When God Says “Go” but Fear Says “No”
Topic: Expository Passage: 1 Samuel 17
1 Samuel 17 | When God Says “Go” but Fear Says “No”
This past Thursday, June 6th, 2019 marked a very important anniversary. Do any of you know what it was? It was the 75th anniversary of D-Day. I spent a little bit of time yesterday skimming over some of letters and pictures that were posted last week and came across some incredible stories. You know, if D-Day stands for anything, it stands for courage and victory despite overwhelming obstacles.
Today, we are going to look at the classic Bible story about courage and faith despite overwhelming obstacles. We are going to study David and Goliath. Turn in your Bibles to 1 Samuel 17.
My outline this morning follows the inductive Bible study method. First, we will read this well-known story and observe the details. Then, we will apply this story to our own lives. Before we begin, let’s ask for God’s help in prayer.
Scene 1: Setting
Our story breaks down into seven unique scenes. Scene 1 describes the setting in vv. 1-3 (1 Sam 17:1-3).
One of the first things that stands out to us about the setting is all of the details. The author takes 58 verses to describe the events of one day! But there is a method to the madness. Many times in the Bible, details add emphasis. So we are intended to “stop and stare” at this story. Why?
In the story of 1 Samuel, the narrator is contrasting David and Saul. Saul is David’s foil. His weaknesses highlight David’s character. In chapter 15, after a string of sinful failures, Saul is rejected from being king. Then, in chapter 16, we are introduced to David, a man after God’s own heart, and David is anointed to be king. Now, in this chapter, we get our first good look at David’s character as it is played out in real life. Also, moving forward, this story sets up Saul’s hatred of David, which becomes the backdrop for the rest of the book. So 1 Samuel 17 is central to the message of 1 Samuel!
That brings us to the actual places described in vv. 1-3. Here is a zoomed-out picture of the Battle of Elah, as it is sometimes called. Orange marks the path of the Israelite army to the battle, and green marks David’s path to the battle. Pink is the path that the Philistines took in fleeing after the battle.
Here is another picture that shows the terrain more specifically. As you can see, the Israelites are camped on the north side of the valley, and the Philistines are camped on the south side of the valley, with a flat valley and a dry creek bed in between.
Here is an aerial picture of the battlefield from the opposite perspective–from the north facing south. You can see Sochoh, near where the Philistines would have been encamped in the south, there near the top of the screen.
The point of these geographical details is first, that Israel and the Philistines are in a standoff. Each army has fortified its positions, so to speak, and neither is willing to charge down into the valley to attack the other side. Second, we are told specifically in v. 1 that Sochoh, the place where the Philistines were gathered, belonged to Judah. Israel was not fighting for territory they had no right to; rather, the Philistines had encroached upon Israel’s territory.
That brings us to scene 2, where the action really heats up.
Scene 2: Introduction to Goliath (vv. 4-7)
So in v. 4, we are introduced to Israel’s worst nightmare–Goliath of Gath. As I give this description, I want you to paint a picture in your mind of this monster of a man. He’s over nine feet tall, he’s wearing body armor weighing 126 lbs. (the Modular Tactical Vest worn by U.S. marines weighs only 30 lbs.) and bronze armor on his legs, and he’s carrying a bronze javelin (which was probably more like a scimitar or short sword) and a spear with a staff like a weaver’s beam and an iron spearhead that weighed over 15 lbs.! Now, in chapter 13, we are told that the Philistines had a monopoly on blacksmiths and that they purposely kept that technology out of the Israelites’ hands. So when it came time for battle, only Saul and his son Jonathan carried swords. Imagine how imposing Goliath would have been to an army without swords! Not only that, but we are told in v. 7 that Goliath’s shield bearer went before him, which means that he had both hands free for combat while being protected from enemy assaults.
But on top of all of that, the narrator begins his description of Goliath by saying that he was a “champion.” That word literally means, “a man among two.” Goliath was an expert at representative combat. Goliath was no Titanic, out for his maiden voyage. He was a battle-tested warrior. He probably had stickers on his helmet for all of the pipsqueaks he had killed. And it was about representative combat that Goliath taunted the Israelites.
