Children need instruction to apply Scripture to issues of authority, obedience, conflict resolution, and God-given roles in relationships. Everyday life affords scores of opportunities to connect Scripture to life—from lost book-bags to broken friendships and poor test grades. Scores of training opportunities evaporate without notice as we hurry through our days thinking that devotional time with our children is enough. Our responses to the circumstances and crises of everyday life make our theology real.
Bible stories glow with illustrations of children whose knowledge of Scripture translated into obedient, bold action. David’s words to Saul sound naïve and childish in the face of the Philistine army and the terrifying threats of Goliath, “Let no one lose heart on account of this Philistine; your servant will go and fight him” (1 Sam. 17:32). But David’s spiritual life and experience as a boy shepherd resounds with his right to speak. “But David said to Saul, ‘Your servant has been keeping his father’s sheep. When a lion or a bear came and carried off a sheep from the flock, I went after it, struck it and rescued the sheep from its mouth . . . Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear . . . The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine’” (1 Sam. 17:34–37).
David’s courageous speech to Saul and the ensuing challenge to Goliath did not spring from foolhardy boyhood fantasy. David believed in God’s power and authority. The God who brought Israel out of Egypt was the same God who delivered him from the bear and the lion. His confidence came from facing the bear, crying out to God for help, and knowing God’s deliverance. Saul looked at Goliath and Goliath looked big; God and his promises looked small. David looked at Goliath and the Philistine horde with the history of Israel and his own dangerous encounters looming in his mind. He applied what he knew to be true about God and his promises. As a result, God looked big beside the finite and earthbound giant.
“You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the LordAlmighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the Lord will hand you over to me . . . All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves; for the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give all of you into our hands” (1 Sam. 17:45–47).
Tedd Tripp on Formative Instruction
From Instructing a Child’s Heart
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