Date: March 1, 2002
Bible Text: 1 Samuel 17:40-46 | Roger Voegtlin
Series: Transcribed Sermons
If you will, please turn in your Bibles to I Samuel 17, verses 40 through 46. Have you ever faced a giant? I think most of us have had what we would call a "giant" come our way. This last year we’ve seen our loved ones bury their wife or husband, their mother or father, long before the time they should have. That was a giant. We’ve seen children left without their parents. We’ve seen illness hit that seems insurmountable. Others have had tremendous financial battles. Whatever it was, it seemed like a giant—something we couldn’t face.
I’m not going to try and lift you up into the clouds, but this is just a practical message on how David faced Goliath. It’s one of my favorite stories in the Bible—that nine-foot-tall giant of a man laughing and taunting and mocking God, and how David, just a little fellow, faced him.
Picture with me this huge man who probably with one swing of his giant sword could cut two men in half. He had been trained in battle from a little child up. And here’s David—he probably hadn’t even started shaving yet. He’s a younger, much smaller person, but he gained a great victory over that giant. I want to speak on what to do when giants come your way.
I Samuel 17, starting in verse 40, "And he took his staff in his hand, and chose him five smooth stones out of the brook, and put them in a shepherd’s bag which he had, even in a scrip; and his sling was in his hand: and he drew near to the Philistine. And the Philistine came on and drew near unto David; and the man that bare the shield went before him. And when the Philistine looked about, and saw David, he disdained him…" Now again, I hope you can picture this—the giant is coming and he sees this young kid. "…he disdained him: for he was but a youth, and ruddy, and of a fair countenance. And the Philistine said to David, Am I a dog, that thou comest to me with staves?" He said, "You’ve got a stick that you drive away animals and dogs from your sheep with. Am I a dog?"
"And the Philistine cursed David by his gods. And the Philistine said to David, Come to me, and I will give thy flesh unto the fowls of the air, and to the beasts of the field. Then said David to the Philistine, Thou comest to me with a sword, and with a spear, and with a shield: But I come to thee in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom thou hast defied. This day will the LORD deliver thee into mine hand; and I will smite thee, and take thine head from thee; and I will give the carcases of the host of the Philistines this day unto the fowls of the air, and to the wild beasts of the earth; that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel."
I want you to notice some things about David and apply them to the battles you may be having now or to battles that I guarantee you will have in the future. I want you to see how to be prepared. Notice my first point: the Bible says that David, as a boy, was faithful to his task. This is simple, but look at verse 15 of this chapter. "But David went and returned from Saul to feed his father’s sheep at Bethlehem." If you are looking for clues (and you ought to when you see God using people in a great way) as to how this boy developed into a killer of giants, this shows us one reason. He was faithful to the task that seemed unimportant.
You can tell by my preaching, or if you are around me much, you can see that I get so disappointed with young people who live for the present and don’t think about the future. They go to school, but they hate their classes and they hate what they are studying. For some reason and in some way their parents did not instill in them the idea that this is the foundation for their entire life. I love to see people called to full-time service, and I’m so glad that my children are serving God in full-time service; but they would tell you I made it very clear to them as they grew up that they were not a better person because they were called. God needs engineers. God needs builders, mechanics, whatever it might be. But God doesn’t need sluggards. God doesn’t need failures.
Somebody recently asked several preachers, "When do you start to discipline your children?" One said when they’re five, another said when they start walking, and another said just after birth. Another one said, "20 years before their birth." You have to train the parents before they can train the kids. That’s a real problem today. I remember being fearful some years back in the early days of this church. Because we had such a slovenly generation 20 and 30 years ago, I remember thinking, "What kind of children is this generation going to have?" You should discipline yourself, if for no other reason than that you can discipline your children. Children, what you do in school means so much. Whatever your hand finds to do, do it!
