Picture of Pastor Gettys

Sermon delivered August 22, 2009 by Pastor Don Gettys

McDonald Road Seventh-day Adventist Church

McDonald, Tennessee

Biblical quotations are from the New International Version NIV unless otherwise noted. Divine pronouns and titles are capitalized.

Jesus - Our Key To Success

2 Samuel 22:1-3

(RealAudio available)

I want to talk to you about the key to success.  You want to know what to do to succeed?  Well, Jesus is the key to success.  And I want you to come back in your Bible to the book of Second Samuel, chapter 21.  I’ve got a little bookmark here and I want us to look at eight verses.  This will be the topic of our sermon today.  So we’re going to begin with Second Samuel 21, verse 15.  So if you have your Bible, or if you’re sitting beside somebody that does, follow along. 

Let's read verse 15.  It says, “Once again there was a battle between the Philistines and Israel.  David went down with his men to fight against the Philistines and he became” what?  What happened to David?  “He became exhausted.”  Now that happens sometimes.  Notice the first two words of this verse.  What are they?  “Once again.”  “Once again.”  That phrase says a lot.  Poor little old underdog David; as a boy he had to face this huge giant of a man named Goliath and now later he has to face more giants.  David grabbed, how many, five smooth stones, one of them had Goliath's name on it and he slung it around and around and around and he let it go and it buried itself in Goliath’s forehead.  That fateful day, the giant went down in history and little David ascended to the throne.  Eventually.

But, I want to tell you that Goliath had a family.  Did you ever think about that?  Goliath didn't come from evolution.  He had a family.  He had a mother and a father and brothers and different ones, and he had a family that wanted revenge.  So once again, the Bible says, this time four giants came after David.  Four giants.  And look at this story from the perspective of each of these four giants.

So let's begin now with verse 16.  It says that “Ishbi-Benob, one of the descendents of Rapha, whose bronze spearhead weighed 3 hundred shekels, and who was armed with a new sword said he would kill David.”  So David was after God's heart and the giant was after David's heart.  So this is the situation.  The big, bad, burly giant thought that he would be successful, because, why?  Why did he think he would be successful?  Well first of all his name means something.  It means ‘he who dwells in the heights of the mountains’.  That's what the name means, and so this sumo wrestler was used to being on top.  This man was a classic example of a sumo wrestler.  He was actually an example of Lucifer, because Lucifer, remember, dwelt on high and Lucifer said, “I will ascend above the tops of the clouds.  I will be like the most high.”  Isaiah 14:14.  Secondly, this man thought. “I will be successful, because I have a brand-new razor-sharp sword, and nobody can beat me.”  But having something new does not guarantee success.

Dale Earnhardt said, “The winner ain't the one with the fastest car.”  Would you imagine that?  “It's the one who refuses to lose.”  Now you might think, “You know, if I had a new sword or maybe if I had a new job, everything would be different.  I hate my boss.  They're always so hard there and if I just had a new wife or a new husband, a different wife, everything would be fine.  Or if I had a different teacher.  My teacher is so tough.  Or maybe if I had different classmates they wouldn't pick on me so much.  Everything would be great.  If I just had a new 77 speed bicycle, everything would be great.  Or a new sports car or a 1 hundred inch flatscreen television, then I would really be happy.  Or a new Nintendo or a new house overlooking the ocean.”  We always think if we had something new it would make us jubilant.  But you know, we do need something new.  What I think we need is a new heart.  That's our greatest need.  Psalm 51, verse 10.

Well, the second giant; the first one was unsuccessful by the way.  The second giant had superior genes.  Look at verse 18.  Here it says, “In the course of time there was another battle with the Philistines at Gob.  At that time Sibbecai, the Hushathite killed Saph, one of the descendents of Rapha.”  The only claim to fame that I could see here in this verse is that he was a descendent of Rapha.  That's what he says and he thought he would excel because of his lineage.  “I'm going to be the winner because of who I am.  It's in my genes.”  And he came from a long line of giants dating back from Rapha, the giant maker.  Deuteronomy, chapter 2.  You can read that.  And these titanic fighters were called Zamzummites, and he thought, “You know my genetic endowment is going to make me a winner.  I'm going to beat David.  I’m going to beat the Israelites.  I will be the successful person here.  I'm invincible.  Unvanquishable.  Nobody can beat me.” 

