If this is your first week here at Journey we are glad you could make it and hope that you find your time to be helpful to you. We started Journey Church about six years ago with the hopes of getting people connected and sometimes re-connected with the Jesus we read about in this Bible. We think he’s pretty amazing and worth devoting a life to following.
But we understand that there are some in here who have yet to buy into that viewpoint, some might not even believe there is a God at all, and to be frank there are some weeks where people who claim to be atheists seem to have a stronger argument for the non-existence of God than Christians who claim there is a God of love.
So weeks were we see a young police officer – new mom, get murdered as she attempts to keep our city safe, makes the argument that there is a God who knows what he is doing seem a little hollow. And we must simply admit that we don’t truly understand all of the decisions of the Lord.
And we also must admit that we call people who die so that others might live – we call the heroes. And rightly so. That’s why we have memorial day – to stop and remember those who have paid for our freedom with their lives.
On Memorial Day we stop to remember that there is no greater love than this – that a person lay down their life for their friends. And this is also why we respect and honor Jesus – who though innocent, laid down his life willingly so that you and I might have life.
So even if you don’t think that there is a God – I think you have to look at the story of Jesus and at least admit that it is a beautiful story. A story of courage and bravery and sacrifice and ultimately, a story of love. And though there are time when the story appears to be tragic, there is ultimately – at the end, it is a story of a great victory. Jesus’ victory over sin and victory over the greatest giant in our life – the monster that is death.
It’s such a more compelling and beautiful story than the alternative story – that you and I are fortunate particles. The story of the Bible is a love story – it’s an adventure story – it’s the story of the prince saving his bride from a dragon.
There is something special about stories. When my children were young at nighttime we would often put the kids to bed and they would ask for a story. And so we would often read stories and sometimes we would make stories up.
And so I miss the days when I would put the kids to bed and make up a story for them.
When they were very little I’d do the piggie story with their toes – this little piggy went to the market… This little piggie stayed home. This little piggy had roast beef. This little piggy had none. And this little piggy said, Hold on – are you telling me that little piggy had roast beef? Where’s My roast beef! Who’s in charge fo this game. And when can I can to go to the market. Before I was done all the piggies were really complaining up a storm.
There was the story of the young girl who came upon the frog – and the frog said – seriously if you kiss me I’ll turn into a prince. And so she did kiss the frog and he really did turn into a prince – and she asked the prince – how does it feel to not be a frog anymore and the prince said – “Ribbet”!
See stories are good for the heart – they make us laugh and sometimes they inspire us. And the Bible is filled with stories, isn’t it? Of course the ones in the bible are true stories. They actually happened. They are historical narratives, but they are still incredible stories.
Today we are going to read about one of the most famous stories in the entire bible. It’s the story of David and Goliath. And we find it in the book of 1 Samuel 17. And so if you have your bible with you turn there and read through it because we will not have the time to read through all of it.
Now let’s talk a few minutes first about how to properly read a story from the Old Testament and how we can apply it to our lives today. And one of the most important things we need to do is to not read too much into the story. And we need to be careful that we don’t make every story an allegory.
In other words we are going to read this story and here’s how an allegory works – David stands for Jesus. Goliath stands for sin. The rocks stand for the word of God and the gospels and faith. The slingshot stands for faith.
But the problem with this is that – unless the Bible tells us that it is a symbol of something – then who determines if it actually is or not?
The fact is that you don’t need to prove that Jesus defeated sin and death by reading the story of David. Read any of the New Testament books.
Instead, when we read Old Testament stories – and we will be reading quite a few of them in this series about the life of David, we need to examine the story and ask ourselves first – what does this story teach me about God? Because God is unchanging – so what we learn about him in all of these pages applies to him today.
Secondly, as we read we are looking for principles from this story to help me in my life today? Do I learn any lessons about God and his character and how he works? How can I apply the principles to my life today?
And so for you and me – although we are not fighting any literal 9 foot tall giants – what is possible and maybe even likely, is that you and I might have something in our life that is acting like a giant – and it might be something that you cannot touch – but the effect it is having on us is similar to the effect Goliath had on his enemies, meaning – it is possible that you and I are fighting something that might appear terrifying.
