Summary: Either we define our times or they define us. In the familiar story of David and Goliath we see that truth played out. Saul and Israel were allowing the Philistines to define them. David was a different kind of man however. He intended to define his times
“ Then David said to the Philistine, "You come to me with a sword, with a spear, and with a javelin. But I come to you in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the LORD will deliver you into my hand … that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel. Then all this assembly shall know that the LORD does not save with sword and spear; for the battle is the Lord’s, and He will give you into our hands." (1 Samuel 17:45-47)
Near the end of President Bush’s Speech to Congress and the Nation a few days after September 11th he said: “After all that has just passed -- all the lives taken, and all the possibilities and hopes that died with them -- it is natural to wonder if America’s future is one of fear. Some speak of an age of terror. I know there are struggles ahead, and dangers to face. But this country will define our times, not be defined by them. As long as the United States of America is determined and strong, this will not be an age of terror; this will be an age of liberty, here and across the world.” That is a profound and true thought; either we define our times or they define us.
In the familiar story of David and Goliath we see that truth played out. Saul and Israel were allowing the Philistines to define them. David was a different kind of man however. He intended to define his times through the grace and power of God. Consider how David defined his times.
I. HE SIZED UP THE PROBLEM
A. A Fierce Foe
David looked and saw a fierce foe. Goliath was an intimidating figure. He was 9 ½ feet tall (v.4). His armor weighed over 200 pounds and his weapons were immense (vv.5-7). Added to his physical appearance was this giant’s attitude. He stood in defiance against Israel (vv.8-10). Not only was he defiant but he had complete disdain for God’s people. Put it all together and David faced a fierce foe in Goliath.
B. Friendly Fire
But Goliath was not really the greatest giant David had to face that day. Goliath was a fierce foe but it was friendly fire that David would have to watch for most diligently. In every war there are occasions when soldiers are accidentally killed by their own brothers. David was getting ready to face some friendly fire but it was not all accidental. The real enemies of our life are more subtle than Goliath. Consider four subtle. enemies that David and you and I have to face in life.
The Enemy of Past Carelessness and Failure. Goliath would not have been standing there in defiance against Israel if Israel had not failed to obey God in the past. Israel could and should have driven the Philistines from the land when they first entered it (Joshua 1:2-6; 3:9-10). More recently, Saul had led the people to fear the Philistines rather than God (1 Samuel 13). Saul failed miserably in obeying God and God’s prophet, Samuel. Because of his carelessness and failure, Saul’s army quickly dwindled from 3000 to 600.
Like Saul, many of our giants are the results of past carelessness and failure. Things we could have dealt with when they were small become giants that seem nearly impossible to drive out of our lives.
The Enemy of Criticism and Rejection. David also had to face the critical spirit of nearly everyone who claimed to belong to God around him. Saul had already allowed the people’s critical spirit drive him into rebellion against God (1 Samuel 13:4,8-13). Now David had to face the criticism of his own brothers. His eldest brother, Eliab rebuked David and said, “"Why did you come down here? And with whom have you left those few sheep in the wilderness? I know your pride and the insolence of your heart, for you have come down to see the battle” (v.28). It is hard enough to face criticism of our actions but when our motives are challenged we often turn and run. David did not!
David handled criticism by doing what God showed him to do. Colonel Goethals received tremendous criticism throughout the planning and building of the Panama Canal. An assistant had all he could take of the criticism one day. He asked the Colonel, “Aren’t you going to do anything about all of this criticism?” “Yes I am,” was the Colonel’s calm reply. “What?” asked the assistant. The Colonel answered, “By finishing the Canal!” Your greatest enemy is anything that stands between you and doing what God has called you to do. Defeat that enemy by doing what God called you to do!