VIRTUOUS REALITY SERMON SERIES
A GIANT UNDERTAKING – DAVID AND GOLIATH
SEPTEMBER 24, 1995
A battle was going on pitting the Israelites against their arch-enemies the Philistines. The Philistines were a sea-going people from the western coast of Palestine. I refer to them as the Biblical beach bums. They had the best trained army on earth. They had a corner on the iron market which meant they had all the chariots, swords, spears and shields. Conversely, the Hebrews were a bunch of farmers, A & M type people. I’m just kidding, Aggies, I love Texas A & M. They didn’t have one single blacksmith in the entire country, so if they ever wanted a plow sharpened or a pruning hook taken care of, they had to walk all the way down into the fertile valley where the Philistines lived and they let the Philistines do the job. The Philistines would exploit the Israelites now and then but pretty much they co-existed. That is until, one day, for no apparent reason, the Philistines began causing trouble with the Israelite tribe of Benjamin. King Saul, the man of the hour for Israel, rushes to the scene with his commander-in-chief, Abner. They quickly bring together a group of volunteer men to form an army to fight the well-trained force of the Philistines.
In that military were the older brothers of the man I am going to talk about for the next four weeks, David. David’s older brothers were, check these names out here, Eliab, Abinadab and Shammah. They were part of this army called together to fight the Philistines. So whenever you get married, or if you are married, and have a son, don’t go out to B. Dalton and waste $10.95 on a Name The Baby book. Just use a Biblical name, Eliab, Abinadab or Shammah. I can’t wait for twenty-five years from now when they will be saying, “Have you seen the new wide receiver from the Cowboys, Abinadab Jones? Incredible player.”
During this time David, the youngest, was tending his father’s sheep in the middle of nowhere. His father, Jesse, tracks David down and asks him to go and take some fast food to his brothers on the front line. David was a teenager and Jesse didn’t have to twist his arm to do that. David rushes to the front line and when he gets to the combat site he is really taken aback. He sees the unexpected. He expects to see spears flying, clanking off shields, people dying. He sees, though, a stalemate. He sees his people, the Hebrews, in the rocky hill country in trenches, then he sees the valley of Elah and on the opposite side, the Philistine army. And neither side was moving. Neither side would do a thing. The Philistines would not go up after the Hebrew hillbillies because they wore heavy armor and would be easy targets for the Hebrew rock throwers. On the other hand, the Hebrews wouldn’t venture down into the valley of Elah and do hand-to-hand combat with the Philistines because they were no match for their training or their armor. A classic stalemate.
Can’t you just picture David walking through the trenches. He sees the soldiers doing what soldiers do when nothing is happening; playing cards, talking about their families, their girlfriends. Maybe they were discussing the new deal that King Saul had just cut with Nike. Stuff like that. David, though, overhears a conversation between two soldiers. “I hope he doesn’t come back again. I bet the guy is over ten feet tall.” David asks what is being talked about. And these soldiers probably turned and saw this Hebrew hick and said, “Boy, where did you come from, where have you been? We are talking about the champion of champions, we’re talking about that behemoth, Goliath. He is about ten feet tall, his armor weighs over 200 pounds, his head of his spear weighs over 25 pounds and twice a day, for the last forty days, he has been taunting us and cursing our God.” And you thought trash talking was a 90s thing. “Boy, you have never seen anything like this.” And David replies that the Israelites should be able to take the Philistines, even Goliath, because God is on the Israelite side. David said that he wanted to actually see Goliath and he was told to just hang around.
The next morning David was on the front row watching the Goliath show. Out walks this man. Goliath was so big he could take Chad Hennings under one arm, Charles Hailey under the other arm, pop their heads together and never break stride. He was that bad. Goliath went to war school. He majored in assault and battery. The guy was mean. He began taunting and cursing the Israelites and David, this little teenager, turned and said these words to his military friends, “I’ll fight him.” They couldn’t believe what they heard. David replies, “I’ll take him. God is with me.” And about that time David’s older brother shows up, Corporal Eliab. Doesn’t this sound like an older brother? The Bible records in I Samuel 17 that Eliab said, “David, what are you doing, get back to the palace with your few sheep. Get back out there. Man, your place is not here, it is with Dad, in his place. Get out of here.” And David didn’t get into a argument with this brother. He just turned and began talking to other people. Then the rumor began to spread among the Israelite camp that the little kid wanted to fight the champion.
