A Bigger Giant
When you face problems in your life, whom are you comparing them to: yourself or God? Learn how to trust in a bigger giant.
Morning. David Sorn. Lead Pastor.
Thanks to Zach Zurn and his band for filling in for our worship pastor Zach Foty who’s leading worship at a conference in Florida this week.
When I say, “That was a real David & Goliath story” what do you think of?
Probably some example of a major underdog winning some improbable victory
We use the phrase in sports a decent amount.
Like, the “Miracle on Ice” in 1980 for example
When a bunch of American college kids took down the Soviet professionals in the Olympics.
We even use it in politics
For example, remember when Jesse Ventura was our governor?
Anyone remember what he famously said in his acceptance speech?
“We shocked the world!”
Because the polls said he was nowhere near a possible win.
It was billed as a real David vs. Goliath… or two Goliaths in this case…no disrespect to Norm Coleman and Skip Humphrey J
So when you hear David & Goliath…we think of an underdog mustering up their courage and facing their fears (the “big giant”)…and winning.
But is that what the actual “David & Goliath story” is really about?
And what was the true impetus for David’s victory over Goliath?
We are going to find that out today as we continue in our Monarchy series on the book of 1 Samuel in the Bible.
Today, we’ve come to chapter 17, which contains the most famous story of 1 Samuel: David & Goliath.
It’s quite the lengthy story actually.
In fact, it would take me over 10 minutes to read it all the way through to you, so I’ll summarize parts of it and we’ll read other parts.
Chapter 17 starts out by telling us the Philistines gathered their forces for war, against God’s people, the Israelites.
And the two nations are perched upon opposite ridges with a valley in between them.
The great champion fighter of the Philistines was an enormous man named Goliath.
He was said to be “six cubits and a span” tall
It’s a bit difficult to translate, but he’s somewhere in the 8 to 9 feet tall range.
The Bible actually never uses the word “giant,” but he’s a big guy.
His extreme height is not out of the range of possibility though
The tallest man in the last 100 years was Robert Wadlow, from Illinois, who was 8’ 11”
And the Bible tells us that Goliath taunted the Israelites
(1 Samuel 17:8-9) – NIV
8 Goliath stood and shouted to the ranks of Israel, “Why do you come out and line up for battle? Am I not a Philistine, and are you not the servants of Saul? Choose a man and have him come down to me. 9 If he is able to fight and kill me, we will become your subjects; but if I overcome him and kill him, you will become our subjects and serve us.”
And Goliath did this every day, for 40 days, and the Israelites (in their fear) did nothing.
Including their own King Saul, who really should have fought Goliath since he was said to be a foot taller than everyone else
Until one day, the shepherd boy David, who we were introduced to last week in chapter 16, came to visit his 3 older brothers who were on the front lines.
While at the front lines, David overhead Goliath’s daily taunt, and this happens:
(1 Samuel 17:26) – NIV
David asked the men standing near him, “What will be done for the man who kills this Philistine and removes this disgrace from Israel? Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living God?”
You can see already that this young boy, maybe 15 years old, already is looking at things quite differently than everybody else.
To David, this is about God and his promises…not just battle.
Word gets to King Saul that the boy David is not afraid of Goliath, and let’s now pick up the story in verse 32 and start reading:
(1 Samuel 17:32-51) - NIV
32 David said to Saul, “Let no one lose heart on account of this Philistine; your servant will go and fight him.” 33 Saul replied, “You are not able to go out against this Philistine and fight him; you are only a young man, and he has been a warrior from his youth.” 34 But David said to Saul, “Your servant has been keeping his father’s sheep. When a lion or a bear came and carried off a sheep from the flock, 35 I went after it, struck it and rescued the sheep from its mouth. When it turned on me, I seized it by its hair, struck it and killed it. 36 Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, because he has defied the armies of the living God. 37 The Lord who rescued me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will rescue me from the hand of this Philistine.” Saul said to David, “Go, and the Lord be with you.”
38 Then Saul dressed David in his own tunic. He put a coat of armor on him and a bronze helmet on his head.39 David fastened on his sword over the tunic and tried walking around, because he was not used to them.
