Dealing with giants in our lives 1 Samuel 17 - Written Sept. 6 2006 By Joe Cunningham
I had a long talk with someone I love dearly about her addiction. She’s not doing very well. She needs our prayers. We talked about God, and we talked about love. We talked about the cleansing power of the blood of Christ. We talked about the life giving presence of the Holy Spirit. We talked about family and friends….true friends.
She sees her addiction as barrier that she can’t pass, a mountain that she can’t climb, a giant in her path. So, we talked about giants.
I decided to write this down and send it out to all of you. We all have giants in our life. Maybe this might help you understand what to do about them.
We’re all familiar with the story of David and Goliath. It’s found in 1 Samuel 17. David was the youngest of the eight sons of Jesse. The Prophet Samuel, by the command of God, had anointed him to be the next King of Israel (1Sam 17: 12). It would be years before he would become king, but the Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon him from that day forward (1Sam17:13). David was just a kid, and probably thought that old Samuel was out-of-his-mind. David stayed with his Father and continued to tend to the sheep.
Some time later, the Philistine army was at war against Israel in the Valley of Elah. The Philistines were camped on the Northwest side, and the Israelites on the Southwest. They were at a stalemate. No one was moving. That is, except for Goliath, the Philistine champion from Gath. Goliath was a giant of a man. He stood 6 cubits and 1 span tall (1Sam17: 4). That’s 9 foot 9 inches tall! He wore a bronze helmet and a coat of mail that weighed 125 pounds (1Sam17:5). The shaft of his spear was as heavy and thick as a weavers beam, and was tipped with an iron spearhead that weighed 15 pounds (1Sam17:7). For 40 days, twice a day, Goliath taunted the army of Israel (1Sam17:16).
Meanwhile, David was still at home with Jesse, while his brothers were serving in the Israeli army. One day Jesse asked David to bring his brothers some food and to see how they were doing, so David packed up the gifts and headed to the Valley of Elah (1Sam17:17). When David arrived, his brothers gave him a hard time (like some big brothers do), and told him to go back home. Just then, Goliath came out, as he had been, and began to taunt the army of Israel. The entire Israeli army retreated at the sight of Goliath. They were scared to death.
David couldn’t believe what he was seeing. He asked, “Who is this pagan Philistine anyway, that he is allowed to defy the army of the Living God?” (1Sam17:26). David’s question was reported to King Saul, and the king sent for him (1Sam17:31). “Don’t worry about a thing, David told King Saul, I’ll go fight this Philistine.” (1Sam17:32). “Don’t be ridiculous!” Saul replied. “There is no way you can go against this Philistine. You are only a boy, and he has been in the army since he was a boy!” (1Sam17:33). But David persisted. “I have been taking care of my father’s sheep,” he said. “When a lion or a bear comes to steal a lamb from the flock, I go after it with a club and take the lamb from its mouth. If the animal turns on me, I catch it by the jaw and club it to death. I have done this to both lions and bears, and I’ll do it to this pagan Philistine, too, for he has defied the armies of the Living God! The Lord who saved me from the claws of the lion and bear will save me from this Philistine!” (1Sam17:34-37).
King Saul finally consented. He asked David to wear his armor, but it was too big and awkward. David grabbed his shepherd’s bag, and picked up 5 smooth stones from a stream. Armed only with his shepherd’s staff and a sling, David set out to meet Goliath (1Sam17:38-40).
Goliath walked out towards David, sneering in contempt at the ruddy-faced boy. “Am I a dog,” he roared, “that you would come at me with a stick?” And he cursed David by the names of his gods. “Come over here, and I’ll give your flesh to the birds and wild animals!” Goliath yelled (1Sam17:41-44).
David shouted in reply, “You come at me with sword, spear and javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord Almighty – the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. Today, the Lord will conquer you, and I will kill you and cut off your head. And then I will give the dead bodies of your men to the birds and wild animals, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel! And everyone will know that the Lord does not need weapons to rescue his people. It is His battle, not ours. The Lord will give you to us today (1Sam17:45-47).