So many times we hear, "I’m just a college student." You college students know I get angry sometimes. The problem is that I get so frustrated with a person who says, "I’m called to full-time Christian service. God has called me to be a Christian school teacher," or, "God has called me to be a missionary," and then doesn’t take his training seriously. He will never succeed. That’s why I get frustrated. You think that you are going to graduate from school, go out on deputation, and people are going to give you money. At 22 years old, you hit the foreign field, but are you going to be a success? No, no, not if you haven’t prepared before you left. You are going to waste God’s money. It’s not just missionaries. The average full-time worker doesn’t last because of just what I’m talking about. Parents, take the rearing of your children seriously. College students, whether you’re in our college or preparing for secular work in another college, be diligent! Take care of things so that you have a foundation to stand on.
I heard years and years ago about a test you could give your children to see whether or not they would be a success. It was called the "Tootsie Roll Test." If you take one tootsie roll and you say to a child, "You can have one tootsie roll today, or you can have a box of tootsie rolls tomorrow," the child who takes the one today will never prepare for tomorrow. He’ll never be anything because he’s living for the moment. If there’s anything I’ve seen in the day and age we live is people who live for the moment. I’m so fearful for some of you. You let your finances go, and let them go a little more. That’s living for the moment. That’s covetousness. You shouldn’t spend a dime that you don’t have. You say, "How am I going to eat?" I have a God. I think you do, too. If you take care of your finances and you budget your money, God will take care of you. People take the tootsie roll, and another tootsie roll, and then another tootsie roll, and they walk into my office saying, "I’ve got $50,000 of debt on my credit card. What should I do?" You’re strapped for decades. There’s not much you can do. You are hindered for the rest of your life. I think that the devil said to David, "Why aren’t you on the front lines?" I think David said, "I’m going to do my assigned job. I’m going to do what I’m supposed to do. I’m going to tend my sheep."
Now let’s take it a step further. Look at verses 34-36, "And David said unto Saul, Thy servant kept his father’s sheep, and there came a lion and a bear, and took a lamb out of the flock: And I went out after him and smote him, and delivered it out of his mouth: and when he arose against me, I caught him by his beard, and smote him, and slew him. Thy servant slew both the lion and the bear: and this uncircumcised Philistine shall be as one of them, seeing he hath defied the armies of the living God." He wasn’t just talking; he believed what he said. Now why could he say that? Because he had built a foundation. If you live a life of faith, it’s not hard when the giants come. Again, if you live a life of faith now, then when the giants come they won’t destroy you. He faced the difficulties one by one and withstood them. He was concerned about doing his assigned job and also taking care of the details. Most people, if a lion or a bear came would say, "It’s only one sheep. Why should I risk my life?" I think that’s what is wrong with us. We’re so used to rationalizing. We’re so used to making excuses, and we do that even with our children.
What a wicked world we live in! Did you hear on the news about the woman who hit a derelict man? He went through the windshield, and she drove home with him stuck in the windshield. He was alive in her garage for two or three days. She would come out and talk to him. What a world we live in! I just read in the newspaper about some parents who started their teenage girl on fire to discipline her. What a world we live in! We look at these things, we look at the drugs, we look at the sin and the wickedness around us, and we say, "That’s not going to happen to my child. I’m going to get him in a good church," or, "I’m going to put her in a Christian school." Amen, but that’s not where you should stop. We’re not here to raise your children. We’re here to help you raise your children. We can’t take your child any further than you do. You might say, "Well, I see bus kids make it." Amen. A bus kid with a drunken parent has a better chance of being a good Christian man or woman than a kid from a good, Bible-believing church whose parents are hypocrites. That child doesn’t have a chance. Yes, get your children in church! Yes, get your child in a Christian school! But watch his attitude also. Watch his friends. Don’t say, "Well, it’s only one sheep."
