May Only God’s word be spoken and only God’s word be heard – in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit – Amen
David and Goliath
One of the most well known stories of the bible - Basic reading for every Sunday school class
The story is so well known that David and Goliath have been made into stereo-types
The proto-typical giant and the proto-typical underdog
One doesn’t need to look much farther than sporting events to see the stereo-type in play
Whenever there is a over-whelmingly dominate team or athlete
Up against an unequally matched rival but that has made it to the match because they are playing with a lot of heart
We have a David and Goliath story
Like so many of the Bible’s “greatest hits” like: Adam and Eve, Jonah and the Whale, Daniel and the Lion’s den, the prodigal son, Good Friday or Easter – David and Goliath appears on the surface to be a story very well known
However, up until this point, I haven’t spent time really looking deeply into the story
I thought I knew all I needed to know about the story
Well, I got surprised this week and I think you might too
The first thing I want to say about the story is that God certainly does have a sense of humour
When I looked at the details of the story deeper, I saw the complete absurdity of the situation
It is truly a tale of biblical proportions
It is also a story that greatly matches our story of David last week
Even the key message of last week is reiterated between the lines this week
Last week we were told of the selection of David by God through the prophet Samuel to be the future king of Israel
Last week we had the clandestine visit of Samuel and the public anointing of David
This week we have the God’s selection of David all over again
And a public display of that anointing
The key message last week was clearly outlined in scripture, repeats again today
But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for the Lord does not see as mortals see; they look on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”
Let’s consider some of the absurd details that only God could put together
First God didn’t want the Israelites to have a king – God told Samuel that this need to have a king like all the neighbouring countries was an act of a ‘lack of faith’
That the people of Israel had the one true God that has chosen them to be a people set apart, to do His purposes, to be a model for the nations, to attract others to understand that the Israelite God is God – to fear and respect
And wanting a substitution to that authority was an act of a lack of faith
Even still God acted through Samuel and choose Saul
A handsome, tall, natural leader by all accounts
Only Saul was human and made some foolish decisions that revealed his lack of faith and so God’s spirit departs from him and David is selected (as we heard last week)
After this Saul is but a shell of his former self, and even though he remains King he is slowly deteriorating both in body and mind
So the first absurd detail is that God’s chosen people are being lead by a man that is losing his mind
Next detail is that even though the Israelites and the Philistines have been battling off and on for some time we are faced with a battle that neither really wanted
Both are camped out on neighbouring hills – both suit up for battle each day, and then each day they head out to the neutral field staring across from each other and then nothing happens
Except the taunting of Goliath – for 40 days
Now it is true, that it was common in ancient cultures to sometimes have individual representatives fight on behalf of a whole people
But the fact that it happened at the battle between the two nations when they have been fighting for so long – and the fact that this battle was within a morning walking distance to David’s home
Makes this in horse racing terms “a real long shot”
Now let’s get into the really absurd details
Goliath is said to be 9 foot, 9 – literally a giant – by today’s standards he would make a formidable foe on the basketball court – not needing to leave the ground and only needing to reach 3 inches over his head to dunk the ball
His armour alone was 125 pounds – David as a youth probably weighted about 125 lbs
Then there is the head of his spear, just the head –weighed 25lbs
Today’s big men of track and field, the shot putters, throw a 16 lb ball
… so that’s the absurd giant – Goliath
Now David had countless obstacles to being at the right place at the right time – something only God could orchestrate – many of which you will see the parallels to last week’s story
David was the youngest of Jesse’s eight sons – only the three oldest were old enough to be part of Saul’s army - like last week’s where due to David’s age, he wasn’t even invited to the banquet – here 4 older brothers before him aren’t even part of the army
And he doesn’t have any army training therefore no typical army skills
He is a shepherd boy, tending his father’s flock, a number of miles away from the place where the two armies are facing off with each other
Jesse sends young David on an errand – also like last week, David is drawn away from his duties with one intention and yet another presents itself
“Take for your brothers this parched grain and these ten loaves, and carry them quickly to the camp to your brothers; also take these ten cheeses to the commander of their thousand. See how your brothers fare, and bring some token from them”
When David arrives at the camp he has just missed his brothers – they have headed out to the battle front lines – so instead of a incident free errand of dropping some food and then reporting home on the status of his brothers, David must go out to the battle front – David must be at the place of God’s selecting
Besides Goliath, David must also get past his older brother, Eliab
Eliab chastises David for being there, makes fun of his little job of shepherding and his little flock (two ironic statements as a shepherd was symbolic of royal leadership and David’s flock as king will grow to be the whole nation)
Now if that were not enough details against David – he has to first obtain official permission by Saul to engage Goliath on the battlefield
You see, if David is to battle Goliath, it is a representative of the whole army – one to serve the whole (certainly messianic foreshadowing of the one who was in the family line of David)
How could this one, too young to serve in the army, going to convince King Saul to risk everything on his efforts in battle against the giant Goliath
So you can see from all that is laid before us that this is truly an absurd story and that God has quite a sense of humour in setting up this whole scenario
But that is of course from the perspective of our human eyes
We see the dramatic contrast between the super-human giant, battle trained and experienced
And the young, inexperienced, 8th son, shepherd, out on an errand
Yet, like our story last week, where one after another God rejects the obvious choices
The Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for the Lord does not see as mortals see; they look on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”
We have before us the classic underdog story – right…?