I think today's kids have similar thoughts.  You may be 16, 18 years old, 14, whatever, and they begin to think, “You know, my daddy is more important than your daddy.”  Have you ever heard kids say that?  “My dad is better than your dad.”  They used to say that.  Students think, “My IQ is better than your IQ.  My GPA.”  We think those thoughts, don’t we?  And that makes us superior?  Does it?  Several of us analyzed the outcome of various classmates and I’ve read studies on this and we found that those who have high marks and high G. P. A.s are not always successful.  In fact, they did not appear, many of them, to achieve success as far as physical success or spiritual success or even monetary success. 

It is not who you are but who your God is that makes you successful.  Amen?  That's what makes you successful.  It doesn't matter who your father was.  It doesn't matter who your mother was.  Not at all.  It doesn't matter what color your skin is.  That's not what makes you successful.  Winning depends on you, not on your pedigree.  Winning is an attitude in your mind.  It’s something that God gives you.  The experienced mountain climber is not intimidated by the high mountain.  He is challenged by the mountain.  The mountain calls him.  “Please come and conquer me.”  The persistent winner is not discouraged by a problem, he is challenged by the problem.  Mountains are made to be conquered.  Adversaries are designed to be defeated, and it's better to master one mountain than a thousand molehills.  Go for the big things in life.

Well, the third giant.  Let's look at verse 19.  The third giant believed that bigness would assure success.  Verse 19.  “In another battle with the Philistines at Gob, Elhanan the son of Jaare-Oregim, the Bethlehemite, killed Goliath.”  Killed who?  Goliath the Gittite.  I thought David killed Goliath.  Well, let's get into this.  “He killed Goliath the Gittite, who had a spear with a shaft that was the size of a weaver’s beam.”   A monster of a man.  This challenger, I think, actually was Goliath's brother.  Could have been even a son of Goliath, because he was named after his daddy, maybe.  But he thought, “You know, success will come to me because of my enormous spear that I carry.  This thing, nobody can even get close to me because my spear will get them first.”  His biceps were strong as those of a grizzly bear.  

And we get to thinking that bigness will give us success.  “My house is bigger than your house.”  “My car is bigger than your car.”  “My I. R. A. is bigger than your I. R. A.”  “My paycheck is better than your paycheck.”  And the man with the most toys, what?  The man with the most toys is the winner.  And we say these things.  We say, “I will be more successful than you because I am taller than you, you little shrimp.”  I've heard that one quite a bit myself.  But it's not how tall you are on the outside.  What really counts is how tall you are on the inside.  Never forget that.  Little David proved that, didn't he?  The giant was much taller than David.  Bigness of heart is much more important than bigness of bone.

Number four.  The fourth giant knew that he would succeed, and he didn't, because he had more of everything.  He had more muscles, he just had more.  Let's read verse 20.  “In still another battle, which took place at Gath, there was a huge man with six fingers on each hand.”  I don't know how that's accomplished.  “And six toes on each foot, 24 in all.  He also was descended from Rapha.”  Now this huge monster of a man, it says he’s big, a huge man, he had 24 fingers and toes.  You know what causes that?  Inbreeding.  These giants were inbred with each other.  He was like a walking refrigerator.  He was a bonified terminator, and all four of these roughnecks were world-class fighters.  Sort of reminds me of these huge monster trucks snorting around and just flaunting their horsepower. 

He had physical superiority.  Does that make you successful in life?  What do you think?  Not at all.  Some people think, “I have more hair than you do, old baldy.”  Does that make you better?  Some people say, “I have better looks than you do.  My complexion is better than your complexion.”  And we think, “Well if I just had a complexion like hers.”  Does a good complexion make you invincible?  Does it?  Never think, “If I had nice hair like she does, then I would be more popular like she is.” 

That's not really what makes us successful.  Success does not come because of physical endowment.  Please learn this.  The key to life is not new things.  It's not our heredity.  It's not our size.  It's not our physical strength.  The key to success is Jesus Christ.  Amen?  That's the key.  He is the key to success.  Look at chapter 22.  The next verses.  It says, “The Lord is my rock,” David is saying in his song in verse two.  “The Lord is my rock.  My fortress.  My deliverer.  My God is my rock in whom I take refuge.  My shield and the horn of my salvation.  He is my stronghold.  My refuge.  My Savior.  From violent man You save me.”  That is the key to success.  God is the key to success.  Jesus Christ is the key to success.  You get Jesus in your life and you're going to have success.  And success is not measured by how much money you've got or the size of your house or the number of hairs on your head.  Success is measured by eternal standards.  That’s success.  Real success.

