David: From Shepherd to King
July 22 - Five Smooth Stones
OLD TESTAMENT READING 1 Samuel 17:1-19, GW
17 The Philistines assembled their armies for war. They assembled at Socoh, which is in Judah, and camped between Socoh and Azekah at Ephes Dammim. 2 So Saul and the army of Israel assembled and camped in the Elah Valley. They formed a battle line to fight the Philistines. 3 The Philistines were stationed on a hill on one side, and the Israelites were stationed on a hill on the other side. There was a ravine between the two of them.
4 The Philistine army’s champion came out of their camp. His name was Goliath from Gath. He was ten feet tall. 5 He had a bronze helmet on his head, and he wore a bronze coat of armor scales weighing 125 pounds. 6 On his legs he had bronze shin guards and on his back a bronze javelin. 7 The shaft of his spear was like the beam used by weavers. The head of his spear was made of 15 pounds of iron. The man who carried his shield walked ahead of him.
8 Goliath stood and called to the Israelites, “Why do you form a battle line? Am I not a Philistine, and aren’t you Saul’s servants? Choose a man, and let him come down to fight me. 9 If he can fight me and kill me, then we will be your slaves. But if I overpower him and kill him, then you will be our slaves and serve us.” 10 The Philistine added, “I challenge the Israelite battle line today. Send out a man so that we can fight each other.” 11 When Saul and all the Israelites heard what this Philistine said, they were gripped with fear.
12 David was a son of a man named Jesse from the region of Ephrath and the city of Bethlehem in Judah. Jesse had eight sons, and in Saul’s day he was an old man. 13 Jesse’s three oldest sons joined Saul’s army for the battle. The firstborn was Eliab, the second was Abinadab, the third was Shammah, 14 and David was the youngest. The three oldest joined Saul’s army. 15 David went back and forth from Saul’s camp to Bethlehem, where he tended his father’s flock.
16 Each morning and evening for 40 days, the Philistine came forward and made his challenge.
17 Jesse told his son David, “Take this half-bushel of roasted grain and these ten loaves of bread to your brothers. Take them to your brothers in the camp right away. 18 And take these ten cheeses to the captain of the regiment. See how your brothers are doing, and bring back some news about them. 19 They, along with Saul and all the soldiers of Israel, are in the Elah Valley fighting the Philistines.”
PSALTER Psalm 57:1-3, NLT
Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy!
I look to you for protection.
I will hide beneath the shadow of your wings
until the danger passes by.
2 I cry out to God Most High,
to God who will fulfill his purpose for me.
3 He will send help from heaven to rescue me,
disgracing those who hound me.
My God will send forth his unfailing love and faithfulness.
NEW TESTAMENT GOSPEL Luke 10:18-20, NCV
18 Jesus said, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. 19 Listen, I have given you power to walk on snakes and scorpions, power that is greater than the enemy has. So nothing will hurt you. 20 But you should not be happy because the spirits obey you but because your names are written in heaven.”
NEW TESTAMENT EPISTLE Romans 12:14-21, NCV
14 Wish good for those who harm you; wish them well and do not curse them. 15 Be happy with those who are happy, and be sad with those who are sad. 16 Live in peace with each other. Do not be proud, but make friends with those who seem unimportant. Do not think how smart you are.
17 If someone does wrong to you, do not pay him back by doing wrong to him. Try to do what everyone thinks is right. 18 Do your best to live in peace with everyone. 19 My friends, do not try to punish others when they wrong you, but wait for God to punish them with his anger. It is written: “I will punish those who do wrong; I will repay them,” says the Lord. 20 But you should do this:
“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
if he is thirsty, give him a drink.
Doing this will be like pouring burning coals on his head.” (Proverbs 25:21–22)
21 Do not let evil defeat you, but defeat evil by doing good.
Happy are those who delight in the Word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God!
SERMON What Giants Do You Face?