Well, just when you think you know the all too familiar story, there is a twist…
True – this is a story of an ‘imbalance of power’
– But not in the way that it may have always appeared
This is not a story of the triumphant underdog…
David is not the underdog – Goliath is…
You see the ‘imbalance of power’ is between the biggest giant warrior the world has ever seen, 9 foot 9 - and God…
David is one after God’s own heart
David and God are on the same team
When Goliath cursed the God of the Israelites, this was not like other times, against other nations
This time Goliath found an opponent beyond his imagination
In Genesis 12:3 we have what some call the “Abrahamic Covenant.” There, God says to Abram,
“And I will bless those who bless you, And the one who curses you I will curse. And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed” (Genesis 12:3, NASB)
If it is true that Goliath is both cursing Israel and her God, then if God is a covenant-keeping God, we would expect Goliath to be divinely cursed. Biblically speaking, a dark cloud already hangs over the head of Goliath, the blasphemous Philistine.
A central point of the story is certainly that God's strength is sufficient – but it is so much more than that
And despite what we might have been taught in Sunday school
Where we focus on the battle between David and Goliath – it is really not about that…The sling shot event is only two verses
Nor is solely a story about this being a battle of good over evil
Although Goliath has unwittingly committed the greatest sin – to take the Lord’s name in vain
Nor is this limited to a story that teaches us ‘that it’s not the size of the person but the size of the faith in the person”
Faith is course important – it certainly was vital for David
But ‘blind faith only’ could lead us into dangerous situations
God is not ‘prosperity only’ God
The sun shines on the just and the unjust alike
We can learn so many layers by this story – so many lessons:
Like a better understanding of the doctrine of election
David is selected for God’s purposes
Forget about trying to figure out ‘predestination’ or ‘double predestination’
Or my new favourite understanding of election ‘infinite predestination’ God shows us in the election of David – election for a purpose
That is why Rick Warren’s book “A purpose driven life” is so successful – he has understood and articulated a Godly understanding of the doctrine of election
Election means – purpose
Our text also has much to teach us about leadership, how it is develops, and how it is recognized.
By birth order and family circumstances, David does not appear destined for leadership.
But he is a man after God’s own heart.
God prepares David providentially, as he faithfully carries out his responsibility as a shepherd.
When a lion or a bear attack one of his flock, he rescues it, taking on the bear or the lion to do so. In this process, David learns to trust God and to use the weapons he has been given, a lesson for us as well.
David does not seek leadership; in a sense, it is thrust upon him.
David becomes a leader by being a good follower.
He goes to the battle scene, obeying the instructions of his father.
And when David sees the fear of the Israelites, he begins to seek to do something about it.
When he hears Goliath blaspheme his God and intimidate the armies of the Lord,
David purposes to fight Goliath in the name of the Lord.
David does not seek leadership, but it is thrust upon him and he does not duck his responsibilities.
How menial his shepherding may have seemed at times, but how well God used it to prepare him for facing Goliath in battle.
When we come to David, we come to God’s chosen king.
This is the one whose seed will be the promised Messiah, whose kingdom will have no end.
And so David often provides us with a foreshadowing of Christ - Our text is no exception.
David is a prototype of Christ, as Goliath is a prototype of Satan.
Satan has the whole world trembling in fear of him and of death and all that is death
We, like the Israelites of old, are powerless to defeat him.
What we cannot do for ourselves - Christ has done for us
Just as David fought Goliath for Saul and the Israelites.
Satan has a death grip on lost sinners.
There is nothing we can do to save ourselves.
Jesus came and took on Satan one-on-one, and He won the victory.
David did it by killing Goliath. Jesus did it by being crucified on the cross
But after He died to pay the penalty for our sins, He rose from the grave, triumphant over Satan, death, sin and all that is death.
It was winner take all, and Jesus won by dying and by rising from the dead.
For the Israelites, Goliath is that great big giant, the physical manifestation of an obstacle that seems unbeatable, insurmountable and impossible.
We too, have our Goliaths
Huge problems that we think just might be our undoing
A difficulty so great, that it has you entertaining the thought that you are close to throwing in the towel.
What are your Goliaths - Have you ever met Goliath?
- Perhaps you have met him in the past
- Or maybe Goliath is troubling you even now.
- It could be that he is a vague fearsome figure in your future.
No matter, most of us have a Goliath or two in our lives.
I want to encourage you to confront Goliath today
To deal with this enemy that robs your life of hope and joy
If you pay close attention to the people around you, you will discover that every one of us is now or has in the past been living in Goliath's shadow.
I feel quite safe today in saying that much of the pain in our lives can be traced to the "Goliath Factor."
The Goliath Factor is that something within us that shrinks back in fear or anxiety when life's giant difficulties show up.
I've been there too and it is from biblical truth as well as personal experience that I say to you freedom from Goliath is good news indeed. - Freedom from Goliath is the gospel!
Remember that Jesus the Christ came as one of us – faced all that we face, took on all our Goliaths - As He said in the Garden of Gethsemane
“Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me; yet, not my will but yours be done.”
In obedience he went to the Cross – yet on Easter morn – the victory over death was won – once – and for all – just as David’s victory was for the whole of Israel
Christ’s ‘good news’ victory is for all of us and all of our Goliath’s shadows
And just like David, we are chosen to respond personally - for a purpose
Heavenly Father, May we know the joy that you have before us,
May we accept your gift of freedom from our Goliaths, accept the call to be heirs of your victory,
May we live with purpose that you have chosen for us.
And May we, like David bring glory to your Almighty Name - Amen