1 Samuel 17:1-11
“1 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 Israelite 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 over nine feet tall! 5 He wore a bronze helmet, and his bronze coat of mail weighed 125 pounds. 6 He also wore bronze leg armor, and he carried a bronze javelin on his shoulder. 7 The shaft of his spear was as heavy and thick as a weaver’s beam, tipped with an iron spearhead that weighed 15 pounds. His armor bearer walked ahead of him carrying a shield. 8 Goliath stood and shouted a taunt across to the Israelites. “Why are you all coming out to fight?” he called. “I am the Philistine champion, but you are only the servants of Saul. Choose one man to come down here and fight me! 9 If he kills me, then we will be your slaves. But if I kill him, you will be our slaves! 10 I defy the armies of Israel today! Send me a man who will fight me!” 11 When Saul and the Israelites heard this, they were terrified and deeply shaken.”
At some point in life we all experienced fear, it’s probably the oldest and strongest emotion known to man. Not only does fear keeps us from following God’s plan, but it prevents us from reaching our full potential as His children. Today as we unpack what is probably one of the best-known Bible stories of all time, we need to guard ourselves from an attitude of, “I already know this story.” If we are not careful we can become calloused and even uncaring when it comes to the Word of God. In 1 Samuel 17 we discover that Israel’s arch enemies, the Philistines had gathered for war against God’s people. Verse 3 tells us: “The Philistines occupied one hill and the Israelites another, with the valley between them.” Neither side was willing to give up their high ground, enter the valley and become vulnerable. But you can’t win the war if you stay where you are; you have to budge if you want to win the battle. At some point you have to face your fears and put feet to your faith. Many of us are living lives desperately trying to avoid our fears, yet the very thing we are trying to prevent is what we are perpetuating. The Israelites tried to play it safe by holding up on the hill but the vey place they thought would protect them actually became their prison. Trying to play it safe, stay where you are and just staring at your fear is not going to work. Many of us live defeated lives simply because we refuse to deploy and deal with the fears. As we walk through this war together we will see several strategies that will help us go from setback to success, from being stuck to stepping out onto the valley and meeting our fears head-on. First you need to:
- Define your problem
Verses 4-7 describe the Philistine champion Goliath, a giant that was over two feet taller than Shaquille O’Neal. Not only was he big but he decked out for battle, with body armor weighing 125 pounds and armed with a javelin, a sword and a shield. Don’t be surprised if the enemy always seems well armed. Not only was he big but he was a bully that challenged God’s people and blasphemed against God. In verses 8-10, Goliath lays out his challenge. “This day I defy the ranks of Israel! Give me a man and let us fight each other.” This word “defy” is used six different times in this passage and means to treat others with scorn, to sneer at them as you ridicule and humiliate them. Not only was this giant of a problem big but he wasn’t going to leave easily. Verse 16 says that Goliath challenged them 80 times, every morning and every night for 40 days. In the Bible, 40 days is often associated with intense periods of testing and trials. Day after day they listened to the same discouraging message. Some of you are listening repeatedly to that same old recording that plays over and over in your head. It’s the constant message of defeat that creates discouragement and fills you with fear. It’s the message that causes you to flee when you should fight, it’s the message that causes you to worry when you should be waging war. So because no one wanted to engage this enormous giant, day after day he just got bigger and bigger. They chose to focus on fear instead of faith and as a result they fled, verse 24 says, “…they all ran away in great fear.” Some of you are trying to run from your fears, but you can’t run fast enough and they are running over you. Facing your fears means dealing with intimidation and that is a big part of battle. The enemy loves to intimidate so that we give in before we ever get in. Fear can consume our focus to the point where we don’t even see God the Father. It can consume us to the point where it’s the first thing that floods our thoughts in the morning and the last thing that fills our mind before bed. Your Goliath probably isn’t armed with a sword and a shield, instead he comes at you with the weapons of worry, doubt and discouragement, throwing your past failures and fears in your face. Burying you in an overwhelming avalanche of feelings of abandonment or drowning you in a sea of depression. Attacking you with health scares or worry over your spouse and kids. Your giant doesn’t parade up and down the hills of Elah instead he struts around your home, showing up and shouting at you in your school. He wars with you at work and overwhelm you at the office. He loves to blast you with a barrage of bills you can’t pay, or gut you with guilt over the grades you didn’t get. He plagues you with pornography, and attacks you with your addictions, pushing you around and putting you down over things you didn’t say no to. In what area do you feel most intimidated and overwhelmed? What fear are you facing right now? What problem is it that is paralyzing you? You need to define your problem but don’t stop there, give it a name but don’t live with shame. David defined the problem when he said: “who is this uncircumcised Philistine?” Alcoholics Anonymous has seen successful because they ask people to define the giant they are dealing with. Be specific, David named the problem. You can’t battle the enemy until you name and know who the enemy is. What is the fear that you are facing? Second:
- Be prepared not scared
It is here that David the youngest brother steps onto the scene. He had been out taking care of sheep but now his father sends him to the battlefield to bring food to his brothers. Regardless of the mission whether great or small, be it simply bringing his brothers supplied or slaying the giant, we see David faithfully fulfilling his task. Many of us want to be faithful in the big things yet we won’t be faithful in the small ones. After leaving his sheep in the care of another shepherd he delivers five pounds of roasted grain, ten loaves of bread, and ten chunks of cheese 18 miles from Bethlehem to the Elah Valley. Even though David didn’t know exactly what he would be walking into he knew there was a war going on and he showed up prepared. Chapter 16 reveals that David was prepared spiritually for it says that “…the Spirit of the Lord came upon David in power.” It is also important to note that David’s past experiences also prepared him for this present challenge. Because as David speaks with King Saul, he is able to look back to his previous battles and remember that he has not only faced and fought both a lion and a bear but successfully defeated them. As he remembers these previous victories he also remembers who gave him the victory then and who will deliver him now, verse 37: “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.” David looked to God’s faithfulness in the past as an indication of His faithfulness in the future. Don’t discount what God is doing in your life right now, the problems you’re going through right now might be His provision for future fights. God doesn’t just prepare us He positions us, to face and fight future battles. We need to be filled with His power and faithful to His plan. Everything David accomplishes was only possible through God’s power. Notice that it’s not based on age it’s based on the Almighty, David was a teenage shepherd not a trained soldier like his opponent Goliath. The Almighty is always greater than your adversary. As a soldier Goliath trusted in His armor but David trusted in the Almighty. Goliath boasted in his strength Davis boasted in his Savior. Goliath relied on self, David submitted to God. Don’t look down or despise those who are young because teenagers who trust God can not only tangle with giants but can terminate them. I love what Paul told his young understudy in 1 Timothy 4:12: “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity.” David was chosen for his character, not for his credentials. It was about his faith, not his physique. Today are you going to focus on your giants and stumble, or focus on God and watch the giants tumble? Today take some time to define the fear and second stop showing up scared and start seeing how God has previously prepared and positioned you to win the war.