The story of David and Goliath is probably the best known Bible story of all time. There might be some discussion about some of the stories about Jesus, but when we think about Bible stories within our secular culture this story is the top one or at least top two. People know this story.
We use it all the time to reference small guy vs. big guy. Every sports announcer has used this analogy at some point in their career. David and Goliath and Cinderella story are common remarks.
In Literature, this was the only story Tom Sawyer could remember from his time in Sunday school. And probably for the same reason it was for me…When I was a kid, the story of David and Goliath was one of my favorites! Why? Because I was a boy and I wanted a slingshot! When I got one, I wasn’t very good…not to mention my mom kept taking it away. But man, I loved this story.
The problem with stories like this is they are so well known…it is difficult to hear God speak to us out of them without hearing exactly what we have always heard…and sometimes the message of the story has been assumed so much and heard so many times we can’t hear what is actually being said through the passage. We miss all the intricacies and insights offered by the story because it is so common.
Psychologists call it Inattention Blindness. You’ve probably seen the video where they ask you to count how many times the basketball players pass a ball to each other, and then at the end ask you if you saw the dancing gorilla or bear? You brain has only so much awareness power that it can’t focus on everything os it takes some things for granted.
We do that when we read scripture…especially a story we believe we know really well. We make assumptions and move our brains to autopilot…which is why slowing down and taking our time with a passage is so important to our spiritual growth.
And there is so much to overlook in this passage if we simply boil it down to a small boy, standing up against a giant, and overcoming him to win the battle.
I don’t have time for us to read the whole passage, but I put 1 Samual 17:1-53 in the Youversion app, and want us to go over a few main points this morning from the passage…
Not to take for granted that we all know the gist of the story…
1 Samuel 17 has the Philistine army and the Israelite army each lined up for battle on opposing ridge lines. Each morning this massive giant of a warrior would come down to the valley, and taunt the Israelite troops. His size and battle prowess were frightening. He mocked the men, their king, and their God.
He did this for 40 days…with everyone in the Israelite army being too overwhelmed with fear to take up the offer. Not even King Saul was willing to face him.
But one day, David shows up. He is bringing supplies to his brothers who are there “fighting” as part of Saul’s army. So he shows up, and it is just in time to hear Goliath taunting the men. David can’t help himself. Despite his brother belittling him…because that’s what big brothers do. Or people doubting him…because who would imagine this young, untrained man going to battle against a hardened veteran.
It would be like me walking out to do battle with an elite Navy Seal…for all intents and purposes…it isn’t going to end pretty for me.
But David isn’t swayed…because for him, this isn’t about defending Saul or the army or even, necessarily the people and the land, for David, this is about defending the honor and the name of God. If Israel losses this battle it means that God isn’t able to defend them. So David steps up.
King Saul isn’t necessarily impressed, but allows him to go. He even attempts to give David the best armament he has available. But David is uncomfortable with it, and decides to go with the bare minimum and what he is used to using…a sling shot.
When I was a kid, I envisioned the slingshots I used. A strong, Y-shaped stick with a rubber band. But these slings shots were strong, leather straps that were slung around and around and could hurl a baseball sized rock at over 100mph and then hit a very specific target; even if it was moving. This was a weapon.
So David meets Goliath on the battlefield, and the rest, as they say, is history. They exchanged their barbs, and then David soundly defeats the Philistine warrior.
As I studied and prepared for this message, one comment stuck out to me…in fact, there are times when the idea of a passage or the message I want to get across so impacts me that I then struggle to do it justice. I fear that my fumbling attempt at a message will get in the way of the power of what is being taught here.
So I want to share this with you…if you hear nothing else…hear this…the commentator said…
“Without faith we see only negatively when faced with difficulties; we forget our status as God’s people and lose confidence in God.”
It is so easy, when we are faced with trials and difficulties and tough times in our lives, to only see all the negative possible outcomes…to feel hopeless…to feel overwhelmed…to succumb to the fear we feel.
In this story we see two very different responses to the challenge Goliath posed…the response of Saul and the entire military was to run and hide in fear…to stay entrenched…to refuse to move…almost hoping the problem would just go away…
And then there was David who was able to walk confidently into the valley with complete trust that God was going to win the day.
if we are going to face the giant difficulties and not lose our status as God’s people and not lose confidence in God…
We have to trust God above all else.
For David, this was not a competition between armies. This was not about whether Goliath was bigger, stronger, and more able to fight…it was not about whether the Israelite army was weak or whether Saul’s honor was defended. For David, this was about God’s honor.
The name Goliath is only stated twice in the original language of the story…the rest of the time David only derisively refers to him as “this Philistine!” Why? because what he sees is not a warrior attacking a human army, but a mere mortal attacking the God of all creation.
The writer emphasizes this by showing the difference in how Goliath and David evaluated the contest…
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.
For Goliath, he was a Philistine…they were servants (slaves) of Saul. Whether he was intentionally trying to provoke them or not…it worked. Because not a single man responded. Instead they cowered in fear…not a single one stood up to defend the name of God.
So for 40 days, Goliath stood, issued the challenge and insulted the name of God…with no response from the people who were supposed to be God’s chosen people. And I’m not sure Goliath was really insulting God so much as trying to get a rise out of the Israelite army by insulting their God. Much like a kid on the playground insults the other kids mom…he has nothing against the kid’s mom…it is just a way of getting a reaction.
The problem was no one cared enough about defending God to do anything about it.
But David’s response is different. He comes to the battlefield and hears the giant’s taunt.
1 Samuel 17:45
David said to the Philistine, “You come against 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.
David walks onto the battlefield with no hesitation whatsoever because this was not about him…this was about God. And This Philistine was no match for the God of the Universe.
