Facing Giants (I Samuel 17)

Series: David, a man after God's heart


A few years ago, a great meeting was organized. They asked great researchers to come together, in this city, to discuss, or I should say, to make a list of the 100 most important historical events, in the history of the world. Not only that, but they were asked to rank those events, in terms of their importance. Now you can imagine how those 28 researchers labored and for how long they labored! But finally, they finished the project and they submitted it to the organizers. In the results, they found that this panel, of 28 experts, said that the number one, historical event, in all the history of mankind, was the discovery of America. The most important thing that ever happened, in our history, was the discovery of that new continent. They said the second most important event, or most significant event, in our history, was the invention of movable type, by Guttenberg; for it allowed us to move out of that period that is now called the Dark Ages. Eleven different events tied for third place. Five events tied for fourth place. Among those events tying for fourth place, in terms of historical importance, were these: The development and use of ether by medical science, the development and use of x-ray by medical science, the writing of the Constitution of the United States, the invention of the airplane and the life of Jesus of Nazareth. Twenty-eight people, so-called experts, said there are five things that happened, in the history of the world, that tied together, ranked equally for fourth place importance. And they said that Jesus tied for fourth.

I’d like to know how that makes you feel? Probably like it makes me feel, it puzzles me and aggravates me. And, surely, you understand why. It is why you are here, this afternoon, for one reason. It is because you believe the most important thing that ever happened, in all the history of mankind, is the life and the death and the resurrection of Jesus Christ. And, yet, at the same time, I think I understand why these people could rank Jesus, as they did! Look at all the people, who live in this world, who don’t even know the name of Jesus. And look at all the people, who do know the name of Jesus and, yet, pay no attention to who he truly is. And then look at all those people, who call themselves Christians. If you look in their lives, Jesus, in terms of priority, ranks no better than fourth place, anyway. And when you come to see and realize there are only a handful of people who live, as though Jesus is the most important thing that ever happened, then you can understand why the experts ranked him, as they did. They said that Jesus tied for fourth. Now I’d like for you to hold that story for a little while. And we are going to change direction. But, we’ll come back before we’re finished with this story. And I want to pick up, this afternoon, where we left off last time. I’d like for us to go back to I Samuel 17.

Of all the stories, known, about the life of David, this chapter contains the best-known story. And you begin in verse 1 of I Samuel, Chapter 17. And you find that the army of Israel is on one side of the valley and that the Philistines’ army is on the other side and it’s what you would call a standoff. Now the Philistines have better military equipment. In fact, if you go back, in earlier stories, it will tell you the Philistines have learned to work iron. And they have all the iron-melting facilities and they make, for themselves, fine weapons of war. And it says that, on the other hand, the Israelites do not know how to work iron. And that the only soldiers in Israel who have weapons are Saul, the king, and his son, Jonathan. And so, you have a Philistine army and they have all their weapons and they are large in number; but the Israelites have the best position. They are on the side of a hill where they can hide under cover, behind trees and rocks. And though the Philistines have better equipment, they can’t, very well, charge that hill and win. And so, it’s what we call a standoff. And it lasts for a long, long time. And finally, the Philistines get an idea. They say, «Here is how we will solve our standoff, our dilemma. We’ll send out our champion and the Israelites will send out their champion. The two will fight and winner takes it all.» Now the Philistines like that idea because you already know what they have. Their secret weapon is a champion who has never been defeated. What’s his name? Goliath! And the scripture describes him, this way. Chapter 17, verses 4-7. «….» So Goliath was 9 ˝ feet tall. Have you ever thought of how tall that would be? A few years ago, Tammy and her roommate were walking in Verviers, Belgium and they heard a lady speak English. So, you know how it is. They got excited to hear their own language and they went to introduce themselves. It turns out this lady was the wife of a basketball player, that we, later, met. I mean this guy was incredible! He was like a monster. I am six feet two; but I was still twisting my neck backward to talk to him. His feet were so big that he had to have his shoes custom-made. When he was going down the stairs, the steps were big enough, only for his heels. And do you know what? He was only 7 feet. And Goliath was 9 ˝ feet tall. His armor weighed 125 pounds. The head of his spear weighed 15 pounds. How big is Caleb Mavis? Imagine Goliath throwing him around! And so the Philistines loved their champion. They said, « Bring your champion out and let them fight! The winner takes it all. » And every morning and evening, day, after day, after day, Goliath stands out there and yells across the valley and the Israelites turn and panic. In fear, they hide in caves, behind the rocks and behind the trees. No one wants to go fight! Now can you imagine how King Saul is feeling? If you can remember other stories about Saul, you know he is not very good at waiting. He never has handled pressure, very well. And fear has always been a problem for King Saul! And he is getting, by this time, a little desperate. He is wondering, «who can I get to go out and fight!» It’s kind of interesting, isn’t it? Of all the people of Israel, of all the soldiers in the land, who is best equipped to fight Goliath? Who is the best one? Saul is! After all, we know he is a head and shoulder taller than all the others. He is strong, a fine specimen of man. If anyone is going to go fight, it should be Saul. He has on armor and he has a sword; but he is not about to go. And in his panic, he runs around the army of Israel, saying, «the man who goes out and fights, will receive great wealth from me. I’ll exempt him and his family from taxes and I’ll even give the hand of my daughter, in marriage. You can become the son-in-law to the King, if you go out there and fight Goliath! » But, he can’t find a single taker.

