Once again, we see the enemy gathered for battle. Israel has faced the Egyptians, the Amalekites, Edomites, the Canaanites, the Moabites and now, at this stage in their history, it is the Philistines who are constantly harassing them.
The enemy shall continue to show up with different names and different faces, but there is one enemy behind them all: Satan.
“Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” (Ephesians 6:11–12NKJV)
Every generation must learn warfare.
“Now these are the nations which the Lord left, that He might test Israel by them, that is, all who had not known any of the wars in Canaan (this was only so that the generations of the children of Israel might be taught to know war, at least those who had not formerly known it),” (Judges 3:1–2, NKJV)
And so must we.
After a life of hitting herself against the same stonewall, she turned to the Lord. All of her sins were washed away and she found a new joy she had never known. Within two weeks she lost her job.
He was always a skeptic and a worldly man. He began to attend church because a close friend was persistent. When the preacher preached, he thought his friend told the preacher secrets about his life. He realized it was the Lord challenging and convicting his heart. He came to the Lord. The first week he was faced with the same people at work he had conflict with before he was saved. Coming face to face with the Lord’s teaching, “Love your enemies. Pray for those who persecute you.” He was at a decision place. Would he obey or ignore?
Her family noticed she was attending church now. It began with a few sharp little comments. “So you’re a Christian now?”When there was a conflict between a Sunday event for the family and Church, the new believer said, “I’ll come over right after the Sunday service.” Her mother chided her for putting the family second. Little comments escalated into larger ones. “What are you brainwashed?”
One new believer relapsed into the addiction that he was trying to escape from. He felt ugly and ashamed. A voice in his head said, “Give up and give in. It is no use.” When Sunday came, his family went without him. He lay there feeling dead inside.
Brothers and Sisters, if you are going to go on with the Lord, you are going to have a fight on your hands:
Family strife will bubble up. Small children will begin to exhibit strong behavior. One of your older kids tips over. Sickness breaks out in your house. Your boss suddenly asks you to work on Sundays. Your brother goes to jail. Your car breaks down. You name it, the devil’s got it for you.
If you are going to do things God’s way and take a stand you will have God’s blessings and the devil’s curses. When God opens the windows of heaven to bless you, hell opens up to blast you. God’s smile means the devil’s frown! But these trials are for your benefit. They are teaching you fight. Battles give you sword experience.
Martin Luther said, “The devil has made me a good theologian.”
It should be the same for us. When trials, afflictions and battles come, let them drive you to the word for instruction, promise and principles to live by. Battles teach you to use your faith and will proveyour faith.
That is why the Lord allows them.
See Christ here: After the joy and euphoria of His baptism, he was immediately met with a wilderness experience. He faced temptations sharp and keen. But he answered the enemy every time with the Word. Ephesians 6:17 tells us that the Word is the sword for our battle. It is our one offensive tool in our spiritual armor. Jesus met three great temptations with three quotes from the Word:
“But He answered and said, “It is written...” (Matthew 4:4 4:7 & Matthew 4:10 )
Jesus is our example. Friends, do not compromise! Obey and hold your ground. Hold to the Word in life and practice. The Lord will act strongly on your behalf. The devil will lose ground and you will grow. Get behind the shield of faith and the fiery arrows of your enemy will be extinguished! Ephesians 6:16
“In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ,” (1 Peter 1:6–7)
Read 1 Samuel 17:4-25
Goliath is estimated to be over nine feet tall. He is a picture of the modernized Bronze-age to the lesser equipped Israelites. Goliath shows off the state of the artto the Israelites. His armor, javelin and spear are like nothing ever seen by common military blacksmiths.
Rather than battle army vs. army, the Philistines, with their secret weapon Goliath, call for a battle of champions to determine the win and the loss. Goliath blusters, intimidates, curses and threatens. If his voice matched his size, it must have thundered and shaken the backbones of thousand sons of Abraham. For forty days he threatened. And for forty days there was no one from Israel’s ranks who would come out to meet him, until David.
