Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Facing Giants - David vs Goliath

As you’ve read what is written on this blog, you’ve probably felt a certain sense of fear at some point. As the truth has been revealed to you, a fear of the future, the beasts and what we face has slowly crept into your consciousness. How can we stand against these beasts? How can we be expected to fight them? They have too much control…..too much power. If I reject their mandates and their decrees, I will face imprisonment, persecution or death. How can I, one person, stand against them? God tells us that we can stand against overwhelming odds. We can win against forces that seem much stronger than ourselves. We can do so not because we are particularly strong, or intelligent or cunning. We can do so only by drawing near to our Lord and following His plan for us. It is He who wins battles and defeats evil. It is He who strengthens us and leads us in this war. He is looking for those with a heart like His own that will follow Him wherever He leads.

“The LORD is my light and my salvation—
whom shall I fear?
The LORD is the stronghold of my life—
of whom shall I be afraid?
When evil men advance against me
to devour my flesh,
when my enemies and my foes attack me,
they will stumble and fall.
Though an army besiege me,
my heart will not fear;
though war break out against me,
even then will I be confident.
One thing I ask of the LORD,
this is what I seek:
that I may dwell in the house of the LORD
all the days of my life,
to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD
and to seek him in his temple.
For in the day of trouble
he will keep me safe in his dwelling;
he will hide me in the shelter of his tabernacle
and set me high upon a rock.
Then my head will be exalted
above the enemies who surround me;
at his tabernacle will I sacrifice with shouts of joy;
I will sing and make music to the LORD.
Hear my voice when I call, O LORD;
be merciful to me and answer me.
My heart says of you, "Seek his face!"
Your face, LORD, I will seek.
Do not hide your face from me,
do not turn your servant away in anger;
you have been my helper.
Do not reject me or forsake me,
O God my Savior.
Though my father and mother forsake me,
the LORD will receive me.
Teach me your way, O LORD;
lead me in a straight path
because of my oppressors.
Do not turn me over to the desire of my foes,
for false witnesses rise up against me,
breathing out violence.
I am still confident of this:
I will see the goodness of the LORD
in the land of the living.
Wait for the LORD;
be strong and take heart
and wait for the LORD.” (Psalm 27 – written by David)

We have discussed fear in another post and have learned how the Bible instructs us to overcome our fears. So, in this post, we’re going to focus on how the Lord expects us to stand against our enemies in the face of overwhelming odds. As I’ve mentioned before, the Book of Revelation tells us that most will not stand against these beasts. They will look at these entities and be overwhelmed by their worldly influence and power. It appears that most will join them instead of standing against them.

“Men worshiped the dragon because he had given authority to the beast, and they also worshiped the beast and asked, "Who is like the beast? Who can make war against him?"” (Revelation 13:4)

This short verse gives us a very clear picture of our future. What are we told? Many will follow satan and these beasts. Many will be afraid of them. Many will think about how to overcome them, but in the end, they will fail to stand against the beasts due to their worldly power. If we look at these entities from a worldly perspective, they will look unbeatable. A world-wide political beast wielding the world’s military and police power coupled with a religious beast that will force unbiblical doctrine on the world – it will seem to the world that there is no way out – if you can’t beat them, join them. Of course, the Bible tells us we must stand against them. We must worship our Creator and reject the mark. How can we find the courage and strength to stand when others fall? By relying on our Lord’s wisdom and strength – not our own. Remember, this is His war, we are not asked to make our own plans to fight the enemy, we must draw close to Him and be obedient in order to follow His plan.

There are many examples in the Bible of how the Lord has strengthened both men and women to accomplish His will – but I don’t think there is another example in the Bible that as closely resembles what we face as the story of David and how he overcame Goliath. Even if you’ve never read the Bible, chances are that you’ve heard about this story. It’s a popular story because the little guy finds the strength to overcome the bully. Why do you think movies like Rocky and The Lord of the Rings are so popular? We all like to hear stories of how the underdog somehow overcomes great odds and beats the favorite. While you’ve probably heard about David’s battle with Goliath, have you ever read about David’s life? You may know that David later became king of Israel and ruled for many years, but do you know how he got there? Did he live a privileged life that led up to his becoming king? No. Did he come from a long line of kings and was next in line to the throne? No. Did he become king because he was physically and mentally strong? No. Super Intelligent? No. Did he avoid all temptations and sin? No. Did he always follow the Lord’s plan for him? No again. David became king because he loved the Lord. We’re told that he knew the Lord’s heart. David is the only human being in the Bible (other than Jesus) described as having a heart like the Lord’s. The Lord tells us that David had a heart like His. We’re going to briefly look at David’s life and learn what it can teach us.

This story begins in 1 Samuel chapter 16. The Lord has instructed Samuel to travel to Bethlehem to anoint one of Jesse’s sons to be king.

