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Shepherds Hill Homestead » Messages » Before Goliath

Before Goliath


We’re in 1 Samuel 17 today.  We are looking at a story in the bible today that is very basic, very elementary in a lot of levels but consequently we overlook some of the depth in those stories.  In most Children’s Bibles there are ten to twelve common stories that we pick out for children.  A lot of times we look at them as a parent and forget that there is a lot of depth to them.  As we look at this story – don’t put it off that you don’t need to pay attention but think “What do I need to get from this today”.  I would dare to say that the children’s Bible stories are basic to Christianity and are not just simple children stories. 

The story we are going to look at today is the story of David and Goliath in 1st Samuel seventeen.  Our message is called “Before Goliath”. You know over the past few weeks we have looked at stories about the nation ofIsrael and how they rebelled against God and suffered the consequences and then repented to God – a vicious cycle, over and over again. If you look at this passage today – we are on the downswing andIsrael has again been overcome by their enemies.  Saul is the King and the Philistines are the enemy that they are standing against. 

I did a little research on this passage as there are measurements we are not as familiar with: shekels, cubit, span, etc.  I wanted to find out exactly how big Goliath was.  How big was this enemy they were facing?  Many commentaries do not agree with the concept that Goliath was a giant.  They say he was really only about 6 feet tall.  But there is no way that a 6 foot tall man could carry a spear the size of a weaver’s beam or carry a 160 pound coat of mail.  He was not 6 feet tall.  I want you to understand that sometimes things of this world will tell you that the Bible is not completely accurate, but I want you to know that it is absolutely accurate and you can trust everything in here to be true.  It happened exactly as the Word of God tells you.

This scripture tells us that Goliath was 6 cubits and a span.  This comes out to be almost 10 feet tall.  Regular ceilings are 8 feet tall.  A doorway is generally 7 feet high.  This man was almost 10 feet tall!  He had a helmet of brass and wore a coat of mail that was 166 pounds which is almost what I weigh.  His spear the size of a weaver’s beam – this is equivalent to the diameter of a baseball bat with a 15 pound spear head on the end.  We could probably not even pick this up. 

In verse 8 it says that Goliath taunted the armies ofIsrael. Now, Saul was a tall man – the Bible says that he was head and shoulders above regular men.  He was a powerful man.  But this verse tells us that even Saul was afraid of Goliath. This frightened them.  We often think of how mighty an army is.  This was the army of God and they were afraid.  Can you imagine two armies coming against each other, facing each other and one has some kind of weapon, or in this case a person that creates terror in the other army? 

We know what spiritual parallel there is in this.  Sometimes we have battles. Sometimes the battles are unlike anything we have ever experienced before.  When you look back atIsraelthey had to come against new threats that they had never had before.  This situation was different.  There was a single man on the other side that was coming against them.  Every day he came out and challenged them saying, “Send out your best man to fight me and whichever of us wins, that is who will be victorious.”  I remember back in the 70’s during the Vietnam war, there was a commercial saying, “Instead of armies fighting, let’s get the leaders of the countries to fight.”  If that was the case they wouldn’t get someone who is aged and wise for a leader, would they? They would get a soldier or military man to lead them.  In this situation with Goliath we see that there is a major battle unlike ever before.  Saul was experienced in battle but he really didn’t know what to do in this situation.

Goliath came for 40 days, morning and evening to challenge them.  In this incident 40 days is significant.  In God’s timetable 40 days always signifies a test.  So we know that Goliath was a test forIsrael.  God sent an answer in the form of a young boy.  Remember the title today is “Before Goliath”.  These people were dealing with this for 40 days before Goliath.  Now, David was a shepherd, keeping sheep  and he was the baby of the family- the youngest.  His father sent him to check on his brothers who were in the battle.  Let’s look at verse 20.  I wonder what went through David’s mind when he arrived and saw this mighty army of God aligned and ready for battle.  Then Goliath comes to the front of the enemy and makes this challenge and the entire army runs.  Imagine how that must have looked.  How ridiculous it is that we run from the battle. Fear is a terrible thing.  It will do away with any faith you have in God unless your faith is bigger than your fear.

All of us want to believe that when our time comes, we will be ready. All of us want to say that we are ready –  we read our Bibles, pray, and are men and women of God.  We all want to believe that when we meet the test we will pass.  We all have had those moments when we are really dedicated to God and we promise that we will withstand the enemy.  But when the test comes, too often we tremble with fear.  It was just so with this army.  Every time Goliath came out they got more and more afraid.  More and more they began to wonder what was behind him.  If he was 10 feet tall, what might the rest of the enemy be like?  As they saw this, fear overwhelmed them.

In verse 28 we see that David’s oldest brother got irritated with him.  Anytime you stand up for what’s right someone will mock you and tell you that you are not good enough.  It’s bad enough that the devil is doing that but so often people in the church will attack you! “How dare you!  How dare you have that kind of faith! How dare you think you can live a separated life!  How dare you dress that way or wear that thing on your head! How dare you stand like you are?  Be like the rest of us and be afraid!” This elder brother was mad at his younger brother.

