Good morning, Friends! Thanks for joining us this morning.
I’ve got another Bible story for you today. It’s one you’ve heard before. Almost every kid learns it in Sunday School. But I think there are some details you might not have noticed before. And when you start to think about how this story can be applied and lived – well, it takes us into a lot of new territory.
It’s the story of David and Goliath. You know, the kid with the slingshot and the 400-pound bully? We’ve all heard it before. But let’s listen again.
Now the Philistines gathered their forces for war and assembled at Sokoh in Judah. They pitched camp. King Saul and the Israelites assembled and camped in the Valley of Elah and drew up their battle line to meet the Philistines. The Philistines occupied one hill and the Israelites another, with the valley between them.
A champion named Goliath, who was from Gath, came out of the Philistine camp. He stood nine and a half feet tall. He had a bronze helmet on his head and wore a coat of scale armor of bronze that weighed 125 pounds. On his legs he wore bronze armor, and a bronze javelin was slung on his back. His spear shaft was like the beam on a weaver’s loom, and its iron point weighed 15 pounds. He had a man going ahead of h im to carry his shield.
Goliath stood and shouted to the ranks of Israel, “Why do you come out and line up for battle? Am I not a Philistine, and are you not the servants of Saul? Choose a man and have him come down to me. If he is able to fight and kill me, we will become your subjects; but if I overcome him and kill him, you will become our subjects and serve us.”
Then the Philistine said, “This day I defy the armies of Israel! Give me a man and let us fight each other.” On hearing the Philistine’s words, Saul and all the Israelites were dismayed and terrified.
Now David was the son of Jesse, from the tribe of Ephraim, from Bethlehem in Judah. Jesse had eight sons, and in Saul’s time Jesse was very old. Jesse’s three oldest sons had followed Saul to the war: David was the youngest son. The three oldest sons followed Saul, but David went back and forth from Saul to tend his father’s sheep at Bethlehem.
For forty days the Philistine came forward every morning and evening and took his stand.
Now Jesse said to his son David, “Take this roasted grain and these ten loaves of bread for your brothers and hurry to their camp. Take along these ten cheeses to the commander of their unit. See how your brothers are and bring back some news from them. They are with Saul and all the men of Israel in the Valley of Elah, fighting against the Philistines.”
Early in the morning David left the flock in the care of a shepherd. He loaded up and set out, as his father Jesse had directed.
David reached the camp as the army was going out to its battle positions, shouting the war cry. Israel and the Philistines were drawing up their lines facing each other.
David left his things with the keeper of supplies, ran to the battle lines and asked his brothers how they were. As he was talking with them, Goliath, the Philistine champion from Gath, stepped out from his lines and shouted his usual defiance, and David heard it. Whenever the Israelites saw Goliath they all fled from him in great fear.
Now the Israelites had been saying, “Do you see how this man keeps coming out? He comes out to defy Israel. The king will give great wealth to the man who kills him. He will also give him his daughter in marriage and will exempt his family from taxes in Israel.”
David asked the men standing near him, “What will be done for the man who kills this Philistine and removes this disgrace from Israel? Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living God?”
They repeated to him what they had been saying and told him, “This is what will be done for the man who kills him.”
When Eliab, David’s oldest brother, heard David speaking with the men, he burned with anger at David and asked, “Why have you come down here? And with whom did you leave those few sheep in the wilderness? I know how conceited you are and how wicked your heart is; you came down only to watch the battle.”
“Now what have I done?” said David. “Can’t I even speak?” Then he turned away to someone else and brought up the same matter, and the men answered him as before. What David said was overheard and reported to King Saul, and Saul sent for him.
David said to King Saul, “Let no one lose heart on account of this Philistine; your servant will go and fight him.”
King Saul replied, “You are not able to go out against this Philistine and fight him; you are only a young man, and he has been a warrior from his youth.”
But David said to King 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, 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.
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. The Lord who rescued me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will rescue me from the hand of this Philistine.”
Saul said to David, “Go, and the Lord be with you.”
Then Saul dressed David in his own tunic. He put a coat of armor on him and a bronze helmet on his head. David fastened on his sword over the tunic and tried walking around, because he was not used to them.
“I cannot go in these,” David said to Saul, “because I am not used to them.” So he took them off. 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.
Meanwhile, Goliath the Philistine, with his shield bearer in front of him, kept coming closer to David. Goliath looked David over and saw that he was little more than a boy, glowing with health and handsome, and he despised him.
Goliath said to David, “Am I a dog, that you come at me with sticks?” And the Philistine cursed David by his gods. “Come here,” he said, “and I’ll give your flesh to the birds and the wild animals!”
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. This day the Lord will deliver you into my hands, and I’ll strike you down and cut off your head. This very day I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds and the wild animals, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel. 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.”
