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Summary: How to deal with the problems of life and gain the victory.

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DEALING WITH A GIANT

I SAMUEL 17

INTRODUCTION

Overheard one employee at a health club speaking to another at the beginning of the new year.

“It will be busy for the next couple of weeks but then things will be back to normal”. There is a person with an understanding of their culture. But isn’t there some truth to what he said? Here are on the first Sunday of the New Year and maybe you have made some decisions of how life is going to be different this year and you have every intention of succeeding, but what is probably going to happen is the same thing that happened last year. Somewhere along the line you didn’t follow through and there may be little to indicate that this time things will be different. It can be difficult facing an obstacle.

Ill. In his book Fuzzy Memories, Jack Handey writes:

There used to be this bully who would demand my lunch money every day. Since I was smaller, I would give it to him. Then I decided to fight back. I started taking karate lessons. But then the karate lesson guy said I had to start paying him five dollars a lesson. So I just went back to paying the bully.

Too many people feel it is easier just to pay the bully than it is to learn how to defeat him.

Citation: Sherman L. Burford in Fresh Illustrations for Preaching & Teaching (Baker), from the editors of Leadership

Keeping a New Year’s resolution mayor may not be the biggest issue we face this year.

But what do you do to make a change?

How do you gain victory over the problems in your life?

How do you deal with a giant?

Perhaps one of the best illustrations of facing difficulty is found in the well known story of a young shepherd boy who squared off against a giant. His name is David and we read about him in 1 Samuel 17.

THE PROBLEM WAS ENORMOUS

Background

This crucial conflict takes place in a location with a lot of big names that is unfamiliar to us. But when you boil it all down you find out that the fight happened in a vast valley, called “Elah”, enclosed by hill country on both sides. Azekah was located 15 miles southwest of Jerusalem at the western end of the Valley of Elah. (Viewed to the west from Socoh). The Philistines camped between these towns as they faced Saul’s army. The Philistines are up on a hill and the Israelites along the smaller hills and on the valley floor. So you have both armies, huge in number, like blankets of humanity thrown across the shoulder of the hills. During Saul’s reign, the Philistines, who inhabited the Coastal Plain, frequently attacked strategic Israelite cities and towns. Their purpose was to penetrate Israel’s territory, first by controlling the valleys and through them to reach the heartland of the Hill Country of Judah. It was important, therefore, to bar the Philistines from this eastward advance. Their strategy here in our text was for their giant hero, Goliath, to challenge an Israelite opponent. If Goliath won, the Philistines would win access to the Hill Country.

There is no question as to the problem at hand. It was a winner take all conflict and the Philistines were not an easy enemy. History seems to indicate that not only were they a people superior to Israel technologically, but they were a sea people. They may have even been pirates. The impression we get from the Bible is that the Philistines were a warlike people. The newcomers to Canaan brought with them new technologies, high standards of urban life, military prowess and a sophisticated maritime heritage. And to make matters worse of this point in time, the Philistines had the military upper hand over the Israelites. They had defeated them at the battle of Eben Ezer, captured the Ark of the Covenant, and had just about limited Israel’s ability to make weapons.

And to make matters worse the challenge has come down a battle between two people. This man to man combat reflects an ancient style of fighting, in which armies spend some time shouting insults at each other, until one side loses self-control and rushes into battle, or else, as here, a duel between champions decides the outcome of the battle. You might think that Israel would have a chance but the Philistines have a ringer named Goliath

Goliath was probably about 9 to 91/2 ft. tall, weighed in at about 550 pounds and wore close to200 lbs. of armor. The head of the spear weighed 20-25 lbs. The Historian Josephus stated: “It was so large that he carried it strapped over his shoulder and he carried it like a tree.” An old tradition claims that all of the Philistine heroes hailed from the same family in Gath. They were all exceptionally tall, had an extra finger on each hand and an extra toe on each foot. I don’t know if that is true or not but Goliath was a powerful, experienced champion warrior.

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