following prayer in his emotional distress, “O God, against thee have I sinned and done this evil in your sight. In sin did my mother conceive me. From the very beginning in my mother’s womb, I have been a sinner. O God, forgive me. Create in me a clean heart and put a new and right spirit with me. Cast me not away from your presence for what I have done and do not take away your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and lift me up with a willing spirit. Then will I teach transgressors their ways and sinners shall be converted to you.” The words of Psalm 51. David is that person who accepted his sinfulness and came to God pleading for forgiveness. You and I are asked to do the same.

I would like to suggest to you that David, this great man, was flawed to his very core, and I would like to also suggest to you that you and I are flawed to the core. Even though we are church going and God fearing people and supposedly good people, we are still flawed to the core. Like David, we need come before God and say, “O God, I have sinned. I have not only sinned against people I have hurt, but I have sinned against you as well.” … You and I come before God and confess that we too are flawed to the core, that we have not only sinned against others and ourselves but we have also sinned against you. God, please forgive me.” David is the model of both  an honest spirit and penitent spirit.

David: his stories speak to our lives today. Amen.

CHILDREN’S SERMON: Use a shepherd’s staff and asked the children to identify what this object was. I talked about the purpose of the two ends of the staff: the question mark to save animals in crevasses and the pointy end to fight lions, bears and cougars. David was courageous to fight ferocious animals up close. The Lord is our shepherd, etc.

Back to Top