Southern Strength

I’ve always been fascinated (mildly, mind you) by the World’s Strongest Man competition. These beefy, brawny behemoths gather in some third-world country and see how many things they can lift/throw or how fast they can carry/pull something heavy, and whoever does this best is crowned the World’s Strongest Man.

One of the actors on the hit HBO show Game of Thrones has competed in the WSM and placed second in 2016 and 2017, and he is currently Europe’s Strongest Man. His name is Hafþór (“Half-Thor”) Björnsson, and he is 6 feet 9 inches tall and weighs 440 lbs. His character is nicknamed “The Mountain who Rides”, and he is the real deal. He exemplifies strength, at least by the World’s standards. He once carried a 1,433-pound log on his back, which broke a record that had lasted for 1,000 years.

See, that’s what the World sees as “strong”. Physical acts of strength mean nothing to God. Look at King David, or rather, shepherd David. As a young boy, smaller and weaker than his older brothers, the prophet Samuel thought that he could not be God’s choice for the king of Israel, but God set him straight when He said in 1 Samuel 16:7, “Do not look at his appearance of his physical stature…the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

Fast forward one chapter and little shrimpy David takes out the giant Goliath with a stone. Is this because David was secretly super strong? Nope, but David knew that there was a strength that he could use. “The Lord, who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, He will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine (1Sam. 17:37).”

He then walked up to Goliath, who stood 9’6″ (much more of a Mountain than Björnsson), with five smooth stones and a sling and had this to say: “You come to me with a sword, with a spear, and with a javelin. But I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the Lord will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you and take your head from you. And this day I will give the carcasses of the camp of the Philistines to the birds of the air and the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel. Then all this assembly shall know that the Lord does not save with sword and spear; for the battle is the Lord’s, and He will give you into our hands (1 Sam. 17:45-47).”

He took a stone and slung it into the giant’s forehead causing him to die. God delivered Goliath into David’s hands because the young man had faith in God. Now, this does not mean that just because we believe in God that we can be the World’s Strongest. It’s not a magic formula, but it gives us access to a power greater than anything in the World.

With the strength of God, we can stand up to those who would mock our faith and lifestyle. With the strength of God, we can resist temptations and be a good example to others. With the strength of God, we can overcome mistakes we have made and be better than before.

David, now a king, had a weak moment. He lusted after a married woman, committed adultery with her, and when he found out she was pregnant with his child, had her husband killed in battle. Then he married the woman and began to raise the son she bore him. Reading this, some of you might say that he had SEVERAL weak moments, and you would be right.

It was not until the prophet Nathan came to David with a story of a rich man who stole a poor man’s only lamb, which was precious to him, for a meal that David saw the error of his ways. “So David’s anger was greatly aroused against the man, and he said to Nathan, ‘As the Lord lives, the man who has done this shall surely die!  And he shall restore fourfold for the lamb, because he did this thing and because he had no pity.’ Then Nathan said to David, ‘You are the man!’ (2 Sam. 12:5-7)” David heard the judgment of the Lord that war would always be a part of David’s reign and that the son conceived in sin would die.

The boy got sick, and David neither ate nor slept for six whole days, but he prayed that God would spare the child. The boy died on the seventh day, and David got up, bathed, and ate. He showed true contrition (the state of feeling remorseful and penitent) in hopes that God would forgive, but when it was shown that He would not, he accepted God’s punishment. “While the child was alive, I fasted and wept; for I said, ‘Who can tell whether the Lord will be gracious to me, that the child may live?’ But now he is dead; why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me (2 Sam 12:22-23).”

After all of the terrible sins David committed, he was still called a man after God’s own heart. How? David relied on God. When he messed up, he showed true penitence that can be seen in his Psalms (Ps. 51 and 32). He gave glory to God when he succeeded and took full responsibility when he failed. He showed a good, Godly example to those around him.

It would’ve been easy for him to take credit for himself or blame God or just be like everyone else in the World, but David had true strength from God. Worldly strength can help you win an arm-wrestling match, but Godly strength can help you win the tug-of-war on your heart against Satan. Where do you get your strength?

Peace. Love. Roll Tide.