Whenever you read a story from the Bible, you will find a person or group who represent God’s friend and a person or group who represents God’s enemy. God’s friend promotes God’s agenda while God’s enemy works to thwart God’s agenda and the conflict between them is the plot of the story. Whenever God’s friend encounter a problem that is too big for him to handle on his own, God intervenes as the Hero of the story.
Whenever God’s friend encounter a problem that is too big for him to handle on his own, God intervenes as the Hero of the story.
You and I are in “story” every day of our lives as we navigate relationships with family, friends, co-workers, and all of the situations and conflict that arise in our lives. The question is: do we represent God’s friend or God’s enemy? Are we promoting or opposing God’s agenda? Because we are sinful humans, we likely experience both as we struggle with our inner conflict to obey God or please ourselves.
Pastor Miles challenged us to make a commitment to learning and growth as we read the Bible. Every time we encounter a friend of God, we have an opportunity to learn about what she did, how she behaved, and how God supported her, which can motivate us to overcome our trials and to be better friends of God in the future.
In 1 Samuel 17, Israel is threatened with war by the Philistines. Every day for 40 days, Goliath, a terrifying giant Philistine warrior, comes down to the valley to challenge the Israelites to a one-on-one fight to the death. If one Israelite solider is able to defeat Goliath, then the Philistines will surrender to the Israelites. Of course, Israel’s king, Saul, is anxious to avoid a bloody war, so he offers extra incentives to anyone brave enough to challenge Goliath. For 40 days, none of the soldiers dares to challenge the giant, but then David, a mere shepherd boy, hears of the challenge and steps up to the task.
At some point in life, every one of us will have giant problems that we cannot fix on our own. By reading about David, we can learn to be giant-killers, too.
1. Giant-killers walk by faith, not by sight. 1 Samuel 17:24-26
David was not influenced by what he saw as much as by what he believed.
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. Hebrews 11:1
“Things seen” are the natural things we can perceive with our senses, but faith goes beyond what we can perceive with our bodies. Faith agrees that God knows things that we don’t know and trusts in Him.
David says in verse 26, “For who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?” He’s not looking with his senses only – he’s looking at Goliath with his faith in God and instead of a giant, he sees an opportunity.
2. Giant-killers know when to grow up. 1 Samuel 17:31-35
David knows it is time to change from a shepherd boy into a giant-killer. He goes to the king and volunteers to fight Goliath for Israel, but King Saul is not sure that this plan will succeed:
And Saul said to David, “You are not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him; for you are a youth, and he a man of war from his youth.”
But David said to Saul, “Your servant used to keep his father’s sheep, and when a lion or a bear came and took a lamb out of the flock, I went out after it and struck it, and delivered the lamb from its mouth; and when it arose against me, I caught it by its beard, and struck and killed it.” 1 Samuel 17:33-35
David tells Saul that he “used to keep” sheep – but he was just keeping sheep that very day when he heard Goliath’s challenge! He has decided that “shepherd” is no longer his identity. He is now a “giant-killer.”
Some of us need to grow up today. We need to stop going to church once in a while and start coming consistently. We need to stop watching people tithe, worship, grow, and serve and start doing those things ourselves. We need to decide to not be afraid anymore, but grow up take on the challenges and identity that God has for us.
3. Giant-Killers give God all the credit. 1 Samuel 17:36-37
David gives God credit for past victories and successes.
“But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God – and righteousness and sanctification and redemption – that, as it is written, He who glories, let him glory in the Lord.” 1 Corinthians 1:30–31
God has helped you through many trials in your life, some of which you may not even be aware. Or maybe you have now forgotten His intervention in times of trouble. It is so important to pay attention to what God is doing and to remember what He has done! This is why in the Old Testament, the Israelites often set up stones of remembrance (e.g. at the parting of the Red Sea or the defeating of an enemy army). This is why Jews celebrate the Passover: to remember God’s gift of salvation and freedom in Egypt.
Pastor Miles keeps a file on his computer entitled “Heart in Throat,” to remind him of all the times he has been incredibly afraid of a situation in his life and how God came through for him.
4. Giant-killers are led by the Spirit. 1 Samuel 17:38-40
Saul gives David heavy armor and weaponry for his battle against the giant, but David decides he can’t do it the way that a solider would. The equipment is too heavy for him, and it’s not what he knows best. So instead, he sets out to defeat a seemingly invincible war hero armed with five stones, a slingshot, and a shepherd’s sack. David fights God’s way, not man’s way.
5. Giant-killers fight in God’s name, for God’s glory, and not their own. 1 Samuel 17:41-47
David relies on God for skill and strength.
Then David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with a sword, with a spear, and with a javelin. But I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the Lord will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you and take your head from you. And this day I will give the carcasses of the camp of the Philistines to the birds of the air and the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel. Then all this assembly shall know that the Lord does not save with sword and spear; for the battle is the Lord’s, and He will give you into our hands.” 1 Samuel 17:45-47
God won’t save you by your money, by resources, or by any other means you have at your own disposal. If you think that all you need is ______ to make it through a trial, you are wrong. All you need is whatever God has for you.
6. Giant-killers are eager to obey God completely. 1 Samuel 17:48-51
David does not stop working until the job is complete.
At some point, we will all face Goliath-sized problems, but we must remember that God is bigger than any Goliath. He is waiting to be the Hero in our story.
When the battle commences, David runs forward and defeats Goliath with the first stone he slings. Then he “ran and stood over the Philistine, took his sword and drew it out of its sheath and killed him, and cut off his head with it.” 1 Samuel 17:51
At some point, we will all face Goliath-sized problems, but we must remember that God is bigger than any Goliath. God has powers and resources that we can never have on our own, and He is waiting to be the Hero in our story, the Hero of His friend.