I’ve seen teenagers put on a front. You start seeing problems when they are in grade school, but it really shows when they get in high school. They become a smart aleck behind the teacher’s back. When you see things like that, it ought to be a huge, red flag. It’s not a small thing; it’s a big thing. You better get into the details. If David had a hundred sheep, he could have said "Well, it would only be a one percent loss. Ninety-nine percent success is okay." But David said, "No. I’m in charge, and I will not tolerate it." If David had that attitude about sheep, how can we have any less an attitude about our children? Quit making excuses, please. Quit worrying about what they look like. Determine what they are going to be like. Quit saying, "It’s my husband’s fault," or, "…my wife’s fault." Quit saying, "It’s the teacher’s fault." Take your responsibility. The Bible says the hireling will run when the beast gets into the flock, but the real shepherd will lay down his life for the lamb. David said, "Maybe it’s one, and maybe it’s not the best, but he’s my responsibility." And he fought a lion, and he fought a bear.
I can’t help but think about the story of the good shepherd. The Bible doesn’t go into details, but maybe it was cold or icy. It was dark, we know that. Somebody might have said, "It’s sleeting out there. It’s icy. There’s snow." But the good shepherd said, "I’m missing one." He had the ninety and nine, but he left the ninety and nine saying, "I’ve lost one." The picture always shows him looking over the precipice in the dark, grabbing that one sheep and putting it on his shoulder rejoicing. That’s the way we need to be. The person who gets chewed up by the giants is the one who would have let the sheep go until the next morning. We have giants in the day that we live. America has somewhat forgotten about it now, but we’ve gone to war. I want to remind you that it’s the first time war has reached our shores, and our president keeps on saying it’s not the last time it’s going to reach our shores. It could be through our water. It could be through our air. I’m not saying I lie awake worrying about it, but I’m saying it’s not over. This is a battle that’s been going on for hundreds and hundreds of years. Muslims as a whole have killed millions of Christians. That’s what Rwanda was all about. Think of the hot spots around this world. Every one of them that I can think of has to do with radical Muslims—whether it’s the Philippines or Israel. It’s been going on for hundreds of years, millions of people have died over this, and it’s not going to end. I’m not trying to scare you, but don’t kid yourself. There are battles all around us.
Bankruptcies are at a high point. People in our church are losing their jobs. If you don’t take care of the little things, though, you’ll never take care of the big ones. When the big thing comes, it is going to destroy you. You say, "What if somebody were to have one of these suitcase bombs and bring it into Gary or Chesterton?" I honestly believe I would not be losing sleep over it. You see, if we have taken care of the little things, if we’re right with God to the point that we can be, we’re not going to lie awake worrying about the giants that are coming. The problem with most of us is that we feel like we are an eagle on a hummingbird’s nest, when it should be the other way around as far as our work for God. We ought to feel like a hummingbird on an eagle’s nest. Do you understand what I’m trying to say? We think we can take care of these things, but it ought to be, "Only God can do these things." Do you think you can raise your kids on your own? You’re going to lose them. You say, "I’m doing a pretty good job." You’re going to lose them. God will show you what a "good" job you’re doing.
We couldn’t ask many people of our congregation to paint a wall. Why? They wouldn’t do it neatly because all they would think is, "I’m just painting a wall." Are you listening? It’s God’s wall. When you give, you are giving to God in order to bring in these bus kids, send missionaries across the world, and build a college for people from all over the United States to attend. That’s the way you get ready for giants. And when they come and you’re standing in the midst of insurmountable trouble, when the doctor says, "It looks bad," I don’t mean to take it lightly, but you can say, "Let her rip. I’ve got faith. I’m on the solid foundation. My God is greater than he who is in the world." In the midst of the storm when the boat seems to be capsizing, you can know He’s in the storm with you. But if you let things go—you let your marriage go, you let your kids go, you let your job go—and all you do is make excuses, you can be in a boat with only one foot of water and you’ll be afraid.