“I cannot go in these,” he said to Saul, “because I am not used to them.” So he took them off. 40 Then he took his staff in his hand, chose five smooth stones from the stream, put them in the pouch of his shepherd’s bag and, with his sling in his hand, approached the Philistine.
41 Meanwhile, the Philistine, with his shield bearer in front of him, kept coming closer to David. 42 He looked David over and saw that he was little more than a boy, glowing with health and handsome, and he despised him. 43 He said to David, “Am I a dog, that you come at me with sticks?” And the Philistine cursed David by his gods.44 “Come here,” he said, “and I’ll give your flesh to the birds and the wild animals!”45 David said to the Philistine, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. 46 This day the Lord will deliver you into my hands, and I’ll strike you down and cut off your head. This very day I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds and the wild animals, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel. 47 All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves; for the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give all of you into our hands.”48 As the Philistine moved closer to attack him, David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet him. 49 Reaching into his bag and taking out a stone, he slung it and struck the Philistine on the forehead. The stone sank into his forehead, and he fell facedown on the ground. 50 So David triumphed over the Philistine with a sling and a stone; without a sword in his hand he struck down the Philistine and killed him. 51 David ran and stood over him. He took hold of the Philistine’s sword and drew it from the sheath. After he killed him, he cut off his head with the sword. When the Philistines saw that their hero was dead, they turned and ran.
Pretty amazing story.
It’s one of the most famous stories in all cultures, in all of history.
The shepherd boy David defeats the giant Goliath with a small stone.
And surely there’s a lot we can learn from this passage.
GOLIATH AND THE SELF-ESTEEM CRAZE
But one of the key questions is surely: “How do you face the giants in your life?”
All of us have issues, problems, sometimes even giant problems in our lives.
What is that in your life right now?
What are you up against?
Maybe for you, it’s your marriage.
Maybe it’s not what it used to be
Maybe it feels like it’s on its last thread
Maybe it’s an addiction you keep going back to
Maybe it’s your struggle with anxiety…which is really a fear of multiple giants.
How do you face the giants?
That is the fundamental question of the passage, is it not?
But I think the answer isn’t as easy as we think.
It’s not as simple as: Be brave, face your fears, run at them, and win!
That’s a very secular, cursory reading of the passage.
In fact, let’s turn the story on its head for a moment.
David & Goliath are both going into a battle.
And aren’t they just opposite examples of how to face a looming problem?
Ironically, Goliath’s strategy looks a lot more like what the world says our strategy should look like
Author & Pastor Timothy Keller says, “Goliath builds his self-esteem by focusing on his assets and visualizing success and banishing his fears”
I mean this is what Goliath is doing!
He’s got great self-esteem…he boasts about who he is!
He visualizes his success: “I’ll give your flesh to the birds and the wild animals”
And he has absolutely no fear of David taking him down
And most importantly, all of those things are based out of his confidence in…HIMSELF!
Sounds a lot like our current self-esteem craze!
I was driving down 65 just last month, and there was a huge flashing sign at the one of the businesses that simply said, “Believe in yourself!”
But what if my belief in myself is misguided?
What if, like Goliath, I’m trying so hard to believe in myself and get rid of my fears, that I’m acting foolishly?
I mean, when you really study the battle aspect of the story, Goliath was being rather foolish.
This isn’t some kid’s game.
My kids know this story, and sometimes they play “David & Goliath”
One kid says, “Haha, can’t get me”
And the other one pretends to throw a tiny stone”
In fact, the other night, I went into their room because I heard them playing it in the dark, and Livi got off her bed.
I said, “What are you doing?!”
She said, “I had to pick up a stone” J
But the historical, Biblical story doesn’t’ involve a soft, round pebble out of a kid’s slingshot.
In those days, slingers were real people in the army.
Much like archers.
The sling was a legit weapon.
They could whip it around at 6-7 revolutions per second, and by the time it came out, it was going as fast as a fastball in Major League Baseball.