David kept asking again and again what would be done for this person who faces the challenge.  Finally the word got to the King that this young boy was asking and willing to challenge this giant.  We all think we are mighty warriors but sometimes a young one will show us up. Sometimes our flesh gets in the way and fear overcomes us. David said he would take the challenge.  Then David began to recount the smaller battles that he had been through already and how he had been victorious.  He had defeated a lion and a bear.  Now, if you are looking for the key, look in verses 34 – 37, the key to winning the battle today is what happens before Goliath.  Before you ever get to the big challenge you have to go through the little battles.  David based his victory over Goliath on the fact that he had already conquered the lion and the bear.

Now those are still pretty big battles already aren’t they?! Killing a lion and bear barehanded would be a tremendous battle on its own.  He was just a shepherd boy, but instead of letting fear fill his heart, love for his sheep filled his heart.  Saul told him he couldn’t win, but David said, “Let me tell you my experience and how God has prepared me to go against this enemy”  “Let me tell you how God has strengthened me in time of war.”  We do want to face the battles but often times we don’t want to face the little battles first.  David could have written off a little lamb as a loss and not battled the bear.  He could have turned away from the fight.  But he did everything in his power to battle the enemy. 

I want you to see this – it can go right past you if you don’t pay attention.  God wants you to see that the battles you give in to so easily are to prepare you for bigger battles.  When you brush things off and don’t face them head on then you are giving up the opportunity to be strengthened.  You have not faced Goliath yet.  He is out there and in order to defeat him you must win the little battles first.  Do you know what soldiers do in boot camp?  They train,  march and learn how to endure hardship.  They prepare by going through small battles and learn to shoot live rounds of ammunition. They do the real warfare in practice.  Then when they go to war they are prepared. 

Think about the small battles in your life that you turn away from because you just don’t want to deal with them.  You choose not to do something because you don’t want the enemy to attack you.  You want to stay in a safe place and be left alone.  How do you think you are going to ever face Goliath?  When that times comes do you want to be like Israel and tremble with no idea how to win?  There was a time when I was paddling a kayak and I turned over.  My head was dragging on rocks under the water and all my practice in the pool at the YMCA was over suddenly left me.  I began to panic and I didn’t remember what to do.  I tried to turn myself back over and was struggling. I came up once but was flipped again. The second time I tried to come up I realized that if I didn’t come up the third time, I wouldn’t make it.  I cried out in my heart to God just a few seconds before I knew I would drown and the Lord helped me come upright.  If you panic in battle and give up on God you will not survive. 

The problem is that we think those little battles are Goliath.  We make all the excuses in the world to not do the things we need to do because we think there is an escape.  Each time you are not committed and diligent you are losing a battle.  As you let each opportunity go to defeat the enemy you are losing more and more strength to fight the bigger battles.  The sin of murder begins with hateful thoughts.  Little thoughts can turn into major destruction.  If you live day to day giving into the flesh you will one day flee in fear.

In Jeremiah 12:5 it says that “If thou hast run with the footmen, and they have wearied thee, then how canst thou contend with horses? and if in the land of peace, wherein thou trustedst, they wearied thee, then how wilt thou do in the swelling ofJordan?” That is powerful!  We are often so timid and carnal minded that we think of the things of God as tiring and boring.  People would choose to watch a movie version of the Bible instead of reading it.  Studying God’s word and feeding on His word seem to be too hard.  He asked how can you run with horses if you can’t even keep up with the footmen.  Those soldiers in boot camp train hard and they probably think they are being treated unfair.  I have never been in the military but I had read much about it.  They are trained hard-almost to the point of abuse- because the battles will be so hard. They are kept awake for days with no sleep because sometimes in battle there is no rest.  How are you going to win the big battles if you are never challenged?

All of us have things that we let slide and we think it isn’t a big deal.  How many things do we ignore because we think it won’t really matter? What are you going to do when the engine goes out in your car and you have no money- because you wouldn’t put $10 a paycheck in savings? Ten dollars doesn’t sound like much but most people would rather spend it than save it.   The challenge of little things is what prepares us for the major things.  Let’s finish in Ephesians 6.

In Ephesians chapter six we find the list of Spiritual armor. I am just going to point out one verse in this today so that we might consider one thing. In verse thirteen Paul says to wear the whole armor of God so that we can stand in the evil day. What is the evil day? It’s the day of the phone call that you never thought would come. It’s the day when someone arrives at your door to bring bad news. And, it’s the day when the world as you know it will come to an end. All of us face those days. They aren’t avoidable. You can prepare for them though. We must not shirk the smaller battles because they help us get through big ones.

I often smile at husbands who tell their wives how much they love them-how they would stand in front of a gunman and take a bullet in her place and won’t even take the garbage out! We think we could withstand the big battles when we don’t even pass the small ones. Are there battles you are giving up today? Don’t take them lightly-they will prepare you for the biggest battles of your life.

Prayer-Father, help us to never again give up challenges that come our way. May we always take them as serious and grow in them. Let us not give up our lambs to the lions and bears but may we take back what is ours to keep.

                                    In Jesus’ Name—Amen


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Philippians 3:13-14 Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

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