1 Samuel 17:37-51 Faith that slays the giants in life!

By Monday this last week I had talked with 4 people who had giant sized issues that they were dealing with in their lives.  For Noel, whom I’ve mentioned before, it is the disease that Carolyn his wife has invading her body.  They’ve bravely fought this fight before and won the battle but now it seems that the disease has returned with its champion.

At this point in the battle there is still a lot of posturing going on.  The disease speaks of many victims and its stature is menacing.  If they were to only look at the disease and its ravishing ability to take down the strongest opponent, it would seem to be an overwhelming enemy.

Slide1But they don’t just listen to those taunting voices threatening to do them harm.  They know that the Lord still has the final say and in the end, regardless of what the disease does, Carolyn has already been granted the ultimate victory.  And so as the battle rages on, they stand firm, trusting that God’s love and mercy will see them through to the end.

They speak out words of faith that weaken the giant’s ability to instill fear with its taunting and bullying. But they also know there is more battle to come.  So they gather around them Friends of Faith who have taken up the sword of the spirit and joined ranks in fighting against this giant.

Slide2Proverbs 30:5 says, “Every word of God is tested; He is a shield to those who take refuge in Him.” Psalm 33:20 says, “Our soul waits for the LORD; He is our help and our shield.”

As I thought about Noel & Carolyn’s fight my mind wandered back to the evening before when I visited another man facing an epic enemy.  This man was weather beaten having clearly lived a hard life seeing at times both victory and defeats that left scares upon his heart.

Slide3His heart had physically given out already in the latest skirmish yet by God’s grace he was revived and still very much alive.  But now he too had a giant to slay.  The doctors wanted to do an operation on his weaken heart.

I asked him if he was ready for this battle should it claim his life.  Was he ready to meet the LORD face to face?  He assured me he was. He too knew that regardless of the outcome of this skirmish that Jesus had already gained for him the victory.  The Bible says, A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of” (Luke 6:45).

To live through this battle and continue to endure the fight of faith would be this man’s wish but for him, should he die, he like Paul considered it gain.  And so as we prayed together I thanked God for the peace that had already settled this man’s heart and prayed for continued grace as the battle rages.   As I wrote this I was waiting to hear if he went for the lifesaving procedure as complications had risen.

The third person was facing a different giant before him mustering all his faith as well.  The outcome for his situation looked troublesome at best but for the sake of his children he would fight on.   They needed much more than he and his wife could ever hope to give.  The road these children had traveled was full of adversity which left battle scares upon them.  The establishment had pretty much written these kids off as irreparably damaged. But this godly couple said yes to them knowing there would be many battles ahead.   The Bible says, “Above all love each other deeply because love covers a multitude of sins” (1Peter 4:2).

Slide4  As this man poured out his heart about the future for them he was speaking through eyes that had seen miracles even in the face of great adversity.  He knew the power of the risen LORD Who can take even what Satan means for harm and turn it into something glorious.  So he and his wife are determined to show these little ones the love of God through their relentless love to them.

And then he admitted just how exhausting life had become since taking on this epic journey.  So I prayed for more strength and times of rest for this couple in the days ahead. And I could tell that the simple act of listening to his story had brought down the level of stress just a bit for that day.

I don’t know what giants lay in your path these days.  I know that regardless of whether they are physical or spiritual that one of Satan’s favourite tools includes propaganda geared towards causing you to lose hope, and distrust in the LORD and give up.

The forth person has been in chronic pain for so long she can hardly remember what life is like without it.  But lately it has robbed her of much of the joy of the Lord.  Long drawn out battles tend to do that.  And sometimes the only thing you can do is grasp on to the Lord’s word and hold on to His promises.  Even though she is hard pressed on every side she knows that God’s word says, “Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all” (Psalm 34:19).  And so she fights on awaiting the day of deliverance.Slide5

When the battles come you should know that Satan is an expert in the realms of fear, and anxiety, and he always tries to overload you with so much that you can’t effectively fight against him.    But one thing I do know is that with God’s help you can slay those giants and emerge victorious.  We see this so clearly in our passage for today.  1 Samuel 17:37-51 When God fights for you nothing can stand against Him.

I’m starting this Bible lesson a little into narrative to shorten our time together today.  So let me get you up to speed.  As we come to today’s passage Israel is on one side of the valley and the Philistines are on the other.  And they are hurdling insults and threatening remarks to instill fear into Israel’s army.

