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David & Goliath

1 Samuel 17:1-11 

"The Philistines now mustered their army for battle and camped between Socoh in Judah and Azekah at Ephes-dammim. [2] Saul countered by gathering his troops near the valley of Elah. [3] So the Philistines and Israelites faced each other on opposite hills, with the valley between them. 

[4] Then Goliath, a Philistine champion from Gath, came out of the Philistine ranks to face the forces of Israel. He was a giant of a man, measuring over nine feet tall! [5] He wore a bronze helmet and a coat of mail that weighed 125 pounds. [6] He also wore bronze leggings, and he slung a bronze javelin over his back. [7] The shaft of his spear was as heavy and thick as a weaver's beam, tipped with an iron spearhead that weighed fifteen pounds. An armor bearer walked ahead of him carrying a huge shield. 

[8] Goliath stood and shouted across to the Israelites, 'Do you need a whole army to settle this? Choose someone to fight for you, and I will represent the Philistines. We will settle this dispute in single combat! [9] If your man is able to kill me, then we will be your slaves. But if I kill him, you will be our slaves! [10] I defy the armies of Israel! Send me a man who will fight with me!' [11] When Saul and the Israelites heard this, they were terrified and deeply shaken."

In this passage, the Philistines unleash the first "Shock & Awe" military campaign. Every morning and evening for 40 days, (1 Samuel 17:16) Goliath paralyzed the armies of God. No doubt, he was an intimidating presence-all nine feet of him. Have you noticed that they just don't make giants like they used to? Yao Ming, the Chinese giant, plays center for the Houston Rockets. He was the first draft pick last year and came in second for the NBA Rookie of the Year award in 2002-03. No one would argue that he isn't a large man, but at just 7 foot 6 inches, he would be no match for Goliath who had eighteen inches on him. (http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/basketball/news/2003/07/22/yao_hurt_ap) Since most door jams are 6 foot 8 inches tall, the top of the jam would hit him about chest high and since most ceilings are at 8 foot, his head would be in the attic. This was a large man. Is it any wonder that he paralyzed the army of Israel? Look at their response in 1 Samuel 17:23-24, "As he was talking with them, he saw Goliath, the champion from Gath, come out from the Philistine ranks, shouting his challenge to the army of Israel. [24] As soon as the Israelite army saw him, they began to run away in fright." (NTL) At this point in the message, we usually make an allegory out of this narrative and talk about the giant problems we face in our lives, but I don't want us to go there. Just let the impact of the sheer size of this man and his intimidating presence sink in. Let's remain in the biblical narrative for a while longer without making any snap applications. Now be honest, would you have been intimidated if you were there?

Look at young David's response in 1 Samuel 17:26 when he asked the key question, "Who is this pagan Philistine anyway, that he is allowed to defy the armies of the living God?" (NLT) David wasn't intimidated. Why? Well for one, he knew his God was bigger-he had faith. But he also had a humble confidence in his ability to defeat the giant. Listen to what he told the king in 1 Samuel 17:32-37 "'Don't worry about a thing,' David told Saul. 'I'll go fight this Philistine!'

[33] 'Don't be ridiculous!' Saul replied. 'There is no way you can go against this Philistine. You are only a boy, and he has been in the army since he was a boy!' 

[34] But David persisted. 'I have been taking care of my father's sheep,' he said. 'When a lion or a bear comes to steal a lamb from the flock, [35] I go after it with a club and take the lamb from its mouth. If the animal turns on me, I catch it by the jaw and club it to death. [36] I have done this to both lions and bears, and I'll do it to this pagan Philistine, too, for he has defied the armies of the living God! [37] The Lord who saved me from the claws of the lion and the bear will save me from this Philistine!' Saul finally consented. 'All right, go ahead,' he said. 'And may the Lord be with you!'" (NLT)

Saul quickly dismissed David's offer as youthful arrogance, but soon learned it wasn't that at all. David had faced overwhelming odds before and won. I said that David had humble confidence, look at verse 37-David understood that it was God that gave him the victory against the beasts that threatened his father's flocks and it is God that will give him the victory against the beast that is threatening his heavenly Father's army. 