During that time, sides would choose a warrior. The Philistines obviously chose Goliath and they wanted to Israelites to choose their warrior. Then the battle could be a microcosm of the entire war. Instead of having senseless bloodshed, whoever won the one on one match, won the war. Goliath had a record of about 72 and 0, all victories coming by decapitation. Saul, the King of Israel, was head and shoulders above all others, which meant that he pushed about seven feet. Saul should have been the one to fight Goliath. Saul was one of the few Israelite men who possessed a sword. I will guarantee you that Saul probably mimicked some poor posture, scrunching down to look less than six feet. And he called David into in tent and said, “David, you can’t fight this champion, give me a break. Get back to the hillside. Get back to your father’s palace, do that deal. You can’t stay here.” Saul, though, saw something different about David. He saw the spirit of God in his life. And David said, “Saul, I have killed a lion, I have killed a bear. God will deliver me from the hands of this Philistine.” And Saul did what most humanistic people do, “Well, then try on my armor, it is a 48 extra long.” But David couldn’t do battle like that. David said, this is not for me. I am going to fight him the way I want to fight him.
And the Bible says that David walked out into the valley of Eliab alone. Goliath had been ranting and raving and cursing for about an hour. Maybe he was kind of perched back on a rock, pushed up the iron visor on his helmet and was kind of looking around. And I can see Goliath noticing a little Hebrew hillbilly, a shepherd boy, coming at him with a staff in his hand, a little sling in the other. And maybe Goliath took that 25 pound head of the spear and slapped it against a rock. “Hey, boy, what are you doing. Do you realize who you are fighting? I will feed your flesh to the birds. You are coming to me with a stick, am I am dog?” David didn’t say a word. He looked at him, walked over to a brook, knelt down and picked up five smooth stones.
Why five stones? Was it customary, kind of like four downs in football, three strikes in baseball, two serves in tennis? No. He did it to show his humility. David knew he had the talent. David knew he had the ability, yet he also realized that he had never done battle with a giant before. Five stones. One for the forehead, one for each eye, a couple of others in case it really got tough. False humility would have been something else. “Oh, I’m really not that talented with a slingshot. I am really not that good. I really don’t have that good hand and eye coordination.” That is false humility. David had it. Real humility is saying, “God, You’ve given me these gifts and with Your strength and power, I am a true champion.” The battle was a mismatch, in David’s favor not in Goliath’s favor.
And David moved toward Goliath until about the distance that would remain between a pitcher and a catcher. He began to twirl the stone around in the sling. The stone traveled over 200 feet per second and it hit Goliath’s head with 5000 pounds of pressure per square inch. He had more power than a Colt 45. The Bible says that David could split a hair with a rock thrown from a sling with either hand at 30 feet. When he released it, it hit Goliath in the forehead and Goliath staggered and then hit the deck, dust flying, armor clattering, Philistines freaking. And the Philistines turn and run leaving their artillery, leaving their money. And Saul says to the Aggies, “Let’s go get ’em boys.” And they leave the mountain, rush into the valley and have a great victory. David cuts off Goliath’s head and takes his armor and put the armor in his tent. That is a great story, isn’t it? One of my favorites. I love that story. Definitely, it was a giant undertaking on David’s part.
Now what does this account from I Samuel 17 have to do with your life and mine? The truth of the matter is, we all face giants. Every person hearing my voice is facing a giant while I speak. It could be the giant of death, the giant of divorce, the giant of infertility, the giant of depression, the giant of a career challenge, the giant of a financial setback. What giant are you facing? Because I want to give you in rapid fire succession five ways to do battle with the giant.