Maybe you are fighting some worry that is gnawing away at you. Or you are fearful. Maybe you have a health issue that is a giant – maybe you are dealing with a family issue. A work or lack of work problem.
All of these things might be as terrifying as a real honest to goodness – stanky breathed nine foot giant that wants to kill you. And so as we read through this story of David and Goliath, we are going to look for principles from how David responded that can be inspirational for us as we fight whatever it is we are fighting.
So my guess is that everyone in this room is familiar with the story, so I don’t feel badly if we bounce around a little- and like I said the story in it’s entirety is found in 1 Samuel 17.
And here’s where we will start.
17 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!
This is a picture of the actual valley – two armies on either hill – and there is a bit of a waiting game going on. Neither side wants to have to run up the hill to be the attacker – both are digging in a bit hoping to be able to fight downhill – when you have javelins and spears – there is a distinct advantage to holding the high ground.
Meanwhile – we have this giant names Goliath – and he is huge. And he is also a fierce warrior and an all around unpleasant human being.
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.
So this is the setup – for 40 days Goliath walks into the valley and taunts the Israelites. And for forty days the Israelites are shaking in their boots.
David shows up one day to deliver food to his brothers – and he hears the taunting going on and David says – what’s the deal? Why don’t one of you go out there and kill that guy? And his brothers are like, “Shut up David – why don’t you get back to your sheep you stupid sheep boy” but David of course isn’t about to leave. And soon finds himself standing in front of King Saul asking permission to fight Goliath.
32 “Don’t worry about this Philistine,” David told Saul. “I’ll go fight him!”
33 “Don’t be ridiculous!” Saul replied. “There’s no way you can fight this Philistine and possibly win! You’re only a boy, and he’s been a man of war since his youth.”
34 But David persisted. “I have been taking care of my father’s sheep and goats,” he said.
Now usually this will not win you the confidence of a king – I’m a shepherd. But there’s more to the story –
“When a lion or a bear comes to steal a lamb from the flock, 35 I go after it with a club and rescue the lamb from its mouth. If the animal turns on me, I catch it by the jaw and club it to death. 36 I have done this to both lions and bears, and I’ll do it to this pagan Philistine, too, for he has defied the armies of the living God! 37 The Lord who rescued me from the claws of the lion and the bear will rescue me from this Philistine!”
Hold on- did you just say that a lion once pounced on one of your sheep and you ran after the lion and killed the lion with a stick – and my bare hands! Don’t forget the Bear! Here’s a picture of the kind of lions that used to roam Israel – and here’s the kind of Syrian brown bear you will find there.
You know David was not a very tall guy – but you can’t judge crazy by height. The dude is small and fierce.
Okay – Saul says – go for it. He tries on Saul’s armor – doesn’t fit. David says – just let me do my thing. All I need is my sling.
So off David goes. 40 He picked up five smooth stones from a stream and put them into his shepherd’s bag. Then, armed only with his shepherd’s staff and sling, he started across the valley to fight the Philistine.
41 Goliath walked out toward David with his shield bearer ahead of him, 42 sneering in contempt at this ruddy-faced boy.
There’s an exchange of trash talk back and forth. Goliath says, “I’ll feed your flesh to the birds.” And David says, “Nuh-uh!” 46 Today the Lord will conquer you, and I will kill you and cut off your head. And then I will give the dead bodies of your men to the birds and wild animals, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel! 47 And everyone assembled here will know that the Lord rescues his people, but not with sword and spear. This is the Lord’s battle, and he will give you to us!”
48 As Goliath moved closer to attack, David quickly ran out to meet him. 49 Reaching into his shepherd’s bag and taking out a stone, he hurled it with his sling and hit the Philistine in the forehead. The stone sank in, and Goliath stumbled and fell face down on the ground.
50 So David triumphed over the Philistine with only a sling and a stone, for he had no sword. And then David – “Squick” – cuts off the giants noggin. (Some kids story!)