Well, we still have some time.  Let's go back to the first verse of these eight verses that we are studying here and this is the key that Bible students use, and I use this a lot.  Don't just read through the story.  Go back and look at it from the perspective of somebody else.  Look at it from the perspective of David, maybe.  Or his men, or God.  So let's go back here and look at it from this viewpoint.  

David again faces, in his old age, an old enemy called the Philistines, the mighty Philistines.  He has seen these mammoth enemies for a long time.  Will they never go away?  Why did Nimrod and the Nephtilim ever exist anyway?  And David already killed Goliath and now he has to face King Kong.  The bigger giant in his later life.  The descendents of Goliath who are as big as Tyrannosaurus rex. 

Have you ever felt that way?  You struggle hard.  You finally get over a bad habit.  Maybe it's alcohol.  Maybe it’s cigarettes or drugs or some evil.  You finally get over that.  You get that thing out of your life.  You're done with that thing, but months or years later the same old symptoms start to reappear.  They come back.  And you think, “I got rid of that thing.  What's the matter with me?”  And they’re stronger than ever.  These giants, these habits are stronger than ever.  That old depression, that same anger boils up and those same swear words that you vowed you would never say again are beginning to come out of your mouth again.  It's all back and you thought you had overcome, and the wonderful progress that you made is gone and you have slid down deeper into the pit of hopelessness than you ever were and you think, “You know, I'm a loser.  I can’t win.  I might as well give up.” 

That's exactly what the devil wants you to think.  Don't let the devil deceive you that way.  If you conclude that it's the same old giant every time, then that means that you never had victory in the first place and that you can't get victory.  You might as well give up.  Don't let Satan rob you of your former victory.  You understand how this works?  You were indeed victorious back there and what you are now facing is a new enemy.  You were successful.  Just because it looks like old Goliath, just because it smells like old Goliath and is just as ominous as Goliath doesn't mean that it is Goliath.  Remember Goliath is gone.  He is decapitated, remember that?  You did kill him.  Now go and let God do it again for your life.  You can be victorious.  Don't give up.  Don't quit.  Get the victory again.

And here is a text that assures you that God will help you to get that victory.  Look at Philippians in the New Testament, chapter one and verse six.  It says, “Be confident of this, that He who began a good work in you,”  you killed Goliath, you were successful once, “He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion.”  You’re going to be successful as long as you don't give up.  As long as you keep connected to Jesus Christ.  So David had become old.  In fact, some of the scholars in the commentaries that I read tell me that David was approximately 70 years old.  Maybe even older by the time he faced these four giants.  And he was feeble.  And even the Bible says he became exhausted.  He never used to get exhausted.  You ever get tired when you get older?  I think that might happen.  Unfortunately, in his advanced years, he must face 4 hundred percent more giants than he faced when he was young.  When he was a teenager.  

You know, evil never skips a generation.  Evil never takes a vacation.  In these eight verses we see that the struggles of life do not lessen in our mature years.  Now you older folks, you stay close to God because you're going to need that when you get older.  You know troubles increase in our old age, and we have to fight them with fewer resources.  Fewer strengths.  Fewer abilities.  David was exhausted, the Bible says, and so often temptations and problems increase.  When we are more vulnerable, when we’re weak.  When you're weaker and tired and exhausted you have more temptations.

You know, when I was younger I used to think that we teenagers had all the problems and all the old people didn't have any problems.  Because they had money.  They had cars.  They had houses.  They had all this stuff.  All these resources, and we kids didn't have hardly anything and so I thought, “How nice it will be when I grow up.  I'll have it made.  No more problems.”  Weeeell.  It's not that way because I'm about to get old someday.  The golden years are wonderful, but the giants that come after you in your golden years are outnumbering the giants that you faced as a teenager.  Sometimes four to one.  That happened with David. 

You know, with age your memory goes.  That's what they tell me, I think, unless I forgot that.  Life gets harder.  You go into a room and you wonder, “Now let's see, what did I come in here for?”  Does that ever happen to you?  I see some of you smiling that are younger than I am.  And you have to go back to the room that you were in.  “Oh, that's what I…” and then you go back in there and you do it quick before you forget what it was.  It gets bad.  I think eventually an older person could hide their own Easter eggs.  You would be happy just owning a dozen books, because by the time you read the last one you’ve forgotten the first one.  You know you’re old when you squat down to get something and you think, “Now what else can I do while I'm down here?”