The children of Israel look up, and there is Goliath, sauntering towards them. He strides forward to the opposite edge of the valley, stops, and bellows these words (vv. 8-10). Goliath says, “Why did you even come out here and stand in your little lines if you weren’t intending to fight? Aren’t I a Philistine? Aren’t you servants of Saul? Last time I checked, we were still enemies, right? Pick your best soldier and send him down to fight me! If he is able to kill me, then we will be your servants! But… if I kill him, then you will be our servants! I defy the armies of Israel this day! Give me someone to fight!” And then no doubt he chuckled to himself as he strode back to his camp for a drink.
Now, what Goliath was proposing was apparently not unheard of in those days. The insinuation behind it was that the battle rested with the strength of one’s god. For instance, when the Philistines defeated the Israelites during the days of Eli, they took the Ark of the Covenant and displayed it in the temple of Dagon, making the crystal-clear statement, “Our god is better than your God… and our victory over you proves it!” So the logic apparently went like this: “Why all this unnecessary bloodshed in order to determine whose god is the best? Let’s settle this man to man.”
Now, let me ask you a question. Who was Israel’s best man? It was Saul! He carried one of the only two swords. He was battle-tested and a giant in his own rite (the Bible says in 1 Samuel 9:2 that he stood head and shoulders above the rest of the people!). Saul should have been the man to face Goliath! But how did Saul respond to the challenge? Did he see the context in its theological light and recognize, “This fool is defying God! God is going to get him!” Or was he impressed with all of the weaponry, the height of the giant, and his big mouth (v. 11)?
In v. 11, we are introduced to the real enemy in this story. You thought it was Goliath, didn’t you? It’s not Goliath! Oh, he’s an enemy alright, but he’s not the main enemy! The main enemy is the fear in the hearts of God’s people that keeps them from doing the right thing.
Some of you in this room this morning may be fighting the same enemy that the children of Israel faced that day. Your Goliath looks very different than David’s Goliath. But the fear in your heart is exactly what Saul and the rest of the men of Israel felt that day! I trust that there are some people in this room who know what you should be doing, but you’re in a standstill because you’re too afraid to do it!
Courage is something we must talk about. I read a statement online yesterday that said that apart from the drug-war in Mexico, the Western Hemisphere is completely without war. Here is the quote: “No person alive can remember our Hemisphere to be as peaceful as it is today.” That, of course, is a very good thing! However, as my youth pastor used to say, “Soft pillows do not make strong warriors.” When you have a generation of people who have never had to face adversity on the level of what our forefathers faced, courage is sure to be lacking! We must teach our children to be courageous! I’m not talking about just any kind courage! I’m talking about the courage to stand for God and to do right and take risks and suffer persecution if necessary in order to obey God and advance the Great Commission.
Sadly, you can be a Christian leader and not have that kind of courage. You can be a king and not have that kind of courage! But when even a boy or girl displays that kind of courage, people sit up and take notice.
That leads us to scene 3 and our introduction to David.
Scene 3: Reintroduction to David (vv. 12-15)
This is actually a reintroduction to David, because if you’re reading through 1 Samuel, you’ve already been introduced to David once in chapter 16! David was the youngest son of a man named Jesse, who lived in the town of Bethlehem, not far from the future site of David’s capitol in Jerusalem. David was young–probably under twenty years old at this time, since, according to Numbers 1:3, that is the age that men would enter the Israelite army.
Now, technically, David was already part of the Israelite army, because he had been conscripted as Saul’s armor bearer in 16:21. However, David’s only official duty up until this point had been playing his harp for the king. Other than that, David had been allowed to go back and forth between his official court duties and his responsibilities at home, which included watching his father’s sheep. David was a shepherd.
But something very significant had happened to David at the beginning of chapter 16. The prophet Samuel had shown up unexpectedly at David’s father’s house. Young David had been called in from the fields, and Samuel had poured oil on his head and anointed him as the next king over Israel in the sight of all of his brothers. And the Bible says, “the Spirit of the LORD came upon David from that day forward.” So David was a very special kid. He was set apart for specific service to God and empowered by God’s Spirit. Interestingly, the very next verse in 1 Samuel 16 says, “the Spirit of the LORD departed from Saul, and a distressing spirit from the LORD troubled him.” So when we see David, we should look for signs that the Spirit of God is present with him; whereas when we see Saul, we should look for signs of this distressing spirit.
