Big Problem, Bigger God

david v goliath

With God, NO PROBLEM is insurmountable.

Please read 1 Samuel 15-17 as set-up to this message.  I used the NIV (1984) to prepare these remarks, but it’s not required.

          Some of you will remember Art Linkletter’s TV show, “Kids say the Darndest Things.”  (The rest of you will Google it.)  On one of these shows, Linkletter asked what lesson we can learn from the story of David and Goliath.

From one of the kids, Linkletter received a one-word reply: “Duck!”

https://www.crosswalk.com/family/parenting/kids/what-is-the-lesson-of-david-and-goliath.html

Here’s a set of kid jokes based on David versus Goliath.

Q: Who is the greatest babysitter mentioned in the Bible?
A: David – he rocked Goliath to sleep.
Q: Why was Goliath so surprised when David hit him with a slingshot?
A: The thought had never entered his head before.
Q: If Goliath is resurrected, would you like to tell him that joke?
A: No, he already fell for it once.

http://www.bible-study-online.juliantrubin.com/biblejokes/davidgoliathjokes.html

In my personal devotions earlier this week I discovered that when you read the whole account in one sitting, you get a different perspective on the account of David squaring off against Goliath.  I later discovered that in all my years of ministry I have NEVER preached on this passage.  With all that background, let me start by setting the fighters in their corners & we’ll see what God develops.

  1. In this corner, at nine feet, nine inches, 668 pounds, the Philistine champion, the “Gath Giant,” GOLIATH!

What do we know about Goliath?

The text tells us he was from Gath (4), a city we are unable to precisely locate.  The phrase OUT OF THE PHILISTINE CAMP (4) leaves open the possibility that Goliath was no Philistine, only employed by their army.  The Bible talks about three different races of giants.  Goliath may have been one of these peoples who were among the original settlers of Canaan (see Joshua 11:22).

He was a great deal taller than average (anywhere from 6’1” to 9’9”, depending on a couple variables).  Average height of the time being a mere 5’ to 5’3”, that leaves a lot of room on the upper scale. Goliath’s size and his armaments were meant to be intimidating.  Verses three to seven tell us how big and shiny his battle dress was.

What hope did the Israelites have of defeating him?  No military hope.

The challenge Goliath issued was perfectly in order with the customs of the time.  It may sound crazy to have armies staring across a valley at each other at all, let alone for 40 days (that may’ve been an above-average wait time).  Obviously, with a giant like Goliath as their champion, the offer to avoid all-out war by means of a challenge looked like a safe bet for the Philistines to win.

If intimidation was the Philistines’ tactic (I think it was), it worked: the Israelites were thoroughly intimidated.  Over the course of FORTY DAYS none of the Israelite soldiers took up his challenge (16).  They may have seethed under his insults, but none of them dared to step into the valley.  Worse, the text says the soldiers were all DISMAYED AND TERRIFIED (11).  The Philistines must’ve been grinning from ear to ear when young David was finally set forth as the Israelite champion (37 + 41).

  1. In the other corner, at four feet, eleven and a quarter inches, 92 pounds, the “Slingin’ Shepherd,” DAVID!

What do we know about David?

Most importantly, we know David had already been crowned as king over Israel.  At the end of 1 Samuel 15, God announced to His man Samuel that he was GRIEVED that He’d made Saul king of Israel.  In chapter sixteen, after a lengthy selection process, God revealed to Samuel that David would be the next king of Israel.  Samuel anointed David with oil, but told no one else about it and did nothing more.

The important bit is in 16:13: After Samuel anointed David, FROM THAT DAY ON THE SPIRIT OF THE LORD CAME UPON DAVID IN POWER.

Contrast that with 16:14: NOW THE SPIRIT OF THE LORD HAD DEPARTED FROM SAUL, AND AN EVIL SPIRIT FROM THE LORD TORMENTED HIM.  The last half of 1 Samuel is the painful story of how God replaced Saul with David as king of Israel.  Our passage is one of the steps in that process.

