The sun was hot on his back as he knelt at the edge of the stream and pushed his hand into the icy cold water. The shock ran up to his elbow as his fingers played on the rocky bottom looking for the perfect stones. Yes there was one and another, and one more, no that one wasn’t quite right. Finally he had chosen five perfect stones and he pulled his arm dripping from the stream. He looked down at the stones, hardly more then large pebbles but they would have to do. Drying his arm on his tunic he dropped the rocks into the leather pouch hanging around his waist and started off in the direction of the noise that he could hear in the distance.
How had he got here? What had seemed like a great idea at the time, certainly seemed to border on lunacy now. But there was no turning back, after all he had committed himself to none less than the king. As he crested the hill he saw them, two opposing armies standing firm on opposing hills. Closest to him were the Jews, the army of Saul, the Israelites. Farther off in the distance was the enemy, the philistines, and there he was, right in the middle of them standing head and shoulders above everyone else, the giant, Goliath. Well, this was it. He could stop now, come to his senses and walk away or not. And so he looked straight ahead and walked into history and every Bible story book ever written.
In the Scripture that Leigh read this morning we read the account of a man named Goliath, and really if you think about it a story about Goliath isn’t really complete without talking about David. As in David and Goliath, no not Davey and Goliath, David and Goliath.
Let’s start with who was David? He was the second and undoubtedly greatest King of Israel and lived about three thousand years ago. He is mentioned 1092 times in the Bible and his exploits read like something off the fiction self at your local library. A little something for everybody in that story, sex, violence, mayhem and treachery. He captured Jerusalem and brought the ark of the covenant there, you probably remember the Ark best from the first Indiana Jones movie. David turned Israel into a major military power and put it on the map. He was the author of the majority of the poetry in the Bible and was the architect of Solomon’s temple. Jesus Christ was referred to as the Son of David 19 times in the Gospels. But what does everybody know David for? Right, for how he killed the giant. Everybody knows how the little fellow did the big dude in. It’s kind of a twist of history that most dictionaries don’t mention David, but they all seem to have Goliath and he was the loser.
1 Samuel 17 tells us the story but we all know it don’t we? Through most of it’s history Israel had been ruled by a religious ruler called a judge, that type of rule is called a Theocracy, meaning under God. Some politicians would like it to be that way again, the difference is that they want to be God. But then the people rebelled and demanded a king like all the other nations. And so God appointed Saul. He was a good king, tall handsome and smart, and he ruled the kingdom of Israel well, mostly. but then he began to think, “Hey I’m a good king, I can think for myself” and we know what happens when monarchy starts thinking for themselves don’t we? One thing led to another and another and soon Saul was being outright disobedient to God’s will for his kingdom. And with that disobedience came military defeats and here we are in 1 Samuel 17 where the Israelites are facing the greatest obstacle in their history.
So let’s start by looking at the Giant. It seems like there was a bit of a stand off here with the Philistines on one mountain and the Jews on the other mountain and when things were just getting warmed up we read in 1 Samuel 17:4 (NKJV) And a champion went out from the camp of the Philistines, named Goliath, from Gath, whose height was six cubits and a span.
Well if nothing else the story of David and Goliath would prove to be a popular illustrative device through the years, you know small vs. large, good vs. evil, conquering the unconquerable odds. But so often we fail to realize that the story of David and Goliath is more then just a story, it’s a fact.
How big was this guy? He was very big. The Bible tells us that he was six cubits and a span, well lets pull up a black board, well actually a green board and figure it out. Le’t see a cubit was eighteen inches and a span was a half a cubit or nine inches so lets see eight times six and carry the four is 108 add nine, multiply by 2.54 divide by a hundred and you get 2.9718 metres, and that’s supposed to mean something to us because we’ve been a metric country for 30 years so we multiply it by 100 divide by 2.54 and we get 117 inches which we divide by 12 and get 9.75 multiply the .75 by 12 and we get 9 feet 9 inches tall that’s gianormous. His coat of armour weighed 5000 shekels or 125 lbs, and it was just a vest. The bible tells us that his spear was like a weavers beam, now I don’t know what a weavers beam is but I do know that the Bible says that the head of the spear weighed fifteen pounds all by it’s lonesome.
