Learning to slay Giants
Eric A. Snyder, Minister, Farwell Church of Christ
June 23, 2002
I have always enjoyed a classic story of good versus evil.
In every story of good versus evil there is a hero.
Perhaps some of the greatest heroism came from our childhood..
I may be a little different than some of you I don’t care for some of the traditional heroes some of you may be thinking of.
For instance, there is nothing heroic about Superman (he can leap tall buildings in a single bound, he’s faster than a locomotive, all that stuff).
The only thing that can really stop him is Kryptonite which apparently only the truly evil can possess.
While some were focused on those mainline and traditional heroes I focused my attention elsewhere.
Do you remember a cartoon called "Underdog!"
If Superman is everything a superhero should be than underdog would be on the other end of the spectrum, he was awesome.
Underdog was such an opposite to Superman that they even chose to parody Superman in the opening scenes. Each show would start with Underdog flying over a group of people and they’d see him and say, "Look up in the sky: it’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s a frog?"
To which everyone would turn to the embarrassed man and say, "A frog."
But then Underdog would quickly correct all the observers, "Not a bird, nor a plane, nor even a frog, just little ol me Underdog."
Underdog was an unlikely hero, during the day he was a shoeshine boy, and at the call of the sweet and loveable Polly (she’d always say Oh where Oh where has my underdog gone Oh where Oh where can he be), and when shoeshine boy would here that call he’d run to the nearest phone booth and become underdog, and a few strikes of lightening, and claps of thunder we’d see "Underdog", and he’d shout his clarion call, "There’s no need to fear, Underdog is here.
You see what made underdog so special was that he also spoke in rhyme so he’d say things like, "When Polly’s in trouble I am not slow. It’s hip hip hip, and away I go."
Underdog was this scrawny looking mutt of a dog whose super powers would routinely fail he’s the last dog in the world you’d expect to be a superhero.
I think there is something in each of us that desires to root for the underdog, we all want to see the guy that doesn’t have much of a chance win.
Did you watch the Olympics a couple of years ago? Every montage NBC did was what a horrible time someone had had, and how they worked through it to get to the Olympics, we eat that stuff up.
I think that’s why everyone loves the story found I Samuel 17.
The story is that of David and Goliath, and let me kind of walk you through the text and then we’ll actually read a portion of it.
The story starts in vs. 1-3 with kind of a standoff between the Philistine armies and the army of Israel (God’s army).
As you read the Bible you’ll see that the Philistines and the Israelites are two powerful nations that fight each other on a pretty regular basis.
But the story starts with the two armies one on one hill and one on the other.
In vs. 4 Goliath happens on the scene and he’s a mammoth man, about 9 foot tall and had weaponry to match. He was a force to be reckoned with, and he issues a challenge in vs. 8 saying that he will fight anyone from Israel hand to hand. It’s a winner take all to the death, the winner’s nation will become master over the losers. A fight that Don King and mike Tyson could have made millions on if they had only put it on pay per view.
The problem is that no one wants to fight Goliath, and every day, twice a day Goliath comes out and issues the same challenge. Vs 24, "When the Israelites saw the man, they all ran from him in great fear."
Then we find our unlikely hero in vs 20
David was a shepherd boy, probably a young man who had brothers in the army. David’s father sent him to the battle site to take food to his brothers, he’s also the future king of Israel. When David arrives he’s talking to his brothers and Goliath comes out and issues the daily challenge.
David is outraged and goes in to talk to the present King, his name is Saul. Let’s pick up the story in vs. 32.
