Courageous Faith Series
Realizing Your Goals:
“Confidence in the Face of Danger” – David
15 March 2020
Let’s remember that we seek to follow the Divine Promiser and His promise which transforms ordinary people into “children of promise” (Gal. 4:28). It is God’s promise which encourages our hearts and lifts our souls. His promise keeps us going when the going gets tough.
So far in our series on Courageous faith we have discussed Abraham, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Joshua, Daniel, Jephthah, Samson, Boaz and now David.
“Location, Location, Location!” Today’s real estate brokers shout it time and time again. They are trying to remind us that specific places are important in our decisions. The same is true in the Bible. There are many stories in the Bible that God uses to get our attention. They act as living illustrations of how He transforms ordinary people into great leaders of faith and victory. Some of these stories have such a tremendous impact on us that we never forget them. One such story is that of David’s victory over Goliath. It is a story of faith and victory over incredible odds.
We find this story in 1 Samuel 17, which begins by telling us the location of this event, the valley of Elah. To be precise, it is part of the valley location between Socoh and Azekah, near Ephes Dammim. Those names aren’t familiar to most people today, but they are real places – must as real as Atlanta, Chicago, and Boston.
You can travel to Israel today and find the location of these ancient sites. It is said by those who have that you can stand in the very valley David and Goliath had their historic confrontation. One of the greatest proofs that the Bible is true is the fact that the places it mentions actually exist.
King Saul of Israel had assembled on the eastern hillside, while the Philistines lined up their army to the west. This was no ordinary Old Testament battle. This was a battle for the very existence of the nation of Israel. They had struggled against the Philistines for two hundred years. A loss now would cost them everything.
The people of Israel had grown tired of the struggle. They begged God to give them a king to fight their battles for them. God reminded them through the prophet Samuel that He was their king, but that wasn’t good enough. They wanted a king they could see – one like the other nations had. So God told Samuel to make Saul their king since he was as 1 Samuel 9:1-2 says, “There was a man of Benjamin whose name was Kish the son of Abiel, the son of Zeror, the son of Bechorath, the son of Aphiah, a Benjamite, a mighty man of power. 2 And he had a choice and handsome son whose name was Saul. There was not a more handsome person than he among the children of Israel. From his shoulders upward he was taller than any of the people.”
The only problem was that Saul did not have a heart for God. He was greedy, selfish, and jealous. His kingship was a failure, and his kingdom was about to collapse. The Promise was in jeopardy as well. No one had yet come on the scene to fulfill it. And the promised line was not on the throne.
Too Big To Miss
The time had come for God to expose Saul’s weakness. He had some initial success battling Canaanites, Ammonites, and Amalekites. But these weren’t “ites.” These were “stines.” – Philistines. They were a sea people who had iron swords and spears. Israel was no match for them.
The Philistines kept the Israelites under their control by disarming them. At one point, only Saul and his son Johnathon had swords. The rest were fighting with farming tools as we read in 1 Samuel 13:19-22, “Now there was no blacksmith to be found throughout all the land of Israel, for the Philistines said, "Lest the Hebrews make swords or spears." 20 But all the Israelites would go down to the Philistines to sharpen each man's plowshare, his mattock, his ax, and his sickle; 21 and the charge for a sharpening was a pim for the plowshares, the mattocks, the forks, and the axes, and to set the points of the goads. 22 So it came about, on the day of battle, that there was neither sword nor spear found in the hand of any of the people who were with Saul and Jonathan. But they were found with Saul and Jonathan his son.”
But God is not limited to human instruments or human weapons. He had raised up Shamgar to defeat them with an ox goad (Judges 3:31), and Samson with the jawbone of a donkey (Judges 15:15). So why not have David with a sling?
Since Saul was taller than anyone in Israel, God sent him an enemy who was even taller: Goliath. The Bible describes the Philistine “giant” as being over nine feet tall. Proportionately he would have weighed at least 600 pounds. He was huge! Almost big enough to be the entire front line of a football team.
Notice, however, that Goliath was not a “jack-in-the-beanstalk” kind of giant who was thirty feet tall. He was a very real, very believable giant. He was big enough that the Israelites through he was too big to hit. David, however, realized he was too big to miss!
