Goliath

People Who Shaped David:  Goliath

(1 Samuel 17)

 

1.      I have in my office a little stone.  On the surface it looks like an ordinary rock, but it is anything but ordinary to me.  This little stone is special to me because of where I got it.  Just to the southwest of Jerusalem there is a valley called the Elah Valley.  One of the significant events in Jewish history took place in the Elah Valley.  That is the place where the famous confrontation between David, who at the time was a young shepherd boy, and Goliath, who was a fierce Philistine worrier, took place.  Through the center of the Elah Valley runs a little brook.  From somewhere in that brook David took the stone that he used to kill Goliath.  On our last trip to Israel we stopped along that brook and picked up some stones and that’s where I got this one.

2.      Now I’m not naïve enough to believe this stone was in that brook when David faced Goliath.  As a matter of fact, I strongly suspect that the Israel Department of Tourism or some other such group, trucks stones like this to the Elah Valley from all over Israel so tourists like me can pick one up!  Nevertheless, the stone is special to me because I did get it in the place where David faced Goliath.

3.   Nearly everyone knows the story of David and Goliath.  It has become part of the folklore of human history.  In the Bible, the story is found 1 Samuel 17...look there in your Bible...want to begin by quickly overviewing  the chapter...then, a little later on I will direct your attention to some specific verses in 1 Samuel 17...

·         The armies of the Philistines and Israelites were squared off for battle... each occupied a mountain on opposite sides of the Elah Valley...

·         Goliath was a Philistine warrior...not just run of mill warrior...was a super star...9 feet tall...armor weighed over 150 pounds...just tip of spear weighed 15 pounds...NFL coach would have drooled over him... would not doubt have been a first round draft choice! 

·         Goliath walked into valley separating two armies...challenged Israel to send a single warrior do battle with him...if Goliath won Israel would become servant of Philistines...if Israel’s soldier won, Philistines would become servants of Israel...for 40 consecutive days made challenge each morning and each evening and no soldier in Israel would stand up to him...

·         David’s three oldest brothers –Eliab, Abinadab, Shammah-- were fighting in the army of Israelites...David, who as a shepherd at time living with his father, Jesse, in the area of Bethlehem…his father sent him to take supplies to his brothers...

·         When David arrived on scene and heard Goliath’s challenge, he was offended that no-one had courage to stand against him...he went to King Saul and offered to face Goliath for Israel...Saul’s initial reaction was to say, “No way!”...he pointed out the obvious...David was only a youth and Goliath was a seasoned warrior who had been fighting sense his youth...

·         But David insisted and Saul was desperate for someone to face Goliath, so he consented to let David do so, even though he was certain that David could not win...

·         Well, the rest, as they say, is history...shunning the armor Saul offered him and using his slingshot with which he had become proficient as a shepherd, David sent a rock into Goliath’s forehead... the rock knocked the giant to the ground and with Goliath’s own sword David severed his head...

·         And instantly, David became a national hero...

  1. That’s a feel good story...

      --little guy beats big guy...

            --underdog overcomes great odds...

                  --the good guy wins when no-one thought he could...

But I don’t think God recorded this event in Bible just to make us feel good...it is in the Bible to teach us some crucial lessons about life...

 

T.S. - All of us from time to time face things in our lives that appear to be gigantic…some problem, some obstacle, some issue that seems to be so big, so overwhelming there seems to be no hope of overcoming it and we feel that we are about to be crushed.  From the encounter between David and Goliath, there are some principles that we can learn which will help us such through times in life.  I want to share with you in summary fashion four principles that will help us overcome the giants we sometimes face in life.

 

Principle 1 - Remember that things are not always as they first appear

1.   At first glance Goliath appeared to be invincible...just his size alone was enough to strike fear into the Israelites...it’s important to understand that the men who made up the army of Israel weren’t wimps...these were seasoned warriors...they had been in many battles...they were skilled in hand to hand combat...by this point in time that had been in wars for years...the weakest ones had already been weeded out...only the strongest, the bravest remained...however, these strong, brave men saw no way to defeat Goliath...verse 11 tells us that in the presence of Goliath “...they were dismayed and greatly afraid.”