Let’s continue reading (v. 16). The author of this book skillfully reminds us of the danger facing God’s people by telling us that while everyday life was continuing back in Bethlehem, the same scene we witnessed earlier with Goliath was on repeat for forty days, morning and evening (vv. 17-19).
David was a good, obedient, responsible son; and his dad sent him to check on his brothers and bring them some supplies. If you are familiar with the story of Joseph from the book of Genesis, David is in many ways, the new Joseph. He is the youngest among his brothers, but he has been singled out by God for important service. We are going to see that like Joseph’s brothers, David’s brothers were jealous. And yet, their father trusted David, just like Jacob trusted Joseph all those years before.
Let’s move on to scene 4.
Scene 4: “David, Meet Goliath” (vv. 20-22)
David leaves home early enough to arrive at the battlefront while it is still morning. And just so you know, that’s a 15-mile walk! Goliath is fresh; David is already tired. However, young David is still very exuberant and excited. He arrives just as the Israelite army is rolling out, shouting its battle cry. But that battle cry must have been very forced. Every one of the Israelite soldiers must have known they weren’t going to battle that day. After all, they had gone through these motions for forty days in a row, and nothing had ever come of it! That’s why Goliath had taunted them, “Why do you even show up for the battle if you are not going to fight?” But David didn’t know all of that. He left his supplies with the supply keeper and sprinted to greet his brothers. But as the brothers were catching up, guess who showed up for his morning taunt (v. 23)? One commentator pointed out that this may have been the first time in his young life that David had heard the name of God blasphemed (vv. 24-27).
When Goliath shows up, the Israelite soldiers not only break ranks, but turn and run in confusion! How embarrassing when the people of God flee like that before their enemies, as if God wasn’t strong enough to save them! Goliath must have gotten a good laugh!
Verse 25 describes the word in the camp. As we listen in, we find that instead of fighting the giant himself, Saul has offered a reward to entice someone else into doing his dirty work! It’s a huge reward! Saul will give the man great riches, he will get to marry the princess, and he and his father’s house will get an exemption–most likely from taxes and perhaps also future military service! Think about it! You get a million bucks, you get to marry the princess, no one in your family has to pay taxes, and you all get to skip the draft! Now that’s a deal if I’ve ever heard one! There’s only one problem. You have to kill Goliath. Is anyone busting down the doors to take Saul up on his offer? No! They’re all probably thinking, “If Saul isn’t dumb enough to try it, why should we get ourselves killed!” So although the reward is ridiculously high, no one is willing to challenge this man who continues to defy Israel.
Until David comes along. David apparently hadn’t heard the news about the reward from v. 25. But he is absolutely indignant about what is going on! “Hey!” He says, “Who does that guy think he is, defying the armies of the living God!” (And we as the readers say, “Yes! Finally, someone who recognizes the theological implications of what is taking place!”) “Who’s going to take that guy out?” David asks, looking around. “Hasn’t some kind of a reward been offered!?”
“Well, actually, yes,” they explain. “You’ll get a million bucks (or whatever it was) … you get to marry the princess… and your family never has to pay taxes or participate in military service ever again.” David just stares at them. “Are you kidding? So why isn’t anyone moving?” “Well,” they say, “I mean, it’s Goliath! We don’t stand a chance against him! Those rewards are really cool and all, but… better to be alive than to be dead!” David is flabbergasted, and he continues to argue with the men and to try to stir them up. Until his brother Eliab catches wind of what he is saying (v. 28).
Now, why did Eliab blow up at his brother like this? Might I suggest that it was jealousy and pride? David’s straightforward line of questioning was exposing them all for the wimps and cowards they were, and most people don’t like to be called wimps by their little brother!
David responds to his brother in v. 29 (v. 29). That is a difficult phrase to translate. Other versions translate it, “Was it not just a question?” (NASB), “Was it not but a word?” (ESV), “Can’t I even speak?” (NIV), and “It was only a question” (CSB). This is a heated moment. David’s soul is stirred up, and now he is pushing back against his brother. Tempers were high. Not only that, but then David effectively ignores his brother in v. 30 and goes back to the same line of questioning (v. 30).
