Summary: Focusing on God, not the gaints, brings victories.
How to Face Your Gaints
! Samuel 17:20-29, 34-37
You know this story well. Not only from Sunday School and church sermons do we learn this story, but also from daily life when things are referred to as “between David and Goliath.” Here’s the jest of the story. Two major forces line up to fight, Israel on one mountain, Philistines on the other mountain, with a valley and brook running between them. The Israelites were not skilled soldiers and had just recently crowned a king who was to organize an army and protect their land. He was failing.
Israel believed they were Jehovah God’s people, chosen to represent God among the nations. They claimed such ancestors as Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and a “promise land” God had assigned to them. The Philistines were the perpetual enemies of Israel. They were driven out of their land by the Israelites and fought around the edges of the occupied territory to get it back. They were skilled in warfare.
There was a strange battle strategy in place. The Philistines declared it would be better for everyone if they had one man from each army fight each other and the one who won the fight would bring victory to his nation. No one else need fight and possibly be wounded or die. It was one on one between two soldiers and the winner takes all. Sounds good, doesn’t it? The problem was that the Philistines had as their one warrior a giant named Goliath. He was nine feet, nine inches tall and his armor weighed 125 pounds. The Israelites had no comparable warrior and no volunteer to even try. So for forty days, twice a day, the giant Goliath would walk out from the Philistines, shout his challenge and strut his power. When he did this, two times each day, the new volunteer soldiers of Israel would retreat in fear, turn their backs and feel intimated. Israel was paralyzed by the giant Goliath.
We all have our giants- circumstances, events or personalities that intimidate and paralyze us. It may be circumstances like unemployment, abandonment, sexual abuse, or bills we can’t pay. It may be memories we have of our past behavior or treatment, deeds we have done or attitudes we have formed, people who have hurt us or we have hurt them. Today they are not small fears or embarrassments but giant-sized fears. Often it is either a path you cannot shake or a future you cannot face. How do you face your giants? There is often an invisible 900 pound gorilla that intimidates and mentally defeated us.
David came to the battlefield to see his brothers and to bring food from home for the men. David was the youngest son who stayed home to take care of the sheep. His two older brothers had volunteered to fight in this battle. When David arrived at the battlefield, the giant Goliath was just beginning his act and Israel’s soldiers beginning their reaction of fear.
David was a curious youth, asking all the “why, what, when and how” questions. When he did, it embarrassed his brothers and they were angry and critical of him. What the brothers and the other soldiers saw was an impossible task; David saw was an opportunity to honor God.
Churches today have their enemy giants. It may be the need for money, leadership, new people or a need for unity. We may settle for a compromised situation that pleases no one. Eighty percent of the nation’s churches are either plateaued or dying. The history continues to look like the present, bell curves of ups and downs.
Our nation has giants that we refuse to see or address. Today’s news is about unemployment, recession and no progress. Mixed in those circumstances are politicians who enrich themselves at our expense, social unrest that reminds us that those causes haven’t been addressed and religious leaders who act more like corporate CEO’s than shepherds or prophets.
Giants must be confronted, faced and challenged. The modern Goliaths make cowards of us all. Our refusal for us to face our giants may be … pleading… or preaching. Scott Peck remarked that “avoidance is the beginning of mental illness.” Often that mental illness is depression. One of the major causes of depression in our lives is “unresolved issues,” a failure to deal with our problems. It has also been said that “we become what we think about most of the time.” The giants are killing us, our churches and our nation.
We are guilty of repeating two major mistakes. (I Samuel 17:34-37)
1. We yield to the giants. Satan is a bully and deceitful. He has a major influence on many people in our church and our nation. Our strategy must magnify the force and ability of God and minimize the obstacles. David’s brothers and their fellow soldiers had yielded in fear to Goliath.