The Giant Killer

1 Samuel 17

 

©Copyright January 18, 2009 Rev. Bruce Goettsche SERIES: Living with God’s Heart

This morning as we return to the Life of David we look at one of the most famous stories in the Bible.  Even those who say they know nothing about the Bible know the story of David and Goliath.  The story is a part of our culture and vernacular.  Any time a person faces a huge opponent (such as when a person takes on a corporation), you will hear that it is a “David and Goliath” match-up.  The phrase, “David and Goliath” creates a clear image in our heads.

 

This is a fairly long account and we could spend several weeks looking at all the details.  However, we are looking at the story for something specific.  We are looking for clues as to what it means to live with “God’s own heart”.  We want to learn how to face the giants in our lives with the heart of God.

 

SETTING THE SCENE

 

I believe this account takes place between the time David started to play for Saul (because of his depression) and when David became a part of Saul’s full-time staff and became his armor-bearer.  In between these times we have this situation with Goliath.

 

The Israelites and Philistines battled much like the Israelis and Palestinians battle today.  Skirmishes and wars could erupt at any time. As we begin 1 Samuel 17, one of those conflicts is going on.  The forces of the Philistines were on one hill, and the Israelites were on another.

 

If you have ever seen the movie “Gettysburg” or any western featuring the Cavalry you can visualize two groups of warriors charging at each other. The devastation from such confrontations is staggering. This was the common way of fighting a war. In this battle the Philistines proposed that instead of killing hundreds of men, each side should pick one combatant to fight as a representative of the nations and the winner would take (even though they didn’t mean it).

 

The Philistines thought this was a great idea because they had a “ringer” in their midst.  He was like the Incredible Hulk; a giant by the name of Goliath.  The text says his height was six cubits and a span.  A cubit was the length from the elbow to the tip of the middle finger (roughly 18 inches).  A “span” was the width of your hand extended.  These measurements would make Goliath better than 9 feet tall!  Some ancient texts (and the writings of Josephus, the Jewish historian) have four cubits making Goliath six feet nine inches tall (still very tall for that day!).  The point is that this was an enormous and strong guy. Goliath was clothed in armor that weighed between 100 -150 pounds.

 

Twice a day Goliath came out to taunt the Israelites and dare them to send someone to fight him.  He did this for 40 days!  Try to grasp how debilitating and humiliating this was for Israel.  80 times this giant had come out and taunted them and no one was willing to fight this battle where the odds were so overwhelmingly against them. 

 

David arrived on the scene to bring supplies to his three brothers who were serving in the army. While David was there, Goliath made his morning challenge.  When David heard the way Goliath taunted the Israelites and showed disrespect for the Lord, he was incensed that no one went out to confront the giant. 

 

David asked the soldiers about this and discovered that Saul had offered to give great wealth, a family exemption from taxes, and the daughter of the King in marriage to anyone who would defeat the giant.  Even with these carrots dangling before them, no one stepped forward.  David couldn’t believe it!  So this young shepherd stepped forward to take on the Giant from the Philistines.  Imagine a little kid taking on a Pro Linebacker who had all his equipment on.

 

This is the background for the story but remember that we are on a mission.  Every one of us faces some daunting giants.  It may be a debilitating disease; or the looming reality of death. It could be rebellious children; a crushing financial load; a business situation that keeps you awake at night; an addiction that seems to have you in its grip; or hostility from an antagonist.  Our study of David can help us to gain victory over the giants in our own lives.

 

How to Defeat the Giants of Your Life

 

The first principle we learn from David is to see the battle clearly.  Everyone involved saw the situation with Goliath as a military problem.  But David saw it differently.  He saw it as a spiritual problem!  This was a question of faith, not military strategy.

 

David saw the threats of Goliath as being a direct challenge to the God of Israel.  He understood that Israel was being tested: Did they have faith in the bigness of God or were they going to trust in the strength (or lack thereof) of men?  Would they dare to trust God?

 

The crisis you face is most likely a spiritual battle also.  The first spiritual question in our life that needs to be addressed is: am I on God’s side of the fight?  It is a question of whether or not you have embraced the One God has provided to make you right with Him.  That provision is Jesus.  He came so you might experience forgiveness and a vital and daily relationship with Him. He is the King we are to trust and serve.