Read 1 Samuel 17 vs. 32 through 51
32 David said to Saul, "Let no one lose heart on account of this Philistine; your servant will go and fight him." 33 Saul replied, "You are not able to go out against this Philistine and fight him; you are only a boy, and he has been a fighting man from his youth." 34 But David said to Saul, "Your servant has been keeping his father’s sheep. When a lion or a bear came and carried off a sheep from the flock, 35 I went after it, struck it and rescued the sheep from its mouth. When it turned on me, I seized it by its hair, struck it and killed it. 36 Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, because he has defied the armies of the living God. 37 The LORD who delivered me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine." Saul said to David, "Go, and the LORD be with you." 38 Then Saul dressed David in his own tunic. He put a coat of armor on him and a bronze helmet on his head. 39 David fastened on his sword over the tunic and tried walking around, because he was not used to them. "I cannot go in these," he said to Saul, "because I am not used to them." So he took them off. 40 Then he took his staff in his hand, chose five smooth stones from the stream, put them in the pouch of his shepherd’s bag and, with his sling in his hand, approached the Philistine. 41 Meanwhile, the Philistine, with his shield bearer in front of him, kept coming closer to David. 42 He looked David over and saw that he was only a boy, ruddy and handsome, and he despised him. 43 He said to David, "Am I a dog, that you come at me with sticks?" And the Philistine cursed David by his gods. 44 "Come here," he said, "and I’ll give your flesh to the birds of the air and the beasts of the field!" 45 David said to the Philistine, "You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the LORD Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. 46 This day the LORD will hand you over to me, and I’ll strike you down and cut off your head. Today I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds of the air and the beasts of the earth, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel. 47 All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the LORD saves; for the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give all of you into our hands."
48 As the Philistine moved closer to attack him, David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet him. 49 Reaching into his bag and taking out a stone, he slung it and struck the Philistine on the forehead. The stone sank into his forehead, and he fell facedown on the ground. 50 So David triumphed over the Philistine with a sling and a stone; without a sword in his hand he struck down the Philistine and killed him. 51 David ran and stood over him. He took hold of the Philistine’s sword and drew it from the scabbard. After he killed him, he cut off his head with the sword. When the Philistines saw that their hero was dead, they turned and ran.
The underdog wins and defeats a giant
This is so much more than a story of good versus evil, I think it’s a great illustration of how we can build a faith or a trust in God like David.
Can you imagine
There is this scene in a classic movie called the three amigos, some people say it’s dumb I think it’s comic genius. In this movie Steve Martin, Martin Short, and Chevy Chase play three Americans who are trying to convince this small Mexican village to fight against the evil dictator type named El Guapo.
At the end of the movie Steve Martin is trying to motivate the village with a speech and he says, "You know in a way all of us have an El Guapo.
For some of us lack of education is our El Guapo,
for some of us illiteracy is our El Guapo,
for us El Guapo happens to be a mean ugly man who wants to kill us."
I think that’s true, in a way we all have a Goliath, for David it happens to be a mean ugly giant that wants to kill him.
That’s the question I want you to think and pray about today. What is your Goliath?
Let me phrase it another way, "What is something that God wants you to do that seems impossible?"
For some of you it’s intensely personal, some old habits die hard.
Your Goliath is an addiction that you can’t seem to conquer, drugs, alcohol, pornography on the internet, and you’ve tried your best to defeat it, but it has you in a death grip, and you don’t know where to turn.
Others of you have a Goliath that is not personal but local. You sense God calling you to do something in this community, starting a Bible study, sharing Christ with a co-worker, starting a home group or ministry.
The task seems daunting, maybe you say man David had it easy fighting his giant at least he could see him. The Bible says that "our struggle, our battle, is not against flesh and blood but against the rulers and principalities of this dark age." Some of you have giants that are more global in nature.
You sense God calling you to do something overseas, a short term or long term mission trip, a call to get involved in the cross cultural evangelism team, to adopt an unreached people group and pray and work for them until they are won to Christ.
What is something that God wants you to do that seems impossible?
God has no interest in leaving you the way you are today, whether you’re a brand new Christian or you’ve been a Christian for 30 years. He wants to radically transform you life, and the only real way to do that is by doing exactly what David did.
Stretching, and by living a life of such obedience to God that He is involved in every level because you can’t possibly do it on our own.
You say, "I can’t stop with the pornography, I’ve tried." "I can’t raise the money for the mission trip, it’s a lot of money." "There’s no way I can make my way across the street to talk to my neighbor, he’s really intimidating."
David understood that when facing a giant, faith is the key. What is faith?
Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we cannot see. In other words faith in God is trusting God in every circumstance even when a situation seems impossible.
There is an interesting theory out there, the book of Chronicles records that Goliath had 4 giant brothers. One of the theories as to why David grabbed 5 stones was one for Goliath and each of his brothers (it’s just a theory).
But if that’s true that really makes the story even more amazing as a lesson of faith.
Henry Blackaby-“If what you are doing can be done by you without God then it doesn’t please God”.
Hebrews tells us that without faith it is impossible to please God.
If we are living lives that require no faith in God to do the impossible then I would submit that you are living a much too comfortable Christianity and need to spiritually stretched.
David understood this lesson. He was constantly doing things for God and allowing God to use him in ways that defied all human reason.
This story is one of many from a quite extraordinary life.
What I want to explore with you today is how can we become more like David. How can we develop the faith needed to go where God wants us to go, or to do what God wants us to do, or to give up what God wants us to give up.
When facing Goliath there are 2 faith busters we can face and 3 faith builders let’s look at these.
1. Fear. Vs 24, "When the Israelites saw the man, they all ran in great fear."
When facing an impossible task fear is a legitimate emotion to have.
I can’t stress that enough, fear is an okay thing to feel, these Israelites were facing someone a lot bigger and a lot stronger than they were in Goliath.
The problem comes in when fear keeps you from doing the task that God wants you to do.
The people of God allowed their fear of Goliath to stop them from doing what was right!
When was the last time fear seized your heart and kept you from doing something that was right?
So many people never go on a missions trip because they have a fear of flying, people don’t stop drinking because they are afraid to face life sober, people don’t share Christ because they are afraid of rejection. Some people even delay their baptism into Christ because of a fear of water.
Fear can be horribly crippling, but it doesn’t have to be!
Listen to these words from the Lord to his prophet Joshua in the OT, "Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go."
We are going to talk in a minute about some ways that we can defeat fear, but let’s move on to another reaction for right now.
Many times once we get past the fear factor the next thing we face is the doubt of others around us. David had this from every side! His brothers even questioned his motives. Look at vs. 28, "Why have you come down here? And with whom did you leave these few sheep in the desert? I know how conceited you are and how wicked your heart is; you came down only to watch the battle!"
Check out what the King says to David in vs. 33, "You are not able to go out against this Philistine and fight him; you are only a boy and he has been a fighting man from his youth."
When you decide to take on a giant, when you decide to do the impossible, there are people who are going to want you to fail, right.
Some of you are shaking your heads, you know what I’m talking about.
When you take a stand and say, "I’m done with alcohol." There are drinking buddies who will try to pull you down, because they don’t want to drink alone.
When you decide to go on that mission trip there are people in your life who may think that’s a waste of time and money! There are some people, maybe close friends, who will act out of love and say things like: "You don’t want to take on a project that big, you’re setting yourself up for failure!" or "I just don’t want to see you get hurt" or "maybe you should rethink that."
Some of you say, "Who cares what other people think?" And you’re right, do not listen to nay-sayers! As you listen to the doubt of those around you, if you’re not careful that same doubt may begin to creep into your life. David didn’t allow that to happen and he ended up living in victory as a result of that.
"What is something God wants you to do that seems impossible?" What is your giant? I want you to notice something about David, he did not allow his fear to stop him from fighting Goliath, he did not allow those that doubted him to stop him.
How was he able to do this? Let’s look at the 3 things David really understood that built his faith.
1. Faith Builder: Security In God.
"The Lord who delivered from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will deliver from the hand of this Philistine." Putting your life in God’s hand is one of the greatest things you can do.
At the time it was completed in 1937, the Golden Gate Bridge was the longest suspension bridge in the world. During the first phase of the $77 million project, 23 men fell to their deaths in the waters of the bay. Very few safety devices were used. Before they began the second section, it was decided that something had to be done. Stout manila cords were fashioned into the largest net ever made (the cost was $100,000), and it was stretched out below where the crews were working.
Was it worth it? Ask the 10 men who fell into it without being injured!
Not only did it save those 10 lives, the work was completed in three-fourths the time because the workmen were relieved of the fear of falling.