As Goliath moved closer to attack, David quickly ran out to meet him. Reaching into his shepherds bag and taking out a stone, he hurled it from his sling and hit the Philistine right in the forehead. The stone sank in, and Goliath stumbled and fell face downward to the ground. So David triumphed over the Philistine giant with only a sling and a stone. And since he had no sword, he ran over and pulled Goliath’s sword from its sheath. David used it to kill the giant and cut off his head (1Sam17:48-51).
Wow! What an incredible story. So, how does this pertain to our lives today? What lessons can we learn from young David?
Lesson #1: David walked closely with the Lord. There was nothing more important in David’s life than the Lord God Almighty. In everything he did, the Lord God was his first thought. When he came to the battlefield in verse 26, he couldn’t believe his eyes. The entire Israeli army was shaking in their armor at the sight of Goliath. The Israeli army was no stranger to the battlefield. These guys were tough, hardcore, veteran military men. They had been in many battles, and most would have been around when Israel defeated the Philistines a few years earlier. But all they saw was this giant of a man. Compared to Goliath, they were small. They felt insecure. This is how Satan works in our lives. He makes the everyday trials of our lives appear to be giants in our path. He whispers in our thoughts, “You can’t beat this thing….you’re too small….you’re insignificant.” Think about some of the giants in our lives. We could struggle with addictions to drugs or alcohol, smoking, pornography, gambling, habitual lying, greed, lust, … the list goes on. Nothing is out of Satan’s reach of influence. He uses our fear to make us doubt ourselves in job interviews, school work, competitions, or even working in the service of the Lord.
Because of his relationship with, and his understanding of the power of God, David faced his giant without fear. David knew that if he kept his focus on God, God would provide everything that David needed to conquer Goliath. This same God is willing to do the same for us today. Trust in Him. There is no giant in your life that is too big to conquer. Start by making God the first thought of your day. Thank Him for the new day. Thank Him for the warm shower that you get to take. Thank Him for the food you are about to eat - no matter how meager it may be - thank Him anyway. Talk to Him in prayer the same way that you would talk to a friend. Tell Him your problems, tell Him your fears, and rest in His promises.
Paul wrote to the church in Rome: “And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from His love. Death can’t, and life can’t. The angels can’t and the demons can’t. Our fears for today, our worries for tomorrow, and even the powers of hell can’t keep God’s love away. Whether we are high above the sky, or in the deepest ocean, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38-39 NLT)
Lesson #2: Try looking at our giants from God’s perspective. How did David see this situation? David looked at Goliath from God’s perspective. Compared to God, Goliath was nothing but a loud mouth punk, a pagan, and even worse, Goliath was trash talking the God that David loved more than anything in his life. David couldn’t stand for that. David was no match for Goliath, and he knew it. Goliath's shield alone was bigger, and weighed more than David. But David also knew that he was no match for the lion and the bear. But, somehow, God gave him victory over them. And David had faith that God would do the same thing with Goliath. So, try looking at your giants from God's perspective. You’ll see that they are pretty small in comparison.
I've known several men and women that struggled for years to quit smoking cigarettes. They all tried every method available, usually with no results. And then, at the same time, I've known some of these same women that as soon as they found out they were pregnant, they quit on the spot. How did they do it? They realized in an instant that the love they have for this child, and the desire to make sure they are as healthy as possible, far outweighed the addiction and their desire to continue smoking. Compared to the enormity of their love and sense of responsibility to this unborn child, their addiction seemed pretty small and was easily conquered.
I've always said that the secret to overcoming an addiction is to have a reason to quit that is greater than all of the reasons to continue. David's love, respect, devotion, and trust in God was reason enough for him to stand up to his giant. What would be reason enough for you? Could it be your relationship with the Lord?
