This is similar to the situation that we find in 1 Samuel 17. In this instance, we find not one hill but two hills. The Israelites are on one hill and the Philistines are on the other hill, and neither wants to leave their hill. Neither wants to be the one to start the battle because to do so would mean that somebody has to leave their hill and go down into the valley before they can come up the next hill. It's a stalemate. The person in the valley is vulnerable. Every good general knows that if you hold high ground you have the advantage.
This type of stalemate happened occasionally and in eastern countries and they had a way to settle it: a duel of champions. A real no holds barred, fight to the death, winner take all. The only problem was that only one side had a champion. Look at 1 Samuel 17:4.
1 Samuel 17:4 A champion named Goliath. I've always wondered. Did his mother name him Goliath because he was big, or do we get the concept of big from Goliath? Which is first, the chicken or the egg? I don't know. But evidently his mother liked this name and named him Goliath. He was from Gath which had plenty of giants. Some of them had twenty four fingers and toes, we read in 2 Samuel. He came out of the Philistine camp and he was over nine feet tall.
Notice the great detail the Bible uses to describe this enemy of God's people. Would you like a little description of Goliath's size? Just briefly, I got my tape measure out this week and figured out how tall he would be. I went around the church looking for an example, and I found one that almost answers to the inch of how big Goliath was. See the top of that flagpole? That was the top of his head without a helmet. Want some perspective? [He held his hand up alongside the flagpole and could not reach the top by about a foot and a half.] I couldn't jump high enough to slap him in the face! That's how big Goliath was. I don't know how much he could have weighed. If he raised his arms, he could change those light bulbs. We would not need a ladder in this church. Any basketball team would love to sign him on. I would hate to think about the size basketball shoe that Nike would have to build! Think of the swoosh on the side of the shoe. It would have to be about 18 inches long. What an advertising item! He was their champion.
1 Samuel 17:5 He had a bronze helmet on his head and wore a coat of scale armor of bronze weighing five thousand shekels; Do you realize how much that is? How much his clothes weighed? How would you like to put on a coat every day that weighed between 125-150 pounds! That's a big coat. But that is not all he was carrying. Look at the next verses.
1 Samuel 17:6-7. On his legs he wore bronze greaves, and a bronze javelin was slung on his back. His spear shaft was like a weaver's rod, and its iron point weighed six hundred shekels. His shield bearer went ahead of him. Do you realize how much the head of Goliath's spear weighed? It weighed 15 pounds! How far could you throw a spear accurately with a fifteen pound weight on the end of it? I have a dumbbell here that weighs 15 pounds if any of you wish to come up later to see what that spear must have been like. That's how huge this monstrous mammoth heathen was. The Bible goes into great detail to show us the size of the enemy of God's people. Not only was he armed this way, he had another huge soldier that carried his shield out in front of him in case some coward tried to shoot him with an arrow from a safe distance.
1 Samuel 17:8-11. Goliath stood and shouted to the ranks of Israel, "Why do you come out and line up for battle? Am I not a Philistine, and are you not the servants of Saul? Choose a man and have him come down to me. If he is able to fight and kill me, we will become your subjects; but if I overcome him and kill him, you will become our subjects and serve us." Then the Philistine said, "This day I defy the ranks of Israel! Give me a man and let us fight each other." On hearing the Philistine's words, Saul and all the Israelites were dismayed and terrified.
Do you know why they were terrified? Because they did not have a champion to match Goliath, much less to beat him. Do you know why they did not have such a champion? Because they had no God! Saul was the largest man in Israel, head and shoulders above the rest. But Saul was a quivering coward because he had rejected God and God had rejected him as king. Look back at the previous chapter to 1 Samuel 16:1,2.
The Lord said to Samuel, "How long will you mourn for Saul, since I have rejected him as king over Israel? Fill your horn with oil and be on your way; I am sending you to Jesse of Bethlehem. I have chosen one of his sons to be king." But Samuel said, "How can I go? Saul will hear about it and kill me." Now, when God is not honored by His people, fear is common. Even the great prophet Samuel is afraid for his life. Have you ever been afraid to do what God asks? I have, and I am, sometimes.
