Summary: David did not kill Goliath - God did.
We all face obstacles in life. Part of what makes life fantastic, exciting, worthwhile, and energizing is having a goal or a purpose or a call that is so worthwhile that we will fight through any obstacle, overcome any difficulty, literally “move any mountain” to overcome it.
And I am not just talking about lofty, world-changing things that we see about and hear about and admire, that other people do. I looked for some inspiring stories about people overcoming obstacles, thinking that would be a good way to introduce my sermon, and I found some good stories: like about a shooting champion who lost his right hand in a grenade accident and had to re-learn how to shoot with his left, and went on to win Olympic gold. Or a guy who was paralyzed by Polio at age 9 but re-learned to walk and became an Olympic high jump champion. You know the type of story – good, inspirational, but you know what? Those aren’t the kind of obstacles most of us face. I’m talking about the kinds of things that each of us face. Like caring for those we love, whether they are growing older or experiencing illness or going through challenging emotional situations. Like raising our kids in the Lord. Like living with integrity in the middle of a world of short-cuts, compromise of principle, and where the only thing that seems to matter is maximizing profit. How do we face those kinds of obstacles, and what does our faith provide for our day to day life?
We are in a sermon series I’ve called “Pivotal Moments in the Biblical Story”. Thus far we looked at the story of Abraham and his obedience when God called him to sacrifice his son Isaac, and we learned that God calls us to complete obedience. Last week we looked at Moses, when God called to him out of the burning bush and told him to go lead God’s people out of slavery in Egypt, and we learned that it is ok to argue with God as long as we know that God will win the argument and we will be glad he does, because His way is best. Today I want to take us to the story of David and Goliath, and see what we can learn together from that story.
David did not kill Goliath:
The story is in 1 Sam 17, but before we go there and read the story I have an important new insight to share. What you and I were taught in Sunday school was wrong. What you and I have believed about this story is not correct. Upon further and closer investigation into the story, I am standing here today in front of you to declare that we now know conclusively that David did not kill Goliath. You heard me correctly – David did not kill Goliath.
Is there some new archeological evidence to support this crazy claim? Some weird linguistic nuance in the original Hebrew that scholars are just now figuring out? Some new ancient manuscript recently discovered in Israel that proves my point? Nope; it is actually in the Biblical story itself. Let’s read it together and find out…
1 Sam 17 (NLT)
The Philistines now mustered their army for battle and camped between Socoh in Judah and Azekah at Ephes-dammim. 2 Saul countered by gathering his Israelite troops near the valley of Elah. 3 So the Philistines and Israelites faced each other on opposite hills, with the valley between them.
4 Then Goliath, a Philistine champion from Gath, came out of the Philistine ranks to face the forces of Israel. He was over nine feet tall! 5 He wore a bronze helmet, and his bronze coat of mail weighed 125 pounds. 6 He also wore bronze leg armor, and he carried a bronze javelin on his shoulder. 7 The shaft of his spear was as heavy and thick as a weaver’s beam, tipped with an iron spearhead that weighed 15 pounds. His armor bearer walked ahead of him carrying a shield.
Ok, let’s pause there to absorb how intimidating this guy actually is. Nine feet tall. A coat of mail weighing 125lbs – that is like hanging 14, 4L jugs of milk off your shoulders (to fight in!). 125 pounds is the weight limit of the featherweight division of boxing, so it is possible that David himself only weighed about that much! And this spear – a long heavy shaft with a bag-and-a-half of flour hanging off the end of it. This is a significant obstacle…
8 Goliath stood and shouted a taunt across to the Israelites. “Why are you all coming out to fight?” he called. “I am the Philistine champion, but you are only the servants of Saul. Choose one man to come down here and fight me! 9 If he kills me, then we will be your slaves. But if I kill him, you will be our slaves! 10 I defy the armies of Israel today! Send me a man who will fight me!” 11 When Saul and the Israelites heard this, they were terrified and deeply shaken.