|Heroes | David & Goliath|
|July 19, 2008|
Part 5 of 9 | July 20, 2008
All summer we’re talking about heroes here at Amelia. But instead of talking about the heroes you used to read about in your Marvel comic books, we’re spending the summer going back to classic stories of Old Testament heroes. God has been using these timeless heroes to speak his truth into our lives.
Last week, we talked about the hero who ended up not being a hero at all…Jonah. But today, you absolutely cannot deny that this guy was an unbelievable hero of God. Today, we’re going back to one of the most loved, most well-known stories in the entire Bible…the story of David & Goliath.
The story is found in 1 Samuel 17. I’ve gotta tell you…I am stoked about the truth that we’re going to discover together through this story! If you will allow him, God is going to use this story to do something powerful in your life. If you’ll open yourself up to these truths, then the next few minutes will not be a sermon. They will be a catalyst to change your life. And if you think I’m overstating it, I’m not. God has something big for you today.
Like we’ve been doing throughout this series, let’s quickly recap the story of David & Goliath, and then we’re going to go back and look at some incredible details of how God worked in this story.
The Philistine army had invaded the land of Israel. The Philistine and Israelite armies had set up their battle lines on opposing hills, with a valley in between them.
Since both armies held such a powerful, strategic position on these hilltops, the confrontation was pretty much a stalemate. That’s when a Philistine soldier got an idea. Instead of two armies fighting, he would challenge a single Israelite soldier to fight him. The winner of that fight would also claim victory for his army.
The Philistine’s name was Goliath. Goliath stood nine feet, nine inches tall. When I read that this week, I knew that was big. But I couldn’t picture exactly how big. I wanted to visualize it. If you look at the back wall of the auditorium, you’ll see some caution tape. That caution tape is exactly nine feet, nine inches tall. That is exactly how tall Goliath was. Why did I use caution tape? Because if I meet this guy…um…caution might be an understatement.
This guy was an absolutely massive wall of humanity. The armor that he wore weighed 125 pounds. The tip of his spear weighed 15 pounds. He was more of a monster than a man. The undefeated champion of the Philistines.
When the Israelites saw this behemoth and heard his challenge, they cowered in fear. No one in their right mind would take on Goliath. That wouldn’t be courage. It would be suicide.
So Goliath’s challenge went unanswered. Every day for 40 days, Goliath would come out in the morning and again in the evening, challenging and taunting the Israelites. And for 40 days, the army of Israel cowered in fear.
That’s where David enters the scene. David was about 19 at the time, which meant that he was too young to join the army. But he was not too young to be a hero. Teens, don’t ever let somebody tell you that you’re too young to do something big for God. Don’t you ever buy into that lie.
Not only was David a boy, but he was a shepherd boy, which placed him firmly on the bottom rung of the cultural ladder. No one in David’s society aspired to be a shepherd.
But this teenage shepherd with absolutely no military experience at all took Goliath up on his challenge. Goliath was insulted that none of the soldiers would fight him; only this boy who was armed with nothing but a staff, a sling, and a handful of rocks. But he had no idea what he was in for, because David, young, inexperienced David, took down the giant. Goliath died at the hands of the shepherd boy, and the army of Israel swelled with courage and massacred the Philistines.
It’s a great story that a lot of us have known forever. But today, we’re going to unearth some truths from this familiar story that have the power to rock our world.
The story of David and Goliath is so relevant to our lives today because we all have giants to face.
In his book, Facing Your Giants, Max Lucado wrote, “Your Goliath doesn’t carry sword or shield; he brandishes blades of unemployment, abandonment, sexual abuse, or depression. Your giant doesn’t parade up and down the hills of Elah; he prances through your office, your bedroom, your classroom. He brings bills you can’t pay, grades you can’t make, people you can’t please, whiskey you can’t resist, pornography you can’t refuse, a career you can’t escape, a past you can’t shake, and a future you can’t face. You know well the roar of Goliath.” (Lucado, Max. Facing Your Giants. Nashville: W Publishing Group, 2006, pgs. 2-3.)
You didn’t come here alone today, did you? Your giant came with you. In fact, your Goliath follows you everywhere you go. Everything you do is under his shadow. You try to forget he is there, but he never leaves the back of your mind. And when he comes to the forefront, ready to fight yet again, you wilt.