As the Philistine moved closer to attack him, David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet him. 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 face down on the ground.1 Samuel 17:1-49
David had a giant problem. I mean, he had a GIANT problem! Goliath probably weighed 4 or 5 times what he did. Goliath stood at least three feet taller than he did.
Actually, King Saul should have been the one out there fighting. Saul was the tallest man in his own army. When Saul became king, it says that Saul stood head and shoulders above all the men in the army of Israel.
Actually, having Saul come out and fight was exactly what the Philistines were hoping for. They knew that Goliath could kill him easily. And as it says in the story, if Goliath won, then everyone in Israel would automatically become the slaves of the Philistines.
So, the Philistines were betting on a sure thing.
Goliath was the nearest thing in that day to a human tank. He was not only a physical giant, but he was totally covered with heavy armor. He was huge and invulnerable. Just to see Goliath and hear his voice had the bravest men in Israel’s army shaking in their boots and running away. Which, of course, was the whole idea.
It says that the two armies came out and faced each other across the valley, every day for forty days. That’s a detail, but it’s an important one.
When the people of Israel wandered out in the desert, looking for the Promised land, how many years were they out there? 40 years.
Back in the days of Noah, when the rain came down, how long did it rain for? 40 days and 40 nights.
40 is always a big number in these Bible story. It’s kind of like a long drum roll It says that something big is happening, and it usually says that God is about to get into the game somehow.
So, every day for 40 days, they had this daily confrontation, with Goliath coming out and saying, “I double dog dare you! Step up and fight me!”
Day after day this happened. After a while, it would start to wear on people. And remember, this wasn’t just a playground contest to see who could win all the marbles. The losers would become slaves forever, with their families and everyone in their whole country.
Now, Israel had had a belly full of slavery. They knew exactly what it was like. It took them four hundred years to get free again, and they didn’t do it on their own. it took God and Moses and miracles to get free.
And here comes Goliath, this monster, this human tank, backed by a whole army of enemies. Israel certainly had a giant problem. As they stared at the other army, they must have thought to themselves, “This is the valley of the shadow of death!”
Then along comes David. He’s a young man. Really still just a kid. He’s the youngest of his brothers, and the smallest one at that. But he had a great heart, and he believed in all those stories about how God saves people.
Everybody thought David was crazy. There wasn’t a single person, in either army, who would have bet on David.
Saul thought he would do David a favor. Got him all dressed up in his own armor and gave him his own sword. But David took them off again. Everyone knows that even a king’s sword and king’s armor are useless, when you’re fighting a giant.
So, David ran up to the front, and the giant laughed at him. “What are you doing?” he said. “You’re sending a shepherd boy with a stick to fight me? You’re sending me a song writer and a poet? Fee, fi, foe fum! I’ll break your bones, and leave you for the crows to pick at!”
But David had two things going for him. The first thing was, this wasn’t his first fight. He’d fought lions before, and killed them. He might have been afraid – probably was – but he’d fought fiercer enemies, and won.
The second thing David had, was his faith in God. The other side had a giant fighting for them. Israel had the Lord. David knew which was greater.
On his way out to face Goliath, David stopped and picked out 5 smooth stones from the banks of the creek, and put them in his bag. He came running to meet the giant, and – well, you all know the rest of the story.
Even today, the smart money is usually still on the giant. But because of David, we still like the underdog. We hate the big bully, and we put our hope in the little guy.
There’s a lot of proverbs that come out of this story. You’ve all heard the one, “The bigger they are, the harder they fall.”
You could also make up a proverb, that 40 days of fear and anxiety, just go away in a single moment. Or you could make up a proverb and say, “Be sure you take careful aim. Don’t just throw a bunch of rocks. Hit your target.”
Or, “Don’t try to wear somebody else’s armor. Don’t try to fight with somebody else’s sword.”
But most of all, if you’ve got a giant problem, don’t forget that God is greater. As one of the prophets, Elisha, said, “Those who are with us are more than those who are with the other side.”
Or as David said, “You fight with sword and spear and javelin; but I come against you in the name of the living God.. . .”
Who’s bigger? Goliath, or God?
This story may also help us to understand a little more about Jesus. People wonder, how could Jesus be so calm, when he knew what was facing him?
Jesus might have been scared. I think maybe he was. But Jesus knew that God is greater than any giant we can ever face. Even death, the biggest, baddest giant of them all – God is greater even than death.
Or as Paul said, “If God is for us, who can be against us? It is Christ Jesus, who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who prays for us. We are more than conquerors through him who loved us. I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, height, depth or anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 8:31-39)
If you’ve got a giant problem, God can deal with it. You’re not fighting on your own. God is bigger than any problem you’ll ever face in your entire life.