A man once made an interesting observation about David and Goliath. He said, “I think most Christians are more like Goliath than David.” He said, “Look at Goliath.” “He has enormity. He’s over nine feet tall. He has equipment – over one hundred pounds of armor, plus his weapons. And he has experience. He is a man of war.” Then he went on to say, “We often don’t trust in God.” “We trust in our size, our budget, our high-tech equipment, our state –of-the-art programming, and our history and heritage.”
This is quite an observation. Sometimes we trust everything but God to get the job done. Not David. He went to face Goliath armed with faith in God. He dared to go where no one else would go. And he went with very little in his hands.
For forty days, morning and evening, Goliath taunted the Israelites. Look at what he shouted in 1 Samuel 17:10, “And the Philistine said, "I defy the armies of Israel this day; give me a man, that we may fight together."
Battle By Champions
Goliath was proposing a challenge that was very familiar to the Philistines’ Greek heritage: battle by champions. The Greeks had followed this practice for centuries. Fight for a few days, then stop and send out two representatives – champions such as Ajax, Hercules, Hector, and Achilles. Let them fight it out. That was how you could determine whom the gods had chosen to win.
The Israelites probably didn’t understand the concept at all. They only believed in one God – Jehovah. Besides, if they sent out a representative, it would have been Saul. He was their king and their tallest warrior. But he wasn’t about to volunteer himself.
The battle dragged on for forty days (1 Samuel 17:16). Goliath issued his challenge eighty times, and no one ever responded. It was humiliating and demoralizing. The average Israelites probably thought, I’m not going anywhere near that monster!
Day after day and night after night, Goliath issued his challenge: “Settle the conflict. Send out a champion!” Day after day and night after night – no takers!
In the meantime, back in Bethlehem, David’s father, Jesse, became concerned about the welfare of his three oldest sons who were serving tin the army with Saul. So, he loaded up David with some provisions and sent him off to the battlefield.
“See how your brothers are, and bring some assurance from them,” Jesse said.
Who Is This Kid?
It was a short jaunt over the hills to the valley of Elah, especially for a seventeen-year-old. David’s legs churned as he flew over the rocky ledges of the valley’s edge. He came up behind the Israelite camp early in the morning as the soldiers were preparing to start up the battle again that day.
1 Samuel 17:20 tells us, “So David rose early in the morning, left the sheep with a keeper, and took the things and went as Jesse had commanded him. And he came to the camp as the army was going out to the fight and shouting for the battle.” Imagine the excitement of this young teenager. A real live war was going on right before his eyes – shields up, swords flashing, men running.
David ran right along with them, unarmed and carrying a bag of groceries. What a sight he was, screaming the war cry at the top of his lungs! The soldiers running beside him probably thought, Who is this kid? And what’s in the bag?
About the time David found his brothers, he also discovered Goliath. He was the biggest thing David had ever seen! No wonder the Israelites fled from him in terror. He was big enough to crush a man to death. The entire Israelite army slowed to a stop.
The Goliath put his hands to his mouth and shouted across the narrow valley, “Hey, over there, send out a man to fight me!”
It was the forty-first morning and the eighty-first challenge. David, however, was hearing if for the very first time.
In 1 Samuel 17:26 we read, “Then David spoke to the men who stood by him, saying, "What shall be done for the man who kills this Philistine and takes away the reproach from Israel? For who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?"
That’s when the whole picture changed. Unlike the Israelites who were concerned about their safety, David was concerned about the reputation of his God. Even his oldest brother, Eliab, couldn’t talk him out of his resolve.
When Eliab accused him of leaving the family flock unattended, David accused him by responding in 1 Samuel 17:29, “"What have I done now? Is there not a cause?"
David Recognized that the cause and purpose of God were at stake. That’s why he volunteered to fight Goliath. When God’s cause is at stake, God’s people should speak up! But it takes a real man to stand up when the stakes are high. Some men wilt under pressure. Others talk big but never do anything.
Faith in Action
David was unique. He knew god personally, and it showed. He spoke of God’s activity in his life with total confidence that God would deliver this enemy into his hand. In fact, he spoke with so much assurance that his brother shut his mouth.
Eliab just stood there in stupid silence, like a bolt of lightning had hit him.
Somebody ran to King Saul and told him they had found a volunteer to fight Goliath.
“Send him here,” Saul said, expecting one of the soldiers. Instead, it was an unarmed teenager with a sack of groceries!
