1 John 5:4 – For everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. The New Living Translation says it this way… For every child of God defeats this evil world, and we achieve this victory through our faith. (NLT) The clear implication of John’s statement is that we are engaged in a battle and faith is a weapon. In Ephesians 6:15 Paul commands Christians to take up the “shield of faith” in order to fend off the fiery darts of the enemy. These statements are not a call to physical battle, and our fighting is not against flesh and blood (Eph. 6:12). But the spiritual battle between good and evil is real and present. As Christians, we are commissioned to fight and engage the enemy. Moral passivity or spiritual apathy is not an option.
- Our faith (or trusting obedience) in God is the key to victory. Hebrews 11:30-34 accounts the integral place of faith in the lives of those who “subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, became valiant in battle, turned to flight the armies of the aliens.”
- Among those listed here is David. David’s epic battle can teach some things about faith that wins.
I. David and Goliath: The greatest upset of all time? (1 Samuel 17) Who doesn’t know the story of David and Goliath? This is “the battle of the century”, “the fight to end all fights”. But when we characterize a conflict as a “David meets Goliath” what do we mean? It is a story of how the underdog wins over the favorite. The little guy overcomes his impressive opponent. It is an upset. But is this an account of an upset? Who is the real underdog here?
A. What we will notice is that David’s view of the scene is different from anyone else’s. Through faith he sees another participant. It is not Goliath against Israel, or even Goliath against David. It is Dagon, Goliath’s god, against Jehovah, David’s God. It is no contest. The giant does not have a chance.
II. Goliath’s Challenge: The Philistine army is encamped on the hillside overlooking the Valley of Elah, poised for battle. The Israelite army is on the opposite hillside. The challenge is issued. 1 Samuel 17:3-9
A. Goliath, the Champion of the Philistines: Goliath is called a “Champion” – The word literally describes one who stands between two camps and fights to settle a dispute. He is an accomplished warrior who is ready for the battle. He issues the challenge of a champion: 1 Sam 17:8-10 – Then he stood and cried out to the armies of Israel, and said to them, “Why have you come out to line up for battle? Am I not a Philistine, and you the servants of Saul? Choose a man for yourselves, and let him come down to me. 9 If he is able to fight with me and kill me, then we will be your servants. But if I prevail against him and kill him, then you shall be our servants and serve us.” And the Philistine said, “I defy the armies of Israel this day; give me a man, that we may fight together.”
1. Goliath was a giant of a man, measuring over nine feet tall! He wore a bronze helmet, a two-hundred-pound coat of mail, bronze leggings, and carried a bronze javelin several inches thick, tipped with a twenty-five-pound iron spearhead, and his armor-bearer walked ahead of him with a huge shield.
2. Even his words are intimidating, as he defies the God of Israel, and taunts Saul’s army.
B. David, the shepherd son of Jesse. Of the eight sons of Jesse, David was the youngest. He was put in charge of the sheep, while his older brothers went to fight in the army. David is not a soldier. He is not intimidating. He is sent by his father to take supplies to his brothers on the battlefield. It is here that David hears the echoing challenge of Goliath. (v. 23)
1. David is incensed at the giant’s blasphemous words. 1 Sam 17:26 – …For who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?” David is not afraid, as the others. He is ready to act on his faith in God.
III. David’s Faith: Fast forward to the consummation of this battle. We all recognize that against all odds, young David defeats Goliath, with just a stone and a sling. Israel wins a great victory over their enemy. From this single battle, David himself is vaulted into notoriety. David’s faith overcame. But his faith overcame more than just a giant. Notice all the obstacles that were in his way. We may face these also.
A. The cowardice of others: 1 Sam 17:11 – When Saul and all Israel heard these words of the Philistine, they were dismayed and greatly afraid. vs. 24-25 – And all the men of Israel, when they saw the man, fled from him and were dreadfully afraid. So the men of Israel said, “Have you seen this man who has come up? Surely he has come up to defy Israel; and it shall be that the man who kills him the king will enrich with great riches, will give him his daughter, and give his father’s house exemption from taxes in Israel.” It is difficult to be brave when everyone else is afraid. Even Saul’s mot experienced warriors were afraid to face this giant.
B. The mistreatment of his brother: 1 Sam 17:28-29 – Now Eliab his oldest brother heard when he spoke to the men; and Eliab’s anger was aroused against David, and he said, “Why did you come down here? And with whom have you left those few sheep in the wilderness? I know your pride and the insolence of your heart, for you have come down to see the battle.” 29 And David said, “What have I done now? Is there not a cause?”
1. It is not stated why David’s oldest brother treats David so harshly. Maybe he was jealous, or felt guilty for not accepting Goliath’s challenge himself. He accused David of abandoning his other responsibilities and urging someone to accept the challenge just to see a fight. .
a. Sometimes brothers can be your harshest critics. Others can impugn our motives and accuse falsely. Paul warns us in Gal. 5:15 against “biting and devouring one another”.
b. David answered modestly. What have I done wrong? Is there not a cause? David rhetorically denies doing anything wrong. He points to the higher purpose for his words. Didn’t every Israelite have a reason (cause) to be motivated to act? David is not deterred by his brother’s criticism – he turns from him and speaks to another (v. 30)
C. The Idleness of his leader: Read vs. 32-39 – Some have suggested that the true contrast in this event is not David and Goliath; but rather David and Saul. Of all those in Israel, Saul, the King, should have been ready to accept Goliath’s challenge and defend the honor of his God.