David was the youngest son in Jesse’s family, a good-looking kid (33+42) who tended sheep in the field (16:12-13; 34-37).  God started with a young man of humble beginnings and raised him to the highest place of that time.

In this passage, David demonstrated some of his emerging character.  In verses 17-22, he shows his obedience. Because of his age and/or other reasons, Jesse kept David out of the conflict.  Here Jesse gives the future king a “grunt” job to do: deliver some food to his brothers & bring back a report; David obeyed.

Look at verses 23-26 where David is outraged that this pagan – no matter how big he was – should be allowed to blaspheme the name of God and slander the people of Israel.  This demonstrates righteous anger, a state – if genuine – is difficult to achieve.

In verses 34-37 David showed confidence before King Saul, describing how he’d survived lion and bear attacks.  This also demonstrates humility, as his point was that the LORD had delivered him (37) then and David was confident the LORD would deliver him from this mouthy pagan giant too.  Rebuking Goliath’s taunts (45-47), David again expressed this confidence in God.

How was he the solution to the problem of Goliath’s challenge?

One explanation is to look at Goliath’s disadvantages. Bill Murphy Jr. wrote an article for INC. magazine entitled “Three Things People get Wrong about David vs. Goliath.”

Disadvantage #1 = Goliath can’t see.  Scientists have speculated that Goliath might have had a disorder called acromegaly. This condition causes a person to grow extremely tall, but can lead to double-vision and severe nearsightedness.   This may be implied by the text.  In verse 41, Goliath and his shield bearer KEPT MOVING CLOSER TO DAVID.  It’s true that Goliath’s motive might’ve been to close range and attack with his sword, he didn’t need to: He could’ve thrown his spear to make an attack at range or thrust it at David at medium range.  However, when you consider the possibility of near-sightedness, he may have been edging closer to see David better.  In verse 45, Goliath taunted David, saying, “COME HERE.” Was that because he couldn’t see David?

Murphy concludes, “Big competitors’ perceived advantages can often mask their even bigger disadvantages.”

Disadvantage #2 = Goliath is powerless.  Psychologically, Goliath was designed to intimidate.  Every detail in his description is the epitome of someone you don’t want to mess with.  I think the Philistines were pulling a fast one – they wanted to intimidate them into giving up without a fight.  Look at verse one – who started this fight?  the Philistines.  It was a put-on from the first moment.

Tactically, David has the advantage of mobility.  The text makes a big deal of Goliath’s armor and David’s lack of armor.  We think this is meant to emphasize David’s disadvantage, but it actually explains how he won: he moved more swiftly and attacked first.

A second explanation is to look at David’s tactical assets.  This is Murphy’s third point: David was deadly.  The Bible never says David went into battle with “only a sling.” We might think of a sling as a child’s toy, but it was actually an effective weapon.  In skilled hands, it was on a par with a bow.  Armies of the time had division of slingers.

I’ve read a rock from a sling has the stopping power of a .45 caliber handgun.  David pressed his advantages of mobility and deadliness: he used his deadly ranged weapon and attacked Goliath before he could get close enough to swing his sword.

  1. The outcome of the fight: a TKO (Totally Killed Off).

One outcome was peace for Israel.  Verse 51 tells us WHEN THE PHILISTINES SAW THAT THEIR HERO WAD DEAD, THEY TURNED AND RAN.  The Israelites pursued their retreating foes all the way to their home cities, leaving behind a trail of death and plunder.

The plunder here is important.  I read that there were no blacksmiths in Israel.  The Philistines kept the Israelites in a vassal-like state by withholding metalworking technology from them.  Therefore, the Israelites increased their stock of technologically superior weapons as the picked up what the Philistines dropped.

Another outcome is David taking another step toward kingship. As we’ve seen, David had already been anointed as the next king, so God empowered Him to win the fight and take a step toward establishing his kingship by making him popular and well-known.  For example, in 18:7, the people exalt David over King Saul as a greater soldier.

The Philistines offered a rigged fight, but it was not rigged in the way they expected.  Instead, God determined the outcome of the fight to advance His plan.