In 1 Samuel 17:32 we read, “Then David said to Saul, "Let no man's heart fail because of him; your servant will go and fight with this Philistine." David was trying to reassure the king. Saul nearly had a heart attack himself for he said in 1 Samuel 17:33, “"You are not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him; for you are a youth, and he a man of war from his youth."
A youth! David probably thought. When are you people going to let me grow up! God helped me kill a lion and a bear. And I can take this Philistine too!
David was so convincing that he talked Saul into it. The kid had so much faith in God that the old king was stunned. Nobody talked like that any more! David’s faith in God was so real that it silenced his critics. Saul was dumbfounded.
“He has defied the living God!” David Said. “He’s the one who’s in big trouble here, not me!”
David showed every essential quality of leadership. He knew what to do and how to do it, and he had the confidence to make it happen. Genuine leaders
1. Build Trust
2. Set the example,
3. Facilitate high standards
4. Develop a solid reputation
5. Get the job done
What’s In Your Hand?
The amazing thing about the story of David is that Saul let him fight Goliath. After all, he had nothing to lose. They had been fighting over this valley for forty days. Saul was desperate. His army had to be discouraged. It was only a matter of time until they were beaten. Besides, he may have the thought, who says we have to surrender if the kid gets killed?
In 1 Samuel 17:37 we read, “Moreover David said, "The LORD, who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, He will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine." And Saul said to David, "Go, and the LORD be with you!" Saul may well have said, “And I hope you don’t get killed to quickly!”
Saul offered David his armor, but the young man refused it. He didn’t even know how it worked. Instead, he decided to go against Goliath with two things he had brought with him: his shepherd’s staff and his sling.
The staff was a long stick with a crook in the end. The sling was a leather pouch with two strands of leather attached. It was a weapon, not a toy sling shot, but it wasn’t much of a weapon against Goliath. However, a kid with a good sling could throw a rock a hundred yards.
David didn’t ask God to put more in his hands before answering the challenge. Most of us never get going for God because we want Him to equip us first. We want a great voice before we will sing or speak for Him. We want great wealth before we will give to Him. We even want great courage before we will stand up for Him.
It doesn’t work that way. God will never put more in your hand until you are willing to use what is already there. If you won’t use what you have, why should He trust you with more? David went out with a staff in one hand and a sling in the other. Later God put the scepter of Israel in his hand and the crown of king on his head because he was willing to go with what he had.
David walked alone out of the Israelite camp and down the hillside toward the brook of Elah. It still meanders along the bottom edge of the valley today. And it’s still full of stones. When he got to the bottom of the hill, David picked up five smooth stones out of the brook and put them in his shepherd’s pouch.
From what I understand you can stand in that same creek bed today. And once you step out of it, you are on the flat surface of the valley floor. The rocky cliff is behind you, and the tree-lined hills to the west are head of you.
The valley itself is no more than a mile wide. One can easily see and hear across it. And there, in the empty valley, walked a lone figure headed toward the Philistine encampment. David the shepherd boy – the future king of Israel, the kid from Bethlehem, the son of the promise, the ancestor of the Messiah!
Goliath got excited! Someone had finally answered his challenge. He grabbed his sword and spear, and the shield-bearer moved out ahead of him. But when Goliath got closer, he saw that it was an unarmed teenager. The Philistine warrior instantly despised David and laughed at him with scorn. In 1 Samuel 17:43 we read, “So the Philistine said to David, "Am I a dog, that you come to me with sticks?" And the Philistine cursed David by his gods.”
Then he cursed David and promised to kill him and feed his flesh to the buzzards.
David had not been there those other days to listen to Goliath curse the God of Israel. He had not seen the army of Israel cower in fear. He had not seen Saul’s weakness as their leader, nor their panic at the sight of Goliath. David was undeterred by all of that. He was on a mission. He was defending the cause of God. Listen to the words of David to Goliath in 1 Samuel 17:45-46, "You come to me with a sword, with a spear, and with a javelin. But I come to you in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. 46 "This day the LORD will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you and take your head from you. And this day I will give the carcasses of the camp of the Philistines to the birds of the air and the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel.”
David wasn’t just after Goliath. He intended to take on the entire Philistine army! Goliath stood there speechless. He hadn’t heard an Israelite talk like this before. He hadn’t ever seen such a display of faith and courage. So, he stayed to fight.