Okay so let’s get after this now before we run out of time. How can we apply this story to the fight that we have against our own enemies. And here’s the deal- it’s appropriate to apply this to ourselves – it’s okay to put ourselves in the role of David because the New Testament often tells us that this life is a battle. Our battle is not against flesh and blood – (Ephesians 6:12) but it’s still a battle – none the less.
Fight the good fight of the faith we are told – I Timothy 6:12 – So we are in a battle – and you might be in a battle right now with something – so let’s see how we can apply the story of David to fighting our own fight of the faith.
First – I’d say this – I want you to take a moment to name the giant you are battling. David has a name of his opponent. His momma named him Goliath. David knew exactly who he was fighting. Do you know exactly what it is you are fighting?
Naming the opponent is important. Be as specific as you can be – is it worry? Is it fear? Is it irresponsibility? Is it lust? Is it drunkeness? Do you know what you are fighting?
Sometimes it is easier to say this than do it – and sometimes we need the help of a counselor – see a professional counselor uses their god given ability and professionally honed ability – to help a person name that which they are battling. It is possible that we think we are fighting one thing but the source of the issue is a little bit deeper and more difficult to ascertain.
Did you know that we offer professional counseling here at Journey and that we subsidize the expense? If you would like to speak to a counselor we work with two different counseling firms – Spence counseling and Cunningham Counseling – both are great. Both will help you not only name the true opponent – but will also give you the tools you need to fight it.
And this is very important. See David knew he was fighting a giant so he grabbed a slingshot. But a slingshot is not going to help you defeat worry.
See if you are given to worry – you need different tools – you need scripture memorized to be able to turn to- you need someone you trust who can speak truth against the lies of worry.
If you are fighting a workplace thing – jimmy at work is annoying me! Okay is the fight against Jimmy or is the fight against my own mindset that gives Jimmy too much license to jack around with my head?
So name your opponent. Knowing who or what you are fighting helps you know how to fight well.
Secondly – be encouraged – Nothing is impossible with God. You really can win this fight! Now David’s battle was quick and decisive. And we all want that kind of battle – but the truth is that often the battles we fight require more time and more energy and it might even require that we get a little bloodied in the fight.
But you can win the fight – because nothing is impossible with God. And you know for some of you the sermon might end with this – I’ll keep talking but you might be discouraged here today because you feel that the giant has been owning you and your life and you are trying to find a way to just make peace with it – but I’m telling you there is no living in peace with a giant that wants to rip you apart and feed you to the birds.
You cannot make peace with the giant that is trying to kill you. You must keep fighting and if you are fighting for righteousness the Lord is on your side. And that means that the giant you are facing is not only fighting you it is fighting against the Lord. And if the Lord is for you what can stand against you?
You can do this! You can have victory! Jesus didn’t die on the cross to free us from our sins in order to enslave us to something else. Nothing is impossible with God and there is nothing that God cannot do in your life.
- A good memory helps. How God worked yesterday in your life ought to be an encouragement as you draw your battle lines today. David was able to tap into a wealth of memories of God working in the past. Hey look – you think it was a piece of cake fighting a lion? Or a bear? But David was able to look back and remember that it was God who gave him the victory yesterday.
And I’ll tell you what – you think that David was wondering at some point – why is God calling me to fight a lion? I don’t know which came first – the Lion, we’ll say. David is called upon to fight a lion. Afterward I wonder if David prayed – thank you Lord for rescuing me and giving me the strength to kill the lion. Don’t know why you put me in that situation anyway, but hey, thanks for delivering me.
Later he’s fighting a bear – Lord – I don’t know why you sent a bear here, but thanks for delivering me!
David had no idea that the fight he had to go through yesterday was to prepare him for battle today. But David did take mental notes – of times in the past when God came through for him.
And at the same time the battle that David was fighting today – against Goliath? Was preparing him for battles later he would have as king of Israel.
David had a good memory – he had a god memory -he remembered time when God showed up and he drew courage from them.
Do you have a go-to memory of a time God worked in your life? When God gave you some victory?
Oh, no Phil but I do remember a time when God didn’t show up for me? Oh really? Well I find that often we have memories of times God didn’t give us what we wanted – but that doesn’t mean God wasn’t at work in the situation.
