Sermon – 03-19-23 – Lent 4 – Cycle A
Scripture: 1 Samuel 16:1-13; Psalm 139; Ephesians 5:8-14; John 9:1-12
Sermon Title: “God’s Plan Unfolding”
Not everyone believes that God has a plan for each person. Do you? Maybe you think God only has a plan for people in the Bible. Maybe you think God does not care enough about you to have a plan for you. Some of us may be thinking that we can override God’s plan because we think we have a better plan for ourselves.
Meet David. The young boy with a slingshot who was able to slay a giant named Goliath. Why would David do this? Goliath was a giant to be feared, apparently. Nobody had succeeded in doing away with Goliath until David offered to do the job. Who was Goliath? I quote from 1 Samuel 17.4: “And there came out from the camp of the Philistines a champion named Goliath, of Gath, whose height was more than nine feet.” The Israelite army was so much afraid that they retreated. But David convinced King Saul that he, David, should have a try at downing this Phillistine giant. You probably know that David succeeded in slaying this giant with a simple slingshot.
Now I think violence is always wrong; never a good way to solve a problem. So why am I lifting young David in this sermon if he is doing something I oppose? Probably to make the point that God will not adjust to my way of thinking. If God helps a young boy to slay a nine foot giant then it is not my place to argue with God. God obviously had this whole thing planned. David’s father had requested David to find someone else to tend the sheep so that David could take food to his brothers on the battlefield with the Israelites protecting themselves against the Phillistines. The need arose. David was there to take case of the problem even though at least one brother told him to go back home and mind his own business – oops – mind the sheep.
Even before this Goliah episode, our Old Testament Lesson today tells of David being secretly anointed to be the next king of Israel. A shepherd. A young shepherd. God has Samuel in place as a prophet at this very time. A coincidence? Probably not. By the way, don’t delay getting your nose in the books of Samuel in the Old Testament. Don’t expect to make it a short read!
Samuel was a holdover as a prophet even when God gave a king to the Israelite people who clamored God for a king. God said to Samuel, “You and I both know that King Saul has not become a good king. I have this plan but I need your help.” Samuel shall go to a man named Jesse who is the father of eight sons, including young David. Right! This is the very father who will send David to the battefield with food for his brothers.
When Samuel arrives at Jesse’s home he explains that he needs to see all of the sons. So one-by-one the sons are brought before Samuel. But each time, God tells Samuel, “This is not the right son. Good looks don’t count.” Seven sons passed but God said, “No, not this one.” Finally Samuel asks if there is not another son. “Yes,” says Jesse, “but he is out in the field watching the sheep. Surely, he is not the one you are seeking.” “,mBring him here,” says Samuel. So they wait until someone can reach David and return with David. When David arrives, God declares to Samuel, “He is the one. Anoint this one.” This is in secret.
God’s plans are often in secret. As David writes in Psalm 139, “Psalm 139
O Lord, you have searched me and known me. You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from far away. You search out my path and my lying down, and are acquainted with all my ways. Even before a word is on my tongue, O Lord, you know it completely. You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is so high that I cannot attain it. Where can I go from your spirit? Or where can I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there; if I make my bed in Sheol, you are there. If I take the wings of the morning and settle at the farthest limits of the sea,
even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me fast. If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light around me become night,” even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is as bright as the day, for darkness is as light to you. For it was you who formed my inward parts; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; that I know very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes beheld my unformed substance. In your book were written all the days that were formed for me, when none of them as yet existed. Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my thoughts. See if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.
New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. http://nrsvbibles.org
While God is forming us, while God is preparing us to be his children, it is done in secret. When we are formed and declared to be children of the light, we need to be visible. We need to be available. We need to be filled with the light of God in order to do God’s work and be filled with his joy. Paul tells us so in our Ephesians lesson.
Then we find this person in our Gospel lesson from John. This man, blind from birth, is given sight by Jesus. Do we really think God would allow a person to be blind all his life just for this opportunity to show that Jesus is really the Son of God and therefore can perform miracles? Those of us who find ourselves saying, “Everything happens for a reason.” could use this story as a witness for our belief. I personally do think that some things just happen while other happenings were planned and controlled by God, only to be revealed years later in some instances.
Do you think your life and the happenings in your life just happened or do you think everything was planned and controlled by God? Are you happy with your life the way it has unfolded? Do you feel that you have been anointed by God and you are living out that anointment the way God planned for you? In your hands, O God, we yearn to be the persons you created us to be! Even though we were created in darkness, let your light shine through us. Amen