Number one, you will see it there on your outline. This is straight from the life of David. Prepare in private. If you are going to fight a giant, if I am going to fight a giant, we have got to prepare in private. Here is what the Bible says. In
I Samuel 17:34-35. David said to Saul, “Your servant has been keeping his father’s sheep. When a lion or a bear came and carried off a sheep from the flock. I went after it, struck it and rescued the sheep from its mouth. When it turned on me, I seized it by its hair, struck it and killed it.” David had an IQ of 150+, he had the military mind of a General Norman Schwarzkopf, in fact they still study his military strategies today at West Point. He had the political savvy of a Ronald Reagan, the athletic prowess of a Deion Sanders and the musical ability of an Elton John all wrapped up into one. David spent most of his time tending and watching over stinky, smelly, dumb sheep in the middle of nowhere, Hicksville, Israel. Did David whine? Did he accuse God of overlooking his talents? He didn’t whine or enter the moan zone or have a pity party. David knew that God was preparing him for something great. He got to know God personally. You see battles are not won in the public domain, battles are won in private. Who you are, who I am when no one is around, when no one is looking, when the crowds are gone, when the lights are off? David, on that hillside, got to know the Lord. He composed those beautiful Psalms, he deepened his relationship with God. God prepared him to do battle with the giant by taking care of the lion and the bear. He prepared in private. Matthew 14:23 reports that Jesus “…went up on a mountainside by himself to pray.” He was there alone. The problem is that most of us wait for the moment of decision, we wait until the moment of temptation, we wait until we receive the report from the pathologist and then we say, “OK, I need to prepare. I see the giant. Let’s get everything together and prepare.” It is too late. It is way too late. You prepare day in and day out, communicating with God, getting into His word, getting to know Christians and deepening your relationships and then one day when the giant appears, you will be ready. Number one in fighting giants, prepare in private.
Number two. Fight the right foe. Fight the right foe. Remember Eliab, the older brother? Here is what the Bible said that Eliab did in I Samuel 17:28. “When Eliab, David’s oldest brother heard him speaking with the men, he burned with anger with him and asked, why have you come down here? And with whom did you leave those few sheep.” I love that line. Is that an older brother, or what? Few sheep. Few sheep in the dessert. “I know how conceited you are and how wicked your heart is. You came down here only to watch the battle.” If you are like me and Eliab had done that, I think we would have fought Eliab and missed the main giant. We would have fought the wrong foe. And we waste all of our energy and effort and we have this Goliath out there and we never fight him because we are so concerned about the Eliabs in our world. Maybe God has given you a great career challenge or a goal and that is the giant that you are tackling right now. The evil one will put Goliaths in your life to say, “You can’t do it. You’re no good. Go back to your few sheep. Don’t think those thoughts.” And it is so tempting to want to do battle with them. David didn’t fight him. David knew who the foe was, the Bible says he turned and began talking to the other soldiers.
We will have in our four weekend services about 1,300 singles between the ages of 20 and 40. And I talk to singles and they are very near and dear to my heart. Yet most single women end up dating and marrying the Eliabs of the world instead of the ultimate person God has picked out for them. And I understand why. There is loneliness involved and there is the biological clock and there are the friends getting married. The evil one puts up Eliab after Eliab after Eliab and you are so burned out from dating this Eliab and that Eliab that when the right man comes along you are so immersed in the Eliabs that you miss the most important man.
I can look back on my life and see how I have gotten caught by Eliabs and missed the most important things. David fought the right foe. Prepare in private. Fight the right foe.
Number three. Recognize the resources. Very important verse here in
I Samuel 17:40. “Then he took his staff in his hand, he choose five smooth stones from the stream, put them in the pouch of the shepherd’s bag and with his sling in his hand, approached the Philistine.” Notice the progression. Because David prepared in private, because David knew the right foe, he was able to recognize the resources and the tools God had provided to fight the giant. God will always, always, always provide the tools and the resources for us to do battle with our giants. The rub comes in when we don’t spend time with God, when we fight the wrong foe. Then we can’t seem to identify the right tools or find out where they are. And because you are not in community with God there is no way He can show you where the tools are. The tools are there, you have got to find them and you can only find them by knowing Him personally. David saw the five smooth stones, he picked them up, put them in the sling and Goliath was out.