I don’t know what your specific giant is, but I know most everyone in this room has one. Today can be the day that your journey to freedom begins. And make no mistake about it, that’s what is at stake.
When Goliath was taunting the Israelite army, he said, “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.” (1 Samuel 17:8b-9, NIV)
This was more than a fight between two men. This was an epic battle, with freedom as the prize. The loser would become a slave forever.
When you face your giant, your freedom is at stake. The outcome of the struggle will determine if you will live in slavery or freedom.
As we dig deep into the David & Goliath story, three truths are going to become incredibly clear to us. All three start with the letter “F.” A lot of the preaching gurus today will tell you that your sermon shouldn’t have three points, and it should never, ever use alliterations. I pretty much agree with that, but we’re breaking the rule today. Because these three truths that start with “F” don’t make up a cute little sermon outline. They are three truths that will have a devastating impact on the giants in our lives.
The first is focus.
Let’s listen in on two conversations from the story. They’re only one verse apart in the Bible, but they are a million miles apart in terms of focus.
Listen to what the Israelites were saying. “‘Have you seen the giant?’ the men asked.” (1 Samuel 17:25a, NLT)
Contrast that with this. “David asked the soldiers standing nearby…‘Who is this pagan Philistine anyway, that he is allowed to defy the armies of the living God?’” (1 Samuel 17:26, NLT)
Where was the focus of the men in the army? They were focused squarely on the giant. Goliath was their focus.
Where was David’s focus? He was laser focused on God.
We need to remember that the Israelites were God’s chosen people in the Old Testament. The Israelite army was his army. The soldiers were his people…and yet not one of them even mentions God. Not only are they not focused on God, he doesn’t even enter into the conversation until David shows up.
How could God’s people forget about him when they’re facing a giant? Does it make sense? No. Does it happen all the time? Absolutely.
When you are facing down your giant, it’s easy for that Goliath to become your focus. To the point where God doesn’t even enter into the equation anymore. It’s not that we intentionally leave God out. I don’t think the army intentionally forgot about God. It simply happened when they allowed their focus to shift from God to Goliath.
David had a decidedly different focus. He saw the giant. But the giant wasn’t all he saw. If you read the entire story in 1 Samuel 17, you’ll find that David only mentions Goliath twice. But he makes nine references to the Lord. More than four times as many God-thoughts as Goliath-thoughts. You want to know why David killed Goliath? It started here. He focused on God with laser precision.
That doesn’t often describe the way we encounter our giants, does it? Which is why we are beaten by them so often. We have a real tendency to compartmentalize our lives.
We’ve got a compartment for God, but we’ve also got a compartment for Goliath. And the two compartments are always kept separated.
For example, I have known so many men who are addicted to pornography. And I used that word on purpose. They are addicted to it, just like any other drug. And these are Christian men. Yes, I said men. This isn’t just something reserved for teenage guys. I’ve known married, Christian men who use pornography on Saturday and sit in church on Sunday.
And they’re dying inside. They know that their giant has a stranglehold on them, and it robs them of everything God wants for their lives. Their focus is squarely on the giant. They constantly feel like a scumbag and a loser because of their addiction. So they run back to their addiction for the high that it provides. But the high doesn’t last long, and they wind up feeling even worse. Their focus is 100% on the giant, which throws them into a vicious, downward spiral.
God never enters into the equation because of the separate compartments we talked about. God belongs in the God compartment. But they would never dream of introducing God into the Goliath compartment. That would mean inviting God into their sinful, completely messed up life. God wouldn’t want to be in that compartment…would he?
He absolutely would. You have to understand that we are God’s children, bought by the blood of Jesus Christ. God is not in the business of letting his kids be pummeled by a giant over and over again. But he does wait to be invited to the fight. He does wait until we shift our focus to him, seeking him, praying for his power to be unleashed in our lives.
Before David killed Goliath, look at what he said to him. “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.
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.’” (1 Samuel 17:45, 47, NIV)
Why did David have such confidence against his giant? Because he knew that “the battle is the Lord’s.” He knew that his God was bigger than his giant.
