Summary: God used Goliath to catapult David into fame so that he would bring glory to God's name. (Sermon series based on the book, "Agents of Grace" by Robert Koester.)
Will you play a little game with me? I call it “Declare the Pair.” If I say, “bacon” I want you to declare its pair or partner. So in the case of bacon you might say “eggs.” Bacon and eggs are a recognized pair on any breakfast table. What about these? “Ketchup and _________ (mustard).” “Peaches and _______ (cream).” “Salt and ______ (pepper).” “Adam and _______ (Eve).” “David and ________ (Goliath).”
I want you to consider more closely that last pair: David and Goliath. How is that pair different from the other pairs we listed? All the other pairs are complementary. David and Goliath, however, were adversaries, so why do we list them as a pair? As we continue our sermon series entitled “Agents of Grace” we’ll learn how God used an enemy like Goliath to sculpt David into the person he wanted him to be. We’ll also see how God uses the Goliaths in your life to sculpt you.
Consider David’s life before he met Goliath. He had already been anointed to be the next king of Israel, but David was still an apple-cheeked, peach-fuzzed teenager living at home with Mom and Dad. Even Eddie, Jordan, Michael, Chris, Shannon, and Trace are probably all older than David was. Can you imagine one of our congregation’s young men serving as future Prime Minister? I’m not saying it couldn’t happen, it just seems…well hard to picture at this point in their lives.
Likewise it must have been hard for people to imagine the teenager David being king one day. Then again, I wonder how many people even knew that he had been anointed king. Even when David stepped up to fight Goliath, King Saul asked his general Abner where David was from. Abner had no idea.
Even those who knew about David’s anointing, like his own brothers, seemed to find it hard to believe that David would be king. When David came to check on his brothers serving in the army, Eliab, the oldest brother, chastised David for hanging around and asking questions about Goliath. Eliab told David to go back to tending the sheep – implying that’s all he was good for anyway.
But David wouldn’t remain unknown for long. God would use the showdown with Goliath to make David a household name overnight. Yes, God would use Goliath as an agent of grace to make David famous! That’s not to suggest that Goliath was some fall guy—a pawn doomed to destruction. Although Goliath was a Philistine, this didn’t mean he was predestined to remain an enemy of God. No, there would be Philistine believers, but Goliath was not among them. He rejected anything he learned about the God of Israel and continued to worship and promote the false gods of the Philistines. In fact he taunted the Israelites in the name of his Philistine gods, and in so doing was making the point that he thought little of the God of Israel.
That’s what makes King Saul’s cowardliness so disappointing. Whenever Goliath came out to challenge the Israelites, Saul was just as afraid as his soldiers. But if anyone should have been willing to fight Goliath it should have been Saul. After all, we’re told that he was a head taller than any of his fellow Israelites.
But it doesn’t seem that Saul thought the true God would help him defend his honor. Contrast that to David’s reaction when he heard Goliath’s taunting. He said, “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. 46 This day the LORD will deliver you into my hands, and I’ll strike you down and cut off your head…and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel. 47 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).
From those words it’s clear that David wasn’t a naïve little boy who thought that a fight with Goliath would be like a playground scrum with the boys back home. David knew what he was getting into. When King Saul tried to dissuade him, pointing out not only Goliath’s size but also his experience as a soldier, David recounted how he had killed lion and bear that had attacked his father’s flock. David knew that it had been God who had given him the victory then, and David was convinced that the living God would continue to be with him as he faced down Goliath the blasphemer.
You know the outcome of the showdown. David defeated Goliath with a well-aimed stone to the giant’s forehead. The result was that the Philistines fled as the emboldened Israelites pursued them. David became an instant celebrity and he would become one of Saul’s regular commanders through whom God continued to win victories. When then time would come for David to take over as king, the people would know that their future was in good hands, after all, God’s chosen replacement for Saul was none other than the Goliath-slayer.