I Samuel 17: Facing Giants
In last week’s lesson we read of David’s anointing by Samuel and we were told the Spirit of the Lord came upon David from that day forward. At the same time, the Spirit of the Lord departed from Saul and a distressing or evil spirit came upon him from the Lord and troubled him.
This seems to be a case of demon possession. Before the Day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit came to dwell within believers and never leave them, the Spirit of the Lord fell upon individuals to empower them to accomplish a task. The Spirit would depart from them also.
The Spirit departed Saul for Saul had rejected the word of God. And when one rejects the word of God, he is given over to the power of Satan. In the New Testament, it is striking we find many cases of demon possession brought before the Lord Jesus and His mastery over the demons. He cast out legions of the Gadarene demoniac and they entered into the pigs. God is in control over the devil and the demons and they can operate only within the boundaries God allows. I believe Saul must have sensed he was forsaken by the Lord and no longer had his approval as Samuel left him, never to return. Theologians believe before the Day of Pentecost when the Spirit of God came indwell and seal believers there were only two men who possibly experienced the permanent resting of the Spirit on them: David and John the Baptist.
When the Spirt departed Saul, there was a vacuum created, into which God sent an evil spirit which would terrorize King Saul from that day forward. What is interesting is Saul’s servants sought a remedy for when these occasions became unbearable for King Saul. And David, the singer of Psalms was brought into the King’s presence and soothed Saul with his music. His music soothed the king and King Saul loved David. Genuine worship includes not only biblical truth, but the expression of our faith in music, lifting our voices to heaven to God. There was music before creation, we read, “the morning stars (angels) sang together.” There will be singing in heaven as we read we shall sing- “worthy is the lamb” in heaven. In the middle of the Bible is the longest book in the Bible: Psalms, 150 chapters of praises, songs of depth, not shallow lyrics repeated often. When we are filled with the Spirit, Ephesians 5 says we will be: “speaking to one another ins psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord.”
David was a nobody. His older brothers were considered more worthy than he. His own father did not invite him to this all- important meeting with Samuel. When the Bible tells us God is searching for those who have a heart after Him, what does that mean? In David we find the answer:
- David had the heart of a servant. A servant does not rebel against the authority of his or her master. They are sensitive to their master’s needs and seek always to do their will.
- They are not only humble, a person with a heart after God has integrity. Honesty. Open with no motive except to do the will of their master. Not seeking glory for themselves. David would continue to watch over the sheep, when he was not soothing the king.
- A person with a heart for God is seeking God with their whole heart.
Isn’t it interesting, the Lord mentioned to Samuel specifically not to look at his appearance or height- how tall he was. David will face Goliath who is 9 feet, 9 inches tall. Goliath is the champion of the Philistines. He is from Gath. Goliath’s name means “banishment.” Gath means “the winepress.” Theses names are a foreshadowing of those who come against God and His people, will be banished and will be tread in the winepress of His wrath.
We read of his immense size. Some wonder could it be possible for a man to be this large. In the 20th century an American man held the record as the tallest man in the world- he was 8 feet, 11 inches tall.
We read the description of his armor and his weapons which are huge. His armor probably weighs more than David. This giant comes every day to front of the battle line and challenges them to send out someone to fight him. The offer is straight-forward: If the Israelite soldier is able to defeat Goliath, the Philistines will be their subjects; but if he overcomes him and kills him, Israel will be the slaves of the Philistines.
“On hearing the Philistines words, Saul and all the Israelites were dismayed and terrified.” (NIV)
Do you remember what God told Joshua? “No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life; as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you nor forsake you. “(Joshua 1; 5) God goes on to tell Joshua to do all that is written in His word and He will make their way prosperous. “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
Easy to believe when everything is going your way. But when you are facing a giant in your life- a problem so large, it seems insurmountable it is a different story. What ‘giant’ are you facing?
David is a man after God’s heart. Saul is a man after the flesh. Saul and all of Israel were dismayed and greatly afraid, terrified. Paralyzed by their fear. And suffering from amnesia of God’s promises to them. They were for all practical purposes- powerless. They were in desperate need of a deliverer. The very first step in achieving sobriety was to admit, confess, I was powerless over alcohol and my life had become unmanageable. Two interesting words in that first step: powerless and unmanageable. Our flesh, our old nature likes to be in control, to manage the circumstances in our own power. Control is an illusion.
Notice who sent David to the front- his father. David is taking bread to them. God the Father sent His only Son, the True Bread of heaven to earth to deliver us from our sin. The Lord Jesus we read in Philippians 3, “made of Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men, humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death on the cross.
We are told David’s three oldest brothers are with Saul’s army facing Goliath. David is still working his two jobs, playing music for Saul at his requests, and taking care of the sheep. Meanwhile, Goliath has issued this challenge for 40 consecutive days.
On the 41st day, Jesse decides to send David to the battle front to take his brothers some bread and supplies and see how they are doing and report back to him.
So the stage is set, David arrives and leaves supplies for his brothers with the supply keeper and ran to the army and greeted his brothers. At the same time, Goliath comes out for the 41st day in a row and issues his challenge. David heard Goliath’s challenge. All of the men of Israel when they saw Goliath fled from him and were dreadfully afraid.
Now David hears of what will be done for the man who kills the giant. He will be given the king’s daughter for a bride, receive great riches and his father’s estate will be exempt from all taxes.
The Lord Jesus was given the church, the bride of Christ for defeating the enemy. David’s relationship with his bride would be difficult at times, as is the Lord’s relationship with His bride, the Church often strained.
