I want to speak with you about David and Goliath. This is an exciting story. This greatest battle in the Bible happened about 15 miles west of Jerusalem. This is just awesome. It's found in 1 Samuel 17. I love the exciting narrative here because it registers the triumph of the underdog. You know, I am really a quite tall person, living in a short body and when I read of a little boy leveling a big giant, I get excited. I love stories where the underdog comes out and does something and makes something of themselves, or is able to accomplish something great. I just get excited about that. Now, when read of a little boy leveling a great big giant, it's just exciting.
I want you to pretend you were there that day sitting in the valley. Up to the left is the loud smoky camp of the Philistines. These uncouth ruffians are ill kept and crude. The smell of roasting pork may have drifted across the valley. The Philistines are a bad bunch; unclean and unbehaved. It's an evil place. On the other side and up the hill to the right is the quiet sheepish camp of the Israelites, God's people. They are kind of nervous and afraid. The tension is extremely high.
I want to begin reading here in 1 Samuel 17:4-6. A champion named Goliath, who was from Gath, came out of the Philistine camp. He was over nine feet tall. Now, I don't know how tall that is, but I assume he could change our light bulbs standing right here where I am. He was a tall man. He had a bronze helmet on his head and wore a coat of scale armor of bronze weighing five thousand shekels ; 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.
1 Samuel 17:8. 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."
Now, that's quite a challenge. You don't find too many wars and the whole outcome is based on a battle between two people, two champions. Every day for 40 days this heavily armed terminator, this experienced killer bellowed forth this same challenge. Goliath was a braggadocio type. Snorting and pounding his fists at them began to browbeat them. And they al began to quake and they were fearful in their boots and every time he would speak, and the Bible says they would run and hide in their tents and crawl under the covers, as if that helps. This man of war was trained to be a fighter from his boyhood. All he had ever done is kill people. I mean, he was trained and experienced person. Not one Israelite soldier dared fight him, not even their king tall Saul. Saul was head and shoulders taller than any person in the whole Israelite nation. And not even he would go and fight this man. So, there they were, slinking back I fear, quaking in their sandals.
Meantime, miles away there was a teenager out tending sheep. Little David was out in his dad's field tending sheep. Three of David older brothers volunteered for duty and Jesse told David to take some food for his hungry brothers. David rose up early in the morning to obey his father. He left his flock of sheep with an entrusted friend. David was that type of a person. He was faithful in small things and would be entrusted with large things. That's the way God's kingdom works. You would think that his brothers would be thrilled to see David. "He's coming with the victuals. He's coming with the home cooking. And he's coming to bring them some fresh wonderful food. They were not glad to see him.
In fact, you can read this here in 1 Samuel 17:28, 29. When Eliab, David's oldest brother, heard him speaking with the men, he burned with anger at him 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."
"Now what have I done?" said David. "Can't I even speak?"
Can't you just see the sibling rivalry between them? They didn't get along. There is tremendous poison in these words. They regarded David as the runt. Notice that David did not condemn them. I mean, if you resort to throwing mud at people you will lower your self to the mud- slinger's level. You never want to throw mud at somebody else that is throwing mud at you. David met evil with good. That's the kind of person he was.
Now, eventually rumors filtered up to King Saul throne that there was a volunteer to fight Goliath. Saul probably thought, 'Praise the Lord. One of my biggest and strongest soldiers has probably volunteered and he's going to go and he's going to kill Goliath.' He said, bring the volunteer forward. And so they brought David in and here was little David, a little shepherd boy. And Saul probably thought, 'Oh no! What kind of a volunteer have I got?' You know, a lot of leaders look down on young people. 'Just a young kid? Can't you do anything? Can't you get a trained seasoned volunteer here?' And yet, there stood David.
You know, in our church we're a little bit like that. We just say, 'Well, they're just too inexperienced, too young to lead out in church. But until and unless we let them have a hand in it, how are we ever going to know their potential? We've got to give them a chance. Let's use our youth. And let's not make them walk in our armor. Let's let them use themselves. Let the place themselves in God's hands and see what God will do with the youth. Give them the flag and let them carry it their way. Then stand back and watch God's blessing.
Eventually David went out with his staff and his sling not much protection, was it. If David were to win, Saul's armor definitely would not receive the credit. And, that' exactly what God wants. God wants to receive the credit. The battle was the Lord's. God does not save with sword or spear.