Thirdly, David was obedient to his father. Starting at verse 17, "And Jesse said unto David his son, Take now for thy brethren an ephah of this parched corn, and these ten loaves, and run to the camp to thy brethren; And carry these ten cheeses unto the captain of their thousand, and look how thy brethren fare, and take their pledge." Everybody wants to get on the platform, but there are not many people who want to carry the corn. You’ll never kill giants until you’ve carried the corn and carried the bread. You’re never going to be the apple of God’s eye as David was, you’re never going to write the 23rd Psalm. If you were to ask some people, "Do you want to be a deacon?" the answer would be, "Oh, yes." But paint the wall? "No." Work party slacks off. "Would you be an assistant teacher?" "No, I’ve got more talent than that."
I hesitate to say this, but as I stand here I think back to when I had my first Sunday school class of two students. It was so important to me. I gave my whole Saturday, my whole Sunday, I probably gave 20 hours a week to a class of two kids. Why? Because I was scared to death! Because I was going to open the Bible and teach them. I was responsible for them. Don’t take lightly anything you do for God. It’s all important. It’s all serious. Quit trying to climb. You’re going to fail if you have that attitude. You’re going to fail when giants come. Be obedient. Teach your children to be obedient to their earthly father because he is obedient to his Heavenly Father.
Have you ever heard the account of the "Letter to Garcia" that occurred during the Spanish-American War? If I recall correctly, a man was needed to go across enemy lines and deliver a letter to a man by the name of Garcia. People die in war. Our war against terrorism is such a sterile war compared to trench warfare. You have read about how people died by the thousands a day in those battles. This fellow was asked to go through the trenches of both sides and get to the other side to deliver this letter. He obeyed but was maimed for life. He went to the other side, delivered the message, came back with a reply and saluted smartly. He was maimed for life, but he did it. Our problem is we want a tank to go in front of us for anything we do. We want it to be easy, but God doesn’t use that type of Christian.
Quickly, look at verse 32. "And David said to Saul, Let no man’s heart fail because of him; thy servant will go and fight with this Philistine. And Saul said to David, Thou art not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him: for thou art but a youth, and he a man of war from his youth." David was willing to take a hard job. Now again, we don’t have time to read this entire passage, but it is very easy to picture. This giant would come out every morning and laugh. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen a giant, but in the past, we had the man who was supposed to be the tallest guy alive—around eight feet tall. He was so big that we had to take the front seat out of a car for him. He had to sit in the back seat to drive. Goliath was about a foot taller. You think Shaq is big? The giant was nine feet! He’d come out and laugh. He’d curse God. "Hey! Send out your best." Now Saul should have gone. He stood head and shoulders over everybody else the Bible says. But the giant would say, "Your God is nothing." He’d curse and swear. "Send out your best, and whoever the victor is, the other country will serve him." But everybody was hiding, including Saul, behind the bushes, behind the rocks, quivering and quaking.
Then a little ruddy-cheeked boy says, "I’ll go. I want to fight." There are two groups of people in churches. The people who will go, and the people who will just let them go. The people who will do the job, and the people who will let them do the job. I want to be part of those in the battle! The one who lets the others do the job is the one who will be chewed up. I’m not saying that if you’re in God’s will, nothing bad will happen; but I’m telling you there’s something worse than death. In fact, in most cases the trouble doesn’t even have to be a giant to defeat us. When you’re down hiding under a bush, you’re looking up at everything. Everything looks scary. We need to just look opposition in the face and say, "Let’s go. Nothing can conquer me when I’m in the will of God."
Next, he demonstrated his love for the Lord. Verse 36, "Thy servant slew both the lion and the bear: and this uncircumcised Philistine shall be as one of them, seeing he hath defied the armies of the living God." He believed in something. Now, verse 45, "Then said David to the Philistine, Thou comest to me with a sword, and with a spear, and with a shield: But I come to thee in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of
Israel, whom thou hast defied." Sometimes people will read a story like this and say, "Wasn’t that wonderful in the Old Testament?" But I believe in that same God today, and that’s the attitude we need to have. "You can come with your shield bearer, you can come with your armor, you can come as a giant, you can have all those things—I’m coming in the name of God!" "This day will the LORD deliver thee into mine hand…" Notice how confident he was. "…and I will smite thee, and take thine head from thee; and I will give the carcases of the host of the Philistines this day unto the fowls of the air, and to the wild beasts of the earth; that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel." Look at verse 47, "And all this assembly shall know that the LORD saveth not with sword and spear: for the battle is the LORD’s and he will give you into our hands." He stood firm.