Besides that, they’ve done some studies on the valley that this happened in, and the stones there are twice as dense.
Put all of those things together, and what you have here is an agile teenager running at a giant with a weapon that experts say packs almost as much punch as a bullet out of a handgun
The problem here…is Goliath…has TOO much self-esteem. J
Much like many in our culture.
We’ve been taught that when live gets rough (your marriage, your struggles, your work, you name it), look in the mirror, and say, “You can do this! I believe in you!”
But maybe you can’t do it…and maybe that strategy is just going to result in you getting stunned with a direct hit between the eyes
So many people nowadays try and invoke the spirit of David in facing bravery, but what they’re actually doing is invoking the spirit of Goliath…the spirit of self-esteem, the spirit of “you can do it!”
But that wasn’t what David actually did in order to achieve victory
DAVID’S COURAGE FOR GOD’S GLORY
David was courageous and brave…not because of himself…but because of God.
And because God’s glory was at stake!
And that’s actually a key part of applying this passage to your life.
I see a lot of Christians take this passage and apply it incorrectly.
They say, “I have this overwhelming problem right now (a financial issue, a health issue), but God promises me victory like David, so I will believe, and it shall happen!”
But that’s not really what’s happening either.
In one of our School of Theology Summer Classes, Mining God’s Word, we teach a principle called the “Baseball Diamond of Application”
And it’s simply this: Whenever you read the Bible, there are many applications, but they are limited to a FIELD of applications, much like a baseball field has many places you can hit the ball, but there are foul lines
So you can’t take the David & Goliath passage, and say, see, “If I just believe, I can get hired as a Disney princess at Disney World”
That’s an out of bounds application (it’s a foul ball)…and plus, you’re a 60 year old man J
So what’s in bounds? What’s this story about?
David sees evil infringing on God’s purposes and God’s promises.
The Philistines are coming to kill God’s people and take land from the land that God promised to his people.
And so David trusts in God to deliver on his purposes and promises
And so…here’s how we apply it:
When something infringes on what you know God desires (like for you to stay married for example…or for you to get free from the slavery of addiction…have great faith in Him!
Faith like David did.
The point is not to go out and be brave, the point is…when something infringes on God’s glory, that we boldly ask God to use us to make things right.
Ultimately, for His sake.
And yet, in humility, we still go forth like Queen Esther in the Bible who said, “If I perish, I perish,” but she still goes forth in faith.
Humbly not knowing the whole picture, but trusting in God nonetheless.
A BIGGER GIANT
But c’mon, that’s not easy to do…at all.
And most of us are pretty terrible at it.
In reality, we’re not like David, we’re like the rest of the Israelites, quaking and shaking in our boots up on the ridge.
And I think the main reason is because we’re comparing the wrong things.
Let me explain:
I took my two-year-old twins to Como Zoo last week, and while we were looking at the giraffes, one of the zoo keepers was standing right next to us.
And he said to my twins, “You know, the baby giraffe is actually quite tall”
He meant…in comparison to us of course.
But my son, would have nothing of it.
And my son said, “No! He’s not! (Sorn’s are great debaters J)
And the zookeeper said, “Actually, the baby giraffe…
And my son said, “No, the DADDY giraffe is tall!”
And see, it really is a matter of perspective.
It depends on who you’re comparing it too.
And the same is true with the challenges of your life.
What we should focus on, is not the size of our problems in comparison to ourselves, but the size of our problems in comparison to our God…our Father!
Yes, we may be fighting a giant, but we’ve forgotten, we worship a bigger giant!
This is why David is infinitely more confident than any of the grown men at the battlefield.
He runs at Goliath shouting, “This day the Lord will deliver YOU into my hands…for the battle is the Lord’s!”
The key verse in this passage is really verse 45:
(1 Samuel 17:45) – NIV
45 David said to the Philistine, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied.
It’s like David is thinking, “You’re coming at me with a sword, but my God is rolling behind me with a tank.”
David sees things as they really are.
But do you?
To whom are you comparing the giraffe to?
Yourself…or the father?
To whom are you comparing your problems to?
You…or an all powerful God?