Lesson #3: The depth of David's faith in the Lord. In verse 37, David knew that the Lord who protected him from the lion and the bear would also protect him from Goliath. Do we have that kind of faith? It’s natural to look towards God when a crisis hits. In the aftermath of 09/11, the churches across America were filled to capacity. People who hadn’t prayed in years were on their knees, and that was a great thing to see. But, as soon as the crisis was over, people went back to their old ways of living their lives. David lived in faithful service to God. He trusted God in all things. When you read the Psalms that David wrote, you can feel the love, devotion, and complete trust that David has in God. David wrote Psalm 3 when his rebellious son, Absalom, was plotting to kill him. Absalom put together an army of 10,000 men to overtake the throne. Everyone thought that David’s reign was over, but David prayed to the Lord….Psalm 3 reads:
O Lord, I have so many enemies; so many are against me. So many are saying, “God will never rescue him!” But you, O Lord, are a shield around me, my glory, and the one who lifts my head high. I cried out to the Lord, and He answered me from His Holy Mountain. I lay down and slept. I woke up in safety, for the Lord was watching over me. I am not afraid of ten thousand enemies who surround me on every side. Arise, O Lord! Rescue me my God! Slap all of my enemies in the face! Shatter the teeth of the wicked! Victory comes from you, O Lord. May your blessings rest on your people.
Absalom was defeated, and David’s younger son Solomon later became the next king. Hopefully, we will never have 10,000 men trying to kill us, but no matter what we are up against, we can rest in the protection of the Lord. He is a shield around us, our glory, the one who lifts our heads high.
We’re all familiar with Psalm 23. “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He leads me beside still waters……Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me…..Surely goodness and kindness will follow me all the days of my life.”
What an awesome Psalm to memorize, and to meditate on. It sums up our perfect relationship with God. If we obey Him, He will provide for us. If we trust Him, He will protect us. If we stumble and fall, He will pick us up. If we drift away from the flock, He will welcome us back. If we welcome Him into our lives, our cups will overflow with blessings. And when we die, we will live with Him forever. If you were ever to memorize scripture, this would be a good one to start with. And the next time you are feeling lost, or alone, or frightened, or worried, if you feel the pressures of this world coming down on you, pray this Psalm and rest in the protection of the Lord.
Lesson #4: We don’t need anything extra, God will use what we have to accomplish His plan. So many times in our lives we find ourselves thinking, “If I only had more money, I could take care of this.” Or, “If I was just a little stronger, I could overcome this.” Or, “If I only had more courage, I could stand up against this.” David knew that God would provide everything he needed to do God’s will. In this case, it was five smooth stones. Anyone of us probably would have taken King Saul up on his offer to wear the king’s amour. We might have faith that God will give us victory over our giants, but we don’t have complete trust in how He will do it. It is so difficult for us to let go of our fears and trust completely in God. But, that is exactly what God wants us to do. Sometimes we think of our relationship with the Lord as a 50 – 50 split. If I do this, He’ll do that. If I fast for two days, will you make Uncle Bob well?
The most mis-quoted scripture, that is not scripture at all, is, “God helps those who help themselves.” That’s not God’s plan. That’s not the way He works. This is our idea of how we view our relationship with God; if we work hard, He will reward us with His love, and if we don’t, He will ignore us. Nothing could be further from the truth. God loves us unconditionally – He always has and always will. Romans 5:8 reads, “But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still His enemies.” All God wants from us is our faith and trust in Him. He doesn’t need us to accomplish His will, He is perfectly capable of doing it all on His own. But we need Him.
The bible is the Word of God. God gave us this word so that we can get a small understanding of His majesty. If you want to understand the thoughts of God, study the scriptures. Throughout the bible, both Old Testament and New, there is one resounding theme; if we trust in God, He will provide for us.
God’s message to the patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph was, “I will be your God, and you will be my people.” In Genesis 15, God promised Abram (Abraham) that he would have so many decedents that they would be like the stars in the sky – too many to count. “And Abram believed the Lord, and the Lord declared him righteous because of his faith.” (Gen 15:6)
So, if there is anything that we need to do, it is to simply trust in the Lord. The Lord will provide all that we need. In 1 Samuel 17:47, David said, “And everyone will know that the Lord does not need weapons to rescue His people.”