But David was also wearing an invisible bulletproof armor. He had on the breastplate of righteousness. He had on the helmet of salvation. He was fully protected. Don't you think he went out there without God's protection. And God's protection is better than Saul's armor. He was escorted by none other than the Living God. Unseen angels were surrounding David. David sensed in his heart the skies being filled with chariots of fire. He is not alone. God is with him. David stood on the high bluff looking over that valley at the Philistines' camp but he did not stand alone. The truth is, we are never alone unless we walk ahead of God. You don't fight these battles alone. If you do, you've turned your back on God. God wants to fight the battle with you and for you and through you.
Look at 1 Samuel 17:40. 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.
From where you are sit in the valley, you watch this thing go on. You can see Goliath, you can see David. You are at the bottom of the valley by the small babbling brook. At the top on the left is the big babbling Crook. At the top on the right is little David with his hook and sling and empty shepherd's bag. I am personally very surprised that David would have an empty ammunition bag. It contained no rocks. I would have gotten my rocks way ahead of time and not chance that the small brook down there would have some ideal stones. Would you want to leave your safe hillside and walk all the way down to the bottom of the valley with no bullets for your gun? Actually, Palestine is littered with all kinds of rocks. He could have picked out some before he went down to the book. If you watch the news on CNN you will see the people throwing rocks from everywhere. There are rocks everywhere in Palestine. It is a rocky place. I am personally surprised that David had an empty ammunition bag. That doesn't make much sense. I would have gotten my rock way ahead of time. What if Goliath suddenly ran down the hill and sat on you just before you found some just right rocks? Why did David risk so much?
The truth is he did not risk anything. God was as real to him as his sheep or his father or Saul. God was as real as Goliath! This was David's hidden strength. David could sense God's presence. David knew God would provide a perfect stone. God had five perfect stones laying down there in that creek. David trusted his divine companion. That same God will also provide for you. Before you need it God will have the answer to your greatest problems there along your path. When David went down the hill, there was the answer.
Palestine is filled with rocks. Jagged rough rocks lay all around. But the smooth polished rocks lay in the valley. When you are on the mountain top you can't see the perfect answers God has waiting for you in the valley. You have to operate on faith here. Many might grab the rough rocks and run down the hill and run right past God's perfect answer that is lying there in the valley. It is there. Five answers will be lying there. Four extra will be there just for the picking up. God's extras show the quantity of God's love and care.
The lowly David and his staff did not impress the Philistine. David saw the towering hulk. This would make the best saint quake in fear. If Goliath were to walk in this church, stoop through these doors and stand here, and if he started yelling at us, and said, 'I'm going to kill you,' would be a little bit nervous? Do you suppose David was? I don't think he was. I read total confidence here. I think David had his eyes fixed, not on Goliath, but on Jesus. David saw something else. David had his eyes fixed on Jesus. In his heart, David saw Jesus as his ally. If you need to keep your eyes fixed not on the problem but you need to keep your eyes fixed on the solution, the answer. And the answer is Jesus. We must never forget that "The Battle is the Lord's," verse 47.
Look at 1 Samuel 17:48 As the Philistine moved closer to attack him David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet him.
David ran toward the giant! Goliath had probably been resting and suddenly he noticed something small coming fast toward him. Is it a bug or... It is just a lad. The great giant jumped up and began to curse, and began to bellow at the little boy.
1 Samuel 17:49, 50 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 face-down 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.
The Philistines turned and ran. They were 'turn-coats.' They all went A.W.O.L. .Quickly the army of Saul rushed forward and routed the enemy from their land with a great slaughter. God's people won. God gave them a great victory that day.
Do you face a giant today? Is there some major battle that you are battling with, that you're trying to cope with? Perhaps you have a gigantic problem in your life. Maybe it is a bad marriage, or drugs, or immorality, or maybe a terrible disease or health problem confronts you. Maybe it is alcohol or loss of a job. What is your giant? Do you face a Goliath today? Let's learn some lessons from the way David overcame Goliath that will help us to cope with our challenges today.
1. Remember God's leading in the past.
You will be successful in the future if you remember the way that God has led you in the past. Does that make sense? David recalled the many times that God had delivered him from lions and bears who wanted to destroy him. Past success gives us future hope. So remember the past. Now, I keep a file, It's rather thick, of little cards, of little notes that people have written me saying, "I appreciate this that you did, or that that you said..." " appreciate the time you took one time when I was in the hospital." I keep those things. On a rainy day [Pastors have some bleak times]. I get that file and I open it and it helps me. You need to keep a book or something of the times that God has smiled upon your life, and they'll help you through the rough times of your life, and read that book. Read those things. Read the times that God has blessed you.