You say “Preacher you’re bluffing, ain’t nobody could be that big.” Oh yeah. Robert Wadlow was 8’11” tall and weighed almost five hundred pounds. Here is a picture of his life size wax statue with my favorite preacher. His shoe size was 37 AA, and you thought you had problems finding shoes that fit. His hand was a foot long, and he had a ten foot arm span. When he died in 1940 at the age of 22 he was still growing and needed 8000 calories a day to survive, now wouldn’t that be heaven. So if Robert Wadlow could be 8’11” then surely Goliath could be just ten inches taller. And so the big guy puts a very reasonable proposition to the Israelites. At least I thought it was reasonable. In the Bible in 1 Samuel 17:8-9 Goliath stood and shouted across to the Israelites, “Do you need a whole army to settle this? Choose someone to fight for you, and I will represent the Philistines. We will settle this dispute in single combat! If your man is able to kill me, then we will be your slaves. But if I kill him, you will be our slaves!
Great idea huh? Think of how many lives would have been saved if through the years each nation had sent out their best man instead of their best men to fight the battles. Instead when it comes time for war the men too old to fight send those too young to hold power out to die. Now I know that at first glance the odds don’t seem all that great, what with Goliath being sooo big and everybody else being sooo small.
Don’t forget though that this bunch had a pretty neat history behind them. Noah had built an ark, Moses had parted the Red Sea, Abraham had fathered a child when he was hundred and Joshua had brought down the walls of Jericho. If anything you’d think that the odds were stacked pretty much against Goliath. But nobody was ready to put their faith on the line. Nobody believed in God enough to take a risk. Oh sure God could do those things for other people but not for me. And here’s where the rubber meets the road, where our faith either becomes a reality or a fallacy.
We all have giants in our lives. Too often when we think of giants we cast our eyes fretfully around looking for modern day Goliaths. but we all have giants in our lives. I read recently that “everybody has a problem, is a problem or lives with a problem.” ain’t that the truth. What’s your giant? Unemployment? Illness? Family problems, interpersonal relationship, work. Maybe depression, or temptation or something unresolved in your past.
And just as sure as we have giants in our lives we have a God who can help us kill our giants just like David killed Goliath. But what does it take to be a giant killer, to get on top of the giants that always seem to be on top of us? Let’s see what we can find in David’s life.
In the Bible we are told that he was the son of Jesse, that he was born in Bethlehem, which of course you remember as being the birth place of Jesus. We know that he was the youngest of eight sons but we don’t know for sure how old he was although he would have had to have been younger than twenty or he would have been in the army. At this point in his life he was serving the King as his personal musician as well as working for his father tending the family’s flock of sheep. It was while he was working at home that his dad sent him to the front with a care package for his big brothers. It was when he arrived that he discovered this monster taunting the Jewish army.
There are a few things worth noting.
1) David Was Already In The Service Of The King. 1 Samuel 16:14-23 tells us that David was already serving the king. The only way that the giants in our lives and in the life of society will be conquered will be through the power of Jesus. Every time that a major injustice in this world has been rectified it has been through the efforts of godly men and women. God may help those who don’t serve Him, God may use those who don’t serve Him but He doesn’t have to.
I’m not stating that problems don’t happen to Christians, I’m just saying that they don’t have to go through them alone, that Jesus is there. Tony Campola a prominent speaker and Professor of Sociology at Eastern College in the states tells the story about being on a plane and noticing a nun who was sitting across the aisle from him, Tony says it was very apparent that she was terrified as she ran through her rosary and so he leaned over and said “Don’t worry sister remember what Jesus said in Matthew 28:20 I am with you always,” and the nun turned and replied “No, what he said was “Lo I am with you always” Well high or low it doesn’t matter He is with us, if we are with Him. If we are going to want Him with us when the giants come, no matter what those giants may be, then He needs to be with us when they aren’t any giants around as well. And I would suspect that when trouble comes God hears all kinds of unfamiliar voices.
2) David Knew That Nobody Else Was Going To Do It. One of the most important steps in overcoming the giants in our life is coming face to face with the fact that it is up to you. We live in a society that has mastered the fine art of blaming others. If it’s not your parents fault and it’s not society’s fault then it must be God’s fault. And it it is somebody else’s fault than somebody else ought to fix it. The problem is that we go through life proclaiming that we are “Adult Children of Alcoholics” or “Adult Children of Abusive Parents” or “Adult survivors of Abuse” or “Adult Children of Normal Parents”. We were the wrong colour, or the wrong gender or the wrong religion or our hair was too red or we were too fat and we didn’t get the breaks that others got and would somebody please do something about that giant that’s breathing down my neck. Hey the giant wasn’t David’s responsibility he was just a shepherd who was moonlighting as a delivery boy. It wasn’t David’s fault that Goliath was there, but I wonder how the course of history would have been different for Israel if David hadn’t done what David did.
When I talk to people who are facing giants I try not to say “I know what you’re going through” cause in all likely hood I don’t. But after over twenty five years of pastoral ministry, I started when I was ten, I have seen a bunch of giants trying to whoop on my friends. And some go through it and some grow through. It makes some bitter and it makes some better and the choice is up to the individual.