 

Once you have dealt with that first issue we must recognize that when we face the giants in our lives it’s not really about the difficult person, the hated job, the decaying body, or anything else.  It is really a question of whether or not believe He is sufficient for your need.  You face some key questions,

  • Will you fear or trust?
  • Will you believe God’s promise or doubt that promise?
  • Will you trust God’s sufficiency or will you wallow in your own weakness?
  • Will you proceed in His strength or rely on your own? 

 

I am learning to ask myself a simple question when I start to churn and feel overwhelmed.  It is this: “Do you trust Him or don’t you?”  Once you have settled this issue the other things fall into place.  Beth Moore summarizes it well,

if a person fears (truly trusts) God, he or she has no reason to fear anything else.  On the other hand, if a person does not fear God, then fear becomes a way of life. David feared God so he did not fear Goliath.  Saul did not fear God.  Thus he feared the opinion of others, the enemy, and even a loyal young boy who played the harp.[1]

 

Second, focus on the Problem Solver rather than on the Problem.  We have a choice: we can be overwhelmed by the threats of our giant problem or we can focus and dwell on the greatness of our giant God.  David doesn’t even consider the size of Goliath.  It was irrelevant to him!  David had confidence in the greatness of the Lord.  That was his focus.

 

Think about different things would be if we focused on the greatness of God instead of tossing and turning all night because of what could go wrong.  If we focused on his strength, wisdom, love, mercy and sufficiency we would find rest and you would probably sleep well.

 

Goliath was not the only problem that David had to overcome.  David had the Problem of family baggage.  When David arrived at the camp and began talking to people about Goliath, David’s brother Eliab said,

“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.” (28) 

 

Whew!  There seems to be a little family history here!  The Hebrew word for “angry” actually means “became hot”.  Eliab was furious.  He resented his brother’s intrusion.  Perhaps he felt resentment because of David’s anointing, or because David was working part time for the King.  Maybe David was dad’s favorite. Whatever the reason, Eliab verbally attacked David’s

  • significance (he only had a few sheep)
  • his character (conceited and wicked)
  • his motives

 

If you have ever tried to serve the Lord boldly, you know there will always be those who are critical. Unfortunately, often the greatest obstacles come sometimes from the people who are actually the closest to you.  David refused to be sidetracked.  He was not trying to please men, he was serving the Lord.

 

David faced prejudice because of his age.  In verse 33 Saul said he was “only a boy”.  Saul concluded that David was too young and too inexperienced to serve the Lord.  Obviously, Saul was wrong.  Paul told Timothy to “not let anyone look down on you because of your youth.”  I remember the days of being dismissed because I was too young.  Now I sometimes feel dismissed because I’m too old!

 

Others face prejudice because they are not educated enough, don’t have enough experience, or aren’t attractive or talented enough. David was undeterred.  You see, David was not promoting himself . . . these observations and opinions were irrelevant.  This was not about David’s strength or ability; it was about the Lord’s strength and ability.  It was not about whether or not David was strong enough to defeat the giant . . . the question was whether or not the Lord was strong enough to defeat the giant!

 

David faced ridicule from the Giant.  Goliath made fun of David.  David could have taken it personally and gotten into a war of words.  He could have tried to defend himself. David however kept his focus on God.  David was not Goliath’s opponent; God was.  David was fighting for the Lord and refused to let anything distract him from that fact. Once again, it all depends on where we focus.  If we look at the problem we will be discouraged and afraid.  If we focus on the Lord, fear will disappear.

 

Third, we learn that we must use what God gives us.   When David agreed to go and fight Goliath Saul offered David his armor. 

 

Have you ever watched a little child walk in his parent’s shoes or dress in their clothes?  It’s usually quite hilarious.  This must have been similar to the situation with David.  He was in his early to mid teens and was dressed in the armor of Saul who was one of the tallest men in Israel.  It must have been quite the sight.  David immediately said, “I can’t fight in all this stuff”.  He took it off and used what he had available to him: his sling and a few smooth rocks.