Do you think they were all cheering for him? No, let me show you what happens when somebody stands firm, and let me show you what happens to those who are under the bushes. Verse 28, "And Eliab his eldest brother heard when he spake unto the men; and Eliab’s anger was kindled against David, and he said, Why camest thou down hither? and with whom hast thou left those few sheep in the wilderness? I know thy pride, and the naughtiness of thy heart; for thou art come down that thou mightest see the battle. And David said, What have I now done?" Then comes one of my favorite phrases in all the Bible, "…Is there not a cause?" Eliab said, "You little punk. You’re trying to make us look bad. Here we are hiding and quaking. Why don’t you go back to those smelly sheep?"
When you do something for God, you’re going to be criticized. You wouldn’t think this, but if you’re an aggressive, soul-winning church, you will get criticism from both sides. We get criticized from one side that says we are too aggressive. "You shouldn’t run those buses." Then we’re criticized by the other side because we don’t believe in having people just bow their heads and pray without knowing what they’re doing. We get heavy criticism. The same can be said if you raise good children. You would think everybody would say, "Praise God!" No, no, no. If they haven’t raised good children, your kids are going to make them look bad, and they are going to criticize. If you’re a good church member, the person who’s not right will think you are just "buttering up" to the pastor.
When you do right, and you stand next to those who don’t, they look bad. Picture the Israelites in this passage. These guys were in full armor. They had the gleaming sword. These guys were soldiers, and day after day you could hear the armor clicking right at the knee. But they were chicken! They were afraid! They were hiding. David, a punk kid, comes along and says, "Let’s go!" He had faith. Now I remind you, in the future Saul would try to kill him because of this very thing. His brothers said, "All you want to do is get your picture in the newspaper." If you don’t like criticism, stay out of the battle. I mean that. It hurts. If you do what’s right, you will be surprised at the people who will attack you.
Next, quickly, he had God’s provisions. Isn’t that exciting? Five smooth stones right where he needed them. This reminds me of the verse, "But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you." I think it was Bob Jones, Sr., who used to say, "You don’t find happiness looking for it. You stumble across it on the road of service." The happy person is the one who’s in the battle. There they were—five smooth stones. In the foreknowledge of God, He knew what was going to happen and at the right time told the mountains to spew out some stones. They went sliding down, but they needed to be smoothed out. They ran down the mountainside, God sent the rain to wash them off, and right when they got to the place where the battle was going to take place, God said, "Stop right here." There they were. God sent an angel down to dust them off like an umpire does home plate. It was no accident that there were five smooth stones there. David reached down and picked up five stones with no wind resistance, aerodynamically smooth.
Listen, God has all the provisions we need. That’s part of the excitement of life when you step out in faith. All you have to do is know God’s will. If you are without a job, just make sure you’re in God’s will. When Samson was attacked, he looked down and there was a jawbone. That was no accident—he killed a thousand with it. Moses didn’t have anything but a rod. Just a rod, but it was God’s rod. I love this! David had more than enough. He looked foolish with that sling, didn’t he? We look foolish, too. I remember when we were going to start the Academy 30 years ago. If I recall correctly, the year before we started the school, the Lutherans shut their school down. I can remember people in town saying, "Who do you think you are? How do you think you are going to start a school?" The Catholic school was ready to be shut down. We were told, "You can’t do it!" They don’t understand when you say, "God is leading us to start a school." I’m sure Joshua, marching around the city seven times and blowing horns felt foolish as the people of Jericho laughed, "Toot, toot, to you, too!" They stopped laughing when the walls started falling. The Bible is not just a story book. The Bible is to be applied to our lives. God always uses that which seems foolish to get the job done. The foolish things of this world, the Bible says, are used to confound the wise. I don’t know why some of us try to act like such big shots. I’d rather be victory’s "fool" any day than a respected "loser." David looked foolish, but he did the job. He grabbed a stone, and threw it in the air.