And while all of this is going on, back in the house of David, the father, Jesse, is becoming concerned. His three oldest sons are in that army. And it’s been a long time since they left. And there has been no word; so he is wondering about his sons. One day, he, finally says to his young, pure-hearted David, «I want you to go» and in V.17-18, « … ». And so, young David goes, to this valley, where the Israelites are camped. And about the time he arrives, he hears the words of this giant. Now the Scripture does not say that he saw the giant. Look at v. 23, «….». And when he hears the words of this giant, as he shouts, « Send a man, that I may fight him! » David gets angered. He is furious because he sees the soldiers of Israel run and hide and he can hardly believe it. And David begins to ask questions. He says, in v. 26, «….». Then he seemed to ask what Saul has done about it. And he is told of the reward on Goliath’s head. And it’s like you can see David thinking, « I can do it! I’ll fight this guy! » And he starts saying it aloud. But, notice, also, what happens next.

It’s like, every time you start trying to live by faith, every time you try to climb where God would have you to be, there are going to be people, around you, who try to stop you. And there are going to be people who try to pull you back down!

I, once, heard a story about fishermen, who fished for crabs. Did you know that fishermen, who fish for crabs, put their crabs in a bucket and they never put a light on the bucket? Oh, the crabs will try to get out. One crab will crawl to the top of the bucket. It will climb and be ready to go, just about over the top, and another crab will reach up, grab it and pull it back down. And when I heard this story, I thought, « It’s kind of like with people. Have you ever heard the term, «crabby»? I wonder, do we get the term, « crabby people », from that little story? Because we are like that! Someone begins to climb; someone begins to live by faith and others will try to reach out and pull him back down. And David is about to fight; but there are some crabs. And the first is his brother, the eldest, named Eliab. Now what do you remember about Eliab, from the last lesson? The eldest, likely he was the tallest, the strongest, the one, who should have been King, in the minds of Jesse and Samuel. And yet, instead of Eliab becoming King, Samuel chose, by the grace of God, young David. And I wonder if something stuck in the throat of Eliab, when he saw that because he seems a little threatened, a little jealous! And not only that, but, if David goes out and fights the giant, the whole family will look bad because, if he goes out, this young shepherd, then Eliab ought to go out too. There is no excuse! And so, when David begins to speak boldly, Eliab looks down at him and says, in v. 28, «…». Now, do you see the hardness of Eliab? So many times, I have found that, when people are threatened and jealous, they are so hard and harsh to other people. And they are always quick to grab other people and pull them back down. And Eliab attacks his little brother, that way. He says, «You can’t go out and fight; you are only a little shepherd boy! And not only that, you are not much of a shepherd and you’ve got only a few sheep! And then, like many others, he goes a little deeper and he strikes at the heart of his brother and he says, «You are conceited and your heart is wicked!» And nothing could have ever been further from the truth. And so, here he is, pulling David back.