“Samuel did what the LORD said. When he arrived at Bethlehem, the elders of the town trembled when they met him. They asked, "Do you come in peace?"
Samuel replied, "Yes, in peace; I have come to sacrifice to the LORD. Consecrate yourselves and come to the sacrifice with me." Then he consecrated Jesse and his sons and invited them to the sacrifice.
When they arrived, Samuel saw Eliab and thought, "Surely the LORD's anointed stands here before the LORD."
But the LORD said to Samuel, "Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart."
Then Jesse called Abinadab and had him pass in front of Samuel. But Samuel said, "The LORD has not chosen this one either." Jesse then had Shammah pass by, but Samuel said, "Nor has the LORD chosen this one." Jesse had seven of his sons pass before Samuel, but Samuel said to him, "The LORD has not chosen these." So he asked Jesse, "Are these all the sons you have?"
"There is still the youngest," Jesse answered, "but he is tending the sheep."
Samuel said, "Send for him; we will not sit down until he arrives."
So he sent and had him brought in. He was ruddy, with a fine appearance and handsome features.
Then the LORD said, "Rise and anoint him; he is the one."
So Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the presence of his brothers, and from that day on the Spirit of the LORD came upon David in power. Samuel then went to Ramah.” (1 Samuel 16:4:13)

Pay very close attention to what we’re told here. Does the Lord look at us the same way the world looks at us? No. The Lord sees our hearts – not our appearance. How does the world look at us? Most of the world looks at how pretty or handsome we are, how thin we are, how physically strong we are, how much money we have, the people we know, etc. – but the Bible is clear, God does not look at these worldly things. The Lord looks at our hearts. Jesse brought seven of his sons before Samuel, but all were rejected. Who did the Lord select to be king? The youngest son who was tending sheep. A shepherd was most likely the worst job offered to anyone. Take note that his father didn’t even bother to bring him initially before Samuel. What does this tell us? It tells us that Jesse probably didn’t consider him a possibility. Why choose David when there are older, stronger, better looking sons to choose from? Does the Lord choose the arrogant, the proud, the strong? No, the Lord chooses those for authority that love Him, worship Him and are obedient to Him.

The battle with Goliath begins in 1 Samuel Chapter 17:

“Now the Philistines gathered their forces for war and assembled at Socoh in Judah. They pitched camp at Ephes Dammim, between Socoh and Azekah. Saul and the Israelites assembled and camped in the Valley of Elah and drew up their battle line to meet the Philistines. The Philistines occupied one hill and the Israelites another, with the valley between them.
A champion named Goliath, who was from Gath, came out of the Philistine camp. He was over nine feet tall. He had a bronze helmet on his head and wore a coat of scale armor of bronze weighing five thousand shekels; on his legs he wore bronze greaves, and a bronze javelin was slung on his back. His spear shaft was like a weaver's rod, and its iron point weighed six hundred shekels. His shield bearer went ahead of him.
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. 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." Then the Philistine said, "This day I defy the ranks of Israel! Give me a man and let us fight each other." On hearing the Philistine's words, Saul and all the Israelites were dismayed and terrified.” (1 Samuel 17:1-11)

Imagine this scene. One huge man is terrorizing an entire army. The entire army cowers as this man yells insults. Full grown men are afraid and do nothing. Sound familiar? We all face our own Goliaths. We have all had someone or something that has bullied or insulted us and we didn’t know how to handle them…..so we did nothing. Most of us are even now doing nothing as our government and our leaders are removing more and more of our freedoms. How should we respond? Let’s continue with David’s story to find the answer.

“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 old and well advanced in years. Jesse's three oldest sons had followed Saul to the war: The firstborn was Eliab; the second, Abinadab; and the third, Shammah. David was the youngest. The three oldest followed Saul, but David went back and forth from Saul to tend his father's sheep at Bethlehem.
For forty days the Philistine came forward every morning and evening and took his stand.
Now Jesse said to his son David, "Take this ephah of roasted grain and these ten loaves of bread for your brothers and hurry to their camp. Take along these ten cheeses to the commander of their unit. See how your brothers are and bring back some assurance from them. They are with Saul and all the men of Israel in the Valley of Elah, fighting against the Philistines." (1 Samuel 17:12-19)

For 40 days, no one in the entire army of Israel is willing to take on this man. Keep in mind what we were told earlier – “from that day on, the Spirit of the Lord came upon David in power”. So, no one in the army is doing anything about Goliath and circumstances are bringing David to the battle. Events are being set in motion that will result in David becoming king of Israel.

“Early in the morning David left the flock with a shepherd, loaded up and set out, as Jesse had directed. He reached the camp as the army was going out to its battle positions, shouting the war cry. Israel and the Philistines were drawing up their lines facing each other. David left his things with the keeper of supplies, ran to the battle lines and greeted his brothers. As he was talking with them, Goliath, the Philistine champion from Gath, stepped out from his lines and shouted his usual defiance, and David heard it. When the Israelites saw the man, they all ran from him in great fear.” (1 Samuel 17:20-24)

So, once again the army of Israel cowers in fear and for the first time, David hears Goliath’s insults.