We know the story of David and Goliath. It's one of the stories included in every children's Bible Story book. It comes up at least once every three years in Sunday School curriculum and sometimes in Vacation Bible School. Preacher Louie Giglio distinctly remembers it being the focus at youth camp. I directed it once as a children's musicial, "David and the Giants" published by Chorister's Guild. It's often used to tell us that we can overcome all the gigantic issues in our lives if we have God on our side.
As our Wednesday Evening Group discovered from Louie Giglio's book, there's another way to look at it. I'll share that with you this morning.
First let's take a good look at this giant from Gath named Goliath. English translations don't agree on how tall he is. One said almost 7 feet; the one I read today says 10 feet, most are 9 feet or more. So, let's agree he was taller than either Mike or Tom, by another couple feet or more. His armor's coat weighed 125 pounds plus helmet and shin guards. He carried a spear with a heavy wooden beam shaft and a 15 pound iron head. This was a strong solidly built man. I'm imagining what the shield for such a man must have been like, also large and heavy. I don't think I even want to come up against the man carrying that in front of him, let alone the giant himself.
This Goliath was the champion of the Philistine army, so he must have been a good fighter. The way he was taunting the Israelites, I'd say he was a bit of a bully, too. I can picture the rest of the Philistine army behind him, like the gang of kids in a drama hanging behind the school bully, partly to bolster their own ego and partly to avoid becoming his victims. Whether they realize it or not, the ringleader also needs them; you're not the boss without a posse.
So there's Goliath, bragging and challenging the Israelites, showing off his own strength and the range of an army behind him. There stand the Israelites, quaking in their boots. Day after day after day.
It's like a myth out of legend or a scene from Lord of the Rings. It feels as relevant as King Arthur and the knights of the round table, a great story, but not part of our every day reality. Or is it? Our giants, our enemies don't look like a Philistine army. They come in other shapes and sizes. Some might be human, but most of them are circumstances or attitudes, health or justice issues, personal or social, just as strong and just as fearsome. They taunt us like bullies, sometimes on a daily basis, and some days they leave us quaking in our boots or shaken to the depths of our being.
In his book, Goliath Must Fall, Giglio names five categories of giants many people face, perhaps one of those categories is the region from which your giant and his army come. You would recognize rejection, fear, anger, and addictions as giant concerns that could foster all kinds of negative responses in our lives. I found one of my giants hiding in the category of comfort, something we don't often realize can become an enemy to our spiritual growth or our service to God.
What giants do you face? Grief? Guilt? Anxiety? Regret? For some it is a health concern, for others some type of loss, for some it may be depression, for many it is some form of change. It may be something still haunting you out of your past, it may be something you are dealing with in the present, it may be something you are worriedly anticipating in the future or just the fact that you don't know what the future will bring. There may be a person you don't know how to get along with or a problem you can't solve or a situation you are powerless to change. Giants, as I said, come in many shapes and sizes. They taunt us and challenge us to do battle. At one point in the study I was facing my fear of doctors. Later I was battling depression. None of us are immune, we all face giant concerns or frustrations at some points in our lives. When we stand before these concerns shaking in fear and quaking in our boots, their power over us grows to gigantic proportions until the molehill becomes a mountain we can't climb.
But not every Israelite responded the way King Saul and his army did. While they just sat around listening to Goliath's challenge every day unable to move against him, David showed up to bring his brothers some food from home, sent on this errand by dad. Most of David's life at that age was spent in the field caring for the sheep, talking to God and even singing God's praise. As we remember the story and will hear again continuing his story next week, David was used to defending the sheep from their natural enemies even lions and bears with his club or his sling. David was not used to hearing giants insult his God, nor was he willing to stand still for that.
When your giants attack you, they too are insulting your God and your faith. God is bigger than your giants; I don't care how enormous they might be. I remember a conversation with a young boy whom I babysat in college. He asked me how big God is. Is God bigger than a truck? Bigger than a house? Yes, and bigger still! To my way of thinking, the God who created the universe is bigger and more powerful than the entire universe. Therefore, God is bigger than any problem or condition or situation or enemy. David stepped out in faith to defend God's reputation, not in his own strength, but in God's power and might. David knew that God was bigger than Goliath, just as God is bigger than whatever giant you face.