When I was 24, I was an intern in the Atlanta Belvedere Church. Some of you were members of that church when I was there. Within a few days of my arrival I received an invitation from one of the secretaries to speak for the Southern Union Office's Friday morning worship. No way! I knew these guys. They were the guys I had seen in pictures. These were the great evangelists and preachers of the Southern Union that worked there. Who was I? I was scared to go over to the grade school to give a worship talk. I didn't want to go to the Southern Union office and give a worship talk. Who do you think I am?! She evidently saw my face turning pale and realized I was terrified, and she said, "Don't you worry. On Friday mornings it will just be us secretaries because usually on Fridays all the bigwigs are gone. They're going on their speaking appointments all over the Southern Union and even the North American Division. Nobody's going to be here, just us secretaries."
I agreed to speak since that was the case. Friday morning came and, sure enough, the chapel contained only a few secretaries and other office staff. The song service ended and I stood up and nervously began my talk. Just as I began to speak, the door in the front side of the chapel opened and in walked every officer of the Southern Union, in their black suits, led by Elder A.C. McClure. They proceeded to sit on the front rows and then looked at me. They had all been in a meeting in another part of the building. Have you ever wished that you were some place else? Like Mars? That was the longest ten minutes of my life. Even my antiperspirant deserted me on that day.
I managed to get through the ordeal, I stumbled through the story that I was telling and tried to make a point to these great men. And I had the closing prayer and they came up to speak to me. Do you know what I found out? Those were some of the kindest, gentlest, most understanding people you ever want to meet. And I thought, "What have I to fear, we're on the same side! We're in the ranks together. When we are on the same side we have no reason to fear each other.
When God is supreme, those on the same side do not fear each other. Verse 4 bears this out even a little more.
1 Samuel 16:4. Samuel did what the Lord said. When he arrived at Bethlehem, the elders of the town trembled when they met him. They asked, "Do you come in peace?" I don't know what they were afraid of. Everybody was paranoid about each other. This is their own prophet! You know what happened after that. Samuel looks over the sons of Jesse and finally they bring in this little boy, David and he's anointed. Next we find David back in chapter 17 verse 20.
You know, Israel was there defending itself against invasion. I believe the reason they had to defend themselves then was the same reason they are having to do it today: rejection of God. Jesse's three oldest boys had been sent to defend Israel's territory against the Philistine invaders.
Jesse, hungry for news from the front, sent David to see how his other sons were doing and to find out what was going on. He also figured that his sons were tired of C Rations so he sent some home cooking as well.
As David approached the camp, he did not know of the stalemate that has lasted forty days with Goliath coming out twice a day challenging them. We pick up the story in chapter 17:20
1 Samuel 17:20-28. Early in the morning David left the flock with a shepherd, loaded up and set out, as Jesse had directed. He reached the camp as the army was going out to its battle positions, shouting the war cry. Israel and the Philistines were drawing up their lines facing each other. They had to do that. Every time the Philistines came out to challenge they didn't know if they were going to sweep across the valley and up the hill, so the Israelites had to line up to defend their position, and they had to line up and listen to what happened. David left his things with the keeper of supplies, ran to the battle lines and greeted his brothers. As he was talking with them, Goliath, the Philistine champion from Gath stepped out from his lines and shouted his usual defiance, and David heard it. When the Israelites saw the man, they all ran from him in great fear. Can you imagine? Here's a whole army of people...one man comes out... and the whole army forgets they are an army and start looking at themselves and the whole army flees. When we don't have God in our midst we can't work successfully as a group. We start thinking of ourselves and ourselves only and everything scares us to death. We need to remember we're part of the army of God. We are not alone. We stand united with each other and with Him.
Continuing with verse 25: Now the Israelites had been saying, "Do you se how this man keeps coming out? He comes out to defy Israel. The king will give great wealth to the man who kills him. He will also give him his daughter in marriage and will exempt his father's family from taxes in Israel!" Now, that might have been worth while.
