Summary: By trusting God in the past and experiencing victories, David could be assured of confidence and success overcoming succeeding problems. A lesson for each of us.
THE IMPOSSIBLE THING
I Samuel 17:4-11, 16, 20-25
Sermon, March 6, 2016
Christy Brown was born in 1933 with cerebral palsy. His parents were told that nothing could be done for him. They should put him in an institution. Instead they took him home and loved him. In time Christy Brown became a world-renowned artist and the object of an Academy Award winning film My Left Foot. The impossible being done.
In the late 1870's, a practical nurse diagnosed herself as having breast cancer. When she sought a physician to perform the surgery she couldn't afford his $25 fee. She rented a room in her town and, without anesthetics, cut off her own breast. She somehow endured the shock and pain, stanched the blood and lived...many years. The impossible happening.
All aerodynamic evidence suggests that the bumblebee can't fly. Its body weight, compared to its wing spread, makes that impossible. Not aware of its misfortune, the bumblebee flies anyway and manages to make a little honey in the process. The impossible happening.
Our chapter offers another example of the impossible happening—of a youth with unspoiled faith in God, who didn't know it couldn't be done, doing it! Faith in God's deliverance gave David victory over Goliath. This is evident from three decisions David made.
The Decision To Consider Himself God's Chosen Vessel In The Battle
David had been commuting between the army and sheepfold. On that day he arrived in the valley of Elah as the warriors tromped from their bivouac to the battle lines. There they stood, each on opposite hills, brandishing their spears and shouting epithets at the opposite hill.
In the valley below David heard the a Philistine bellowing. He strutted back and forth, taunting Israel, boasting of his exploits, daring anyone to descend the hill for one to one contest, winner take all. He could make such a dare, standing at least three feet higher and weighing hundreds of pounds heavier than anyone in Israel—a Super Heavy against a Fly Weight. Daily, for forty days, he barked his challenge. Daily, for forty days, Israelite warriors fled in consternation when he appeared.
But on that day David appeared and stayed. He had left the supplies for his brothers with the quartermaster, and hurried to the lines just in time to hear the men talking wistfully of the great rewards for anyone able to kill the giant: riches, the king's daughter in marriage and exemption from taxes for the family.
David couldn't believe his ears: all those rewards for the warrior besting Goliath, and no one even tried? He even requested clarification—to be sure he heard right. And it was given.
David reproached the entire Israelite warrior caste. Given the rewards...more importantly, given the insults to Israel and Almighty God, why had no one risked his life in Israel's defense? With all the brave warriors in Israel, was no one brave enough to try?
David's oldest brother Eliab happened by and, in the time honored way of older with younger siblings, scolded and berated the lad as cheeky and irresponsible. Who was he to reproach gallant warriors—he, a lowly shepherd and the youngest in the family and spoiled rotten by dad?
Contrary to custom, however, David refused to be cowed into silence and repeated his willingness to fight. His belligerence soon filtered through the lines into Saul's tent. "Sir, a young man's here who says he'll fight Goliath."
Brought before the king David repeated his willingness. Undoubtedly amused, Saul saw before him a youth promising to best a man hardened in battle from his youth, a stripling promising to fell an oak!
David remained resolute. His previous encounters with danger and death rendered Goliath unimpressive. He had faced life threatening hazards before, out in the wilderness, all by himself. He remembered clearly, and related it persuasively, how the lion and the bear had attacked his sheep, and how he attacked them bare-handed. "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."
(When did he have these experiences? It could have been anytime as a shepherd, since such danger always hovered over the flock. However, could his anointing by the Holy Spirit have occasioned such reckless courage? David was a naturally brave man: but other brave warriors, Jonathan included, refused to test Goliath. David sought the opportunity precisely because he felt chosen by God, not just brave.)
One, past victories give us confidence of future success. David's experiences protecting sheep from predators emboldened him to deliver Israel from her enemy. The God who had empowered him previously would enable him in the contest with Goliath. “I can tell by my past experience with God that he will help me now.” Do we learn God's faithfulness from past experiences, so we can trust his faithfulness in present and future difficulties? If past experiences with God teach anything it should be his unfailing faithfulness!