In this message we discover the source of David’s courage in facing the Philistine giant named Goliath. David’s courage in the face of overwhelming odds challenges us to courageously defend God’s honor in a deteriorating culture. These are not fairy tales. They really happened—you can visit these places today. These Bible stories weren’t written just to inspire people; they were recorded because they are real historical events. We’ll see that the story of David and Goliath is not so much about who David is fighting, but rather what David is fighting for (1 Samuel 17).
It is a classic face-off, with the good guys on one side, and the bad guys on the other. It seems to me that neither side really wanted to fight, because this staring stalemate went on for forty days. But eventually, someone has to blink. The Philistines proposed a solution to this standoff: instead of thousands of people dying, let’s each send out one champion to fight on behalf of the entire army. The Philistine champion, Goliath, was over nine feet tall! His bronze coat of mail weighed 125 pounds. This is the guy who came out and taunted Israel’s army day after day for forty days!
The battle was in the Valley of Elah. The Philistines knew that if they controlled the Valley, they would have easy access into the heart of the Israelite kingdom. The Valley of Elah was an important economic trade route. Controlling it allowed the unimpeded flow of exports and imports. And so protecting this area was critical to Israel’s economy. The Philistines already controlled the two key cities which guarded the entrance to the Valley of Elah. A win here would put them in control the entire valley—which was the key to maintaining Israel’s security and way of life. So there is a lot riding on how this battle between the Israeli’s and the Philistines resolves itself. As important as these factors are, they are not the focus of the Biblical narrative.
David was driven to challenge this Philistine champion for a different reason: Goliath had dishonored Israel’s God. And that’s one thing David would not tolerate. Six times in 1 Samuel 17 Goliath taunted God and his army (see v. 10, 25, 26 [2x], 36, 45.) Goliath’s blasphemous defiance of Israel’s God is what ticked David off! Let me ask you a question: Does it bug you when belief in God is ridiculed in society? It should! It sure bothered David. It was David’s consuming passion that God be honored, that led him to take on an opponent who from a worldly perspective, he had no business facing. But the situation was even worse. The Philistines were skilled in metallurgy. They had iron weaponry—advanced technology for that time. Only King Saul and his son Jonathon had swords, no one else in the Israeli army had them (1 Samuel 13:19-20; 17:38-40). Talk about an ill equipped army! Goliath comes to the battle dressed like Iron Man—and David shows up with just a slingshot!
The question I want to ask you is this: Where did David get the courage to fight someone like Goliath? Saul was no help (see v. 33). I understand David a bit; when I informed friends and family that I was going to start a church fresh out of seminary, I didn’t get many votes of confidence. They voiced some valid concerns, but Susan and I had been trusting God for years, and we had no doubts that he would provide for us as we planted this church. So I ask again, “Where did David get the courage to fight someone like Goliath?” It all came down to David’s view of God. He had a big view of God. David knew that God himself was concerned about his glory and reputation. God was neither indifferent to Goliath’s slurs nor intimidated by Goliath’s size. But for David, God’s power wasn’t just something he had read about in the Scriptures. He had personally experienced it (1 Samuel 17:34-37).
Sometimes, like David, we sense that God is calling us to take a stand for Him in a culture that mocks God and those who follow him. And in those times, we face our own fears, our own giants. In those times, remember that you serve a big God—a God who has chosen you and equipped you to represent him in the world. He has given you the same Holy Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead. That means that you’re not just bringing your limited human resources into the battle. David realized this was a battle for God’s honor and for the preservation of God’s people. God loves to use the weak things of the world, the despised things, to shame and defeat the strong and arrogant. Don’t ever underestimate what God can accomplish through someone whose heart is fully His. David didn’t have the size or the experience, or the equipment to match Goliath. But he had one thing Goliath didn’t have—God’s help! There is “territory” that God is asking you to protect and defend. Your purity is a territory that God wants you to protect. If you are married, God wants you to protect your marriage. God wants parents to protect the territory of their families. Our culture will not help you raise children who honor and serve God. We all need to defend and protect a biblical truth and morality. Will you take a courageous stand and defend these territories that God has entrusted to you? We serve a big God. He loves to use the weak things and the despised things to shame the strong. He wants to use you. Will you let him?
APPLICATION / CHALLENGE
- Trust in God’s strength and choose to defend the territory God has entrusted to you… whether it be your own purity, your marriage and family, or biblical truth and morality.
TAKE ONE STEP
Each week, write down one doable concrete step of obedience, small or large that you will put into practice this week. (James 1:22: “But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves.”)