Summary: David faced gaint problems. In Facing Goliath he faced one of the biggest problems in his life. This sermon takes a look at how he dealt with that problem and it applies it to everyday life.

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Sermon by Rodney Brown, Revised by Mark Engler


1 Sam. 17, Psalm 20:7-8

If you were asked to name a great battle, what would come to mind? Pearl Harbor? Gettysburg? The Alamo? Maybe what began at the World Trade Center almost a year ago?

Some battles are a bit closer to home.

· Sometimes neighbors disagree (i.e. The Hatfields & McCoys).

· Sometimes people battle not with guns or fists, but with words. (i.e. “Sticks and stones will break my bones, but words can never harm me.” Don’t you believe it.)

· There are also battles of ideas. If you believe in God and the Bible, you may find your beliefs under attack in the college classroom or in conversations with unbelieving friends.

But I believe some of the fiercest battles are those fought inwardly—within ones self. They are private battles with pain or physical illness, depression, financial difficulty, grief, worry, stress, frustration, loneliness, temptation, and you could go on and on. These problems can appear so huge and so overwhelming that we seem to be no match for them.

Maybe you have at some point (or are even now feeling) like the lion tamer that placed an ad in the classified section of the newspaper: “Lion tamer, wants tamer lion.”

We all face some giant problems. That’s why we need to look again at the familiar Bible story about David and Goliath. It’s one of the best-known battles ever fought—a life and death struggle between a young man and a mighty giant whose very name, “Goliath,” has become synonymous with something enormous and intimidating.

Not only is it one of the best-known stories of the Bible, but also one of the best loved as well. That’s because it’s a story of bravery and adventure, of good verses evil, of the weak overcoming the strong, and the underdog becoming victorious. We love it because it pictures a courage that is very rare, and yet one that we would all like to have. It’s especially thrilling, I think, because of the many seeming inequalities and disadvantages that had to be overcome by David.

Think with me for a moment about the disadvantages of David and the advantages of Goliath:

SIZE. In the NIV 1 Sam. 17:4 says Goliath was “over 9 feet tall.” And that’s just a conservative guestimate. For if you’ll look down at the footnote in your Bible, you’ll see that the Hebrew text says Goliath was “six cubits and a span.” Since no one knows for sure exactly how long a “cubit” or a “span” was back then, scholars’ estimate Goliath was somewhere between 9’2” and 11’4”. That’s 2’ to 4’ taller than the center on any professional basketball team. Goliath would make Shaquille O’Neal look like a little guy. In other words he was one big dude!

David, however, was an ordinary sized young man.

STRENGTH. The very weight of Goliath’s armor is an indication of how strong he was. Once again, no one knows for sure exactly how much a “shekel” weighed back then…or even whether this had reference to the lighter “Babylonian shekel” or the heavier “Syrian shekel.” But vss.5-7 of 1 Sam. 17 tell us:

· His coat of armor (scale armor—like a fish’s scales) weighed 5000 shekels (90 to 220 lbs.)

· His spear shaft was “like a weaver’s rod”—at least 2” thick.

· Even the head of his spear weighed 600 shekels (10 to 25 lbs.) That’s heavier than an Olympic shot put!

EQUIPMENT. In addition to the coat of armor and the spear, the text mentions a bronze helmet, bronze “greaves” (which were like shin guards), a sword, a shield, and a bronze javelin. Also (as if he needed any help), Goliath had an assistant who walked ahead of him to carry his shield. And by the way, it’s significant that the text says the spearhead was “iron” because iron is harder than bronze and could therefore pierce any bronze armor that his enemy might be wearing.

Goliath was a walking arsenal—the best equipment money could buy! He probably glittered under the sun and clanked as he walked. He appeared invincible.

And David, on the other hand, had only a shepherd’s staff (i.e. a long stick with a crook on the top) and a sling. (Not a sling shot, but a sling.) The contrast in equipment alone must have given the same impression, as would a foot soldier battling a tank.

EXPERIENCE IN WARFARE. I don’t know how old Goliath was, but he was evidently old enough to have had children already. 2 Sam. 21 and 1 Chron. 20 seem to indicate that Goliath had 4 sons who later became quite formidable warriors themselves.

On the other hand, since the fighting men of Israel were supposed to be at least 20 years of age (according to Nu. 1:3); and since neither David nor 5 other of his 8 brothers were officially part of Saul’s army, we presume that David was not yet 20 years old, but probably only 15 to 17!

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