Summary: A message to help people identify their most difficult challenge in life right now and to approach it unafraid and with the Lord’s empowerment
Today we are introducing a new series entitled “Lessons for Life from the Shepherd King.” In other words, for the next 4 weeks, we’re going to be looking into a few scenes from the life of David. Poet, shepherd, musician, singer, statesman, warrior - King David is more than just one of those “stand out” OT characters. David wrote many of the Psalms – at least 73 that we know of – and much of the OT is about his life. In the NT, there’s more said about David than any other OT character.
He shines brilliantly early on in his life, and that glimmer fades too. In other words, he’s a lot like many of us. He has his admirable qualities and his dismal failures – and we get to learn about many of them beginning with I Samuel 16, (turn there) running all the way through II Samuel, and on into I Kings.
God gave us these stories for some reason. They become, for us not just interesting stories, but lessons for life. We all tend to learn and remember a lot more from stories. So, we’re going to look at 4 stories from the life of David and attempt to bridge the 3,000 yr. gap to see how they fit in our lives. This first story is one that most people have heard ever since they were children. (in ch 17)
(I. Big Problem)
Israel had a problem. 1st, it was that the Philistines were still around to trouble them. 2nd, it was that King Saul had started out as a leader who ended up not leading well. Put those together and now, more directly, Israel had a big problem in the person of Goliath of Gath.
As this ch opens up, Israel and the Philistines have set up their camps.
1 Samuel 17:1-2 Now the Philistines gathered their forces for war and assembled at Socoh in Judah. They pitched camp at Ephes Dammim, between Socoh and Azekah. Saul and the Israelites assembled and camped in the Valley of Elah and drew up their battle line to meet the Philistines.
The valley of Elah is actually a large gorge about 1 mile wide, comprised of ½ mile slopes on each side, meeting in the middle at a brook.
There are actually 2 whole armies there all set to go at it, but the Philistines make an offer that would be less work for everyone. It wasn’t too unusual to send a representative from each side to face off and settle who was the winner. Their head thug, Goliath announced: “We’ll each send one man. Whichever man wins, that’s who wins the war. Send someone to fight me.”
The HS must want us to picture Goliath, because the writer describes him in great detail. The picture he paints with words takes a wide angle lens! This guy is about 9’ 9’’. But he’s not just big. He has all the latest in fashion that a murderous giant would wear, including armor that weighed over 200 lbs! Uh Oh. Big problem. Really big problem!
How big? For 40 days straight, every day, after breakfast, Goliath steps forward and shames the entire army of Israel. And for 40 days straight, every day, after supper, Goliath does it all over again. 40 days! Every day it’s the same. (v16)
Unless something changed, who knows how long this would go on? Maybe they were hoping Goliath would eventually die of old age or something! Israel had a big problem – a 10’ problem.
We aren’t fighting Philistines, so we need to ask: What’s your 10’ problem this morning? All of us have them. We might call them challenges, problems, frustrations, or, more optimistically, opportunities for development! Everyone has some at least, and among those there’s one that each of us can say this morning, right now, is my life’s greatest challenge. What is it? What is the thing that defies you, scares you, pushes you around, steals your joy, hinders you from moving ahead, discourages you, makes you feel out of control? Maybe it has been around most of your life. Maybe it just showed itself in the last 40 days. Maybe it’s a person. Maybe it’s some physical challenge. Maybe it’s a harmful habit like smoking. Maybe it’s a temptation that keeps ruling you like overeating, pride, laziness, bitterness, or lust. You have one – at least one - and I want you to dwell on it a little today. In fact, I want you to look at it in detail just like the shaking Israelites could probably detail how Goliath looked to them. Let’s call it your 10’ challenge.
What’s it doing to you? How has it or is it affecting your life? What’s it doing to your family? What’s it doing to your relationship with God? Where is it keeping you from going? What does it or has it cost you? Now, if any of that makes you uncomfortable, you can relate to the armies of Israel. What we’re doing by asking questions like that is called “dealing with it.”