(Click HERE for a slightly staticky audio version.)
I Samuel 17:1-58
Everything I Need to Know I Learned in VBS:
“David & Goliath – Shepherd –> Giant-Killer”
Lidgerwood Presbyterian Church
Through the Written Word,
And the spoken word,
May we know Your Living Word,
Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
We live in the least biblically literate age of our nation’s history. Just a few decades ago, even non-church attenders, non-religious, un-Christian people knew Bible references – and used them in daily conversations.
That is very different today. For lots of reasons, our children and grandchildren have not even heard, let alone learned, many of the Bible stories that people of my generation and older take for granted.
There is one major exception to this reality – even if the reference is not truly understood or believed to be true. In fact, I heard a radio ad for an insurance company use it today: “There is no Goliath this David can’t handle.”
“Goliath” is understood as – what? [any kind of giant enemy] And “David” is the little guy, the average Joe, but it is the little guy who is going to conquer!
What is the Goliath you are facing? What challenge must you meet and conquer? I know for some here it is a health concern – cancer, diabetes, stroke, kidney disease, vision, arthritis, heart health, balance and vertigo, bone fragility; for some it is more of a financial fear or fate; for some it may be a legal battle; for others it is loneliness and relationship issues. What Goliath-sized feat do you face?
We have made great progress in our current Sermon Series looking at some of our favorite VBS and Sunday School lessons – stories of Creation, Adam and Eve, Noah and the flood, and a few about Abraham & Isaac & Jacob, Moses, Joshua & Rahab, & Ruth & Boaz, a look through the book of Judges, and last week we watched as God chose a young shepherd boy to be prepared to become the next King of Israel.
David was a wee 10-15-year-old boy, maybe the age of Johnny, when he was anointed to be king – but then he had to wait approximately 15 years to take office. I have a friend whose 10-year-old son “knew” he was called to be a missionary pilot – but he had to finish elementary school, middle school, high school, enter Moody Bible Institute and join their Aviation School. Zach is now an accomplished pilot, teaching at Moody Aviation, and will be assigned a mission field within another 3 years.
David’s education mostly involved tending sheep, and then serving King Saul (whom he would one-day replace). This story about Goliath happens while he is still living at home with his family, and it leads to his leaving home and beginning his years in King Saul’s service.
Listen to the Word of God from I Samuel 17:1-58 (starting on P. 203). Listen for God’s voice to you; what is God saying to you this morning? Hear God’s voice …. —-
1 Now the Philistines gathered their forces for war and assembled at Sokoh in Judah. They pitched camp at Ephes Dammim, between Sokoh and Azekah. 2 Saul and the Israelites assembled and camped in the Valley of Elah and drew up their battle line to meet the Philistines. 3 The Philistines occupied one hill and the Israelites another, with the valley between them. (All of that detailed location description gives credence to this story – it is not a
fairytale, it is real!)
4 A champion named Goliath, who was from Gath, came out of the Philistine camp. His height was six cubits and a span. (that’s like 9 feet, 9 inches tall – this dude was a giant!) 5 He had a bronze helmet on his head and wore a coat of scale armor of bronze weighing five thousand shekels (that’s like 125 pounds of armor!); 6 on his legs he wore bronze greaves, and a bronze javelin was slung on his back. 7 His spear shaft was like a weaver’s rod, and its iron point weighed six hundred shekels (like 15 pounds of weaponry!). His shield bearer went ahead of him. (This gargantuan giant with an entire squadron worth of armor and weaponry had a shield bearer who walked out in
front of him to keep him safe!)
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.”10 Then the Philistine said, “This day I defy the armies of Israel! Give me a man and let us fight each other.” 11 On hearing the Philistine’s words, Saul and all the Israelites were dismayed and terrified. (Send one guy to fight me, unless you’re chicken!)
12 Now David was the son of an Ephrathite named Jesse, who was from Bethlehem in Judah. Jesse had eight sons, and in Saul’s time he was very old. 13 Jesse’s three oldest sons had followed Saul to the war: The firstborn was Eliab; the second, Abinadab; and the third, Shammah.14 David was the youngest. The three oldest followed Saul, 15 but David went back and forth from Saul to tend his father’s sheep at Bethlehem.