 

One commentator gets right to the point,

Saul’s effort to help David has been copied by many since then. Nothing comes more naturally to people than trying to get someone to fight our battles the way we would fight them. Through the centuries that Christians have been reading this story they have been moved by the wisdom of David for not trying to do battle with someone else’s armor. People need to have confidence in their own gifts, experiences, and abilities if they are to face the giants in their lives.[2]

 

If you are like me you spend a good deal of time feeling very inadequate.  I see Pastor’s who are more talented, more creative, and seem to be used in a much more powerful way. I feel inadequate and wonder how to be more like these people. I see people who are better dads, better husbands, and seem to be people who care about others more deeply than I do.  I feel inadequate and can become discouraged. There are those who seem to have such sharp minds and deep devotion.  I don’t seem to measure up.

 

Do you ever feel that way?  Do you look around and wonder what it is that you can possibly contribute?  We’re not talented enough, important enough, attractive enough to make a difference.

 

Churches fall into this same trap.  We look at the more “successful churches” and feel inadequate.  We want to serve God significantly but we feel we lack what we need.  So what do we do? We try to copy the programs of the “successful churches” and often fail.  We try to do what other churches do and just aren’t any good at these things.

 

Please hear this: when we look at others and feel we must copy them, we are trying to go into battle in someone else’s armor!  Sure, we should learn from others.  But God has not called us to serve Him like others.  He calls us to serve Him with the unique talents and abilities that we have.  We may only have a sling and a few stones compared to those who seem to be armed with tanks and missiles, but that doesn’t mean God can’t use us in great ways.  We need to serve Him with what we have.

 

Go Forward With Confidence.  One more thing. I love the fact that David does not creep up on Goliath; he ran to him!  David trusted the Lord so much that he went forward with confidence and enthusiasm. It only took one stone to penetrate the skull of the giant like a bullet.

 

Some people ask why David picked up five stones. Was he afraid he would miss? Was he a scout and just wanted to be prepared?  I don’t think it was because David lacked confidence in his ability.  I appreciate the suggestion of J Vernon McGee who said David chose five stones because he knew Goliath had four brothers!  He was prepared to take them all on if necessary!

 

This is the kind of confidence we can and should have.  Paul reminds us, “If God is for us, who can be against us?”  It’s a really good question, isn’t it?

 

Conclusion

 

We will all face giants in our lives. Most of us have some kind of giant we must deal with in our lives right now.  Some of you are battling huge giants. David’s story reminds us that the key to defeating the giants in our lives is to fight these giants in God’s strength rather than our own.

 

So, the first question today is one I ask often: “Have you surrendered your life and your heart to Jesus Christ?”  Have you put your trust in the One God has provided to pay the penalty of your sin, and the One who can make you part of His family. Will you trust the One who alone can give you the strength you need to face the giants of life?  If you have not truly trusted Christ, do so today.  Jesus is worth following. The one who rose from the dead can give you the strength to overcome anything this world throws at you. This is where you must begin. 

 

If you are one who does trust Jesus then let me remind you of the practical lessons we learned from David for fighting the giants,

1.      Recognize the challenge as spiritual in nature.  Whatever the situation, it boils down to whether or not you will trust and obey God.  Do you trust Him, or don’t you?

2.      Focus on God. Ponder the problem-solver rather than the problem itself.  Reflect on God’s sufficiency.  Rely on God’s promises.  Remind yourself of God’s strength, and then rest in these things.

3.      Don’t try to be what you are not.  Make what you have available to the Lord and watch Him work.

4.      Having done all this, move forward with confidence and enthusiasm. 

 

Let me warn you that there may be wounds that come from our battles, but we must not give up. Most battles are not one in one skirmish.  There are a sequence of battles and our challenge is to continue trusting even when we feel we have taken a step back.

 

David showed remarkable faith. But David was not victorious because he was more qualified than you are. His victory was not because of his qualifications, but because of his confidence in God—the same God you and I serve today. Be sure of one thing: this God still slays giants for those who dare to trust Him.

©Copyright January 18, 2009 Rev. Bruce Goettsche SERIES: Living with God’s Heart



[1] Beth Moore  A HEART LIKE HIS (Nashville: B & H Books 1999) p. 49

[2]Chafin, K. L., & Ogilvie, L. J. (1989). Vol. 8: The Preacher's Commentary Series, Volume 8 : 1, 2 Samuel. (132). Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson Inc.