David asked the men standing near him, "What will be done for the man who kills this Philistine and removes this disgrace from Israel? Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living God?"
They repeated to him what they had been saying and told him, "This is what will be done for the man that kills him."
When Eliab Remember who Eliab is? He's the oldest of David's brothers. When Samuel went to anoint the new king, Eliab was the first to pass in front of Samuel and Samuel was sure that he was the king. "Ah, this is a good looking huge guy. This has got to be the man for God." But God said "No." We'll see the character of Eliab right here and see why he was not chosen. Verse 28: When Eliab , David's oldest brother heard him speaking with the men, he burned with anger and asked, "Why have you come down here? And with whom did you leave those few sheep in the desert? I know how conceited you are and how wicked your heart is; you came down only to watch the battle."
Wow! What brought that on? After al, he brought them pizza or whatever he brought them. I don't know. They should have been happy. I believe I know what it was. No one likes to be a coward and no coward likes boldness coming from someone perceived as an inferior. How humiliating to the brothers of David for him to be making the whole Israelite army look bad. Goliath had been doing the same thing and now David was. What I appreciate is how David handled his brother. He walked away and continued his quest. If he had allowed himself to be baited by Eliab, whom, by the way, Samuel had been sure was God's choice to be the new king, then the real battle would have been delayed, if not lost. We always need to keep our church's focus and our family's focus and our personal focus on our true purpose for being here. That's why Pastor Gettys and I do premarital counselling we say, "Why do you want to get married? And I don't want to hear anything about love." What? Love is a given. I take for granted that you love each other or else you wouldn't be here. I want to know why you're getting married. What can you do for God as a couple that you could not do as a single person. I want you to write it down for a mission statement for your home. You know, we all need that. We need a mission statement for our home. If we have a mission statement and we know why we're here and what we're headed for there's going to be a lot less divorce because there's going to be less time to look at each other and go, "I don't like that."
The same thing as a church. We need to have our eyes glued on the mission, the great gospel mission. Satan loves to distract us, to do everything he can to slow us from completing the great Gospel Commission! He loves for us to forget who the real enemy is! Look at verse 29.
1 Samuel 17:29-33. Now what have I done?" said David. "Can't I even speak?" He then turned away to someone else and brought up the same matter, and the men answered him as before. What David said was overheard and reported to Saul, and Saul sent for him. Why did Saul send for him? I don't think that he thought he had a champion on his hands. I think Saul wanted to shut him up. "Bring this guy that's talking all this trash. We've got to stop him. This is really making us look bad."
Verse 32: David said to Saul, "Let no one lose heart on account of this Philistine; your servant will go and fight him." He's reflecting Goliath's words here. "Saul, can't you send out a servant." "Hey, I'm your servant."
Saul replied, "You are not able to go out against this Philistine and fight him; you are only a boy, and he has been a fighting man from his youth."
Let's never make the mistake of hindering the Youth from leading the way to our church's victory because it is a child-like faith that will lead us into the Kingdom. It is our young people, according to Joel 2, that will prophesy have the visions!
1 Samuel 17:34-37. But David said to him, "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. When it turned on me, I seized it by its hair, struck it and killed it. Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, because he has defied the armies of the living God. 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."
Saul said, to David, "Go, and the Lord be with you." It's kind of hard to understand how Saul could bless him because the Lord is not with Saul, you remember. We sometimes give empty platitudes like that.
Is David boasting here? Notice what he's is doing. He is recalling past victories of God to lend courage for what has to be done in the present. Don't forget how God has led you in the past!
The next part of the story is a little confusing. It seems almost as if Saul's permission for young David to carry the future of Israel into battle is merely an attempt to pacify David's bold speaking and at the same time to discourage him from going through with it. Notice how Saul attempts to cloth David in his armor. Saul was spiritually blind, but not physically blind. He knows how big he is, he knows how little DAVID is, he know his armor is not going to fit David. He knows it's going to crush him. I think that was the whole point. I think this was an attempt to crush this teenager with feigned permission, and then by showing him the magnitude of his inability to even carry the tools needed for the job. This theory is supported by verse 55.