1. David volunteers for the task. Vs. 32 – Let no man’s heart fail because of him; your servant will go and fight with this Philistine.” The roles are reversed here. It should have been the leader saying the encouraging words, and expressing his faith in God. Instead, Saul tells David that David is not able fight this giant, because he is too young and inexperienced.
a. David had a lot of reasons to turn around and go back home: Everyone else was afraid, his own brother thought he was worthless and out of place just being there. Now his experienced leader tells him he cannot possibly win. What would cause David to stay and fight?
2. David believes in God’s ability to fight the enemy. 1 Sam 17:36-37 – Your servant has killed both lion and bear; and this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, seeing he has defied the armies of the living God.” 37 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.”
a. David assures Saul that he is not without experience. As a shepherd he has killed the bear and lion, even engaging in successful hand to hand combat.
b. But David recognizes the God will be fighting for him. He tells Saul it was God who delivered the bear and lion, and so He will this Philistine. But David’s faith also lies, not just in the power of God, but in the moral character of God. God was willing to kill the bear just to defend David’s little flock. He will certainly be willing to defend His own name against one who has openly “defied the armies of the living God.” We should never doubt God’s willingness to support us in doing what is right.
c. Despite the unwillingness of his leader to lead, and others to support him, David is ready to take on the giant. He is not afraid. Saul insists that David use the king’s armor, but David was unfamiliar with it (had not tested it), and it was useless to him. (v. 39)
D. The intimidation of His enemy: 1 Samuel 17:41-44 – 41 So the Philistine came, and began drawing near to David, and the man who bore the shield went before him. 42 And when the Philistine looked about and saw David, he disdained him; for he was only a youth, ruddy and good-looking. 43 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. 44 And the Philistine said to David, “Come to me, and I will give your flesh to the birds of the air and the beasts of the field!” Not only is Goliath intimidating is appearance, he also speaks intimidating words. Before the battle even begins he attempts to inject fear into David’s heart through his speech.
1. Satan is very successful at intimidating God’s people with his words. [Are you some kind of religious nut? Fundamentalist, intolerant bigot. Do you really think you can remain sexually pure in today’s world? You can never live good enough to be a Christian, so why try? No one is interested in what the Bible teaches. You will only be humiliated if you speak up.] a real test of faith.
2. David answers back: 1 Sam 17:45-47 – “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 tells Goliath that it is the God of Israel who will deliver him into David’s hand.
- David also announces the benefit of this act of faith on the fearful and unbelieving crowd that was watching – all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel.
IV. God’s Victory: 1 Samuel 17:48-50 – 48 So it was, when the Philistine arose and came and drew near to meet David, that David hurried and ran toward the army to meet the Philistine. 49 Then David put his hand in his bag and took out a stone; and he slung it and struck the Philistine in his forehead, so that the stone sank into his forehead, and he fell on his face to the earth. 50 So David prevailed over the Philistine with a sling and a stone, and struck the Philistine and killed him. But there was no sword in the hand of David.
A. David is so confident that he rushes toward Goliath (how this must have perplexed the giant). It only took one stone. The text is clear to point out that David had no sword. Neither David nor God needed the tools of men’s warfare. This was a spiritual battle. 2 Cor 10:3-5 – For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. 4 For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, 5 casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, The battle that the Christian is engaged in is not fought on the literal battlefield with guns and rockets. Not is it fought in the political arena through the ballot box. It is fought in the minds of individuals, through the teaching of truth.
B. David’s words to Goliath before the fatal blow reveal the essence of his faith. He sees the defeat of Goliath as a certainty and proclaims in vs. 47 – Then all this assembly shall know that the Lord does not save with sword and spear; for the battle is the Lord’s, and He will give you into our hands.”
1. “the battle is the Lord’s” – by this statement David was announcing the absolute sovereignty of His God. In the 40 days of Goliath’s taunting, the Israelites were unsure of their future. Would they be the servants of the Philistines? Such uncertainty and fear is the antithesis of true faith. David understood by faith that the battle was already over. The God of Israel cannot be mocked. Godless men cannot hold His people hostage. “You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.”
C. God rewards David’s faith and courage by directing the stone to the giant’s forehead and sending the Philistines running for their lives. Goliath, the champion is dead. Israel is free.
D. Despite the dramatic contrast between David and Goliath, this battle is not the most profound upset of all time. The image-filled story contained in the book of Revelation describes a dragon in chapter 12 with 7 heads and 10 horns. In chapter 13 a beast from the sea with 7 heads and 10 horns, and a beast from the earth with a voice like a dragon. These three go out to make war with, of all things, a little lamb. This little lamb appears as if He has already been slain. Who will win this battle?
- Rev 17:14 – These will make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb will overcome them, for He is Lord of lords and King of kings; and those who are with Him are called, chosen, and faithful.”
Conclusion: “The battle is the Lord’s. David is often pictured in scripture as a type of Christ. Certainly in this event we can see the image of Christ’s work. Jesus came to the battlefield in aid of His brethren. He was mistreated and maligned. Despite all the obstacles, He was faithful to the cause. On the battlefield of Calvary He defeated His opponent soundly.