As you read and study the Old Testament, you can see the power of God as He delivered Israel through one battle after another. Israel always seemed to be the underdog going into each battle. In Joshua 6, the Lord told Joshua to take the city of Jericho. Jericho was a fortress city with huge walls and strong gates. Anyone looking at it would have said that it was impossible to breech. But, God told Joshua to march around the city walls, once a day for six days, then on the seventh day, circle the walls seven times. After the seventh time, the priests would blow their horns with one loud blast, and all the people would give a mighty shout. The Israelites followed God’s command and the walls of Jericho came tumbling down. Amazing things can happen when we align our will with God’s will.
So, come to God just as you are. He knows exactly who you are and what you are capable of doing. He will use you to your full potential, according to His Will. You won't need a thing.
Lesson #5 – It’s His fight, not ours. In the second half of 1 Sam 17:47, young David proclaims, “It’s His battle, not ours. The Lord will give you to us!” There are a few truths that we need to realize in our lives. (1) Satan is very real, and is alive and well in our world today. (2) Choosing not to believe in him doesn’t supernaturally protect you from his influence in our lives. In truth, it makes you easy prey. (3) On our own, we are completely powerless against his influence. We cannot fight Satan on our own. (4) God is more powerful than Satan. God created Satan and therefore, Satan will always be subject to God. (5) All we need to do is trust in God, and He will protect and provide for us.
It’s all about faith and trust. Now, I don’t want you to think that all you have to do is believe in God, and your life will be forever blessed. In the book of Job, Job was a righteous man who God blessed richly. Satan came into the throne room of God and said, “Yes, Job fears God, but not without good reason! You have always protected him and his home and his property from harm. You made him prosperous in everything he does. Look how rich he is! But take away everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face!” “All right, you may test him,” the Lord said to Satan. “Do whatever you want with everything he possesses, but don’t harm him physically.” So Satan left the Lord’s presence. (Job 1:9-12)
Job was tested in the most horrible ways, but he never lost faith in God. You better believe that his human side came out. He cursed everything he could think of, the day of his birth, the ground he walked on, the pain he was experiencing. He cried, he yelled, he screamed, but he never blamed it on God. Instead, he thanked God for all that God had given him in his life, realizing that he came into this world with nothing, and that all he had was from God. There’s a lot more to the story of Job, but the bottom line is; Job conceded to the fact that he was no match for Satan, and that he needed God’s deliverance. Because of Job’s faith in God, God restored him to an even greater level of wealth than he had before.
As David said, “It’s His battle, not ours.” David trusted that God would use him according to God’s plan, not his own. David was so certain of God’s deliverance that he told Goliath that he would kill him and cut off his head….remember, David didn’t have a sword. He knew that somehow, God would make it happen. Let go, and let God!
Lesson #6 – Attack our giants. It would have made perfect sense if verse 48 would have read, “As Goliath moved closer to attack, David stood his ground.” Or “David fell to his knees and prayed to God for strength.” But, he didn’t. Verse 48 reads, ”As Goliath moved closer to attack, David quickly ran out to meet him.” David knew that he was on a mission from God. He knew what he had to do, and he “jumped in with both feet”. Sometimes we hide behind our faith. We pray to be delivered from an addiction or a bad situation, yet we “just don’t have the strength or courage” to remove ourselves from it. David could have just stood there and waited for God to kill Goliath, and God could have done just that. But that wasn’t God’s plan. David had to do his part. The Spirit of God was with David as he faced his giant, and the same Holy Spirit is with us as we face ours. We need to learn to trust in the Lord with the same conviction as David, and run out to meet our giants.