2.   And at first glance David appeared to have no chance at all against the giant...everyone thought David was the underdog...Saul told David in verse 33, “You are not able to go against the Philistine...”...this story has become a metaphor for a person facing seemingly impossible odds...

3.   But things weren’t as they first seemed...Goliath wasn’t invincible...he ended up with his head severed from his body...and David wasn’t really an underdog...truth is, in this battle, the real underdog was Goliath...that’s because the hand of God was with David...

 

1.  Important lesson in that...we must not forget that God is at work in the world...and sometimes He is about doing things which are not readily apparent, especially to the casual observer...what may appear to us to be a crushing blow or insurmountable obstacle, may be something God uses in our lives to make us better person or to demonstrate His power or faithfulness in our lives…

2.  There is an ancient story which has its roots in China.  Over the years I have read several different versions of this story. 

One day in late summer, an old farmer was working in his field with his old sick horse. The farmer felt compassion for the horse and desired to lift its burden. So he let his horse loose to go the mountains and live out the rest of its life.

Soon after, neighbors from the nearby village visited, offering their condolences and said, "What a shame.  Now your only horse is gone.  How unfortunate you are!. You must be very sad. How will you live, work the land, and prosper?" The farmer replied: "Who knows? We shall see".

Two days later the old horse came back now rejuvenated after meandering in the mountainsides while eating the wild grasses. He came back with twelve new younger and healthy horses which followed the old horse into the corral. 

Word got out in the village of the old farmer's good fortune and it wasn't long before people stopped by to congratulate the farmer on his good luck.  "How fortunate you are!" they exclaimed. You must be very happy!"  Again, the farmer softly said, "Who knows? We shall see."

At daybreak on the next morning, the farmer's only son set off to attempt to train the new wild horses, but the farmer's son was thrown to the ground and broke his leg.  One by one villagers arrived during the day to bemoan the farmer's latest misfortune.  "Oh, what a tragedy!  Your son won't be able to help you farm with a broken leg. You'll have to do all the work yourself, How will you survive? You must be very sad".  they said.  Calmly going about his usual business the farmer answered, "Who knows? We shall see"

Several days later a war broke out. The Emperor's men arrived in the village demanding that young men come with them to be conscripted into the Emperor's army.  As it happened the farmer's son was deemed unfit because of his broken leg.  "What very good fortune you have!!" the villagers exclaimed as their own young sons were marched away. "You must be very happy." "Who knows? We shall see!", replied the old farmer as he headed off to work his field alone.

As time went on the broken leg healed but the son was left with a slight limp. Again the neighbors came to pay their condolences. "Oh what bad luck. Too bad for you"!  But the old farmer simply replied; "Who knows? We shall see."

As it turned out the other young village boys had died in the war and the old farmer and his son were the only able bodied men capable of working the village lands.

3.      The cross and resurrection is a perfect example of this principle...the cross seemed like the ultimate defeat of Jesus...it appeared to be the end...He was dead...His enemies had prevailed...or so it seemed...but in reality, it was His greatest moment of victory...at the precise moment when Satan thought he was defeating Jesus, Jesus was winning the ultimate victory over sin and death...and His resurrection is the confirmation of that...

  1. One thing David learned from his confrontation with Goliath and that we can learn from this event is things are not always as they appear...

 

Principle 2 – Understand the importance of prior preparation

  1. Saul objected to David facing Goliath because Goliath was an experienced warrior and David was just a youth with no battle experience...in verse 33 Saul said to David, in effect, “You aren’t prepared for this.  Goliath is an experience warrior and you are only a youth.”...but David told Saul in verses 34 & 35 that he was, indeed, prepared…he had already had some experience at facing ferocious adversaries...said that as shepherd when a lion or bear attacked the sheep under his care, he would fight them off, rescue the lamb from their jaws, and kill the predator... 
  2. Came across an interesting statement as I was preparing for this sermon...one person wrote, “You will never defeat the giant until you defeat the lion and the bear.”...like that...is reminder that the experiences of today are constantly preparing us for bigger and more significant experiences tomorrow...because David had fought the lion and the bear and because he had no doubt practiced for hours with his slingshot, when the opportunity came to face Goliath he was prepared...