I don’t know what you are going through, haven’t got a clue, wouldn’t know your giant if I fell over him in the dark. But I do know this, you are going to have to stand up, look that sucker in the eye and tell yourself, “if it’s to be, it’s up to me.” Don’t wait for a David to come along my friend because you are “David”!
Now having said that I can’t kill your giants for you let me categorically state that I am willing to be there with you. I’ll hold your hand, I’ll pick you up, I’ll let you lean on me, I’ll buy you coffee but you are going to have to kill him by yourself.
1 Samuel 17:28 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 dishonesty. You just want to see the battle!”
3) David Had To Put Up With Abuse
Boy what a grouch, I wonder who beat him with an ugly stick? No provocation, David hadn’t said anything to set big brother off but off he went. Listen up folks if’n you are gonna kill giants then you are going to have to put up with abuse. It’s a fact of life. The main reason of course is that when you kill a giant in your life it tells others that there is no reason that they shouldn’t be killing the giants in their life. But don’t let that put you off. If there was one president of the US who faced more giants then any other it had to be Abraham Lincoln with his country torn apart with civil war, and listen to what he had to say; “If I were to read much less answer all the attacks made on me, this shop might as well be closed for any other business. I do the very best that I can. And I mean to keep on doing this down to the very end. If the end brings me out all wrong, ten angels swearing I have been right would make no difference. If the end brings me out all right, then what is said against me now will not amount to anything.” Good thinking Abe.
All the heroes in the Bible, Noah, Joseph, Abraham, Moses, David, Peter, John, John the Baptist, Paul even Jesus Christ the Son of God, who was perfect and without sin, was crucified.
David knew that what he had to do was right. He knew that he was on the side of the Angels, and he did what he had to do. God is ultimately who you will have to answer to, so ultimately he’s the only one that you need to please.
4) David Knew Who The Giant Was And What He Had To Do
David knew that nothing less then total success would be acceptable. He knew that if he only wounded it would just make him mad, and there is nothing worse than a mad giant. And so he says in 1 Samuel 17:36 I have done this to both lions and bears, and I’ll do it to this pagan Philistine, too, for he has defied the armies of the living God! His goal was clear, his vision was certain, no ifs no ands no buts, he was going to kill the big fella. He wasn’t afraid to commit himself to a line of action. It’s been said that sometimes we are so afraid of getting out on a limb because of our faith that we won’t even climb the tree. Well David was up the tree and out on the limb and he didn’t care.
Too often we don’t se goals in our personal and spiritual lives because we are afraid of how it will look if we don’t succeed. And then we don’t succeed anyways because there is no accountability. If you are going to get anywhere in you life you’d better know the direction you want to go before you head out, because if you don’t know where you are going how will you know when you arrive?
David’s goal may have sounded a little extravagant but he knew that it was all or nothing. It’s amazing that when you aim at nothing nine times out of ten that’s what you hit, nothing. Maybe it’s time to stop talking in generalities and find the giant.
Realize as well that every problem that you encounter isn’t necessarily a giant. If your car won’t start or you’re involved in a minor fender bender that may not be a giant. If you have the flue or a toothache that may not be a giant. If you think your boss is a jerk and your pay cheque isn’t big enough it still may not be a giant. Or as Mark Twain said “A reasonable amount o’ fleas is good fer a dog—keeps him from broodin’ over bein’ a dog, mebbe.”
You might think that you can’t do it by yourself, and you are probably right, but then again you don’t have to . David never expected that he could do Goliath in all by his lonesome. If we keep reading in 1 Samuel 17:37 listen to what David says The Lord who saved me from the claws of the lion and the bear will save me from this Philistine!” Saul finally consented. “All right, go ahead,” he said. “And may the Lord be with you!”
basically David was saying, “Goliath might be big but God is bigger”
Goliath wasn’t the only giant to besiege David, nor was he the toughest, he was simply the most famous one.
How big are the giants in your life? They may not look very big to others but to you they are enormous. After all little problems are what other people have, kind of like minor surgery. Are your problems bigger than you can handle? Are they bigger than God can handle? I don’t think so ,remember, our God is an Awesome God. The Bible tells us in the book of Romans 8:31 What can we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us? and again in Philippians 4:13 For I can do everything with the help of Christ who gives me the strength I need.
What do you think? Think you can whip that Giant with God’s help?
(Closed by handing out small stones to remind people that God was with them when they were facing their giants.)
PowerPoint may be available for this message email me at firstname.lastname@example.org