Sometimes faith requires us to be able to add an important phrase just before we go to battle – it’s a phrase we find in the story of Shadrack Meshack and Abednego – who says – that sure, you can throw us into the fiery furnace and God is able to save us – but even if he doesn’t – we will not bow to you – we will serve the one true God.
A good memory is helpful for us to draw courage in times of battle – but ultimately we need to make the call – that the battle is the Lords – and He has called me to fight it. And if I perish I perish. (Esther 4:16)
And that brings us to the next encouragement from this story – Once you’ve identified your opponent – and you remember that God can do anything and indeed has done many wonderful things in my past – then it comes time to act.
- And I suggest you run at the problem.
When it came time to act – there was no hesitation. David went straight at the problem.
See – Giants don’t go away. I mean David’s giant was there taunting Israel for 40 straight days day and night. You know how that feels right? You are battling something and it doesn’t go away.
Giants don’t give up. They don’t go away. That thing in your life that is trying to feed you to the birds? It will be there tomorrow and tomorrow and the tomorrow after that until you battle it. So gear up and run at the problem.
Many times we get this kind of christian passivism going on – and we get into this deal where we say – Lord, will you please deliver me from this thing that is beating me up? Will you please deliver me from this thing – this worry, this fear, this addiction, this action, this attitude –
And then we don’t do anything. But faith requires action. Faith is trust in action. Trust God to deliver you. Trust him to show up. And do something – run at the problem. Engage it.
But it’s important for us to understand – David stood up and said, the Battle is the Lords – but it was David who swung the sling.
It was David who picked up the rock. The battle is the Lord’s but he calls us to do the fighting – and we are fighting for important things. We are fighting for an unimpeded soul – we are fighting to free ourselves from sins that easily ensnare us. We are fighting for the transformation of our soul.
Ultimately we are fighting so that our kids can be freed from these things – so they can have the most loving mom or dad or child that we can be – for the glory of God.
Your giant is not going away until you fight it. It’s your giant. You fight your giant. I fight mine. We battle together – but often we battle different opponents. But we battle. The battle is the Lord’s but it’s our giant. And we are called to fight our own battle.
It’s interesting that Saul – Saul was one of the biggest guys in Israel – stood a head taller than anyone else in Israel – and he took alot of pride in being a warrior – and honestly – you get the feeling that it ought to have been Saul who stood up and said I’ll fight for you all – I’ll beat the giant – but Saul was hoping someone else would fight his battle.
Are you engaging in the fight? Are you doing whatever you need to do to win the battle? If you need counseling – are you getting counseling? If you suspect you need to speak with a counselor and you aren’t doing it – then you are a Saul hoping someone else will be doing the fighting for you. Right now mark on your card – we will get you in touch with someone.
If you need to memorize scripture – if you suspect that will help you fight – are you doing it? No – I don’t – I mean between my work, and my kids, I barely have time ti watch the three hours of television every night – where am I going to find time to read the bible – or read a good book, or memorize scripture. Ain’t nobody got time for that… Okay Saul. Okay.
The battle is the Lord’s but you are the one he wants to swing the slingshot.
Now here is our final thought and then I’m praying. I want us to go back to the image that David has of a shepherd. And I’m going to pull in Psalm 23. Psalm 23 was written by David. And it says, the Lord is my shepherd. I have need of nothing. His rod and his staff – they are a source of comfort to me.
What is David’s idea of a shepherd? A lion killer. bear are terrified of his shepherding skills. This is the shepherd – to David – the shepherd kills lions to protect a sheep.
So when the bible says that the devil prowls like a roaring lion, that sounds intimidating to me – until I remember that the Lord is my shepherd. David was a shepherd after God’s own heart.
You might be in a fight today – I want you to know that God is fighting alongside you. And you might be down a little right now – but the battle is the Lord’s friend. And you keep swinging. You keep battling. Some things are worth fighting for. And your faith – your family – your freedom – is worth the battle. It’s worth the fight. So don’t you dare quit. Don’t you dare give up.