As Goliath lumbered toward him, David did something surprising – he ran right for him! There was no turning back now, no potshots from behind a bolder. David totally abandoned himself to God. Here I go, live or die. You’d better be there! He probably thought.
As David ran toward Goliath, he reached into his bag, pulled out a stone, put it in the sling, wound up, and shot it right at Goliath’s head. The stone rose from the underhanded motion of the sling, cleared the shield, and struck Goliath right in the forehead. It killed him instantly. His huge body came crashing to the ground with an incredible thud. Silence fell across the valley. Philistines and Israelites alike were stunned. “He’s down!” They said breathlessly.
David stood alone with God in that valley. He left the faithless and fearful army of Israel behind. He left his brothers behind. He even left King Saul behind. And in that one incredible moment, he became Israel’s great hero. When he left home, he was a shepherd boy. By mid-morning, he was a national hero.
There was something very unusual about David. He stood out from all the rest. He had a deep and personal faith in God. It was the kind of faith that one could live by or die for.
When David left home, he had no idea what lay ahead of him. He got up just like he did every other day. But this day would be different. This day he would step out by faith and abandon all he had to God. He left home a boy but returned a man.
Once Goliath hit the ground, David was the only one left standing tall on the battlefield. In less than one hour, he alone had done what the army of Israel hadn’t been able to do for forty days.
Then David did something only a teenager would do. He ran up to the fallen body of Goliath. The King James Version says he “Stood upon” it. I can just see him walking all over the dead body. He probably thought, Wow! Look at this thing. It’s huge!
Next, he took Goliath’s own sword and cut off his head. Then he stood up with the head in his hands. And when the Philistines saw it, they fled for their lives. David didn’t even need the other four stones he had picked up in the brook. One killed Goliath and sent the entire Philistine army into retreat.
Finally, the Israelites pursued them. They waited until David had killed Goliath and put the Philistines to flight. Then, the Bible says, they chased them back to the gates of Ekron. Not, only had David done in an hour what the army couldn’t do in a month, but he also accomplished something in one day that the whole nation of Israel hadn’t done in a a hundred years – defeated the Philistines in battle.
There are no easy roads to victory. It takes faith and courage to face the obstacles of life. And the spoils of victory do not go to the weak or fainthearted. The victory goes to those whose faith exceeds the obstacles. Those who dare to dream the impossible dream, who reach for the unreachable – they are the real winners.
Keys to personal victory include:
1. Attitude. Positive people are the best achievers. Negative people eventually give up and lose.
2. Analysis. Decision makers get the facts, analyze the facts, and decide what to do quickly. They reject “analysis paralysis.”
3. Action. Winners take action. They refuse to be victims. They decide what to do and do it If they run into obstacles, they deal with them and keep moving.
What will it take to see our nation turn back to God? Hundreds? Thousands? No! It will only take a few David’s willing to stand alone for God – people of faith willing to abandon themselves to the cause and purpose of God, people willing to surrender their agendas to God, people willing to put God first in their lives.
Revival always has a price tag. It costs the sacrifice of ourselves to God. For some, it will mean giving up habits and practices that do not glorify God. For some, it will mean sacrificing our time and energy to serve God. For others, it will mean putting a wife and family ahead of a career. It will always mean reordering priorities to bring them in line with God’s priorities.
Ask yourself, Is God really first in my spiritual life, marriage, family, business, goals, finances, time, and activities? We will never experience the kind of revival that can revolutionize our family and friends until we experience it changing us. Real revival is both personal and life changing.
David became a great leader because he knew God personally. The Bible calls him a “man after God’s own heart.” He overcame great obstacles to become Israel’s greatest king. He later fled from Saul’s jealous animosity. But he eventually returned to take the kingdom, write some of the psalms, and become the leader of Israel’s worship to God. As the great-grandson of Ruth and Boaz, David finally brought the promise to its initial fulfillment. With David there was indeed hope for the future.
As we near the end of another study, let’s ask ourselves some questions with what we have learned from the story of David and Goliath:
1. What obstacles are you facing in your life right now?
2. Do you know why God is allowing them, and what is He trying to teach you through them?
3. What do you already have in your “hand” that God wants to use?
4. When are you going to step out by faith and use it?
5. Where do you need to be willing to stand alone for God?
6. What is holding you back from making a total surrender to Him?