Just as Goliath sent out a loud daily challenge to the Israelites, so our giants torment us. Max Lucado writes, "First thought of the morning, last worry of the night--your Goliath dominates your day and infiltrates your joy." (Facing Your Giants, p. 3) The things that haunt us, the things that worry us, the pain or the memory that won't leave us alone, the person that nags or annoys us, when we focus on these giants they steal our joy and spoil our days.
But the secret to facing giants is to not focus on the giant. Instead focus on God. Instead of rehearsing the list of ways the giant is causing you distress, repeat the many ways God has helped you in the past. Count your gratefuls. Look at the history of God's people in Psalm 136, all the things God brought them through, and write your own personal version or a version that suits your family, your community. Consider the Jewish passover tradition of reciting the Dayenu. It means it would have been enough. It would have been enough if God had just done this, but God also did this. It continues on adding more and more stanzas, like reading the House that Jack Built. For every line of what God has done, the community remembers yet one more thing for which to give God their thanks. David faced Goliath remembering that God helped him overcome a lion and a bear. Remembering that God is the source of our strength and our rescue gives us the courage to face what we must.
As our giants taunt us, let's remember the psalm we read today. Cry out to God Most High, ask God to fulfill his divine purpose in us and through us. Whether God needs to rescue us and defend us or strengthen and sustain us, "God will send forth his unfailing love and faithfulness" to us. (Psalm 57:3b)
God is our champion. Consider Paul standing up to the Roman Empire by encouraging Christians to be strong in their faith. Even when they were persecuted or oppressed he urged them not to take revenge in their own hands, but to live out the teachings of Jesus, to feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, even to their perceived enemy, to overcome evil with good. That positive style of resistence puts the fate of the enemy in God's hands where it belongs whatever that enemy. David didn't take on Goliath alone. David only came toward Goliath in God's strength.
Here's the twist Louie Giglio discovered in the story of David and Goliath. We aren't David in this story. The role of David is fulfilled by Jesus. Who became the kingly heir God promised to David's dynasty? Jesus! Who became the ultimate shepherd of God's people? Jesus! Who is able to take down our giants? Jesus!
God knows each and every giant you face, knows them inside and out far better than you do. God already knows how to defeat the enemy and has. Giglio started his book with the story as a teenager of defending camp against snakes in the swamp. Even after killing it, the body still flopped around, and the head had to be buried, so the fangs couldn't eject the last of their venom into a victim. Evil is like that. Jesus has already defeated the Enemy, but evil still flops around in our world trying to inject its poison into any victim it can reach. God doesn't send you out to battle evil alone; the battle belongs to the Lord. Jesus goes with you, goes before you, to help you defeat your giants whatever they may be.
Rejected? Jesus claims you.
Depressed? Jesus lifts you.
Scared? Jesus protects you.
Addicted? Jesus helps you break free.
Too comfortable? Jesus challenges you.
Guilty? Jesus forgives you.
Hurting? Jesus heals you.
Sad? Jesus comforts you.
Angry? Jesus can right the wrongs.
Anxious? Jesus can bring you peace.
Struggling? Jesus rescues you.
In pain? Jesus holds you.
Here's the spoiler alert for next week's message, one bit of a verse in the good news from John: "In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! [Jesus said] I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33b) As you admit to yourself in coming days, what giants have taunted and threatened you, remember this, that Jesus is your giant slayer, and together, you can overcome them all.
Let me share with you the prayer that hangs in my home, "Lord, help me to remember that nothing is going to happen to me today that you and I together can't handle." Don't begin and end your day listening to the giant concerns that bully you. Instead, begin and end your day with that prayer, asking and trusting that God can help you handle whatever you must face.
rtfelt attitude God is looking for; God can work with that!
Books behind this series:
Max Lucado. Facing Your Giants. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2006
Max Lucado. Facing Your Giants. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2006