Now remember Eliab, David’s oldest brother, whom Samuel was so impressed with? We now see his envious, cruel nature and how he despises David and accuses him of motives which are not true. “Why did you come down here? And with whom did you leave those few sheep? He then accuses David of being prideful and insolence in his heart. Insolence is defined as an arrogant lack of respect, impudent, insulting. Nothing could be further from the truth about David.
Now a ravine separated these two armies, but verse 25 tells us on this day, Goliath has come up, meaning he is drawing nearer to the army. No wonder the men are fleeing. If you tolerate a Goliath in your life, he will sooner or later move right up into your camp. Your thoughts will be of nothing else but this giant who is threatening you with ruin. You cannot tolerate this giant, you must face your giant, this bully, this problem, this pending disaster. Lots of people will offer you advice how to handle this problem. Many times it comes from family. Joseph’s brothers could not stand him. David’s brother’s belittled him. And Jesus’ own family at one time thought he had lost his mind. God wants you to depend on Him completely.
God’s strength is made perfect in weakness. To all appearances, David looked like the least likely candidate to take on this giant. His size, his experience, his youth were all against him by all standards men used to measure the worth and ability of others.
When David volunteers, this is King Saul’s first reaction: you are not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him, for you are a youth, and he a man of war since his youth. David tells the king, 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. Notice, David does not take credit for killing a lion and a bear. He said the Lord delivered me from the lion and the bear. We tend to remember our defeats and forget our victories. David knows it is God who will empower him and protect him.
Saul is willing to let him try. But first Saul who is a man after the flesh wants to equip David with the weapons of the flesh. But David, not only can wear this armor, it hinders him from fighting in the strength of the Lord.
God made you and me uniquely different. He did that for a reason, because God knew exactly how he would use the uniqueness of me to accomplish His will. God chose my parents, He chose the time and place in which I was to be born. And like Esther, it is for such a time as this, that you and I have come into the kingdom of God. The giants we are facing are to frighten us, dismay us and discourage us and tell us we are not equipped to take on this mission.
If the chief end of man is to glorify God, then God’s name is to be magnified. The Holy Spirit which indwells us and the Holy Spirit who came upon David wants to magnify God’s Name. His strength is made perfect in weakness, for in weakness, no man can boast. God can empower us to win the battle, no matter how formidable is the enemy we face. We must remember the promise to Joshua is to us also. We must remember the verse in Isaiah 54:17, which says no weapon formed against you shall prosper. No matter how large the weapon or how large the enemy who wields it.
David goes forth without armor, for we have the spiritual armor of God. David uses those things he has become proficient, even gifted with- his expertise with a sling and the experience he has had of defeating the lion and the bear. David knows it is God who has empowered him. One last taunt by Goliath made it clear to David what this battle was about: “Am I a dog, that you come to me with sticks?” And the Philistine cursed David by his gods. David knew instinctively what this battle was about: “You come to me with 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. 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 Philistines to the birds of the air and the wild beast of the earth, that all the earth may know there is a God in Israel. Then all the assembly shall know that the Lord does not save with sword or spear, for the battle is the Lord’s.
Now you know the rest of the story as well as any story in the Bible. Goliath headed toward David and must have been surprised when David ran toward him. He took a stone out of his bag and he slung it and hit the Philistine in his forehead, so that the stone sank into his forehead, and he fell on his face to the earth. So David prevailed over Goliath. He took Goliath’s own sword and cut off his head. The Philistines fled when they saw what happened. “Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee.” (James 4: 7)
David stood before this giant and was not intimidated by his size and prowess. Intimidation is quite often the tactic of the enemy when we face giants in our lives which threaten us. Our thoughts get confused, we can’t think clearly. We focus on the giant, the problem before us and forget to pray. The secret in these battles: the battle is the Lord’s.
God wants you to remember the victories, and forget the defeats. Facing giants is intimidating, the Lord Jesus understands this. Doing battle is often a lonely experience. Jesus experienced this in the Garden when his most trusted disciples could not even stay awake and pray. He knew it when His Father had to forsake Him at Calvary. Trusting God is a stabilizing experience. A calm in the eye of the storm. He keeps in perfect peace whose mind is steadfast on Him because he trusts God. The battle is fought on our knees in prayer. The battle is the Lord’s and He has never lost.
Perhaps you are trying on someone else’s armor. God says I want to strip you down to nothing but your faith. This is all I need- a heart that is loyal to me and I will show myself strong on your behalf.
David was trained and became competent over time. His expertise with the sling came from hours and hours of practice as it was an important skill he had to develop to be proficient as a shepherd to protect his flock. Our flesh wants to become skilled and proficient without spending the time and discipline to develop our skills which God has given us. The musician spends hours and hours of monotonous repetition in order to train his fingers to form the chords and find the right keys. Everything has its time. “To everything there is a season. A time for every purpose under heaven.” What does this mean to you? A season is a specified time period. There is a season and a time of training and developing skills. Purpose is defined as ‘the reason for which something is done or created or for which something exists.’ God has allowed whatever has come into your life for a purpose. And ultimately that purpose is that His Name will be glorified. David did not learn how to use a sling in one day. He learned how over years and years and hours and hours of practice. God drives out the enemy, little by little. He builds a fortress in your life brick by brick, precept upon precept, line upon line.
It in these times and seasons you are sowing what you will later reap. What you must guard against in the season of training and sowing is growing weary of the training. “Do not be deceived God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows that shall he also reap. For he who sows to the flesh, will of the flesh reap corruption; but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. And let us not grow weary in well doing, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.” (Galatians 6)
If you have a heart toward God, loyal to God, then He will show Himself strong on your behalf. “But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not grow weary, they shall walk and not faint.” (Isaiah 40)