To aid in this fearmongering the Philistines have this huge man named Goliath standing at the front of their forces calling out to Israel’s army to send their best fighter.   By huge, we are talking about a man who is head and shoulders above the largest man in Israel’s army, had he looks like those steroid addicts you have seen in the weight lifting competitions.

His intimidation tactics seem to be working as Israel’s army is cowering at the thought of facing this giant.

Enter in a sweet little shepherd boy name David.  He is a ruddy and hansom man but not built for war, or so Goliath thinks.  In fact even David’s own brothers mocked him.  To them he’s built for minding only a few sheep.  But as David hears the blasphemous words spewing out of this Philistine’s mouth he is not about to stand idly by and do nothing.  So he volunteered to Saul, the King of Israel’s army, to go and silence the giant.

Let’s pick up the narrative in the later-half of verse 37 and see what happens when the faith of the shepherd boy meets a Goliath warrior on the battle line.  (1 Samuel 17:37b-51)

“Saul said to David, “Go, and the LORD be with you.”  Then Saul dressed David in his own tunic. He put a coat of armor on him and a bronze helmet on his head.  David fastened on his sword over the tunic and tried walking around, because he was not used to them.

 “I cannot go in these,” he said to Saul, “because I am not used to them.” So he took them off.  Then he took his staff in his hand, chose five smooth stones from the stream, put them in the pouch of his shepherd’s bag and, with his sling in his hand, approached the Philistine. 

Meanwhile, the Philistine, with his shield bearer in front of him, kept coming closer to David.  He looked David over and saw that he was only a boy, ruddy and handsome, and he despised him.  He said to David, “Am I a dog, that you come at me with sticks?” And the Philistine cursed David by his gods.  “Come here,” he said, “and I’ll give your flesh to the birds of the air and the beasts of the field!” 

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.  This day the LORD will hand you over to me, and I’ll strike you down and cut off your head. Today I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds of the air and the beasts of the earth, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel.  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.”  As the Philistine moved closer to attack him, David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet him.  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. 

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.  David ran and stood over him. He took hold of the Philistine’s sword and drew it from the scabbard. After he killed him, he cut off his head with the sword. When the Philistines saw that their hero was dead, they turned and ran.” (1 Samuel 17:37-51 (NIV).

I love this story.  It surely gives us hope when we are facing giants in our lives.  It tells us that with God nothing is impossible.  But it also gives us some practical pointers that may help with the battles in our life.

Slide10First one that I noticed was, like the giants themselves, each battle is unique.  There was only one Goliath.  When you are fighting a giant it is always a unique battle.  It may be similar to what others have fought but your situation is unique and God can and likely already has uniquely given you what you need for fighting your battle.

Verse 38 tells us that King Saul offered to give the finest armour, the best sword, Saul’s own tunic for David to fight with.  And for a moment David accepted the offer.  Perhaps he felt that Saul having fought many a foe and won those battles might be in the best position to know just how David should fight this particular giant.

Well-meaning people will offer you much advice to help you with the battle you are facing.  I’ve witnessed this first hand.  Close friends and even casual acquaintances think that they know what will best help you.  People who are not even doctors will prescribe stuff to take for cancer, maybe even give you links to the latest trending foods that cure whatever ails you.

For example, my friend Brian figured drinking mild doses of hydrogen peroxide would help kill the cancer cells in you.  When I looked that stuff up it seemed to me not the best idea and down right dangerous.  Brian seemed to think he knew better than doctors who have studied for many years just to practice medicine.   After-all he read the research somewhere by someone who says it works so it must be good advice?

When my mother-in-law was diagnosed with cancer the vitamin pushers offered a multi thousand-dollar regime, “sure to help”.  I’m sure it helped their bank accounts.  Some of those things actually work against conventional medicine that doctors prescribe rending their treatment ineffective.  Always best to ask professional advice before taking anything.   It’s not that the vitamins are necessarily bad…just check first.  Before conventional medicine is commonly prescribed it has to go through a lot of double blind testing and get approved.  And even then they monitor side effects and sometimes have to pull it from the market.  But those vitamins are often just someone’s favorite formula packed like medicine with outrageous claims.     So it is always best to do some checking and speak with your doctor before even taking it with the conventional medicines.