Bill Murphy Jr. concluded his article with the following observation: “The lesson isn’t simply that when a powerful competitor takes on a smaller one, the smaller one might nevertheless win. Instead, great leaders understand that the real keys to battle are sometimes obscured by our misconceptions. Perceiving them correctly can amount to a Goliath-sized advantage.”

You may not care about finding lessons for leadership in this passage, but here’s something we can all take to heart: With God, NO PROBLEM is insurmountable.

Rather than be intimidated by what appears to be a mountain, we need to rethink the situation. First, trust in God as David did.  He had faith and joined the battle.  Second, take another look at the obstacles in front of you.  There are bound to be things that seem like disadvantages that can, with a little forethought, be turned into advantages.

David did not win his battle with Goliath.  God won the battle.  In fact, it was won before it was fought, and that was reflected in David’s confidence.  We must trust God will do the same for us.

 

Resources:

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, 1982.

https://www.inc.com/bill-murphy-jr/3-things-people-get-wrong-about-david-vs-goliath.html

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Wage War on Weariness

It has been talked about and reported so often that Americans are too busy, too driven, and, as a result, chronically fatigued, that it’s not news any more.  But it is worth talking about, because it affects every aspect of our lives AND because God created us to rest.  Remember our discussion of Genesis 1.  From the beginning, before there were calendars and clocks, before businesses and bosses were even thought of, God commanded that one day of the week be set aside for rest, recreation, and renewal.

As I have thought about this topic the last three weeks, I decided a little context might help.  I went looking for some information that might objectify this sense that we are a nation of walking weary.  I found a couple items.  I’m not offering them as proof, but as numerical anecdotes that illustrate the pervasiveness of the problem of weariness.

            “Americans Are Tired Most Of The Week”by Niall McCarthy, Jun 8, 2015

“How many days of the week do you wake up feeling exhausted? If you really feel like a slave to your alarm clock, you aren’t alone. Only one in 7 Americans wake up feeling fresh every day of the week, according to a poll conducted by YouGov. Experts have recommended eight hours sleep, though seven hours should also be sufficient.
“45 percent of Americans sleeping 7 to 8 hours a night reported feeling tired or fatigued up to three times a week. 27 percent of people said they wake up tired on 4 or more days per week. Those only managing six hours sleep or less each night are, quite unsurprisingly, the most tired. 54 percent of people getting six or less hours sleep wake up tired 4 or more days a week.”

<Retrieved at https://www.statista.com/chart/3534/americans-are-tired-most-of-the-week/ on 2/16/17.>

            “The Enormous Cost Of Sleep Deprivation” by Niall McCarthy, Dec 2, 2016

“Are you getting enough sleep every night? According to a new study from Rand Europesleep deprivation is a serious and costly problem for the globe’s major economies. In the United States, 1.2 million working days are lost every year due to insufficient sleep, costing a whopping $411 billion. That equates to 2.28 percent of the country’s GDP. Japan is also suffering the effects of sleep deprivation, losing 600,000 days and $138.6 billion annually.”

<Retrieved at https://www.statista.com/chart/7052/the-enormous-cost-of-sleep-deprivation/ on 2/16/17.>

These statistical snapshots seem to support the general conclusion that we are weary and our weariness is costing us.  Fortunately, God has provided several things we can do to combat weariness.  We will continue that study today and learn another step faithful people can take when trials threaten to weigh us down.

What do we do when we are wearied?

REVIEW:

  1. Continue to do good anyway.
  2. Wait on the Lord.

NEW:

  1. Stand firm; hold tight; hang on to Jesus’ hand.

Do not take your eyes off the prize.  Please read Philippians 3:12-16 in your favorite Bible, I have used the NIV for these remarks.

In vs. 12-14 Paul admitted that he had more to learn and room for improvement. But he did not focus on his failures or the wearying parts of life. Instead, he oriented himself toward the future.  We clearly see that orientation in the following: I PRESS ON…FORGETTING WHAT IS BEHIND AND STRAINING TOWARD WHAT IS AHEAD, I PRESS ON TOWARD THE GOAL.