I Samuel 17:38-39 tells us that Saul dressed David in him own tunic. Is that hilarious or what. Saul was seven feet tall, probably wore a 58 extra long. Can you imagine putting his armor on that little Hebrew teenager? This represents what the world will say to you. But David said that that wouldn’t work, that he would have to fight the way God wants me to fight. Ephesians 6:11 says, “Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.” That really means, the devil’s methods. You see the devil has certain methods in my life that he uses and certain methods in your life that he uses. He knows where you are weak, he knows where I am weak, he knows where you are strong, he knows where I am strong and he is always scheming, he is always thinking about different methodologies to trip you up and to trip me up. But if we recognize those tools and resources, if we put on the full armor of God, we can do battle.
Number four. Value your victories. How many of you have ever received a trophy? How many of you love receiving trophies? How many of you would like to receive more trophies? You know it is funny, we are sly about our trophies. When we are young we display trophies in prominent places like on the mantle but as we get older we display them in our office or the billiards room, kind of away from the main place we hang out. Trophies remind us of victories. They remind us of accomplishments. Trophies are great. I think they are wonderful. Do you have, though, any spiritual trophies? David did. You won’t believe the kind of trophies David had. David remembered when he fought the giant that he had killed both the lion and the bear. Our problem is, we remember what we should forget and we forget what we should remember when we are facing these Goliaths. And here is my favorite verse, I Samuel 17:54, check this out. “David took the Philistine’s head, and brought it to Jerusalem and he put the Philistine’s weapons in his own tent.” Isn’t that powerful? Can’t you see David picking up that sword and the armor and taking all that paraphernalia and putting it into his tent. And the Bible says later on that he used Goliath’s sword in battle at a later date. But I know that he had to look back at that armor and it had to motivate him for future Goliaths. That is why I encourage you to keep a prayer journal. Write your prayers out and after you have written them out for a couple of weeks, go back and see how God has answered those prayers. Whenever your faith is weak, whenever you feel like you are wavering, whenever you feel like a giant is imposing just take out your prayer journal and see how God has given victory after victory and that will motivate you, that will be your spiritual trophy, as you go out to do battle. Keep mementos of the faith. Do that. There is something Biblical about that.
Number five. Be ready for the giant’s return. Be ready for the giant’s return. I Samuel 17:16 says, “For forty days the Philistine came forward every morning and evening and took his stand.” Most of us try to live Goliath free lives. We think that we can dodge this giant, fake him out. One day I will save up all my money and when I am about forty-five I will have this nice nest egg and I can kind of check out of life. I’ll quit my job, I’ll sell my home and I will pack all my stuff together and drive to some obscure place in Colorado or maybe I will just fly to Maui or to Key West, Florida and just chill. I’ll have the kids in a problem-less school, I’ll just live the rest of my life off the interest from my investments, playing golf, fishing, hunting, just relaxing and sipping cafe latte in quaint little coffee bars until I die and I will never face a giant again. You know what, I hate to tell you this. You can never get away from giants. You can never, ever get away from giants. I don’t care how far you go, I don’t care what you do, I don’t care how much money you make, I don’t care what you look like, where you have gone to school, life is facing giants. And God wants us to face the giants Biblically because when we face them, every time we take one builds character, it builds stamina, it builds endurance, it builds victory, it builds some stuff in our lives that only God can build. Giants keep coming over and over and over again. But you apply these five principles, here is what you can say. You can say, “Hey, giant, let’s fight. Come on big boy, because God will deliver me, because God is on my side and I am following God and when I am doing that, this is a mismatch.” A mismatch. Is it a mismatch for you?