 

  1. In virtually every arena of life, preparation and attention to detail are the keys to success...that’s true in the realm of--

--academics – My wife, Carol, was HS math teacher for nearly 25 years...one thing I noticed over the years as she interacted with her students is how many students suddenly decide get serious about their grade as the end of the semester approached...but it was those students who studied along the way and had done the work who succeed in making good grade...

--athleticsBen Hogan was one of the greatest golfers who ever lived.  He won 63 tournaments even though he was nearly killed in an auto accident at the height of his career.  After his accident the doctors said he would probably never walk again, much less play golf.  But through hard work and dogged determination he made it back to the PGA Tour.  His motto was, “Every day you don’t practice is one day longer before you achieve greatness.”  [Quoted by Phil Mickelson in One Magical Sunday]  And what was true for Ben Hogan is true for every great athlete.  Those who are the most successful are those who have paid the price in preparation.

--work place – Go into any major corporation or business...will discover that those who have made it to the top are the ones who have paid the price in preparation and in faithfully carrying out the assignments entrusted to them...in the business world, success breeds success...

--spiritual realm – The person who makes the effort to nurture his/her spiritual life...to spend time in God’s Word, prayer, fellowship with God’s people, developing personal relationship with the Lord ...the person who is faithful in doing the small things God calls us to do, is the person to whom God entrusts larger things...

2.   And the reason God chose David to face Goliath and the reason David was successful is because, even though he didn’t realize it, all of his life David had been preparing for that moment…

 

Principle 3 - Deal with the giants as they come up in your life

  1. Someone has said, “If you have to swallow a frog, don’t look at it too long.”...not bad advice...to put off doing the things we find difficult or unpleasant only tends to make them worse...
  2. That little detail in verse 16 about Goliath taunting the Israelites morning and evening for 40 consecutive days is interesting...can imagine what those Israelites must have thought...each day as Goliath marched out in full battle gear to taunt and challenge them he must have looked bigger and more ferocious...the longer they waited to deal with him the more invulnerable he appeared...
  3. David took just opposite approach...read carefully 1 Samuel 17 several times this week...clear implication is David killed Goliath on first day he saw him...saw Goliath challenge Israelites in morning...when came back for evening challenge David was there...
  4. Don’t want you miss significance of that...while we shouldn’t be hasty and imprudent, it is almost always better to deal with the giants as they come up in our lives...David certainly did...

 

Principle 4 – Trust God more than you trust yourself

  1. When get right down to it, basic difference between David and Goliath is that Goliath’s trust was in himself...his size, strength, ability as warrior...David’s confidence was in God...
  2. Just before going to battle Goliath, Saul, who did not share David’s confidence in God, insisted that David wear his armor...verse 39 says that when David was all suited up he “...tried to walk...”...the implication is that the armor was too heavy for David...so David took it off and insisted on going into battle with only a stick in one hand and his slingshot in another...
  3. One of the great statements in the Bible is what David said to Goliath in verse 45 – “You come to me with a sword, a spear, and a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the lord of hosts…”  That’s picture of a person who is confident in God...David knew who he was in relation to God and knew all he needed be victorious was God’s presence in his life...

 

  1. When we remember to trust in God and not try carry whole load or fight the battles in our own strength, life is infinitely better...in NYC there is a startling contrast...on 5th Avenue, at entrance of RCA building is a gigantic statue of Atlas, the perfectly proportioned man...the world is on his shoulders...and with his muscles straining under the load, he is doing all he can to hold up the world...he’s just about to buckle under the load...across the street on 5th Avenue is the majestic St. Patrick’s Cathedral...behind the altar is another statue...this statue is of Jesus as a young boy, perhaps eight or nine years old...He has a hand outstretched and with no effort whatsoever He is holding in the palm of His hand the world...
  2. We don’t have to carry the whole load or to wear someone else’s armor to overcome the giants we face in life...all we have to do is depend on God...

Conclusion

1.      While I do not know your life situation, my experience tells me that most, if not every one of us in this room, at this very moment are facing some kind of giant in our lives…what do we do when the giants appear?...how do we overcome them?...do what David did when he faced Goliath—

Remember that things are not always as they first appear

 

Understand the importance of prior preparation

 

Deal with the giants as they come up in your life

 

Trust God more than you trust yourself

 

2.   That’s the way to overcome the giants which challenge us...

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