Many of the Doctors where I live seem to know what vitamins help with the effects of chemo and actually recommend some of the natural substances along with their treatments.  But there never seems to be a no one size fits all approach.

And contrary to popular belief even Doctors are not God so they too are trying what they believe is the best tested approach they know of to help.    It’s not perfect science.  And few if any treatments work in 100% of the cases.

But even before taking Professional advice and medicine I recommend heavy doses of prayer.  God does actually know what’s best for you.  Sometimes He even does miracles but mostly He gives you peace on what you should do to face your giant.

Know this for sure, friends usually mean well by their advice.  They want to help.  Well most of them do.  Some of the pill pushers are in it for what they can get out of you before you die.  But your real friends are only trying to help and support you with their advice.   They too are not God but often are His messengers who walk with you and encourage you as you face the giant.

They might even give what seems good advice t but perhaps, like David, it’s not good for you.  King Saul really wanted David to be fully equipped for battle ahead of him.   It was Saul’s own Armour, his own sword that he offered but David realized quickly that it wasn’t for him. “I cannot go in these,” he said to Saul, “because I am not used to them.” So he took them off” (39). 

Slide11King Saul was not upset with David’s rejection of his equipment.  He didn’t demand him to put them back on.  I suspect he was wondering about David’s sanity for a moment there.  Especially as David picked up his wooden shepherd’s staff and a few smooth stones from the river bed.  But King Saul let David proceed without adding stress to this already stressful situation.

I don’t know if you caught it but the other thing I noticed from these verses was that David didn’t hear God from heaven say drop the Armour and pick up your staff.  You know how I know this?  David picked up how many stones from the stream?

The answer is there in  1 Samuel 17:40.  He picked up five.

How many did he need to take down Goliath?  That’s found in verse 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 face-down on the ground” (1 Samuel 17:49).

Slide12David only needed one stone!  Yet David took five stones?  Why?

David trusted that with God’s help Goliath would soon be history.  But those were five good looking stones! Each one was suitable for his sling.  For David, he was entering this fight to win.  If it took one stone PTL.  But if it took more than one he was equipped to keep on going.

The battle that you are facing or will someday face may be won with one touch from the Master’s hand but more often than not the victory is not won on the first go round.  So gather your ammunition before getting to the battle lines so you don’t go down without a fight. 

Be prepared to keep fighting until you are out of ammunition or the battle is won.  And don’t lose heart if the first thing you tried fails.

Another thing I noticed from Goliath’s behavior was that he used one of Satan’s favorite tactics.  Satan tries hard through discouragement and fear-mongering to get you to give up before you even reach the battle lines.  Goliath hurled insults as he saw little David approach.  This is a tactic used often in many competitions even elections, but certainly on the battle lines.  Some call it posturing others propaganda. Have you been watching the Democratic and Republican conventions this week?   I rest my case…

With this tactic you try to outwit or dehumanize your opponent and if it works they may lose heart and quit before the battle is over.  But you can’t quit or run away from giants like cancer, or heart disease nor mental and psychological disorders.  They run as fast as you do, sometimes faster.  You have to stand your ground and fight if you want to be victorious.

I like Paul’s words on that.  Found in Ephesians 6:13 “Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, (not if but when the day of evil comes) you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand(Ephesians 6:13 (NIV).  Slide13And Paul goes on from there to give us the principles behind that Armour.  Put on truth and righteousness, remember what God has promised, look for His peace and stand secure, and when the enemy hurls fiery darts at you,  repel them with faith filled words.

“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, … This day the LORD will hand you over to me, and I’ll strike you down and cut off your head….and the whole world will know that there is a God in IsraelAll 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.” (1 Samuel 17:45-47 (NIV).

There is a time for silence and meditative reflections but in the heat of a battle, Paul says, “… take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.  Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.  And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests” (Ephesians 6:16-18 (NIV).   In the midst of the battle just speaking God’s word makes a huge difference to your attitude and resolve.  So be prepared ahead of time.

I suspect that if that first stone from David’s sling missed a second would have been immediately ready to go.  He had already made up his mind that God was going to win this battle.  And though David would hurl the stone that struck the winning blow it was not skill alone that brought that giant down.  Though skill certainly helped.