David had faith and confidence, but he had more than that, he had a strategic advantage. Goliath was an impossible foe in hand to hand combat, or close quarters fighting, but he had a vulnerability. Let's pick up the biblical narrative again at 1 Samuel 17:40 to see what happened next. "He picked up five smooth stones from a stream and put them in his shepherd's bag. Then, armed only with his shepherd's staff and sling, he started across to fight Goliath." Thinking in terms of conventional warfare, David was totally unprepared, but David wasn't going to fight by the rules Goliath was prepared to fight by. David, shrewdly played to his strength and exploited Goliath's weaknesses. Goliath had no idea what was in store for him as David approached. Listen as I read, 1 Samuel 17:40 41-51. "Goliath walked out toward David with his shield bearer ahead of him, [42] sneering in contempt at this ruddy-faced boy. [43] 'Am I a dog,' he roared at David, 'that you come at me with a stick?' And he cursed David by the names of his gods. [44] 'Come over here, and I'll give your flesh to the birds and wild animals!' Goliath yelled. 

[45] David shouted in reply, '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, whom you have defied. [46] Today the Lord will conquer you, and I will kill you and cut off your head. And then I will give the dead bodies of your men to the birds and wild animals, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel! [47] And everyone will know that the Lord does not need weapons to rescue his people. It is his battle, not ours. The Lord will give you to us!' 

[48] As Goliath moved closer to attack, David quickly ran out to meet him. [49] Reaching into his shepherd's bag and taking out a stone, he hurled it from his sling and hit the Philistine in the forehead. The stone sank in, and Goliath stumbled and fell face downward to the ground. [50] So David triumphed over the Philistine giant with only a stone and sling. And since he had no sword, [51] he ran over and pulled Goliath's sword from its sheath. David used it to kill the giant and cut off his head. When the Philistines saw that their champion was dead, they turned and ran." (NLT)

Before Goliath got within range to strike David, David launched a stone at the Giant. God directed the stone to hit Goliath at a point of vulnerability and David used the giant's own sword to kill the giant, which in turn set the enemy to flight.

There are a few things I want you to notice about this victory before we close this morning. First, that this great victory occurred while David was a young person. The church is frittering away one of its greatest assets if it insists on viewing young people as the church's future instead of fully vested members of the church of today. As I look back over the seasons of my ministry, I take satisfaction in several things. It would be self serving for me to begin listing them and I don't want to do that, but please allow me to mention one. I led my first person to the Lord when I was eight and I don't believe there has been a year go by since that I haven't prayed with at least one person to accept Christ. I became a pastor while I was still a teenager and had the single greatest year of evangelism when I was 21. That year I prayed with over 200 people who accepted Christ. Don't underestimate what young people can do for the cause of Christ. Paul wrote, "Let no one look down on your youthfulness, but rather in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity, show yourself an example of those who believe." (1 Tim. 4:12 NASB)

Second, David was clearly following God's will for his life as he understood it. He wasn't trying to make a name for himself or ascend to greatness. David was simply obeying God. Young people, as I challenge you to do great things for God, remember I'm asking you to follow His will for your life. It may mean you kill giants and make the headlines. Or it may mean you live an obscure, difficult life, but remain faithful to your God.

Third, listen to other people's advice, but follow your heart. David didn't wear Saul's armor into battle, he used the tools of warfare that he had mastered. If you are a person after God's own heart, like David was, following your heart isn't such a bad thing.

Are you a person after God's own heart? You can be. Take all your personal ambitions, desires and plans and set them aside. With a clean slate, commit yourself wholeheartedly to God today. Exchange your will for His and feverishly pursue your relationship with Him. It all begins with surrendering to His Lordship. Have you ever confessed Him as your Lord? If not, why not do so today. 

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