Which is bigger in your life? Your God or your Goliath? Which of these boxes is obviously bigger? The Goliath box. Because so many of us live like Goliath is bigger than God. Some of us need to let God out of the box that we’ve put him in. We need to realize how big God really is.
Are you just convinced that your depression is bigger than your God? Is the pain of your past bigger than the God of your present? Which is bigger? God, or your addiction? Or your troubled marriage? Or your bitterness? Or your debt? Or your fear? The problem is not that your Goliath is too big. It’s that your God is too small.
David didn’t compartmentalize God. He didn’t put God in a box. Instead, he allowed God to be God in his life. And when that happens, you realize that your Goliath is no match for your God.
My God is bigger than.... Say that out loud with me. “My God is bigger than...” Say it again. “My God is bigger than...” I’ll let you finish the sentence yourself. My God is bigger than (whatever giant you’re facing in your life.
Do you believe it? Do you believe that your God is bigger than any giant you have in your life?
Where is your focus? Is it on the size of Goliath or the size of God? That’s where the battle begins.
Once your focus is right, you move on to the next phase of the battle. You fight.
I want to show you a verse in the story that usually gets overlooked. Look at this.
“As the Philistine moved closer to attack him, David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet him.” (1 Samuel 17:48, NIV)
Let that picture sink in for a minute. Goliath, over nine feet tall, wearing more armor than a tank, armed with a deadly sword and a spear, Goliath is moving toward David. And there is murder in his eyes. Goliath is moving in for the kill.
At this moment, David could have had a stroke of sanity. He could have measured up his chances against the Godzilla that was bearing down on him. He could have run away.
But instead, he ran at Goliath. He didn’t move with caution and trepidation. He ran to meet his giant with reckless abandon. Instead of playing defense, David went on offense.
And that’s the key. When it comes to fighting your giant, you’ve got to go on offense.
But wait a minute. Wait a minute. Did you just say that we had to focus on God? Didn’t you just say we need to tap into God’s power to overcome our giant? Yeah, but go back to our story.
David told Goliath, “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. 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.” (1 Samuel 17:47-50, NIV)
Did you see what happened there? David admits that “the battle is the Lord’s.” The power of God will be what prevails over Goliath. And then, the very next verse says that David ran to the battle line. Put a stone in his sling and used it to drill the giant in the forehead.
David didn’t just sit around and pray. He was focused on God, but he still had to gather rocks for his sling. He still had to run to the battle. He still had to use his weapon to hurl a rock at Goliath’s head.
Here’s the takeaway from this. Prayer can never be used as an excuse for inaction. We can’t just sit back and say, “I’ve prayed about it. Now I’m going to sit on my rear and do nothing. I’m just going to wait for God to move.”
You’ve got it backwards. God is waiting for you to move. He’s waiting for you to jump in the fight against your giant. He will not honor your laziness. But if you go on offense, you’ll do it with the full force of his power behind you.
Like I said earlier, I have known a lot of men who are addicted to pornography. And I’ve also known a few who stopped focusing on the giant and started focusing on Jesus. And then, they jumped in the fight. What does that look like?
It looks like a man who falls on his face in confession and repentance. Instead of denying or justifying his sin, he bares his soul before God.
And then, he brings accountability into his life. He takes seriously the command to “confess your sins to each other and pray for each other” like it says in James 5. He brings men alongside him who will keep him accountable.
He builds barriers between himself and the porn that has such a grip on him. His wife changes the password on the computer so he can only log on when she’s there. Or, maybe he goes even more radical. Throws the computer out altogether. “Well, how do you survive without a computer?” Easier than your marriage can survive a porn addiction. Easier than your walk with Christ can survive the stranglehold this Goliath can have on your life.
Do you see what I’m saying? I’ve seen guys who didn’t sit around waiting for God to move. They tapped into his power and then took the fight to Goliath. They ran to the battle line, empowered by Jesus, and took down their giant.
Whatever the giant in your life is, the answer is not to sit idly by and do nothing. If your Goliath is a troubled marriage, you’d better fight for your family. You have to go on offense. Pray for God to work, but then get away for a weekend, a week, or however long it takes. Just you and your spouse. And start working through the junk that is weighing down your relationship.