PRESS ON is a hunting term; “to pursue, chase, run down.”  This is an aggressive term, indicating the passion Paul had for knowing Jesus Christ and expressing His character in the way Paul lived.

FORGETTING WHAT IS BEHIND means whether we see the past through rose-colored glasses, exaggerating its good points, or through dark glasses, exaggerating its ills, the fact is that it is behind us and will always remain unchanged.  A concentration on the past contributes to weariness.  Looking to the future – with optimism or pessimism – gives us strength and excitement.

STRAINING TO WHAT IS AHEAD = STRAINING is an athletic word, picturing a runner giving everything he’s got to finish first.  Think of that final lunge across the finish line.  His emphasis was on the time frame over which we can exert the most influence: the future.  Human nature is such that we move in the direction we’re looking.  That is a physical truth and a spiritual one as well.

I PRESS ON TOWARD THE GOAL turns the hunting imagery to track and field.  In any case, “pressing on” is not necessarily easy and does not always feel like a success, but it is necessary, and it is a path toward healing weariness. The Greek word translated as “goal” pictures a physical marker that indicates where the finish line is located.  In spiritual terms, the GOAL is becoming more like Jesus as we move ahead toward eternal life.

In v. 15 Paul confidently asserts that all maturing believers will share this orientation toward the future.  There is no room for disagreement on this matter.  Well, he was an APOSTLE, after all!

In v. 16 we are told the bottom line is that we don’t regress.  We are committed to not moving backward.  When we are weary we may be truly incapable of moving forward, but we should at least not give up any ground.

Please read Hebrews 3:1-14; 4:14 in your favorite Bible.  I use the NIV.  Keep the faith you received.

In 3:6 we read BUT CHRIST IS FAITHFUL AS THE SON OVER GOD’S HOUSE. AND WE ARE HIS HOUSE, IF INDEED WE HOLD FIRMLY TO OUR CONFIDENCE AND THE HOPE IN WHICH WE GLORY.  The object of this verse is to teach us about the essential role of Jesus Christ in our salvation.  Based on that fact, we have something substantial on which we can HOLD FIRMLY.  Our CONFIDENCE and HOPE are safe and secure as long as they are based on the truth about Jesus Christ.

When we dilute that truth by allowing modern culture to change our minds, then our CONFIDENCE and HOPE are less reliable.  Notice the phrase IN WHICH WE GLORY.  This means that our CONFIDENCE and HOPE is what gives us true joy, real strength.

In 3:14 it is written WE HAVE COME TO SHARE IN CHRIST, IF INDEED WE HOLD OUR ORIGINAL CONVICTION FIRMLY TO THE VERY END.  We tend to focus on beginnings, don’t we?  We get sentimental about firsts and that includes our Christian faith.  We also lump beginnings and endings into one, deleting the process in the middle.

These tendencies come back to bite us when we think that baptism or joining a church is the end of it.  This is why people sometimes disappear from church once they have achieved milestones like this.

However, Paul here reminds us of a central truth: how we begin our journey of faith is important, but it is of greater importance how we continue it and how we end it.  Commitments to Christ can be easily made in a moment, but professions of faith must be proven true by doing the hard work of living for Jesus each day, through the end of your life.  Our CONFIDENCE and HOPE are safe and secure as long as they are based on the truth about Jesus Christ.

For example, He is superior to any human priest because He is THE SON OF GOD.  Our faith asserts that He is fully God and fully human at the same time.  Any teaching that shrinks from this assertion is false.  The human side of Jesus’ nature assures us that He is sympathetic with our condition, having experienced it Himself.  The divine side of Jesus’ nature assures us of our salvation: because He is God He is able to save us.

In 4:14 we are told THEREFORE, SINCE WE HAVE A GREAT HIGH PRIEST WHO HAS ASCENDED INTO HEAVEN, JESUS THE SON OF GOD, LET US HOLD FIRMLY TO THE FAITH WE PROFESS.  The object of this verse is to teach us about the priestly role of Jesus Christ.  In the OT system, a PRIEST was a mediator between God and His people.  The HIGH PRIEST had an especially important role in that he offered the annual Day of Atonement sacrifice for the sins of the nation.  Jesus is superior because HE ASCENDED INTO HEAVEN, a greater feat.

