How The Mighty Are Fallen

Title: How The Mighty Are Fallen

Bible Book: 2 Samuel 1 : 17-27

Author: Alan Stewart

Subject: Memorial Day; America; Freedom



In the spring of 1989, Chinese students at Beijing University led in an uprising for democratic freedom. Their protest was over hardship, corruption, and 40 years of repression. The conflict became so intense, the Chinese government ordered over 300,000 troops to use tanks and semi-automatic weapons to crush the protest. By early June, the Chinese army had succeeded in backing off the protestors.

That is, until June 5. Perhaps you will remember the image being broadcast around the world of a lone, unnamed student who stood in Tiananmen Square to block a line of tanks. In this extraordinary confrontation, he was crushed beneath the tank and became an icon for struggle for freedom.

That was early 1989. From that time, the Chinese government vowed to erase this image from Chinese memory. Have they succeeded? Last year, veteran journalist Anthony Thomas showed the pictures to undergraduates at Beijing University and none of the students recognized it or even knew why the young man was willing to die!

Lead In: In this passage of scripture, David has received news that Saul and Jonathan have been killed on the battlefield while at war with the Philistines. David’s heart was broken because Jonathan was his dearest friend, and someone that had stood by him through thick or thin.

Jonathan was obviously well-skilled at the use of the bow and arrow. (vs. 22) says, “..the bow of Jonathan turned not back...” which meant he always hit the mark. David was so moved at Jonathan’s death that he declared in (vs. 18), “...teach the children of Judah the use of the bow...” More literally, it is saying “the song of the bow,” but David’s reasoning was he never wanted the people of Judah to forget how Jonathan have lived and how he had died.

In a similar manner, America did not become a mighty influence or an impressive power overnight. America became a great nation because God’s hand was with her from the beginning, and because of the thousands willing to sacrifice their lives for the liberty we have inherited today. However, we are living in a generation that has not only forgotten where it came from, but has forgotten how it got here, and has no idea where it goes from here! This was the fear of our forefathers.

On November 19, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln spoke these words at his Gettysburg Address:

“We cannot dedicate, we cannot consecrate, we cannot hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. They gave the last full measure of devotion...that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain.”

When you see the American flag flying, I hope you’re reminded, not just what it stands for, but for what it cost!

Poem “Old Glory”

Hebrews 11:5, “...Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice...and by it he being dead yet speaketh.”

We owe a debt to the men and women who have died to secure the blessing and security we enjoy today, but too often take for granted.

We need too:

I. Remember The Call Of Their Duty

2 Samuel 1:22, 23

John 15:13, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”

Those words imply a sense of duty, a sense responsibility, and a sense of calling.

A. Conscientious

Some people served their country because they were drafted, but most served because they were needed!

During the day of the American Revolution, Peter Muhlenberg was pastor of the Woodstock Lutheran Church. After preaching a sermon, he threw back his clerical robe at the end of the sermon, and beneath his robe was Revolutionary officer attire. He said, “There is a time to preach and a time to pray, and there is also a time to fight, and that time has come now.” General Muhlenberg recognized that as a Christian he owed allegiance and loyalty both to God and his country.

After a famous battle, Napoleon gave all of his soldiers a simple medal. It was inscribed with the name of the battlefield and the words, “I was there.” Regardless of rank, all received the same recognition!

John F. Kennedy in 1961 address: “Let every nation know, whether is wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support and friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and success of freedom.”

B. Courageous

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, at 1978 Harvard Commencement Address: “Must one point out that from ancient times a decline in courage has been considered the beginning of the end?”

On the hallowed grounds of Gettysburg stands a monument to a color-bearer. During this pivotal Civil War battle, his regiment was in full retreat, but he stubbornly held his ground. The message was sent by the Major: “Bring the colors back to the regiment!” He replied, “Bring the regiment up to the colors!”

Motto of the French Foreign Legion: “If I falter, push me on. If I stumble, pick me up. If I retreat, shoot me.”

II. Remember The Cause They Defended

2 Samuel 1:20

Remember, the Philistines were not only perpetual enemies of God’s people, they had taken the Ark of the Covenant. There was a lot for Saul and Jonathan to be fighting for!

On the monument of Governor William Bradford, of Plymouth Colony, is inscribed in Latin: “What our fathers with so much difficulty secured, do not basely relinquish.”

A. The Preservation Of Freedom

* democracy

* limited government - we have rights!

* free speech

* religious freedom - Stalin took this away from Russia declaring in May 1, 1937, “There must not remain in the territory of Soviet Russia a single house of prayer, and the very conception of God will be banished from the boundaries of Russia.”

Samuel Adams said, “The liberties of our country...are worth defending at all hazards; and it is our duty to defend them against all attacks. We have received them as fair inheritance from our worthy ancestors...[who] purchased them for us with toil and danger.”

Moses had said to Pharoah, “Let my people go!” and then led them into a country where they were free to worship God. God gave them a Jubilee day of atonement to “...proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof.” Later on, these words were inscribed on America’s Liberty Bell.

Words inscribed on Statue of Liberty

“Give me your tired, your poor,

Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,

The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.

Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me --

I lift my lamp beside the golden door!

B. The Progression Of Faith

Proverbs 14:34, “Righteousness exalteth a nation...”

Words on the cornerstone at Harvard University in New England:

“After God had carried us safe to New England and had builded our houses, provided necessities for our livelihood, reared convenient places for God’s worship and settled the civil government, one of the next things we longed for and looked after was to advance learning and perpetuate to posterity, dreading to leave an illiterate ministry to the churches when our present ministers shall lie in the dust.”

Abraham Lincoln said, “We have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace and enriched and strengthened us; and we have vainly imagined that all things were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God who made us.”

C. The Protection Of Families

Nehemiah 4:14, “And I looked, and rose up, and said unto the nobles, and to the rulers, and to the rest of the people, be not ye afraid of them: remember the Lord, which is great and terrible, and fight for your brethren, your sons, and your daughters, your wives, and your houses.”

Numbers 32:17, “But we ourselves will go ready armed before the children of Israel, until we have brought them unto their place: and our little ones shall dwell in the fenced cities because of the inhabitants of the land.”

Our forefathers battled and bled that we might have a chance!

Herbert Hoover said, “My country owes me nothing. It gave me, as it gives every boy and girl, a chance. It gives me schooling, independence of action, opportunity for service, and honor. In no other land could a boy from a country village, without inheritance or influential friends, look forward with unbounded hope.”

Remember The Call Of Their Duty, Remember The Cause They Defended, and lastly:

III. Remember The Commitment They Displayed

2 Samuel 1:19, 25

A. Faithful In Difficulty

General John J. Pershing, Chief of the Armies in W.W. I, in a message to his men, had inserted over his signature these words: “Hardship will be your lot, but trust in God will give you comfort. Temptation will befall you, but the teaching of our Savior will give you strength. Let your valor as a soldier and your conduct as a man be an inspiration to your comrades and an honor to your country!”

The inscription on the Plymouth Rock monument is a challenge to every generation of Americans: “This spot marks the final resting place of the Pilgrims of the Mayflower. In weariness and hunger and cold, fighting the wilderness and burying their dead in common graves that the Indians should not know how many had perished, they here laid the foundations of a state in which all men for countless ages should have liberty to worship God in their own way. All you who pass by and see this stone remember, and dedicate yourselves anew to the resolution that you will not rest until this lofty ideal shall have been realized throughout the earth.”

B. Faithful To Death
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