Summary: We are opposed to atheists and their impact on our society, but is it possible that we are atheists in the way we act? How can we keep from becoming practical atheists?
Passage: I Samuel 17
Intro: If you want to stir up the Christian community, talk about atheists and atheism.
1. we know the definition well; those who do not believe that God exists.
2. as a unified group, take responsibility for all kinds of mischief.
3. prayer in schools, ten commandments in courtroom, In God We Trust on money, “under God” in pledge.
4. vocaly opposed to God in our national life.
5. for those of us who believe in God, we want to distance ourselves from them.
6. in God’s eyes, atheism is not a belief or a philosophy, but an action.
7. as we saw last week, God more interested in what our actions demonstrate than what we might say with our mouth.
8. every event in our lives is an opportunity to practice faith in God or to act as if God does not exist.
9. this recorded event is stunning in it’s scope, breathtaking in it’s power, sobering in it’s message to us.
10. because in it we see against a backdrop of abject fear and practical atheism the shining faith of one young man.
11. and 3000 years later, we are faced with the exact same choices.
I. To Focus on the Physical or the Spiritual
1. there are two realities in the world: the seen and the unseen.
2. 3000 years ago, on a dusty plain in
central Israel, 2 great armies stood
3. no numbers given here, but 200,000 had defeated Amalekites in chap 15:4
4. but the numbers meant nothing here, because Goliath rumbled out to lay down a challenge.
5. this 9’ 6” armor plated killing machine would fight any member of the Hebrew army, winner take all.
6. even from a distance this man was imposing.
PP head and shoulders on screen at appropriate height.
7. now clearly the Hebrew army chose to focus on the physical realities of Goliath.
8. and every morning and evening for 40 long days, they received a reminder of those realities. V16
9. and every day the scene recorded in v24 repeated itself: see Goliath, be afraid of Goliath, run from Goliath.
10. but one young man, witnessing the very same event, had a different response.
11. David, sent with food and free to leave whenever he wanted.
12. yet he heard something in the rant of Goliath that stopped him in his tracks.
13. “defy the armies of Israel”
14. v26, David defined this as a “reproach”, “disgrace”
15. and since Israel was well known as the people of the One True God, Maker of Heaven and Earth, the Living God, Elohim, the I Am, Goliath was defying God.
16. and that fact tipped the scales dramatically against Goliath and for anyone who would fight him.
17. David interpreted this whole scene as a spiritual battle instead of a physical one, and with great confidence he offered to fight this giant.
18. faith can be a very lonely experience.
II. To Forget or Remember God’s Past Action
1. we miss a great deal if we don’t look at this event in context.
2. Saul’s army had just had two great victories.1 Sam 14:5-6. His 600 against this horde!
3. Jonathan and armor-bearer killed twenty guys, everyone else ran for it. 14:15
4. army grew to 200,000 men, defeated Amalekites
5. so this group facing Goliath had some history of God’s powerful presence.
6. but they forgot, as fear tends to cause us to do.
-present reality more persuasive than past memories
Il) Kadesh Barnea, people forgot opening of Red Sea and drowning of Pharoahs army, sight of God on Mt. Sinai. They could not/would not apply the lessons of past.
7. David in such contrast, when faced with discouragement from Saul in v33
8. too small, too young, inexperienced.
9. David might have left here, assured that he had been willing to fight Goliath
10. but fights thru barriers, recalls past and God’s empowerment.
11. v37, “the Lord who delivered.
12. principle here we cannot overlook.
13. God uses the challenges of the past to increase my faith in order that I might meet greater challenges in His strength.
14. but if we respond to every challenge with fear, we learn nothing, remain fearful.
15. is this faith what God saw in David so that He anointed Him as king? This faith in God that caused him to do great things?
16. think about your past, what God has done. Act on what God has shown you, taught you in life and from His Word.
Il) stories of God’s provision for our church
Il) Passover Feast so that people would remember what God had done for Israel.
III. To Act or Not to Act.
1. for 40 mornings and 40 evenings this army had heard the taunts of Goliath.