Summary: Go down into the valley and employ these seven tactics in order to slay your giants.
Handling Your Fears
Rev. Brian Bill
I read this week that at least 322 unique phobias have been identified. Phobia comes from the Greek word for fear, and refers to a panic that is completely out of proportion to the perceived threat behind it. Extreme cases of a phobia can result in escalated anxiety and full-fledged panic attacks. Here are some of the top fear factors.
#9: Brontophobia is not the fear of brontosauruses; it’s the terror of thunderstorms. We’ve certainly had our share of those this spring.
#5: Claustrophobia is the fear of being trapped in a small confined space.
#1: Arachnophobia, or the fear of spiders, is the number #1 fear of people; affecting half of all women (it’s actually 5 out of 5 in my household).
Here are two other phobias. Can you guess their definitions?
Ecclesiophobia Fear of church
Homilophobia Fear of sermons
If you have these two horrors today, you’re in trouble. We’ve all experienced fear at one time or another. One person writes that fear is “the oldest and strongest emotion of mankind.” I know that I have aquaphobia, an intense fear of water, as a result of watching one of my friends drown when I was 18-years-old. Jonathon Falwell writes: “So many Christians never achieve the maximum potential in their lives because they never conquer the thing they fear the most.”
The nation of Israel had an intense fear that we could call phee-phy-phobia, or the fear of giants (I made that phobia up). I’d like to borrow a phrase from Max Lucado’s outstanding book “Facing Your Giants” right at the beginning of the message. If you get this, you’ll get the sermon today: Focus on giants – you stumble; Focus on God – your giants tumble.
Today we’re going to take a look at what is perhaps the best-known Bible story of all time. The downside of doing this is that some of you will be tempted to say, “I already know that story” and then check out. Please don’t do that. Let’s learn together from God’s Word. Please turn in your Bible to 1 Samuel 17 where we read the account of David and Goliath. The Philistines were the arch enemies of Israel and had gathered for war against God’s people. Notice verse 3: “The Philistines occupied one hill and the Israelites another, with the valley between them.” Neither side wanted to come down into the valley where they would be vulnerable.
As we walk through this encounter, I want to draw out seven strategies to help us go down into the valley and meet our fears head-on.
1. Describe your problem. In verses 4-7, we read about a Philistine champion named Goliath who was more than two feet taller than Shaquille O’Neal. Most commentators estimate that he was 9 feet 9 inches tall. He was decked out in body armor that weighed 125 pounds and was armed with a javelin, and a spear. He also had a shield bearer out in front. This mammoth of a man challenged the Israelites to a smackdown fight as he belched out blasphemies against God. Have you ever noticed that the enemy is always well-armed?
In verses 8-10, Goliath lays out a challenge. Look at verse 10: “This day I defy the ranks of Israel! Give me a man and let us fight each other.” The word “defy” is used six different times in this passage and means “to treat with contempt or scorn; to taunt, ridicule and humiliate.” What Goliath is proposing was quite common back then. It’s like a one-on-one contest, with the winner taking all. Each side would send a representative to the valley and the two would fight. If the Philistine won, then the Israelites would have to surrender; if the Israelite won, the Philistines would surrender. The problem was that no one wanted to engage the enraged giant. In fact, according to verse 11, they were “dismayed and terrified.” These are powerful words which mean broken and filled with fear.
This giant of a problem wasn’t going away either. Verse 16 tells us that Goliath had come out and challenged them 80 times – every morning and every night for 40 days. In the Bible, 40 days is often associated with periods of testing and trial. The question before them was this: Would they flee or would they put their faith in God? According to verse 24, “…they all ran away in great fear.” Chuck Swindoll adds, “Intimidation is our major battle when we face giants.” I was on the wrestling team when I was in high school, losing more matches than I won. Of those I lost, most were decided before I even stepped out onto the mat. When I would watch my opposing gladiator step up on the scale before the meet and see rippling muscles and a snarl on his face, I was pinned before the whistle blew.