That brings us to scene 5: A Conversation between Israel’s First and Second Kings.
Scene 5: A Conversation between Israel’s First and Second Kings (v. 31)
David causes such a stir in the camp that news of it reaches King Saul, and he sends for David. Now remember, this isn’t the first time Saul and David have met. David was commissioned to play harp for Saul back in chapter 16, and Saul liked David so much, he made him his armor bearer! But up until this point, David has played a relatively minor role in court affairs–so much so that when David goes out to face Goliath, we will see that neither Saul nor Abner can remember who David’s father was! David is the musician, or at best, the baggage boy. He is the last one anyone would expect to volunteer to fight Goliath! And yet, as David is being hurried into Saul’s tent, he resolves in his mind what he is going to do (v. 32).
I love this verse! David says, “Nobody worry; I will fight Goliath.” Now, I don’t think David was trying to be proud; he was simply stating a fact. He was volunteering to fight the giant. And when he says to Saul, “Let no one’s heart fail because of him,” that is probably nice way of saying to the king, “Please don’t worry because of him.” In other words, the king was the one who was worried, and David was talking to the king! But even in this situation, David avoids disrespectfully calling attention to the king’s cowardice. So he phrases himself generally: “Let no one’s heart fail because of him.”
But David’s solution is laughable, isn’t it? “I will fight with this Philistine!” That statement must have been met by stunned silence, if not a chuckle from some of the guards. Saul condescendingly replies in v. 33 (v. 33).
Saul says, “David, my boy! What spirit you have! You can’t fight Goliath! You are too young and untrained!”
Now, can I tell you what I would have done at this moment, if I were David? I would have said, “Okay God, thank you for making that clear! I volunteered my service, but the king said ‘no.’ I guess that’s not Your will after all. I’ll just be getting back to my sheep now.” But Saul didn’t exactly say “no,” did he? Amazingly, David pushes back against the king (vv. 34-39)!
Now please don’t miss the logic that David employs in these verses, because it is very important! David relays in vv. 34-35 stories about how he had killed a lion and a bear. I think we often get the wrong impression about David’s motives here. We get the sense that David is basically flexing his bicep and saying, “You see this arm? This arm killed a lion… and it will kill Goliath, too!” But David is not being Gastón in this scene! There is so much more nuance to his argument!
There is a key word in these verses, and it is the word “delivered.” In vv. 34-35, David delivered his sheep from the mouth of the lion and the bear, and in v. 37 it is God who will deliver David (and thus all the men of Israel) from the hand of the Philistine. In other words, David is making an argument from the lesser to the greater here. If David as an imperfect human shepherd could be trusted to deliver his sheep from a lion and a bear, how much more could God, the divine Shepherd of Israel be trusted to deliver His sheep from Goliath?
Do you remember what David wrote in Psalm 23? “The LORD is my shepherd!” Who’s the bear? It’s that beast-like monster Goliath! In fact, Goliath is worse off than either the lion or the bear! The lion or bear never defied the armies of the living God! This man blasphemed God; God is going to take him out! The Law sentenced blasphemers to death, and this applied to non-Israelites! One commentator said, “As David viewed it, Goliath was outnumbered and would soon be overpowered, for the Lord would fight with David against the giant.” 
You see, David is not ultimately asking for permission to fight Goliath because he is so strong. (Now, he does skillfully weave that story in so that Saul knows he is not incompetent. In fact, we will see later that David is quite skilled at using one of the most formidable weapons available to the Israelites at this time–the sling.) But David is not trusting in his strength! Rather, his logic is simple–childlike, in fact. Here is David’s reasoning: “That guy is blaspheming God! God is going to get him!” And at that point, who cares who you send out into battle! You can send out a little child for all I care! And in fact, that is exactly what happens! And that is the point of this story: a child was exactly who God was looking for. He wasn’t looking for a skilled, warrior-man like Saul who trusted in his strength. He was looking for simple, childlike faith. And David fit that bill.
One commentator describes Saul’s decision to let David fight as “perhaps the greatest military gamble of his career.” But I think Saul actually knew better than we often give him credit for. Saul knew that David was right, and yet he was too scared to act on it.