If you happen to be struggling with something that feels pretty impossible, but you know it is aligned with God’s heart (fixing your marriage, seeing your teenage or adult children follow him, or maybe seeing a friend come to Christ)…
If that’s you, my encouragement to you is to think bigger.
You want to know why those things often feel like impossible things to fix?
It’s because in reality, we don’t personally have much power to fix them.
The world tells you that you can fix any problem, if you just put your mind to it and believe in yourself.
But that’s because the world is crazy.
The world foolishly decided to erase God from our cultural consciousness…
But the consequence of such a decision is that we’re left to ridiculous strategies like “believing in our tiny little selves” to conquer problems.
And the only reason we believe such nonsense is because we erased the biggest giant of them all from existing.
But seeing change in your life doesn’t have to feel impossible…because with God, all things are possible.
He’s the giant solution to our minuscule problems.
So stop comparing yourself to your problem, and start comparing your problems to God.
And then walk out in faith.
Because, as we see over and over again in the pages of the Bible, faith always results in action.
David didn’t just kneel down on the ridge and pray for Goliath to fall over.
His faith caused him to sprint right at the giant.
And because you believe that your God is the real giant, go home, look your spouse in the eye, and say, “I love you; we’re going to make this work again. I’ll go to counseling like you asked.”
Believe that God can do it…and move forward in it….because He can do it.
Because you believe that your God is the real giant, go home, and call your family member on the phone, and tell them you’re sorry.
Even if it’s been 3 years since you’ve talked.
Tell them you’re sorry
Even if it takes another 3 years to make it right.
If you believe God is the bigger giant, start walking in faith.
Trusting that He will be glorified, no matter where it leads.
You need to start fighting again like God is in your corner…because He is!
God is ready to fight with you!
But one of the things the Bible is clear on is that He’s not going to do it without you.
He always works WITH us.
David knows this so well.
It’s what gives him unbelievable confidence against overwhelming odds.
And see, God wants you to trust Him like that.
He’s the bigger giant that’s just waiting for you to tag him into the fight.
Do you trust God to come in and fight with you?
Or, has God just been relegated from “giant” to some sort of a “personal assistant” in your life?
Like, “I have a big meeting today God, help me do well”
“I’m going to the doctor today, please give the doctor’s clarity”
And those are fine and dandy prayers, but listen, we need to START PRAYING SOME BIGGER PRAYERS
God, the bigger giant, is waiting for you to REALLY bring Him in.
He’s waiting for you to trust Him.
For example, Stephen M.R. Covey wrote a book called, “The Speed of Trust.”
If his name sounds familiar, it’s because his father, Stephen R. Covey, wrote a best selling book called, “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.”
One example of the speed of trust that Covey uses was from a street vendor in Manhattan
In the street vendor business, there are spikes of activity…people purchase their coffee and donuts early in the day, and they purchase hotdogs and sandwiches at lunch, etc.
So, serving long lines of people quickly is a critical success factor.
The vendor realized one day that he was spending half of his time making change.
He decided to put out a cash bowl with a sign for customers to pay and make their own change.
He could serve people more quickly and in a matter of days, his business nearly doubled.
People…appreciated being trusted.
The very few who took advantage were overwhelmed by those who gave greater tips.
Plus the greater volume itself would have overcome the few who cheated.
People appreciated being trusted.
And so does God.
He knows He can help you.
And God is waiting for you to trust Him.
He’s not going to just fix everything without you asking.
And he’s sitting in your corner…hoping that one day you’ll see Him, not as a personal assistant, but as the bigger giant.
That one day, you’ll see him, as David saw him.
And you’ll sprint at the oppositions of life…because you understand the power of God.
This is the same hope that the Apostle Paul had for early Christians
(Ephesians 1:18-20) – NIV
18 I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people,19 and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength 20 he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms,
That’s why David runs at the giant with a few stones.
God’s power is the real giant.
Whom shall we fear?
Run at your struggles, your challenges, your problems.
Run like you know who the real giant is.
Copyright: David Sorn
Renovation Church in Blaine, MN
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