16 For forty days the Philistine came forward every morning and evening and took his stand.
Then Jesse sends David-the-shepherd to Saul’s army where his three older brothers are serving. Jesse wants a report of his sons’ safety. But when David arrives at the encampment he hears about this Goliath-giant’s challenge and wonders what it’s really all about.
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.”
So King Saul tries to convince young David to wear the King’s armor and to use his weapons, but they’re too big for him and David refuses.
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 (just like Johnny), 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.
Then David stood over the felled Goliath that challenged him; he took Goliath’s own sword, stabbed him and cut off his cabeza, and carried that to King Saul.
56 The king said, “Find out whose son this young man is.”
57 As soon as David returned from killing the Philistine, Abner took him and brought him before Saul, with David still holding the Philistine’s head.
58 “Whose son are you, young man?” Saul asked him.
David said, “I am the son of your servant Jesse of Bethlehem.”
Did you catch how our advertisements and even our own uses of this story reference are wrong?
The insurance ad I heard on the radio claimed to be the David, who by his own wit and will would win over any Goliathan challenge.
But that is not how this story plays out at all! David says, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of YHWH Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel. YHWH will deliver you into my hands. The whole world will know that there is a God in Israel. It is not by sword or spear that YHWH saves; for the battle is YHWH’s.”
He gives full credit to God, but he does not simply sit back and do nothing while waiting for God to take over!
What does David do?
- He recognizes that his work as a shepherd is transferrable to this job of giant-slaying – he tells King Saul, “Yeah, look. Right. I’m not a soldier, but I have protected my sheep by killing lions and bears, right? I think I can handle one Goliath from Gath.”
- Btw, did you hear why Goliath lotht hith battle with David? Goliath ran out of Gath….
- He brought a gun to a knife fight. Right? Goliath, a very formidable foe, 9’9”and WWE Champion for years. But this unbeatable battler has to be within a yard or two of his opponent to win.
- David comes with a sling-shot – and as an experienced shepherd, he knows how to hit his target from many yards away. So he just shoots Goliath down from across the valley! (Do you remember how Indiana Jones wins against his sword slinging opponent in the back alley outside of Egypt?)
But, even while David uses what God has given him, his skills as an ace sling-shotter – skills as an experienced educator, as a musically skilled singer or instrumentalist, as a woodworking wonder, as a bookkeeping businessperson, as a nurse, as a … (you fill in the blank here) – David does his deeds in the name of the Lord.
God puts us where we are, God gives us our passions and dreams, God provides our experiences – good and bad, victories and defeats, ups and downs – and all of that counts as training for our role in the Kingdom of God!
And remember to give God the glory God deserves! Today’s bulletin cartoon says, “It’s not so much that I’m bringing a sling to a sword fight as it is you bringing a sword to a God fight.”
The battle is the Lord’s! Never forget that when we are on the Lord’s side – He will win the battle! Joanne has cancelled out her cancer; Jack is succeeding over his stroke; Kathy kick’s her kidney disease in the backside every week. They each do that in their trust in and service to God Almighty. Riley Jane Halvorsen no longer needs her cranium cracking surgery because her mother, Melissa, and grandmother, Linda, gave this Goliathan battle over to the Lord!
That’s what God does for you, too, friends. He sovereignly ordains the events of our days – there is no one in this room whom God hasn’t called to be His. We may not be called to kill any actual Goliaths! But we are all called to use what God has given us and to trust in His providential love and Lordship! And, as with David – may the whole world come to see that there is God in our lives!
Whatever is your Goliath! Face it with our winning God at your side, and do as He says.
Friends, God loves you, and He longs to give that love to you.
Thank You, YHWH God, for calling us out from death into life. Thank You for providing what we need for Your Kingdom purpose. Thank You for being YHWH God, who saves and rescues and wins. Through Christ our Lord, in Jesus’ name. Amen.