"God’s great net of security spans this globe. No matter where His children live, He has stretched out beneath them His everlasting arms.
As a result, every one of us can live and work freely and fearlessly, knowing that we are protected, safe, secure, sealed, and kept by Him."
In life we find security in so many things, sometimes it’s in unhealthy addictions, sometimes it’s just plain old security in the way life is. People who want to do great things for God understand that security can only come from God, if we attempt to be secure in any other way than we’ll become complacent and never do anything for God, trust in him and only him, not wealth, or homes, or family!
Trusting in God and securing yourself in him does not mean you trust that nothing bad will ever happen to you. Bad things happened to David in his life.
Trusting in God means that you trust him to keep his promises. Trusting God means that you trust his purpose for the world and align yourself with it.
You see there’s a great cloud around us of men and women who have lost their lives promoting Christianity. Horrible things have happened to Christians in our history, but God’s word and God’s message was always proclaimed. You see when I put myself on the front line of battle I’m not afraid of falling, because I know that my security is in God not in anything this life has to offer, so even if I die God is in control and will keep his promise to me and that there is a reward on the other side of this life! David’s security came from God, and He understood that God was in control.
This is what David wrote in one of his songs
"The Lord is my rock, my fortress, and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation. He is my stronghold, my refuge and my savior—from violent men you will save me. I call to the Lord, who is worthy of praise and I am saved from my enemies"
God is awesome, God is praise worthy, and God is someone with whom you can place your trust.
2. Faith Builder: Faith Building Is A Process.
In verses 34-37 David talks about how he had killed a lion and a bear that attacked his fathers sheep David didn’t become a giant killer overnight, he had previous smaller practices and victories. You see you don’t develop faith overnight, many times it’s a process.
Throughout our Christian life God will lay on our hearts 100’s of things to do, and when that happens we come to a crossroads in our Christian walk.
After David killed Goliath he takes Goliath’s sword and the people of Israel build a memorial with it as a reminder of God’s faithfulness and as a faith builder to the community God. A few years later the King of Israel Saul was jealous of David and was trying to kill him. David ran from him, and didn’t have a weapon to defend himself.
So he stopped at the memorial and took the sword, the same sword he used to kill Goliath was the same sword he defended himself with against King Saul. I can’t help but think that sword served as a reminder for David about how God delivered him from the giant, and he knew God would deliver him from this King as well.
What about you?
What event in your life has become a faith builder, a reminder of God’s love and care for you? What has God delivered you from? A checkered past? An addiction? Maybe the death of a loved one that made you stronger? The divorce of your parents? Allow those seemingly difficult events to build a reservoir of faith that will last!
David was a man who stood on faith, and the message is this.
If he can stand in faith and face what he faced, then so can you!
3. Faith Builder: Victory Is Ours!
That giant was big, really big, but he is not as big as God! David understood that. There are times in this world when Satan seems to be having his way. After a school shooting, or a death, the drugs and alcohol. Those are big problems, and we must address them, but God is bigger than those problems.
Signal piano player
A day is coming when suffering, pain, and addiction will be done away with. The only addiction we’ll face is our intense desire to praise God all the time! You see I believe that God is drawing men to himself, he wants people to be his hands, his feet, his mouthpiece to the world. I love what the Bible says, that if we won’t do it then the trees of the fields will proclaim God, but why would we want to turn down the opportunity.
The next time you have a desire to share Christ, understand. Failure is not even possible!
The battle belongs to the Lord!
Will people not accept Christ, yes? Will people occasionally get angry and possibly persecute our beliefs, you’d better believe it?
Is that failure, NO!
Why, because God’s word was proclaimed, and it’s taking hold.
God knows what he’s doing, and he is in charge
Some of you are going through some faith builders, and you need prayer.
You’re teetering on the edge of sanity, and you’re ready to throw in the towel. Don’t forget, the battle belongs to the Lord.
Some of you haven’t started yet—you haven’t yet given your life to Jesus Christ.
If you need someone to talk to you about Christ please come forward.
Don’t wait another day!