The Goliath in our lives

"Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living God?"

1 Samuel 17: 26

Recently a mass was discovered in the brain of a close friend. He is the pastor of a church near here. Surgery is scheduled at the Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa. He is a young man by my standards and without a doubt he is facing the greatest battle of his life.

I will be preaching in his pulpit next Sunday and the plan at this point is to speak on 1 Samuel 17; the story of David and Goliath. The giant Goliath was six cubits tall (nine feet), he wore a coat of armor and had a spear like a weaver's beam and an iron spear head weighing 15 pounds. His shield bearer went before him.

The young shepherd boy, David, was the son of Jesse of the tribe of Judah and would become the king of Israel. He would also write the books of Psalms and lead Israel to many victories in battle (2 Sam 8:1-18). He also became the father of Solomon, known as the wisest man to ever live (1 Kings 3: 12).

David was keeping his sheep when his father sent for him. The soldiers of God were on a hill across the Valley of Elah from the camped Philistines. Each day for forty days in the morning and evening, Goliath would issue a challenge to the Israelite army. 1 Samuel 17: 8b-9 "Am I not a Philistine, and you the servants of Saul? Choose a man for yourselves, and let him come down to me. If he is able to fight with me and kill me, then we will be your servants. But if I prevail against him and kill him, then you shall be our servants and serve us."

David was in the field tending his sheep. His father Jesse sent for him and said, "Go to the battle and take your brothers grain and bread and report back to me their well-being." Just as David arrived at the camp, the Philistine giant came forth and issued his challenge.

David's response was immediate and determined; he would fight the giant and he knew his God would give him the victory. 1 Samuel 17: 26b "Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living God?" David's anger and determination was obvious, immediate and strong.

David would do battle with the Philistine giant. He walked down to the branch in the valley and picked up five smooth stones. He only needed one. Many sermons have been preached as to why he picked up five stones but they are only speculation. We, however, do not know exactly why the extra four.

David hurled the stone at the giant. It buried into Goliath's forehead and he fell dead. David then used Goliath's own massive sword to decapitate him. The Philistines fled and Goliath's head was presented to King Saul.

My dad told me the story of David and Goliath about sixty-five years ago, and described the sling David used to kill the giant. I'm sure you already know I had to make one! It was a leather strip, about four feet long, with a pouch in the center and a loop on one end. The stone was placed in the pouch, then slung on the leather strip and the second strip released to allow the stone to speed away.

After attempting to propel a rock at a target, I'm absolutely convinced, God guided David's projectile. I couldn't hit the "broad side of a barn" with my sling.

The sermon will be the story in 1 Samuel 17, and a subsequent sermon may be "The Lessons from the story of David and Goliath."

Perhaps those lessons will materialize into another article. I have sat here tonight and through Google and brainstorming with Margie, we've listed thirty-one lessons learned. As in many Bible stories, the underlying implications far outnumber the obvious.

I'm thinking back on my teaching years and wish I'd used this Bible story with my students. It would be politically incorrect now but I could have used it then. The lessons from David's faith and determination are virtually endless.

His diminutive size or age or lack of equipment did not deter David. He was steadfast in his belief the God of Israel would give him the victory over Goliath. His belief in God was foremost but he also had faith in himself and his sling.

The giant was intimidating to the other soldiers in the Israelite army. They were so afraid they had not thought to trust God for a victory. Eliab, David's own brother, was more discouraging to him than anyone else. Never allow others to dishearten you. In so many cases like Eliab, their only motive is jealously.

The lessons of obedience, trusting God, self-worth, responsibility and even the type A personality characteristic of "taking the bull by the horns" and getting the job done attitude are keys to success in many of life's endeavors.

David was successful beyond our abilities to comprehend. The power of God when giving Him our unbridled faith and trust is limitless.

My friend in Tampa tonight I know is praying and giving God the glory for a successful surgery. He is facing the most horrific giant of his life. Perhaps someone reading this is facing such a giant right now. We have all faced them in the past and very likely will again.

My prayer right now is that the mass is not malignant. Regardless of the outcome, we will have victory over death and the grave. God Jesus has given us eternity. The giants will never win.