Get to a marriage counselor. Maybe some wife is sitting there saying, “I’d go, but my husband won’t.” Let me tell you something, guys. If that’s true, you are a weak, pathetic, lazy man. Instead of running to the battle line with David, you’re cowering in fear with every other Israelite solider. Buck up. Be a man. Be the leader of your family. Run to the battle line. Go on the offense to save your marriage.
I’ve heard more than one Christian say, “I’m just praying and waiting for God to move.” That sounds just as spiritual as anything, but at the end of the day it’s a bunch of bull. Most of the time, that is a spiritual sounding excuse for being too lazy or too apathetic or too scared to run to the battle and fight against your giant. Go in the power of God. Get yourself prayed up, and then get off your duff and go on offense.
You may not have much, but you bring whatever you have to the fight. David had a sling and a stone. A pretty big mismatch compared to the weapons of Goliath. But he took what he had and went on offense, trusting that God would make up the difference.
Believing that God is bigger than your Goliath doesn’t mean that you sit around waiting for God to take him down. It means you go to battle with what you have, believing God is big enough to make up the difference.
David went at Goliath with a sling. It was an offensive weapon. Granted, it wasn’t much of a weapon, but it was still designed for offense. He didn’t take a shield. He didn’t wear any armor. Those are defensive. He took a sling, which was used to attack. He took what he had and went on offense. Ran to the battle. Attacked his giant. And God empowered him to take down Goliath.
You want the giant in your life to go down? Get your focus on God. Get up and get in the fight.
And then follow through. Here’s where a lot of people make a critical error. They assume that once their giant is down, he’s going to stay down. And so they don’t follow through. They don’t finish him off.
David & Goliath is the quintessential story for a children’s Sunday School class. And usually, the story we share with kids ends with David hitting Goliath in the head with a rock. But the real story doesn’t end there. Oh no. It gets a lot better than that.
Check it out. David just nailed Goliath with the rock, sending him to the ground.
Verse 51 says, “David ran 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.” (1 Samuel 17:51, NIV)
Not exactly a fitting end to a children’s story, but a way cool end to a story of how God works through us to take down the giants in our lives.
Let’s unpack this verse a little more. After Goliath hit the ground from the impact of the stone, “David ran and stood over him.” There’s David running again. Not wasting any time. He’s staying on offense.
Then David drew Goliath’s sword from the scabbard. And he used the sword to kill Goliath and cut off his head. Did you know that the stone probably didn’t kill Goliath? Most scholars believe that the stone merely knocked him out. He died when David used his own sword to kill him and cut off his head.
David didn’t just knock Goliath to the ground. He did the messy work of following through. Cutting off a giant’s head is not a neat and tidy deal. It’s messy…but it’s necessary.
The giant in your life didn’t get a grip on you overnight…and he won’t be defeated overnight. You didn’t become an addict overnight. Your marriage didn’t fall apart overnight. The pain of a broken relationship didn’t fall on you overnight. The sea of debt that you’re drowning in didn’t rise up overnight. The Goliath in your life will not be defeated overnight. You’ve got to be willing to get messy. You’ve got to be willing to follow through, however long that takes.
If that means years of counseling, do it. If that means a lifetime of drug testing to keep you accountable, do it. If that means never carrying a credit card ever again, do it. If that means forgiving someone 1,000 times for the same thing, do it.
It’s not enough to put your giant on the ground. It’s very possible to claim victory too early, and walk away without cutting off the giant’s head. You’ve got to be in this thing for the long haul. Follow it through to the very end. Giants don’t die easily. Put in the time. Do the hard, messy work. Cut off the giant’s head.
Listen to these words from 1 John. “…the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.” (1 John 4:4b, NIV)
If you are in Christ, then you have God’s Spirit within you. God is greater than the power of Satan. He is greater than your Goliath.
Focus on him.
Fight your giant, armed with his power.
Follow through until God gives you absolute victory.
Focus. Fight. Follow through.
Where are you on that continuum? What is the next step you need to take?
Focus. Fight. Follow through. If you do, your giant is going down, baby! He’s going down, because the God who is in you is greater than the Goliath that is terrorizing you.
I said at the beginning that today can be the day that your journey to freedom begins. You can be enslaved to your giant or you can be set free by Jesus Christ. It starts today.
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