In the seventeenth century, a man named John Bunyan wrote the second most printed book in history called Pilgrim’s Progress (The Bible is number one). Written from prison where Bunyan was imprisoned for illegally preaching, it was an allegory of the Christian life as a journey to the Heavenly City from the City of Destruction. Along the way, the principle character, Christian, meets with many obstacles. His greatest conflict is with the Devil, called Apollyon (destroyer). See how intimidating Bunyan describes his appearance:
“So he went on, and Apollyon met him. Now the monster was hideous to behold; he was clothed with scales, like a fish, (and they are his pride,) he had wings like a dragon, feet like a bear, and out of his belly came fire and smoke, and his mouth was as the mouth of a lion. When he was come up to Christian, he beheld him with a hateful look, and so began to question with him.”
This is what Goliath must have looked like to Israel’s armies.
But he didn’t look that way to David. David has different eyes and different ears.
He doesn’t see a super-indestructible creature. He sees a nothing more than a beast like those he has killed in watching his sheep. Goliath makes great swelling threats, but David hears the puny voice of a man who sounds like he has inhaled helium. This man is defying the Living Lord of the armies. It is the Lord’s voice that thunders.
“Have you an arm like God? Or can you thunder with a voice like His?” (Job 40:9, NKJV)
See Christ here: He is afraid of no man. He isn’t afraid of crowds who would throw him from a cliff. Luke 4:29 He isn’t afraid of a Chief priest who wields great power. Pilate doesn’t make Him weak at the knees and King Herod is one more king who will come and go under the breath of God’s Almighty breath. The Lord is the Lord. Like David, He sees and hears as God and not as man. Therefore, He has no fear.
“Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” (John 14:27, NKJV)
Read 1 Samuel 17:17-30
There is a great reward for the man who will defeat the giant: riches, a king’s daughter and tax exemption for the family. David inquires about it, but it is clear as the narrative unfolds, that he isn’t seeking ambition. He is more resenting the shame upon Israel and the cursings upon God by the blasphemer Goliath. David is a righteous man and righteous men are incensed by the lawlessness, rudeness, irreverence and the wrong-doings of bad men.
David is driven by holy zeal,
not carnal rewards.
His brother Eliab, however, assigns bad motives to him. 1 Samuel 17:28 David is the jewel of the seven sons of Jesse but he is treated like dirt. Like Joseph with his brothers, he is looked down upon and the worst of motives are assigned to him.
David didn’t come to the camp to watch the battle or to feed his intrigue. He went because his father sent him with bread and grain for his brothers. 1 Samuel 17:17-18 He came obedient to his father and with a servant’s mission. Yet he is despised and humiliated by the ones he came to minister to. As Christ came, so David came, if you can see it. He came bringing the bread of life and would ultimately face a battle of death for his brothers.
"Just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”” (Matthew 20:28)
See Christ here: His own brothers equally rebuffed Jesus. They mocked Him for staying back from the Feast of the Tabernacles.
“His brothers therefore said to Him, “Depart from here and go into Judea, that Your disciples also may see the works that You are doing. For no one does anything in secret while he himself seeks to be known openly. If You do these things, show Yourself to the world.” For even His brothers did not believe in Him.” (John 7:3–5)
They sarcastically suggested that He wanted to be known and popular. They attributed carnal ambition to his ministry.
And like Eliab, they doubted His character. The Gospel writer John records the mission of Christ after it was all over:
“That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him.” (John 1:9–11, NKJV)
He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. Yet this same Jesus, like David, put his own life between death and his own brothers to save them.
Read 1 Samuel 17:31-51
Saul tries to put his armor on the young volunteer. If Saul weren’t a fallen man, he would have gone out himself. But his rebellion and compromise had been his own undoing. He was unfit for the task. The Spirit of the Lord had left him. 1 Samuel 16:14 Saul doesn’t understand, or has forgotten, the way God works. It isn’t about the armor, the sword of the spear of men. The battle isn’t for a man to win; it is for the Lord to win. It is for His glory and no other!