Notice Jesus is our GREAT HIGH PRIEST, far superior to any person who ever held that office.  He offered Himself as a sacrifice for sins and that was done once and is effective to save all people in all places at all times.  Everyone who accepts this act of grace will be saved.

This is a question that pains me as a Minnesota Vikings football fan.  HAVE YOU EVER HEARD OF WALTER PAYTON?  Walter Jerry Payton from the state of Mississippi. Payton lived from July 25,1954 until November 1, 1999. He was 45 years old when he died of a liver disease.

Mike Ditka was Payton’s coach and he said: “Walter was a great player, but he was even a greater man.”  Payton’s nick name was “SWEETNESS.”  Payton played for the Chicago Bears and so was constantly a thorn in the side of the Minnesota Vikings.  The worst was setting a single-game rushing record that I believe still stands.

Because it is too painful for me to recount and to avoid boring you good folks, I will spare you all the statistical evidence and just say it can be argued that Payton was the greatest running back of his time, perhaps of NFL history.

Someone once asked Walter, “Where did your greatness start?”  Walter said: “When I started playing my junior year the coach told us to run up and down the hill behind the school 25 times.”  Most of the players ran up and down the hill a few times and went to the locker room. I started to go with them and then I thought: “No, the coach said run the hill 25 times, so I went back and was the only one who would run the hill 25 times. That may have been a turning point for me.”

Payton’s Motto?  “NEVER DIE EASY — ALWAYS GET UP — NEVER QUIT — KEEP ON TRYING.”

<By Wade Martin Hughes, Sr. Kyfingers@aol.com, retrieved from https://www.sermoncentral.com/illustrations/sermon-illustration-wade-m-stories-84249 on 02/17/17.>

“Never die easy;” that has a strange ring to it, doesn’t it?  But I think it has a great similarity to the words we’ve just studied in Hebrews.  Weariness is going to happen.  Discouragement sets in.  When these trials come against us, what are we to do?

One of the things we are to do is resist the urge to quit.  Instead of giving up as a way to try to ease our pain, we need to hang on more tightly to the truth.  Here is one essential truth to which we must cling: Because God is for us, it doesn’t matter who is against us.  If we remain in Him, the outcome is assured.  We will triumph.

PREVIEW:

  1. Focus on the basics: prayer and the Word.
  2. Rely on the Lord’s strength, not yours. (RMS 8:13)
  3. Share your burdens. (GLS 6:2)
  4. Spend your sorrow on service.
  5. Invest in wellness.

Shut Your “I”

(Please read Philippians 4:10-20.  My remarks are based on the NIV.)

As we all know, even gifts and other forms of support can be a double-edged sword. It can create some awkward and even bad situations.

1 = A common awkward situation (more common here in the Midwest) is when people argue about who is going to pay a bill. Most of the time these are friendly exchanges, but they are an example of how being on the receiving end of a gift is something we try to avoid.

2 = It becomes awkward when gifts are not appreciated or taken for granted. Being careful to be thankful is important tho’ neglected in our culture.

3 = When a gift results in either the giver or the gifted incurring a sense of obligation or entitlement, the relationship can become tense.

– The worst form of response is when support creates a sense of total obligation. This is what underlies someone complaining and saying, “I pay your salary!” This becomes a parody of a “master/slave” kind of relationship. That attitude is wrong & won’t work.

– An “employer/employee” relationship is good, but not ideal, especially when one party or both feels entitlement they don’t deserve and complain when they don’t receive it. Both employers and employees need to remember they share responsibility and the success of their work depends on a mutual respect.

– A “partnership” is the best for all parties. Because it involves a shared responsibility, combines the strengths of group members, and spreads out the joy of accomplishment, this is the best way for supporters and supported to see each other.

When it works is when givers and receivers of support see themselves as Paul saw the Philippians – as partners.

MESSAGE: Godly living requires our total attention be fixed upon God.

