Summary: God can do big things through little people.

Title: The Power of Small Is the Power of God

Text: I Samuel 17 :( 1, 4-11, 19-23), 32-49

Thesis: God can do big things through little people.


Today the message is classic Sunday School 101. From our earliest childhood Sunday School experiences we were told the story of David and Goliath and all of those stories were illustrated in the Sunday School curriculum and in take home papers.

This is a rather well-done example of those Sunday School illustrations.

Project classic biblical image

It isn’t very true to the biblical narrative because in the biblical story the Philistine and Israelite armies are arrayed against each other on opposite hills with a broad valley in between. It is with both opposing armies watching from their respective hilltops that David and Goliath met in the middle on the expansive valley below both hills. In this picture you can see that David and Goliath are portrayed as doing battle on a hilltop with the army looking on from below. Anyway, that’s how it might have looked back then…

Perhaps this is how it would look today.

Project humorous image of large man /small boy

I want to unpack three principles that may be extracted from the story of David and Goliath, with the understanding that when I speak of Davids and Goliaths I am speaking metaphorically. We are like David in life and in life there are Goliaths or giants that threaten our well-being. And of course, there is God who is as much involved in the dramas of our lives as in the drama of the life of David and the army of Israel.

The first principle is this:

I. It is not so much who we are, it is who God is.

“You come to me with sword, spear, and javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, who you have defied.” I Samuel 17:45

The story is a contrast / comparison of David and Goliath. The story exaggerates the largeness of Goliath, the evil enemy and smallness of David, the good defender of God’s honor.

A. Goliath was a seasoned warrior.

Goliath is described as a giant of a man. Commentators say he was somewhere between 6 ½ and 9 ½ feet tall. His helmet was made of bronze as were his leggings. His torso was covered by a coat of mail weighting 125 pounds. He carried a javelin slung over his back and a spear with a shaft of 2 ½ inches in diameter and a spearhead weighing 15 pounds. (I Samuel 17:4-7)

In addition to all that he also carried a sheathed sword. (I Samuel 17:51) And Goliath is described as a career soldier, having been in the army since he was a boy. (I Samuel 17:33)

Added to all that is his image as something of a bully who for 40 consecutive days strutted his stuff twice a day in front of the Israelite army… mockingly inviting someone to come out and fight him. (I Samuel 17:16) And then on the day he actually faced off with David he roared at his young opponent saying, “Am I a dog that you come at me with a stick?” Then he cursed David by the names of his gods saying, “Come over here, and I’ll give your flesh to the birds and wild animals!”

B. David was a boy shepherd.

David on the other hand, is described as a boy who shepherded sheep in I Samuel 17:33-34. In his defense he told Saul that he not only shepherded sheep, he defended them against lions and bears by seizing the predators by the jaw and dispatching them with a club.

As the story progressed in 17:40, David is said to have stooped and selected five smooth stones from a stream and placed them in his shepherd’s bag. Then armed with his shepherd’s staff and a slingshot, he went out to fight Goliath.

In response to Goliaths bluster David yelled back, “You come to me with a sword, spear and javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied.” (I Samuel 17:45)

The scenario posed is that of a boy armed with a bb gun going to war against a career military man driving an M1 Abrams Tank with a 125 mm smoothbore gun capable of firing both conventional ammo and anti-tank missiles. The contrast established in the story is about power and weakness; largeness and smallness; sizeable weapons and slingshots; a seasoned soldier and a boy shepherd.

This whole story is about the folly of a boy who was ridiculed by his older brother who angrily asked, “What are you doing around here? Why aren’t you watching the sheep like you are supposed to be doing?” (I Samuel 17:28) He was doubted by his king who, upon learning of David’s willingness to fight Goliath said, “Don’t be ridiculous!” And then there was the mocking of Goliath…

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