Following on from my talk on “Giants” on 1st September, I preached on “How to deal with a giant” on 8th September.
Again the Bible passage was rather long, and can be found here.
Last week we say the consequences of the people of Israel not dealing with the supposed giants that lived in the promised land.
The Israelites were condemned to wander the desert for 40 years until all of the adults who rebelled against God had died. Only two men Caleb and Joshua were left from the original 12 spies who had gone into the promised land.
Joshua took over from Moses as the leader. God promised him in Joshua 1: 5 “As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you.”
Eventually under Joshua’s leadership the Israelites entered Canaan by crossing the River Jordan. They conquered most of the country, but sadly after Joshua’s death didn’t fulfil God’s command to drive out all the other peoples who lived there. This only led to trouble in later years. And don’t we find this true for ourselves if we don’t do all God tells us to do?
Interestingly enough there doesn’t seem to be any reports in Joshua or Judges of the Israelites having to fight with giants. Too often our fears don’t come to anything,
One group of people who were a problem for many many years were the Philistines. Israel and the Philistines were at war on and off for generations.
And war had broken out again as we read in 1 Samuel 17.
The opposing armies had set up camp on opposite sides of a valley. They seemed to be waiting for the someone to make the first move.
The Philistines had a champion, a giant called Goliath.
He was huge. It is said he was nine foot tall. His coat of armour weighed 5000 shekels or about nine stone or 57 kilos. The spear head weighed 15 pound or about seven kilos, let alone the weight of the shaft.
He was a formidable fighter. Additionally, he had a large shield and a sword.
He terrified the Israelites. None of them would face him in combat.
Of course, the man who should have dealt with Goliath was the King of Israel, Saul. We learn in 1 Samuel 9:2 that “Kish had a son named Saul, as handsome a young man as could be found anywhere in Israel, and he was a head taller than anyone else. “So Saul was the tallest man in Israel and was probably about six foot given that in Bible times people were shorter than we are now.
But Saul would not face Goliath.
Saul had started off as a good king but had decided many times to do it his way rather than God’s way. Because of his repeated disobedience to God, he was no longer God’s man and clearly was not up for the fight. He desperately tried to recruit someone else to fight what should have been his battle. In 1 Samuel 17:25 we read “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 family from taxes in Israel.” But no one seemed interested in taking on Goliath.
For 40 days, twice a day Goliath would come out and taunt the Israelites. It’s thought that Goliath timed his challenges to coincide with the times the Israelites should have been praying to God.
So, a most unlikely champion appears to help the Israelites. A young shepherd boy called David. Three of his seven older brothers are in Saul’s army. David comes to see them and bring them some food from home.
David asks what’s going on and why no one has challenged Goliath. His oldest brother doesn’t like David being there and snaps at him in V28 “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 wilderness? I know how conceited you are and how wicked your heart is; you came down only to watch the battle.”“
Have you ever noticed how jealous some people become? How they misinterpret you motives and think ill of you? But nowhere in the Bible does it say that Eliab was prepared to fight Goliath. In fact, he is lumped in with all the rest of the army as we read in v11 “On hearing the Philistine’s words, Saul and all the Israelites were dismayed and terrified. ”
Some people when they are not willing or able to fight the battle even turn on those of their own side who are able to take on the giants. Last week we looked in Numbers 13 at how the Israelites wouldn’t face the forces arrayed against them in the promised land. If we had continued into the next chapter, we would have read this in Numbers 14 v10 “But the whole assembly talked about stoning them.”
But David decides something must be done and speaks with King Saul: 32 David said to Saul, “Let no one lose heart on account of this Philistine; your servant will go and fight him.” 33 Saul replied, “You are not able to go out against this Philistine and fight him; you are only a young man, and he has been a warrior from his youth.” 34 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, 35 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. 36 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. 37 The LORD who rescued me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will rescue me from the hand of this Philistine.” Saul said to David, “Go, and the LORD be with you.”
As a shepherd David has faced great danger to keep his sheep safe. Traditionally the shepherd had his staff and a rod to protect himself and his sheep. The staff may have a curved end to hook round a sheep to pull it out of a ditch or a tight spot. The rod was more like a spear or javelin to throw at wild animals. But David also had a slingshot or catapult to use. It could be used by soldiers to launch a volley of stones against their opponents, but a shepherd would use it to warn off animals that might hurt the sheep.
He has fought with a lion and a bear, just using his hands and his own strength against these dangerous and ferocious animals.
And David is confident that God will be with him in the fight against Goliath. Look at what he says “The LORD who rescued me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will rescue me from the hand of this Philistine”
David also recognises this giant for what he is. “Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living God?” There is more here that a physical challenge. If this giant should win, then what message does it send about God and his chosen people?
Are well keen to protect the good name of our God and his wonderful son? Or do we like the Israelites let God be mocked?
How many times are people told “you’re too young” or even “you’re too old” or “you don’t have the right qualifications”? Do remember that Saul operated in the “flesh” he didn’t have the Holy Spirit to guide him he didn’t have a close relationship with God to be able to seek God’s wisdom and discernment. As we know at the end of his life Saul turned to witchcraft in a desperate search for guidance. Sadly, many people today do exactly the same they ask everyone including demonic spirits for guidance and fail to seek out the one true God who is the answer to all of their problems.
Eventually Saul agrees that David can fight Goliath and gives him armour and weapons to use as we read in v38 & 39 “Then Saul dressed David in his own tunic. He put a coat of armour 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. ”
Have you ever noticed how people try and weigh you down with what you don’t need for the battle? This was Saul’s equipment not what David needed or knew how to use.
David knew what he needed for the fight and that is what he took. As Christians we have the immeasurable power of the Holy Spirit available to us in every situation we face. We have God’s armour to put on as detailed in Ephesians 6.
So, David goes to fight Goliath knowing he is about God’s business. He is ready and equipped for the fight and importantly the time was right and he had recently been anointed as we read in 1 Samuel 16 v 13 ” 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.” If the timing is not God’s timing, then it’s not right.
It must have been frightening experience to face Goliath all 9 foot of him, and yet David does not let Goliath get the better of him. Not only does he knock out Goliath but he finishes the job by removing the giant’s head. Many people in fighting the giants in their lives don’t always go for the kill
and finish the job. If you don’t there is always the danger that you will have to fight the battle all over again and not necessarily at a time of your choosing!
I don’t know what giants you have to face in your lives, but I am sure that with God’s help you can have the victory particularly if you are:
• Close to God and full of the Holy Spirit
• aware of you enemy
• Prepared and equipped for the fight
Let’s pray: Father God you know that throughout our lives we face various giants many of which can frighten and unnerve us. We ask for your Holy Spirit to comfort, encourage, equip and enable us and prepare us for the battles we have to face. Help us to stay close to you and to always be aware of your presence. In Jesus’ name. Amen.