Turn to 1 Samuel 17:55,56. As Saul watched David going out to meet the Philistine, he said to Abner, commander of the army, "Abner, whose son is that you man?"
Abner replied, "As surely as you live, O king, I don't know." They didn't know who it was. Saul sees someone approaching Goliath and does not have a clue who it is. why doesn't he have a clue? He thinks he's discouraged David. "DAVID had said, "I can't fight in this armor." and walks out of the tent. "Well, good. We did away with this little rascal. He's left with his tail between his legs." But that's not the case. As Saul is trying to figure out who that is, it's probably beginning to dawn on him, "Hey, that's that kid." Can you imagine the fear that gripped the throat of Saul as he wondered if the kid was actually going through with this? The Nation of Israel and Saul's kingship hangs in the balance of a teenager! "Oh, oh. What have we done, Abner? It's that kid." Now, let's go back to verse 40.
1 Samuel 17:40-45. Then he took his staff in his hand, chose five smooth stones from the stream, put them in the pouch of his shepherd's bag and, with his sling in his hand, approached the Philistine.
Meanwhile, the Philistine, with his shield bearer in front of him, kept coming closer to David. He looked David over and saw that he was only a boy, ruddy and handsome, and he despised him. He thought that Israel had just insulted him. "Here's a kid you can kill. Let's see what you can do with a kid." He said to David, "Am I a dog, that you come at me with sticks?" And the Philistine cursed David by his gods. "Come here," he said, "and I'll give your flesh to the birds of the air and the beasts of the field!"
David said to the Philistine, "You come to me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. Notice how David used the name of the Lord. This was done with pure motive. He did not us the Lord's name in vain, did he. The third commandment means so much more than just using four-letter words. But we're going to hear more about that in a sermon later this year.
Verse 46: This day the Lord will hand you over to me, and I'll strike you down and cut off your head. Is he nervous about this? Now, indeed! He's speaking with utter confidence. "I will strike you down and cut off your head." Today I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds of the air and the beasts of the earth, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel. 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."
As the Philistine moved closer to attack him, David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet him. He didn't even wait for Goliath, he rushed to meet his foe with utter confidence. Reaching into his bag and taking out a stone he slung it and struck the Philistine on the forehead. The stone sank into his forehead, and he fell facedown on the ground.
So, David triumphed over the Philistine with a sling and a stone; without a sword in his hand he struck down the Philistine and killed him.
And David rand and stood over him. He took hold of the Philistine's sword and drew it from the scabbard. After he killed him, he cut off his head with the sword.
When the Philistines saw that their hero was dead, they turned and ran. Question: What did Goliath carry into battle? A sword, a javelin, his spear, his armor. What did he carry away from the battle? Nothing. He lost everything! When you join Satan's side of the battle, it may be because it looks powerful, it looks great, it looks rich, it looks fun, whatever, but the end result is always the same; you lose everything, including your head.
Question: How many stones did David carry into battle? Five. How many did he bring back? Five. Four in his shepherd's bag and one in the forehead of Goliath. He also carried away everything that Goliath had. He brought back all five stones with him. David lost nothing. He carried away everything Goliath had. It became his. He stored it in his tent. When we go to battle for the Lord, we lose nothing but we gain everything that is worth having!
Goliath was wondering if David thought that he was merely a dog to be hit with a stick. David proved that a boy who teams up with The Rock can make any giant as powerless as a headless dog! Do you remember in Genesis 3:15 when God said that he would crush the head of Satan? This story is a type of that prophecy because Jesus, the Rock, will crush the kingdoms of this world and the master of them.
David fought the fight in the name of the Lord and in the armor that the Lord had given him. His faith was built upon his love of God and the success he had been given in the past. He kept his eye upon the true battle and avoided the distractions of Satan. With these elements in place, there is no giant that can keep us from having it all, for eternity.
Hymn of Praise: #230, All Glory, Laud, and Honor Scripture: 1 Samuel 17:45 Hymn of Response: #616, Soldiers of Christ, Arise
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last updated April 21, 2002 by Bob Beckett.