CONTEXT: Paul’s letter to the church in Philippi is a celebration of ministry. The key word is joy, which is repeated several times in the text. There are a number of parallels between this passage and chapter one, suggesting Paul is “bookending” his letter. The themes are repeated at beginning and end to make sure they’re communicated

1. Paul could have depended on his own strength and/or the support of the Philippians.

Verse 10 = Paul “rejoiced greatly” because the Philippians had RENEWED their CONCERN for Paul. The source of his joy was not the cash or any other material things that were part of their gift. His joy was much more personal – He was made happy by this demonstration of their love for him. The feeling the gift occasioned was more important to him than the gift.

He already knew the Philippian Christians cared for him: YOU HAVE BEEN CONCERNED. It was a matter of timing and circumstances; they had not yet had OPPORTUNITY TO SHOW IT. Paul understood & was patient. That kind of patience flows from the kind of contentment Paul described in v. 11-12. Discontented people are more likely to be impatient people. People who are content have less reason to fly into impatience. This is human nature.

In verses 14-16 Paul commends their sharing as good. Other Macedonian churches had not shared with Paul, but he did not condemn them for it. Their apathy merely highlights the Philippians’ generosity. Paul had a godly love in his heart for this church. In 1:3-8 he wrote about their PARTNERSHIP IN THE GOSPEL. What’s behind this comment is a first century Greco-Roman social structure of friendship and patronage that is too complicated to even highlight here. For our purpose, it’s sufficient to say that Paul did not want there to be any sense of obligation between him and the Philippian church members, that duty and honor had been given and received both ways. Instead, he wanted them to see themselves as his partners in ministry, with the mutual responsibility to love and support each other in all ways; materially, spiritually, and socially with loyalty.

IT WAS GOOD OF YOU TO SHARE IN MY TROUBLES (14) is another very personal statement. While the material support was needed & appreciated, it was the love behind the gift that gave Paul the deepest reason for joy.

Verses 17-18 are Paul’s statement of intent: he wanted to give credit where it was due. He wanted them to know he was aware of their generosity. FULL PAYMENT AND EVEN MORE… AMPLY SUPPLIED both convey a fullness of provision. While there may have been room for more or better, the fact was, all Paul’s needs were met by their generous gift. Thanks to them, Paul did not want.

But more to the point, all credit is due to God, who supplies everything, including our acts of generosity. Paul is directing attention back to God; what all disciples are to do. He described their gift in terms of God’s perspective:

– A FRAGRANT OFFERING: Like incense

– AN ACCEPTABLE SACRIFICE = or the smoke of a burnt offering,

– PLEASING TO GOD = acts of love and worship rise up to God like a pleasing aroma.

This also implies that gifts to a Gospel ministry are, in reality, gifts to God. (Similarly, gifts withheld are an act of disobedience against God.)

  1. Instead, Paul chose to depend on God.

In vs. 11 and 12, Paul made a tremendous claim, that he had learned to be CONTENT. I AM NOT SAYING THIS BECAUSE I AM IN NEED is Paul’s verification of the statement. He is not writing this thank you note as a hint for more support. The principle being demonstrated here is one of the key truths of this passage. Our sense of well-being is based on who God is, not on what’s going on around us. Paul’s joy was not based on the necessity of the gift or its’ timely arrival.

I HAVE LEARNED TO BE CONTENT…I HAVE LEARNED THE SECRET OF BEING CONTENT. The important word here is LEARNED. It’s safe to assume Paul learned this by experience, and from all he experienced. Paul not only attended the “school of hard knocks,” he was it’s president (see 2 Corinthians 11:16-33)!

I KNOW WHAT IT IS TO BE IN NEED, AND I KNOW WHAT IT IS TO HAVE PLENTY…WELL FED OR HUNGRY. Part of Paul’s learning was in prison! At this time, prisoners were completely dependent on outside sources for survival. The jailer did not feed or clothe his prisoners. So the support he received was essential for survival, not just paying ministry expenses. I believe it needs to be added that contentment persists in all kinds of emotional states as well – even though Paul refers only to material states here. He adds the emotional element in Galatians 6:9.