How many of our problems, if we really evaluate them, could stand up against the power of God? I mean, if God is who we believe him to be…if then nothing can stand against him.
The hard part of this is when things don’t work out…we hesitate…we struggle…we lose faith or at least some traction…
It becomes difficult…but even then we are reminded of the words of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego who stood in front of the fiery furnace and stood against a King,
“King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. 17 If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. 18 But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.”
Even when the giant wins…it doesn’t mean God has lost…and that can cause us to wrestle with things a bit.
The second thing I want you to notice is that for us to overcome the difficulties we face…sometimes
We have to ignore the voices of “reason” around us.
There are all kinds reasonable voices in this passage and in our lives…
One voice of reason had to come from within…this was one fierce looking warrior…and he was huge…
1 Samuel 17:4-7
4 A champion named Goliath, who was from Gath, came out of the Philistine camp. His height was six cubits and a span (9ft 9in) 5 He had a bronze helmet on his head and wore a coat of scale armor of bronze weighing five thousand shekels (126 pounds); 6 on his legs he wore bronze greaves, and a bronze javelin was slung on his back. 7 His spear shaft was like a weaver’s rod, and its iron point weighed six hundred shekels. (15 pounds) His shield bearer went ahead of him.
Another voice of reason is the voice of loved ones around us…
1 Samuel 17:28
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 wilderness? I know how conceited you are and how wicked your heart is; you came down only to watch the battle.”
He was the oldest, responsible for the family because Jesse was old…he could see the size and experience difference…it was pretty reasonable for him to tell David to just stop.
Finally, we have to ignore the voices of our critics and detractors…
1 Samuel 17:33
Saul replied, “You are not able to go out against this Philistine and fight him; you are only a young man, and he has been a warrior from his youth.”
I am truly surprised that Saul let David go. He is the King. If David loses this would be an embarrassment…there are all kinds of things…but Saul doesn’t stop him…but he certainly pointed out all the problems he felt would hinder David.
When you face difficulties it is easy to listen to the voice of “reason”. Now, I don’t mean you should run out and do something foolish…but I am saying that some times God calls us to do something that reason would disagree with.
I know God called me to be here in Dayton to plant a church. It hasn’t been easy. It hasn’t exploded with growth. It has survived which is more than 95% of other church plants have done at this point. But when I left, I was moving up the chain of my previous job, I took a $15-20,000 a year pay cut to come work and prepare to plant this church, I had to disregard the voice that warned against moving back to my hometown…why? because God had called for it to happen.
God will call you to do somethings that don’t seem reasonable. Don’t do unreasonable things if God hasn’t called, but when God calls…do them.
I want to point out one last thing…
We have to accomplish God’s Will in God’s way.
Once Saul decided to allow David to fight…he wanted to offer him every possible advantage…so being King, Saul had access to the strongest and best weaponry..
1 Samuel 17:38-40
38 Then Saul dressed David in his own tunic. He put a coat of armor on him and a bronze helmet on his head. 39 David fastened on his sword over the tunic and tried walking around, because he was not used to them.
“I cannot go in these,” he said to Saul, “because I am not used to them.” So he took them off. 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.
The problem with Saul’s armor is that it didn’t fit David. This passage is almost comical in how it describes David…like a girl trying to walk in her mother’s high heels or a boy dressed up in his Dad’s suit…David wasn’t used to it, it didn’t fit, and it was going to hinder.
But how often have we attempted to fit into someone else’s armor to fight the battles ahead of us. How many times have we attempted to use the world’s methods to accomplish God’s purposes in our world.
God’s way of winning is not with the weapons and ways of this world. Rather than use a sword and armor…David went out with nothing but a strap of leather and five smooth stones. David would later write these words…
Now this I know:
The Lord gives victory to his anointed.
He answers him from his heavenly sanctuary
with the victorious power of his right hand.
Some trust in chariots and some in horses,
but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.
We see a history of people in the church supporting war as way to bring peace…despite God’s call to love our enemy, do good to those who hurt us…A secular government has to do what a secular government does, but as Christians our call is to do as God calls us to do…
We see people going desperately into debt because of all the things God promises them…but they aren’t willing to wait for his timing to provide.
We see people, compelled by a vision to reach the world for Jesus, working long hard hours for God, but not actually doing what God tells them…which is take their Sabbaths, grow in Him…
We see people trying to build ministries or accomplish what this or that person has built or accomplished…
I used to want to preach like any number of pastors…I wanted to build a church like their church…and I had to come to realize that God is using me, not them, at this point. I can learn from them. I can take pointers and insights…but God is calling me to be me not someone else. I have to be me clothed in Christ (not the sinful rebellious me)…but God wants to use me.
God will defeat the giants through you…with what you have…with the gifts and abilities and experiences you bring to the table…
We can’t put on someone else’s armor-God has created us, he knows us, we are different places spiritually, emotionally, psychologically…we can learn, take advice, but God will use YOU with your unique talents, gifts, abilities, and experiences.
“Without faith we see only negatively when faced with difficulties; we forget our status as God’s people and lose confidence in God.”
I really want you to get this statement, and here is why…because
When we move against the challenges and difficulties in faith, we become make a missionary statement to the world around us that God is at work…and we become a statement to the churches and christians who are cowering in fear…we become a statement that our God saves and is mighty.
When we do things the way the rest of the world does them…when the church and christians seek fame and power and try to overcome with slick business techniques and long hours and use all the same means and methods the world uses…we aren’t witnessing to the world that God is the one doing the work.
Are we going to succumb to the “reality” in front of us, or are we, in response to a call from God, going to move forward in faith, trusting him to demolish the giants and difficulties in our path?