Look at verses 50-52, "So David prevailed over the Philistine with a sling and with a stone, and smote the Philistine, and slew him; but there was no sword in the hand of David." Now read what it says. "Therefore David ran, and stood upon the Philistine…" You notice it says "on him." Goliath was huge. David didn’t have a sword, and he took the Philistine’s sword, "…and drew it out and slew him, and cut off his head therewith. And when the Philistines saw their champion was dead, they fled." Can you see him getting up on top of that giant? His sword had to be huge, and he picks it up and "whop!" You say, "God is always for peace, never for war." Tell that to David. He cut his head off. Picture that head. Can you see him carrying it and chasing the Philistines? I’d run, too!
"And the men of Israel and of Judah arose, and shouted…" Notice what that does. If you have a leader who will stand, people will get behind him. It doesn’t have to be the pastor. Young people in the youth group and in the college, you are supposed to be leaders. It doesn’t mean you preach at people. It doesn’t mean you yell at people, but you do what’s right. You get a leader who does this, and everybody gets behind him. All of a sudden, there were a lot more men than it looked like before coming out from under the bushes and behind the stones. "…and pursued the Philistines, until thou come to the valley, and to the gates of Ekron. And the wounded of the Philistines fell down by the way to Shaaraim, even unto Gath, and unto Ekron."
Then verses 6 and 7 of the next chapter, "And it came to pass as they came, when David was returned from the slaughter of the Philistine, that the women came out of all cities of Israel singing and dancing…" This was the beginning of Saul’s hatred. They met king Saul "…with tabrets, with joy, and with instruments of musick. And the women answered one another as they played, and said, Saul hath slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands." I’ve always said it’s fun to get into a fight when you know you will be the victor. You say, "You shouldn’t fight." No, no. Life has its battles. Don’t tell me you’re never going to be in a battle. Life has its battles. I’m not saying it’s fun to pick a fight; but I’m saying if you know you’re in God’s will and you know God is on your side, you just have to wait to see what He’s going to do.
Some want it easy. Some are always running from the conflict. "I’m going to stop giving because I’ve gotten tight financially." Well, you just lost the victory. You’re afraid to discipline your kids, you’re afraid they’re not going to love you—you’ve lost the victory. I would so much rather be in the battle with God than to be alone in the corner hiding. I would so much rather see the windows of heaven opened. We see John exiled to the island of Patmos. That was a terrible place with wild animals, but John wasn’t feeling sorry for himself. He was in God’s will, and God revealed the future to John. I think he was excited. I’d rather weep over my kids and work on them than to give up. I’d rather tremble witnessing, have people laugh and slam doors. Who cares? We always want to be kind. We don’t want to fight with people when we go soulwinning. But if they slam the door—who cares? I’d rather be out there with them laughing and be right with God and see souls saved eventually.
Some day we’re going to stand before Jesus at that judgment seat, and He’s going to want to know, "What did you do?" Christian, the whole basis of this message is: get in the battle. Sometimes people look at another Christian and say, "Well, he’s not what he ought to be," or, "I don’t want to get involved." You phony! Get in the battle. It doesn’t matter what somebody else is. You’re not going to stand before Jesus in somebody else’s shoes. Don’t just look and criticize other people. It’s you! It’s your relationship with your wife. It’s your relationship with your children. It’s your relationship with your God. It’s you! Get in the battle. It’s not easy, but in the long run, it’s fun. I say again, victory is always fun. I don’t care what happens in our lives, if we’re in God’s will, we’ll look back and say, "I see what God was doing, and I see the victory in it all."