The phrases WHATEVER THE CIRCUMSTANCES…IN EACH AND EVERY SITUATION reveal that true contentment is not based on satisfaction of needs but exists regardless of one’s circumstance. This is similar to peace not being merely the absence of conflict, but a sense of well-being that exists regardless of one’s surroundings.

Various religions and worldly philosophies attempt to achieve contentment by withdrawing from struggles, avoiding desire, detaching from relationships, and/or not engaging with life in its fullness. God’s standard is higher: be fully involved and fully content.

In verse 13 Paul reported that he had been strengthened for all contests of faith. This verse is lifted out of context almost as often as John 3:16. Remember, Paul is writing here about contentment. Paul is saying that the SECRET of contentment is in being focused on Jesus. Philippians 4:13 should never be quoted without quoting verse 12 first.

The other mistake we typically make in this verse is to focus on the word “I.” The purpose of the verse is to focus on HIM. Jesus is the source of our strength, the fountain of contentment that wells up in our lives to the degree that we truly focus on HIM. Contentment with ALL THINGS is possible because of HIM, not because of self. This is the “I” we need to “shut.” This is the truth behind the title of this message. We need to stop putting first person singular in the center of our vision and focus attention on Jesus. Take a look at 2 Corinthians 12:9. The word SUFFICIENT you’ll find there is a similar Greek word to the word “contentment” here.

In verse 19 Paul promised that his God WILL meet ALL the NEEDS of the Philippian Christians (and by extension, all of His people). True sacrifice is never the leftovers, but the first-fruits of our labors. Our human nature rebels against this, because our nature tends to put self 1st. So Paul writes to assure them that acts of sacrificial giving may appear to involve risk, may seem to require deprivation, but the fact is that God’s SUPPLY is so much greater than our gifts, that we are always much better off. This means we can always afford to be generous, we can always courageously err on the side of grace, because God is trustworthy.

Hear and act upon Paul’s reassuring words: MY GOD WILL MEET ALL YOUR NEEDS. This verse is essentially saying the same thing as v. 13. ALL THINGS can be done in the Lord’s STRENGTH because He meets ALL our NEEDS!

The phrase HIS GLORIOUS RICHES directs our attention to heaven. There is no chance of god failing to notice our NEEDS, no chance of Him failing to meet our NEEDS. Relax. God has got this.

In conclusion, verse 20 direct our attention where it should be, noting that OUR GOD is worthy of worship. While you’re relaxed, in a trusting and content state, remember the ONE who got you there. Worship the ONE who made this possible His great grace. Here too, the temptation is to allow our focus to shift to self and congratulate ourselves and think that we’ve “earned” this somehow. DTY 8 ought to remove any lingering trace of that foolishness! Instead, we ought to follow the example of the Apostle Paul who, after reflecting on all these things, paused to praise because God is worthy of worship.

Material things consume our waking hours. We busy ourselves with activity at an unsustainable pace. We must PLAN to PAUSE to PRAISE God.

Now that we have discussed what this passage means, let me tell you what it does NOT mean. to do this, I want to share with you some very apt words by Dr. Lynn Cohick, who wrote a commentary on Philippians:

“Paul does not imply that God promises health and wealth, as though God is a great vending machine that dumps out blessings if we put in a few coins. This (admittedly crass) description of God’s character has been called the ‘health and wealth gospel’ or ‘the prosperity gospel,’ which I believe is one of the greatest dangers to the Christian faith today. This ‘gospel’ holds that God will bless his followers with wealth and health as they give payments of tithes and offerings. Because it promotes that every believer should be healthy and wealthy, if a believer is not, then one of two options is left: either God has failed them, or they have failed God. Yet God never fails to love us, and we can never fall so far that God cannot reach us, (RMS 8:31-39), for his love operates now and extends into eternity.” (The Story of God Bible Commentary, Philippians, Zondervan, Grand Rapids, MI, 2013, p. 255, emphasis hers.)

I agree.  If we understand that gifting is not supposed to create an obligation but a partnership in HUMAN relationships, then it makes sense to know that it will not create a partnership in our DIVINE relationship either!!