“Now the Israelites had been saying, "Do you see how this man keeps coming out? He comes out to defy Israel. The king will give great wealth to the man who kills him. He will also give him his daughter in marriage and will exempt his father's family from taxes in Israel."
David asked the men standing near him, "What will be done for the man who kills this Philistine and removes this disgrace from Israel? Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living God?"
They repeated to him what they had been saying and told him, "This is what will be done for the man who kills him."
When Eliab, David's oldest brother, heard him speaking with the men, he burned with anger at him and asked, "Why have you come down here? And with whom did you leave those few sheep in the desert? I know how conceited you are and how wicked your heart is; you came down only to watch the battle."
"Now what have I done?" said David. "Can't I even speak?" He then turned away to someone else and brought up the same matter, and the men answered him as before. What David said was overheard and reported to Saul, and Saul sent for him.
David said to Saul, "Let no one lose heart on account of this Philistine; your servant will go and fight him."
Saul replied, "You are not able to go out against this Philistine and fight him; you are only a boy, and he has been a fighting man from his youth." “ (1 Samuel 17:25-33)

David attempts to determine what is happening and his brother attacks his character. Have you ever followed the Lord and been ridiculed? We should expect it from the world. Undaunted, David turns to others and is told the situation. He then offers to fight Goliath. Remember, David is still a young boy….maybe 14 or 15 years old. Is he fighting alone? No. He is being led by the Lord. David knows that he does not fight alone. A young boy offers to fight the mightiest warrior their army has ever seen. If you were king, how would you respond? You would probably respond the same way Saul did – by telling him he’s crazy. How can a young shepherd boy fight a seasoned warrior?

“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, 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. 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. The LORD who delivered me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine."
Saul said to David, "Go, and the LORD be with you." (1 Samuel 17:34-37)

How does David respond? The Lord will deliver this Philistine to us. The Lord has saved me before and He will do so again. Why has the Lord told David that this Philistine will be delivered to him - ‘because he has defied the armies of the living God’. He defies our Lord. The Lord is placing David on His path for him and at the same time He delivers victory to the army of Israel.

“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.” (1 Samuel 17:38-40)

David has such a strong faith that he removes his armor. What does this boy take into battle? A sling, 5 stones in a shepherd’s bag and his staff. If you were Goliath, how would you respond to his boy? Probably the same way Goliath did – with unbelief and insults.

“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!" (1 Samuel 17:41-44)

Goliath can only see the boy in front of him. By following false gods, he is spiritually blind. He sees no danger in front of him. He laughs and insults – not realizing that he is taking on his Creator.

“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." (1 Samuel 17:45-47)

David’s response should have given Goliath pause. Something in Goliath’s mind should have sounded an alarm. Where has this boy found the courage and strength to fight when Israel’s army flees from me? Who speaks with authority and confidence like this in the face of overwhelming odds? He doesn’t sound like a boy – he sounds like a man given authority. Where is this authority coming from? Blinded by pride and arrogance, Goliath walks right into a battle with God. Should the outcome surprise us?

“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. Then the men of Israel and Judah surged forward with a shout and pursued the Philistines to the entrance of Gath and to the gates of Ekron. Their dead were strewn along the Shaaraim road to Gath and Ekron. When the Israelites returned from chasing the Philistines, they plundered their camp. David took the Philistine's head and brought it to Jerusalem, and he put the Philistine's weapons in his own tent.” (1 Samuel 17:48-54)

What can we learn from David’s encounter with Goliath? Do we need money, power, military might or the latest weapons to defeat our enemies? No. As long as we are following the Lord and His laws – as long as we are close to Him, He will protect us and deliver us according to His will.

So, when the beasts of Revelation tighten control over the world, should we fear them? Should we go along with their false doctrine? No. We must stand against the enemies of God. They don’t realize that they defy the Lord. Being blinded by pride and arrogance, they are focused on worldly wealth and power and don’t realize that they are fighting against God. We must praise and worship our Father and allow Him to guide us. If the Lord is with us, who can be against us? Best of all, we’re told their fate. The Bible tells us that they will suffer the same fate as Goliath.

I encourage you to study the life of David. Mike McClung (Lionheart Ministries) has created many CD’s on the heart of David. I have also listed a book entitled ‘Facing Your Giants’ by Max Lucado that documents David’s life and how it applies to us. You will find that David did not have an easy life. He endured many trials and tribulations after his confrontation with Goliath before becoming king. The king of Israel tried to kill him. He was rejected by his family and his people. He even fled to his enemies and was rejected. He spent time living in a cave after being rejected by everyone. Through all of this, the Lord never left David. We must always remember this. Even though things will get difficult, the Lord will help us and give us our true purpose. We must always stay close to Him. When the world tells us it’s impossible to stand against the beasts, don’t believe it. Nothing is impossible with God on our side.

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