I recall my boyhood days. There were big bullies who menaced my life dozens of times. I was small. But I remember a good many times when I was outnumbered I could always outrun them. The Big Heavy Goliath's of life can't run very fast.
2. Win by using your own unique natural gift.
David was a shepherd boy. He was not a trained Green Beret Marine. All that equipment would only slow him down. All he used were the simple little things. If he had used Saul's equipment, it would only slow him down. When you face a giant problem use your own gifts that God has given you. Be yourself. Place yourself in god's hand and God will help you.
3. Be prepared for eventualities.
David chose 5 smooth stones. Why five? He was ready to reload again and again and again. If he missed he would run while reloading and fire again. If necessary he would use the fifth stone. You always want to be over prepared. He was a realist. How often God uses ordinary people who are prepared in ordinary ways to accomplish extraordinary things. That's what David did. And that's why we love the story of David and Goliath. David was an ordinary boy and he killed an extraordinary giant.
4. Do your part.
David chose Smooth Stones. Why? Rough stones fly slow and erratic. Smooth Stones fly fast. I've never seen an unfired bullet with a rough irregular nose on it. Imagine hitting a golf ball that is shaped like a rough clinker or pitted brickbat. Smooth stones meant that David was doing his part as best he could. True, God would give him the victory, but he must do his best. So he doesn't choose the rough stones but he chooses the smooth stones. Do your best and let God give you the victory. Even though Salvation is a gift, you have to do your part. You want to discard the things that won't work as well, and you want to choose the things that will work. You've got to do your part.
5. David had a positive attitude.
What appeared to the others as a giant too big to fight, it appeared to David as a target too big to miss. His target was the biggest forehead in the Philistine army. You can't miss it. But, Goliath's target was the smallest he had ever faced in his life; a little boy. Goliath only had one chance to accurately hurl his spear and if he misses, he's done. David is going to win. He had a positive attitude. David had five chances. Goliath only had one, unless he could get his hands on David. But David is going to outrun him. Approach your giant problems with a positive faith. Expect much and you will get much.
6. David trusted in God.
He knew that if he asked God, He would give him the victory. The battle was the Lords, and not David's. It wasn't David who killed the giant. It was God, through David. God did it. We do not win in the battle with Satan by our artillery. David had to put forth his best efforts but when Goliath fell down it was really the doing of God. David trusted God. God didn't let him down. God won't let you down.
7. David left nothing to chance.
Goliath might just be knocked out. David took the giants own sharp sword and cut his head off! There is not doubt that he's dead. How often a bear hunter will fire his gun at that great grizzly bear and the bear will go down. Then the hunter rushes up to examine his trophy only to have the big beast roar back to his feet and devour the hunter on the spot tearing him limb from limb. David rushed up, drew the sword, and cut his head off. David did a complete work. When Jesus gives you the victory Jesus will do a complete work at delivering you from your personal Goliath.
David became a great leader that day. I will submit to you that a big crisis furnishes a leader a big opportunity in disguise. It furnishes a leader with a big opportunity. The greater the crisis, the greater the opportunity. Little David would probably never have emerged as a great leader if the crisis had not exposed his courage. One brave deed made him a national hero. Without that brave deed, David would have been a shepherd boy and eventually a shepherd man all the rest of his life, maybe. Saul may have thought that Goliath was the biggest threat of all time to God's people but he also constituted their greatest opportunity to see God act. God allowed that conflict with Goliath to bring deliverance to Israel. Whenever you see a great crisis just know that it will also be accompanied by a great opportunity. David used Goliath as a huge stepping stone and not a stumbling block. It was Goliath who thrust David into eventual Kingship. Without Goliath wouldn't have been what he was. It was Goliath who exposed David's leadership qualities. Do not fear. If you see a big giant in your life, a big problem, don't be afraid of it. We fear certain things so much because we fear God so little.
Remember another thing: never forget that the only real giant in your life is Jesus. Jesus is the only giant. The only giant that truly matters happens to be on your side. Don't be afraid.
Hymn of Praise: #93, All Things Bright and Beautiful Scripture: 1 Samuel 17:45-47 Hymn of Response: #616, Soldiers of Christ, Arise 060527#205 David and Goliath Sources: Narrative Preaching by David Mulder, Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis, MO. 1996. The Next Generation Leader, by Andy Stanley. Mulnomah Publishers, Sisters, Oregon, 2003. David, by F. B. Meyer. Christian Literature Crusade, Fort Washington, Pennsylvania, 1995.
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