Problems multiply with age.  David found that.  Fresh problems constantly surface.  New giants, better equipped, emerge from the woods.  Now you think, “That's discouraging pastor.  The older we get the new giants are going to attack us?  Better equipped giants?”  Yes.  There's actually a good thought in that.  You think, “Well, how can that be good?”  Well, let me tell you that if evil can get better, so can good.  Right?  Amen? 

So you be on the lookout for God's new heroes to come and to emerge from the woodwork.  Look for them because God will direct new young people, new heroes into His work.  God will do that.  Fresh new men, fresh new women, will come to the front.  And they will be better equipped.  They will be victorious.  They will be new, fresh, updated versions of the great heroes of the past.  And they will step up to the plate and these young generation people will hit even greater home runs than we have ever heard about.  That's happening and will happen.  Our youth are the mighty men of the next generation.  And you help train a youngster.  You be a Paul to a Timothy.

Now Goliath’s relatives came out of the woods to settle up with David.  They could not forget the evil that had been done to their daddy, or there uncle, and this time, I think, all of those giants wore helmets that covered the forehead.  No more sinking stones going in.  This time they would succeed.  These new giants were bigger.  They had more toes.  More fingers.  Better equipped.  Better armed with new equipment.  They shouted louder.  They smelled worse.  These giants were new, improved versions.  Upgrades, with blood in their eyes.

Now please notice that God did not allow all four giants to attack at once.  God will not give us more than we can bear.  First Corinthians 10:13.  “God is faithful. He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear.” 

Notice how David fought the giant.  How can you fight your Goliath?  Which of these four giants here did David kill?  None.  David didn't kill any of them.  You don't have to face the Goliaths of life alone.  Who killed these four mighty titans?  David's friends.  His friends did that.  Don't face the problems and the battles of life when you're weak, and when you're alone.  If you do, you will fail.  Don't go through life alone.  You need godly friends who will come and help you when you have to face your giants.  And where do you get those friends?  You get them in the church.  How do you get them in the church?  Well first of all you’ve got to attend the church.  You will not have friends in the church unless you attend the church.  You need church people to help you on the battlefield of life.  You've got to come. You've got to make spiritual friends and you don't do that by coming in at the last minute and escaping into your secret pew, sitting there like this and not saying ‘hi’ to anybody, and then at the end during the closing hymn [snap] out you go.  You haven't made any friends.  That's not the way to do that, and if that is the way that you are doing life you’re going to fail when the giants come.  Each Sabbath make a new friend.  Invite some of them home for lunch.  It was David's friends that saved David when the giants came, and you need friends by your side. 

And by the way you can be one of those friends.  You can be one.  One of those friendly rescuers that come.  You need to look around you and find out who is being attacked by giants.  By people with 24 appendages.  Mammoth monsters become mere midgets when you help the person.  And our best help is God who is a present help in trouble.  Instead of focusing on the size of your gigantic problem, focus on the size of your gigantic God.  That's what we need to do.

There's a text in Isaiah, chapter 40, verse 12, which says that God has measured the heavens with a span.  What is a ‘span’?  S. P. A. N.  It's the distance between the tip of your thumb and the tip of your little finger.  About 9 inches or whatever.  Nine and a half.  God can hold the entire universe in one hand.  So don't focus on the size of your problem.  Focus on the size of your God.  He's far bigger than any giant problem that you might have in your life.  So please come to God.  Jesus is the grand secret of success and with God on your side you can't lose.

Let's sing our closing hymn.  A Mighty Fortress Is Our God.  Where is your fortress?  Your fortress is God.  Your giants will come and they will be made your foot-stool when Jesus comes and helps you, and Jesus will.  A Mighty Fortress Is Our God.

Dear Father.  Keep our eyes on the target, and when the giants come for us, may You be the Giant in our life.  May Jesus Christ be the Man who delivers us from the evil.  Dismiss us with Jesus strongly in our lives and may we be successful through Him, we pray in Jesus’ name, amen.

 Hymn of Praise: #25, Praise The Lord, His Glories Show
Scripture: 2 Samuel 22:1-3
Hymn of Response: #506, A Mighty Fortress

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McDonald Road Sermon transcribed by Steve Foster 9/16/09