And isn’t that often the case? It’s not that we don’t know our theology. We know that God is the only true and living God. We know that He is omnipotent and sovereign. We know that He is zealous for His glory. We know that He has promised to save His people and that He always keeps His promises! We often know exactly what He wants us to do, but we are too scared to do it! What we need is someone like David, who says, “Well if all that is true, what are we all waiting for? Let’s go do it!”
Saul decided to let David fight, but he at least tried to give David his armor (vv. 38-39). This is almost a moment of comic relief. We can imagine David fumbling around in armor three sizes too big! So he says to Saul, “I can’t fight with these!” And he takes them off. What’s the point? Again, the narrator is contrasting Saul with David. One commentator points out that David’s trust was in God, not in man’s devices. This was one of the major things that distinguished David’s kingly strategy from that of Saul. He says, “Saul chose to dress in royal clothing ‘such as all the other nations have’; David would wear none of it. Instead, he would identify with the great shepherd-leaders of the Torah—Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and especially Moses—and live by faith in the promises of God (cf. Heb 11).” Now, don’t try to think too hard about what that commentator is saying about the clothing. The point is that there is a major difference in philosophies going on here. Saul is trusting in man; David is trusting in God.
Instead of Saul’s fancy armor, David chose the weapons he was used to (v. 40). So David walked down by himself into the Valley of Elah to face the giant Goliath. But he paused along the way for a very important stop. He stopped to pick up five smooth stones from the brook. Now, whenever I heard this story as a boy growing up, I imagined five pebbles… until last year I saw an excavated Israelite sling stone–it was the size of a softball! I guess the typical size was that of a tennis ball, but they could be bigger. So when you think of David confronting Goliath with only a sling, don’t think of some little plastic toy. This was a real man’s weapon, even if it was wielded by a teenager!
That leads us to the battle.
Scene 6: The Battle (vv. 41-44)
Someone elbows Goliath and says, “Someone is actually coming out to fight you!” “What?! Excellent! I’d like nothing better than to bloody somebody up right now! Armor bearer, grab my shield!” And off he trotted toward the valley and thus the battlefield. But as he’s on his way, Goliath is looking around. “Where is this warrior that is supposed to come out and fight me?” And then he sees David. And that makes him legitimately angry! Because killing a boy would not have won him any honor! Goliath wanted a real opponent!
He takes one glance at David and sees his staff and mocks, “Am I a dog that you have come to me with sticks?” But then Goliath goes a step beyond what he is recorded as having done so far. The Bible says that he cursed David by his gods. Now understand what is meant by that phrase. Goliath was not just heaping expletives on David because he had a foul mouth. Rather, he was calling down curses on David from his gods. This was a form of prayer. Goliath was making a theological statement.
One commentator points out, “The author’s use of the term “cursed” here is theologically significant; readers knowledgeable of the Torah would know that by cursing this son of Abraham, Goliath was bringing down the Lord’s curse on himself (cf. Gen 12:3)—a favorable outcome to the battle (from an Israelite perspective!) was thus assured.”  Genesis 12:3 is part of the Abrahamic Covenant. God says to Abraham, “I will bless those who bless you,
And I will curse him who curses you; And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” By cursing David, Goliath was effectively cursing himself. Not only that, but unbeknownst to him, Goliath was cursing the LORD’s anointed, one of the most important descendants in the line of the One through whom all the families of the earth would be blessed! Goliath didn’t stand a chance, and David knew it (vv. 45-47).
David sees no reason for modesty. God is going to give him the victory, he knows it, and he wanted everyone else to know it, too! David does not expect to die; he fully expects to win! After all, the battle is the LORD’s! David rightly discerns that Goliath’s trust is ultimately in his weapons, whereas David’s trust is in the LORD. Therefore, this battle is simply a question of whether or not God is bigger than a 9 ft. giant!
Again, David gets right to the point when he accuses Goliath of defying God. Goliath has not just defied the armies of the living God; he has defied God. And that is why he must die. David is reading Goliath his death sentence! “I am going to strike you down, cut off your head, and then give the carcasses of the Philistines to the birds of the air and the beasts of the field!” Why? Because David is mean and vindictive? No! So that “all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel.” And not only that, but they will also know that God does not save with sword and with spear. It’s actually a good thing that Saul’s armor didn’t fit! Because the world needs to know that God doesn’t need swords or armor in order to defend His people! “The battle is the LORD’s!”