“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 Samuel 17:47)
In the end it will be a shepherd’s sling and stone, not military hardware that kills the enemy. The Lord has seen fit to use many odd utensils for his glory: A staff in the hand of Moses, a trumpet and a shout for Joshua’s army, a jawbone in the hand of Samson, clay jars and torches in the hands of Gideon’s army. All of these unlikely men and common objects are used to a great end when used in the Lord. The victories that came from them magnified the Lord and not the man.
“But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us.” (2 Corinthians 4:7)
See Christ here: His victory wasn’t a military success with swords and violent engagements. He told Peter, to put his sword away after striking a servant of the priest.
“So Jesus said to Peter, “Put your sword into the sheath. Shall I not drink the cup which My Father has given Me?”” (John 18:11)
He didn’t win through a shiny sword, he won through a rugged cross. He didn’t kill men. Wicked men killed Him. But he died so we could win. He died for our justification.
“He was delivered up because of our offenses, and was raised because of our justification.” (Romans 4:25)
Jesus Christ didn’t beat a conventional army. Instead, He defeated a spiritual giant, the biggest giant of all--death. the giant Goliath mocked David, "You come at me with sticks?" The giant Death mocked Christ who came at him with two sticks that formed a cross.
Christ was an unlikely champion, with an unforeseen strategy that unloosed the chains of death for generations of captured men.
Read 1 Samuel 17:52-58
The battle of the champions didn’t go well for the Philistines. When David killed Goliath with a stone, he finished him by cutting off his head with Goliath’s own sword. This had a dramatic effect upon the witnesses.
The Philistines ran and Israel rose.
We should dismiss the teaching that many of us grew up on:
“You can defeat finances, your trials, your enemies, your fears, by being like David.”
“Be a David. Stand against the giants in your life and declare your victory!”
The American version of the Gospel has taken Christ out of the center and put man in the center.
The Bible isn’t all about you and me.
It is all about Christ.
“We ought to read the Scriptures with the express design of finding Christ in them.”
We have short-circuited everything if we are failing to be teaching Christ from all the Scriptures, knowing Christ in all the Scriptures, and loving Christ through all the Scriptures.”
“Christ is the sum of the whole Bible, prophesied, typified, prefigured, exhibited, demonstrated, to be found in every leaf, almost in every line, the Scriptures being but as it were the swaddling bands of the child Jesus." Thomas Adams
If Christ be on every page, the story of David and Goliath isn’t about us--it is about Jesus Christ. As Matt Chandler said so powerfully while even making some of us laugh in the way he said it:
“You are NOT David in the story of David and Goliath, JESUS IS!”
Friends, if we want to see us in the story, look in the ditches and ravines at the cowering men. That is us. Goliath isn’t our trials, fears or challenges in life. Goliath is: sin, death and the Devil. David isn’t YOU. David is Jesus.
Here is the good news, or the Gospel, as we call it.
When Jesus won, we won. And when Jesus won. The devil lost.
“You were dead because of your sins and because your sinful nature was not yet cut away. Then God made you alive with Christ, for he forgave all our sins. He canceled the record of the charges against us and took it away by nailing it to the cross. In this way, he disarmed the spiritual rulers and authorities. He shamed them publicly by his victory over them on the cross.” (Colossians 2:13–15NLT)
David should have been dead in that field just as Jesus should have been dead in that tomb. But both emerged as conquerors holding the head of death.
When David won, the Philistines ran but the saved rose. When Jesus won, we rose.
"We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may (be raised to) live a new life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his."
Christ is the champion and because he conquered, we do too.
“Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.” (Romans 8:37, NKJV)
It is all about Him and we are blessed to be the beneficiaries of His victory.