Lesson #7 – For the glory of God. Everything that we do should be done for the glory of God! In verse 46, David told Goliath “…and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel.” David wasn’t doing this for himself; he did it for the glory of God. But, even more so, David didn’t see this as an opportunity to publicly preach of the glory of God, he had no choice but to defend the name of God. Because of his close relationship with God, it was something that he felt perfectly natural doing… as natural as us taking a breath. David was truly the man after God’s own heart. Do we have that focus? We need to. When our focus is for the glory of God, God will make things happen.
The Apostle Paul wrote to the Church in Rome, “And we know that God causes all things to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them.” (Romans 8:28) God is always in control. Even when He allows us to be tested, He is still in control. In hindsight, we can see how He works in our lives. Much like the conductor of a great symphony, He orchestrates the situations we encounter in our lives. What we do with those situations, according to our free will, is what shapes the direction of our lives. We each have a Romans 8:28 moment in our lives – the truth is, we all have thousands.
Consider the story of how my brother Jim and his wife, Mary Lou, met. From what I remember, Jim was alone, with every worldly possession balanced carefully on the back of a 10 speed bike. He was thousands of miles from home. He hadn’t eaten in some time. He had pedaled his bike into Canada, and had made it to the small town of High River, Alberta. With no money in his pockets, he made his way to the local Catholic Church, hoping to gain food and shelter from the rectory. When he arrived, no one was there. He sat on the steps for a while when this woman came up and asked if he was OK. She took Jim home and fed him, probably figuring that he would leave right after eating. But, he wouldn’t leave! She tried everything to get rid of him, and he just wouldn’t go….OK, I made that part up. Jim became close friends with the family, and to make a long story short, he fell in love with, and married this woman’s daughter, Mary Lou.
If we live our lives as David did – with our eyes firmly fixed on the Lord, the Lord will cause all things to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them. Jim could have made the choice to leave right after Mrs. Needham fed him the first time, and think of how different our lives would be. There would be 10 less humans in the world as a start. And, think of how many lives they have all blessed by their presence.
We never know exactly what God has planned for us. But, the one thing that is certain is that no matter what bad choices we make in our lives, God is always trying to draw us back towards Himself.
So, what have we learned from David's experience? (1) David made the Lord his focus in life, (2) he saw his giants from God’s perspective, (3) his faith in the Lord was strong, (4) he allowed God to use him according to His will, (5) he knew that the battle belonged to the Lord – he was just a foot soldier, (6) he eagerly went out to do God’s will, and most importantly, (7) everything he did, he did for the glory of God.
Can we honestly say that all we do is for the glory of God? Probably not since we are sinful by nature and we live in a sinful world. But, if we begin to focus our attention on the Lord, as David did, we will begin to see more and more Romans 8:28 moments in our lives. Then, when we do have those times of trouble – when we fall into sin as David did (2 Samuel 11) – we are more apt to look towards God for forgiveness, rather than trying to hide from His conviction.
As I was writing, and praying for the words, I realized that all of us have giants in our lives. Some are bigger than others. But, none are bigger than God.
Are we looking at it the way that David saw Goliath? Do we have enough faith to say, “Lord this is your battle, I am not strong enough to fight this on my own – but I know you are. Use what little I have to offer according to Your will. I believe that you cause all things to work together for the good of those who love You and are called according to Your purpose for them. Heavenly Father, we know that we have been called by you, through the power of the Holy Spirit, to serve. I pray that you will use us mightily in this service. We know that you are faithful in answering prayers, and we ask this in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior, Amen.”
Pray this prayer, or something like it from your own heart, whenever you feel the pressures of the world coming down on you. Keep your eyes focused on Christ. He is our Lord, He is our Savior, He is our friend, and He is our brother. 1 Timothy 2:5 reads: “For there is only one God and one mediator who can reconcile God and people. He is the God-man Christ Jesus.” Hebrews 7:25 reads: “…He lives forever to plead with God on their behalf.”
I hope this study has been a blessing to you. Your questions and comments are always welcome but never necessary.