But how silly all of this must have sounded to any of the Philistines who were standing by! This boy sure could talk a good talk, but there was no way he could stand a chance against Goliath! Boy were they in for a surprise (vv. 48-50)!
After David’s speech, Goliath wastes no time rambling forward to meet him. But David doesn’t just walk toward Goliath, the Bible says that he hurries and runs toward the giant! And as he is running at full stride, he reaches into his shepherd’s pouch and grabs one of those tennis ball-sized stones. He sticks it into his sling, and he begins to swing that stone around his head. And then, at the pivotal moment (he must have timed it carefully because remember, he was running toward Goliath), he let the stone go! The stone didn’t miss its mark. It sank into Goliath’s forehead, and the giant tottered and fell. David had killed Goliath without so much as a sword in his hand!
However, he had said he would cut off Goliath’s head! So true to his word, David rushed over, pulled Goliath’s sword out of its sheath and cut off the giant’s head with his own sword! I can only imagine that after doing so, he proudly hoisted the disembodied head for all of the Philistines to see, as if to say, “We’re coming for you next!” And the Bible says that when the Philistines saw that their champion was dead, they fled. Look who’s running in fear and confusion now! And how did the fearful children of Israel respond to this victory (v. 52-54)?
The people of God were emboldened by David’s victory. His courage was like a match thrown into a barrel of gasoline. It lit the courage of all of the other men! And isn’t that how it works? Leaders step out in faith based on God’s promises, and in doing so, they inspire others to join them. That’s why, for instance, missionary biographies are so effective!
The Israelite soldiers pursued their enemies for ten miles down the road and plundered all of their tents. But I love how David keeps the head of the giant with him. In some ways, it is such a 19-year-old boy thing to do, isn’t it? But there is no bashfulness in David! And specifically, he wants everyone to see what God has done!
That brings us to scene 7.
Scene 7: David and Saul Revisited (vv. 55-58)
The last scene in this chapter begins with a flashback to the royal tent, as King Saul and Abner watch David jog off confidently to fight Goliath. Saul asks Abner, “Whose son is that kid?” and Abner doesn’t even know. Saul says, “Go and find out whose son he is.” It appears that Saul might actually think that David might win! Saul wants to know who his new son-in-law is!
But then the second half of the scene fast-forwards to after the battle, where Abner is bringing David before the king for a formal introduction. And this whole conversation happens while David is standing there holding Goliath’s head by its hair in his fist! And I might add that the whole time, David is a very respectful young lad! It is a brilliant scene that shows us the character of David!
So how do we apply this story?
- Step out in faith when God says, “Go.”
One of the primary applications of this text is to fearful Christians who are hesitating to obey God. Christians become fearful and intimidated by “giants” when they focus on the obstacles and fail to consider the power of God. That’s why we can never stress enough the importance of your view of God! It makes all the difference in the world! It makes the difference between a Saul and a David.
I want you to think of all of the excuses David could have given for not stepping out in faith. He could have said, “I’ll just do this easier job. Somebody else can do that one,” and nobody would have bothered him about it. “Of course!” they would have said. “We need people on the home front, too! Somebody’s got to watch the sheep, right David?”
As he was being hurried along to King Saul, David could have said to himself, “Ya, but people will misunderstand my motives. After all, my brother already announced to the world that I am proud and insolent.”
After his initial conversation with Saul, David could have said to himself, “Well, I’ve received counsel against it–by God’s anointed, no less! Surely, this cannot be God’s will!”
He could have said, “I’m too young,” or “I haven’t received the proper training. Someone else will slay this giant; I’ll get the next one.” I heard an old preacher say this past week that the problem with that argument is that you’re always either too young or too old. He said for the first however many years of your life, everyone’s saying you’re too young. Then they start saying you’re too old. He said there’s only about one year in the middle there when you’re just the right age. So you might as well resign yourself to the fact that most of what you will do for God in this life, you will do while you’re either too young or too old!
After all of the trouble with Saul’s armor, David had the perfect excuse to back out. He could have said, “I tried, but the circumstances just didn’t work out.”
