Summary: In facing the giant, Goliath, David reveals to us the strength to live the call of God on our lives.
We conclude our Called worship series this morning by looking at one of the most famous battles in all history—the battle between David and Goliath. Almost everyone has heard this story at some point in their lives. Books have been written and movies made about David’s story, so it’s not very new to most of us. And, while it makes for great reflection on facing the giants of life, I think it is equally reflective of how we can live out the call of God on our lives each and every day because, for most people, living a faithful life is the biggest giant we face.
I’m going to treat the text a little differently this morning because the story takes up all of chapter 17 in 1 Samuel. Rather than read the entire chapter, I’m going to reference and read the text as I progress through the message, so I simply invite you to turn to chapter 17 of 1 Samuel as we discover the lessons for living out God’s call on our lives every day.
As you turn to 1 Samuel 17, let me give you a little background. You recall last week, the prophet Samuel showed up in Bethlehem at God’s direction to anoint a new king in Saul’s place. He anoints David, Jesse’s eighth son, even though Saul has not yet been deposed, nor has he died. Saul is still king. After Samuel anointed David to take Saul’s place (remember David is only seventeen or so) David begins to split time between Saul’s court and Jesse’s pastures. He’s ushered to Saul’s court the first time because Saul begins to battle depression and the only thing that will soothe him is harp music, and David is somewhat adept at playing the harp. While this is going on, the nation of Israel has gone to war against the Philistines, and David has three brothers on the front line.
On one occasion when David is at home, Jesse instructs David to go to the front lines to check on his brothers. When he gets to the front lines, he encounters a fearful and cowering Israelite army because this nine-foot giant of a man named Goliath comes out every day and struts back and forth in front of the Israelite army, taunting them and challenging them to send out their best man for a fight. Often times in the ancient near east, armies would settle matters with a head-to-head battle between two combatants, so this was not out of the ordinary. The problem was that no one wanted to face Goliath. He was too big and too fierce, so the army simply cowered. David couldn’t believe it.
King Saul discovers he needs to offer an additional incentive to encourage someone to take up the fight. He offers his daughter as a bride, a bounty and an eternal tax exemption to anyone who defeats the Philistine giant, but still, no one is willing to take up the challenge. Until David comes along and confirms the rumors he’s heard about the reward for defeating Goliath. He figures he’s up to the challenge. After all, a bride, a bounty and no tax payment the rest of your life seem to be pretty good motivation for a 17 year-old. That’s where we pick up the story.
Look 1 Samuel 17: 28 – 33:
28 But when David’s oldest brother, Eliab, heard David talking to the men, he was angry. “What are you doing around here anyway?” he demanded. “What about those few sheep you’re supposed to be taking care of? I know about your pride and deceit. You just want to see the battle!”
29 “What have I done now?” David replied. “I was only asking a question!” 30 He walked over to some others and asked them the same thing and received the same answer. 31 Then David’s question was reported to King Saul, and the king sent for him.
32 “Don’t worry about this Philistine,” David told Saul. “I’ll go fight him!”
33 “Don’t be ridiculous!” Saul replied. “There’s no way you can fight this Philistine and possibly win! You’re only a boy, and he’s been a man of war since his youth.”
Here’s the first lesson I want us to learn as we live out God’s call: Recognize where the real battle lies. David did not get distracted by his brothers, or even by King Saul. He knew the battle was in front of him, not beside him. His brothers were jealous and Saul was doubtful, but David knew the real enemy was Goliath.
Friends, I think the enemy of our soul is watching the Church and laughing. The Church has spent so much time throughout its history fighting each other that we’ve failed to face the real enemy. I’m not just talking about Catholics fighting Protestants, or Baptists fighting Methodists, but I’m talking about Methodists fighting Methodists. We United Methodists have been fighting over the issue of same-sex relationships for 46 years. Over and over the General Conference has spoken on the issue, and every four years someone continues to bring up the issue, and we continue to fight each other. It becomes a distraction from the mission of making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. It happens in local congregations, too. Congregations fight over the color of the new carpet, or whether they’ll put multi-media in worship, or guitars or drums. The devil just looks and laughs.