God had been preparing David for such a time as this.  God had equipped the shepherd to protect the sheep by bringing lions and bears and brothers and other battles his whole life long.  And David didn’t sit passively by as those adversaries attacked.  Remember what he told King Saul that got him this current fight?

Slide15“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,  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” 1 Samuel 17:34-35 (NIV).

David knew the weapons he fought with and even the foes he engaged to some degree.  And David believed in his heart that God would be victorious whether it took one rock or five.  Just remember God can give you the endurance to keep fighting as long as you can keep fighting.

Did you notice Goliath didn’t even see it coming?  He was down before he could swing his mighty sword at David.  And sometimes God still cures that way.  One day you are reeling from the news that the doctors have given you and the next day they are baffled that the disease isn’t where they thought it should be.

It happens.  I can testify to that.  But more often than not the battle rages on and in the end having done all you can you must stand firm in your faith.

Remember that, if you are a Christian, Jesus Christ has already won the victory for you.  If you are not yet a Christian, you can accept by faith what Christ has done for you and have the assurance that the warrior Paul wrote about in 1 Corinthians.  Paul writes, “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?”  The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.  But thanks be to God! Slide16He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.  Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain” (1 Corinthians 15:55-58).

That doesn’t mean the battle isn’t going to be exhausting or overwhelming at times, and there may come a time when you just want to give up but know this: Jesus has overcome everything that the world, the devil and even the flesh can throw our way and He is alive and reigns victorious over all.  He has slain the giant. There is victory in Jesus for you.

This life of ours, whether you live to be ten or 110 is very short in light of eternity.  Before you know it, your time is up.  This body we live in is decaying as I speak and will not last any longer than the Maker planned.  100% of humans die one day. That is one statistic that is actually truthful and accurate even when made up on the spot.

And another equally truthful and accurate stat that you can bank on is this.  “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Rom. 10:13).

Life doesn’t end at the grave but where and how you live thereafter is decided on this side of the grave.  The Bible says, “it is appointed unto man to die once and then face the judgement” (Hebrews 9:27).   So if you want ultimate lasting healing it is found in one place alone.   If you want to slay the biggest giant you’ll face in life you need only put your faith in God through Jesus Christ our Lord and He who conquered death will see that you do to.   Amen!

Dig deeper into this passage:

Discussion starters.

  1.  What is the hardest thing you have volunteered to do?
  2.  Who do you get advice from?
  3.  What do you consider as giant issues in life?

    Into His Word:

  4.  Read today’s passage in several versions if possible.  (1 Samuel 17:37-51)
  5.  Who was Goliath? What do we know about him? (1 Samuel 17:4-11; Deuteronomy 9:2; Rev. 13:4)
  6.  Why did David volunteer to face this giant? (1 Samuel 17:26-27)
  7.  What made David think he could face this giant? (1 Samuel 17:34-37; Psalm 11:1)
  8.   What advice or help did King Saul offer David? (1 Samuel 17:37b) Did it fit for David’s situation? Why or why not? (1 Samuel 17:38-39)
  9.   What would you have done in David’s place?
  10.   What ammunition did David take to defeat his giant? (1 Samuel 17:40) Why?
  11.   What did Goliath think of Israel’s champion? (1 Samuel 17:42-44).
  12.   What tactic of Satan did Goliath use on David? (1 Samuel 17:42-44; 2 Kings 18:23-24; John 8:44; 1 Peter 5:8-9)
  13.   How did David repel Goliath’s verbal attack? (1 Samuel 17:45-47; Isaiah 37:23; Eph. 6:13-18; 2 Samuel 22:33-35; 2 Chron. 32:8; Psalm 3:8; Psalm 18:2; Psalm 20:5-7; Psalm 118:10-11; Psalm 124:8-125:1; Proverbs 18:10; John 8:32; 2 Cor. 3:5; 2 Cor. 10:4; Phil. 4:13; Hebrews 11:33-34; 2 Tim 1:7; James 4:7).
  14.   What did David use to slay the giant? Why? (1 Samuel 17:48-49)
  15.   What effect did David’s actions have on both opposing armies? (1 Samuel 17:51-52).
  16.   What effect do you have with the people around you when you stand firm with the Lord and face your giant? 
  17.   How will you face your giant and be victorious this week?
Posted in Bible Studies and tagged , , , , , .