David had so many excuses at his disposal, and yet he refused to be stopped. The brilliance of David was not just having the idea, but following it through. He knew what God wanted him to do, and he did it.
But that brings up an interesting question. How are you going to know with that degree of confidence what God wants you to do? Let me give you three ways.
First, read the Bible. The Bible is God’s objective word! If it tells you to do something, then you know it’s God’s will! One of the dangers in applying this text is that I would misunderstand what God wants me to do! And so I charge forward into something that isn’t God’s plan! I don’t know how to avoid that except to tell you, read the Bible! Don’t base your decisions upon feelings; base them upon God’s Word! And don’t just say, “The Bible gives me liberty in this area,” because that is not the way that biblical discernment is supposed to work! Instead, ask how principles in the Bible relate to your situation. So first, read the Bible.
Second, stay close to Jesus. That same old preacher said about finding God’s will, “It’s not hard to find God’s will. You just make a covenant with God that whenever He shows you His will, you’ll do it, even if you don’t feel like it.” He said, “God always makes His will clear to those who are willing to do it.” There’s a lot of truth to that statement! If you are walking with God, then you are in a good place to know what He wants you to do in your particular situation.
Third, remember, part of God’s will for your life is to make disciples! That aspect of His will is clearly laid out in His Word! Maybe God’s will for you this morning is for you to invite someone to do the One to One Bible reading program with you this summer. Maybe His will is for you to text someone in the church who may be struggling spiritually. Maybe He wants you to sit down with your brother or sister and tell them about Jesus. Do not hesitate because of fear!
Another one of the dangers in applying this text is that those who ought to be waiting would take this as their excuse to panic and act too soon. My dad came up with this chart years ago, and it has been such a help to me, both in discerning my own motives and in counseling others. You see, faith doesn’t always act. Sometimes, faith waits. This morning, we studied the story of David and Goliath, but don’t forget the stories where David refused to take Saul’s life because he would not stretch out his hand against the LORD’s anointed! In this story, Saul should have acted and challenged Goliath; but in another story earlier in 1 Samuel, Saul took matters into his own hands and offered a sacrifice instead of waiting for Samuel–and that was one of the major sins that led to the loss of his kingdom!
You need biblical wisdom to discern when faith acts and when it waits.
- Look to Christ, our mighty champion!
I take that wording from the Christmas hymn “Joy Has Dawned,” but it also comes from this chapter, in which Goliath is referred to as a “champion.” Another one of the dangers in applying this text is that we would identify too closely with David. They said in that movie “American Gospel” that we watched on Sunday nights earlier this year, “You’re not David!” That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t identify with David at all or be inspired by his faith, but we have to remember that David is a type of Christ!
Consider the parallels–David, God’s anointed one, the future Shepherd-King of Israel, walks down into the valley all alone to face God’s enemy. He literally bruises the monster’s head and deliver God’s people! This story has the gospel written all over it! Jesus, on our behalf, came into this world to do battle with Satan. The crazy thing is that rather than destroying Satan all at once, He won the victory by dying! In the most ironic moment the world has ever seen, the Shepherd became the Sacrificial Lamb. But of course, Jesus didn’t stay dead! He rose from the grave, and He is coming again to rescue His people and destroy the Devil once and for all! If you have never made the decision to trust Jesus to save you from sin, death, hell, and Satan, I urge you to do so today!
Most of you know that Elise and I were in San Francisco last week. I was preaching at a conference and then Elise and I were sight-seeing in the city. When you think about advancing the Great Commission in a place like San Francisco, it can feel like David and Goliath. I was reminded of how intellectually superior many unbelievers claim to be, as well as of the power and wealth of the unbelieving world. We walked into one shop selling thousand-dollar men’s shoes and the shop owner asked what I did for a living. When I told him I was a pastor, he chuckled to himself and called over his shoulder, “Bob, you haven’t sinned today, have you?”
Do you ever feel small when interacting with the world? Maybe you wonder, “How are we ever going to reach these people or make any difference in this world?” If that is what you are saying, then perhaps you’re focusing on the wrong thing! You’re like Saul and the rest of the Israelite soldiers looking at Goliath’s armor; not like David, who was looking at the LORD! When God says “go” but fear says “no,” let’s step out in faith like David did, because the battle is the LORD’s.