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Facing Giants

July 29th 2012 by Joel Schultz

Today we hear #3 in our Top 10 Old Testament Bible Story countdown - David and Goliath. Israel faced a giant who was too big for them to handle. We also face giants in our lives. How do we face them? Like David, we face them with the Lord on our side. Read or listen to find out more...

Bible Story Sermon Series – David and Goliath – “Facing Giants”– 1 Samuel 17 – July 29, 2012

Imagine yourself camped on a grassy knoll. Your king’s company has mustered their forces for a fight that has yet to come. Opposite you, a short way off, is the opposing army that seems more than ready to do battle. But their game is patience and psychological warfare. A great valley called Elah separates your two encampments. Below and between you, it spans roughly the length and the width of a football field. And each morning as the mist separates, you see a giant standing down below. His legs are covered with bronze. He wears a coat of bronze scale armor that weighs 125 pounds. In his hand is a spear and its iron point alone weighs 15 pounds. He is over nine feet tall and on top of his head is bronze helmet.

Goliath is his name and he is their champion. He has been a fighting man since his youth. He is a first rate killing machine. And every morning and every evening for forty days comes the same challenge from this Philistine champion. “This day I defy the ranks of Israel! Give me a man and let us fight each other.” You’re scared. Like the rest of the Israelites you feel defeated. You wish it were different. But you just want to run for cover.

We all have giants that we must face – schemes of the devil and this sinful world – Giants that would “deceive us and mislead us into false belief, despair and other great shame and vice,” as Martin Luther writes. And they are unique to each individual, congregation and community. There are even the global giants that impact our lives – natural disasters, poverty, war, genocide and terrorism. There are giants on every level; standing in every valley. You have giants in your life. How do you face those giants?

The Israelites trembled and hid with great fear as Goliath cursed them by his own gods. But the one true God raised up David, a shepherd boy whom He found to be after His own heart. This David would one day replace the unbelieving Saul as king of Israel and would be an ancestor of our Lord Jesus Christ. But here, just a young teenager, a mere boy according to the standards of the day – this David faces the giant.

When facing this giant David did three things. The first thing David did was to see the giant for who and what he truly was. Everyone else saw a fierce, imposing champion – a giant warrior – a killing machine. But David proclaimed: “Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living God?” David saw an unbelieving enemy of God challenging the living God Himself. And next to God, Goliath was nothing! He’s an uncircumcised Philistine! He’s not one of God’s people! He’s on the other side. And though he’s big and menacing and though he looks scary, who is he to defy the armies of the living God?

Listen, I know that you have giants in your life. You have problems so big and they make you feel so small. But what is it? What is it, really when considered in light of your living God? Is it something so big that you must cower with fear? Is it something bigger than God? One time in the New Testament, Jesus was out on a boat with His disciples and a furious storm suddenly came upon them. We can imagine that the disciples quickly became engaged in all sorts of frantic activity while we’re told that Jesus slept in the stern. Suddenly, exasperated and overcome with fear, they holler at Jesus, “Don’t you care if we drown?”

And of course, it wasn’t that Jesus did not care if they drown. Jesus cared about them supremely. He just didn’t care about the storm. What, after all, was the wind and the lightening and the thunder and the waves compared to Him? With a simple word, Jesus was able to quiet the wind and make the sea as clear as glass, without a ripple.

When you face the giants in your life, you have to be looking with the right eyes and with the right understanding. You have to see your giant in light of the power and strength of God. All the other Israelites saw Goliath as a champion too big to fight; David saw a target too big to miss!

When facing this giant, the second thing that David did was to draw upon past experience where God had proven Himself to be with David in the past. Listen to these words that David speaks to King Saul. “Your servant has struck down both the lions and bears, and this uncircumcised Philistine shall be like one of them…the Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.” David is drawing on past experience. He recognizes that in the past God has been with him and this informs his present situation.

When you are facing your giants, you must remember what God has done in your past. Remember the mercy, grace, forgiveness, strength, faith, comfort and love that He has poured out on you. Let the past be a reminder that God is in control and that “in all things God works for the good of those who love Him who have been called according to His purpose” as St. Paul writes in Romans 8. When you face your giants, remember what God has done in your past. How has He shown you that you can be sure that He is with you in the present and in the future?

When facing this giant, the third thing that David did was to use the tools that God had given him. “I cannot go in these...” David said of Saul’s armor. So he took it off and instead “he took his staff in his hand and chose five smooth stones from the brook and put them in his shepherd’s pouch. His sling was in his hand, and he approached the Philistine.”

A sling doesn’t sound like much, but in the hands of one who has mastered the art, it is an amazing little weapon. Two leather straps held a pouch which held a stone a little larger than a baseball. By swinging the pouch round and round and letting go of one strap at just the precise moment, someone like David could sling a stone at 100 miles per hour with pinpoint accuracy.

And that’s just what he did, David took aim at the biggest forehead in history and let fly. David could not confront Goliath in the armor of Saul. But David knew the tools that God had given him. David chose smooth stones. They would fly better. He chose five stones. Did you ever think of that? David knew that God would grant him the victory but David was prepared to reload if necessary.

When facing your giants, you must use the tools that God has given you. God’s Word tells us, “be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil [The ultimate giant!]… Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may … stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” He gives us these tools. He gives us these weapons that we may face our giants – whatever they are. And He gives us the victory.

Jesus Christ did battle with the evil One out in the desert and later while hanging on the cross – and He won. He won your freedom when He died and rose from the dead. There is no enemy that you now face – no giant that can stand up to Him at work in you. Oh, they might be boastful and arrogant. They might threaten you with great danger. But the One who did battle with Satan and conquered is with you.

When you face the giants you must stand firm and be strong in the Lord knowing that through Jesus who conquered sin and death and the power of the devil we also are more that conquerors through Him who loved us and that nothing in all creation – not even death itself – can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8).

What is any giant compared with God? See the giant for what it is – defeated. Draw upon your past experience which shows you God’s unfailing love and forgiveness, protection and provision. And use the weapons that He has given you – His truth, His righteousness, His Gospel of peace, faith, salvation, and the Word of God!

Just like with David facing Goliath, David knew that the battle was the Lord’s. The battle is always the Lord’s. And He has already won the victory. Amen.

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