Classic, vintage bible story. It's interesting how it seems like you learn these basic stories as a kid with really surface level ideas in them, and then it's not till you grow up a little and see how powerful and profound these stories really are.
Me Preaching - I've Avoided this story
I preached my first sermon when I was 19. What in the world a 19 year old has to say to a group of people is beyond me, but that's what I did. That means I've been preaching for 17 years. And during these 17 years, I've preached hundreds and hundreds of different sermons. And one thing that's very interesting when it comes to preaching is how you land on what you're going to preach about. I know some preachers who plan out 18 months in advance what they're going to talk about. So they have this beautiful roadmap of where they're going. I also know preachers who don't know what they're gonna talk about until they walk up to the podium. And of course the vast majority of us are somewhere in between those two.
Well recently it occurred to me that over the 16 years that I've preached, I've preached on David & Goliath precisely 1 time. Which I find very interesting. And it's interesting to note that I have preached on David and Goliath a total of 1 other time in my preaching career. Which is very interesting. Possibly because I'm more on the giant end of the continuum. I'm not tall, but I'm much wider and thicker than the average person. In Lord of the Rings terminology. I'm probably not as much of a giant as I am a dwarf. The thick, stalky, bearded, axe carrying guy.
When I went to the young life camp and they had a 'blob' on the lake, and I was the official blobber b/c when I did it, people shot way up. I have a ginormous head - so it's always a bit of a party game to have people put on my hat and marvel at how much space they still have in there.
Big people in popular culture not usually good guys.
I think it's worth noting that in popular culture, the big people are not usually the good guys. I mean, you have the big, friendly giant, so that's one. And you've got the jolly green giant. Oh, you've got Shrek. And while he is an ogre, he is mostly a positive character. And what does that tell you? That in order be a good giant, you have to be green. Which if I've ever seen such blatant racism, I can't remember it. The way to tell the quality of a giant is by the color of their skin. I can't believe that.
World ≠ set - large people
The world is just not set up for large people. We don't fit in your airplane seats. Just try putting two people my size on a double bed, it's not a pretty picture.Or your movie theater seats. Or your church seats. The seats in here are nice, but you put me in the youth room and I need about 1.75 seats just for me.
It's also true in the bible. That often it seems like in the bible - that small, skinny and scrawny are traits of the good guy, and being in 'giant' in any direction - somehow makes you the bad guy. Of course goliath is good example of that, but also Saul, is said to be a very large guy, and of course what happens to him is he becomes essentially a crazed lunatic.
In 1 Samuel 17, we read a story of an evil giant. And the chapter is quite long. It's the longest chapter in the life of David. Nearly twice as long as any other. It's got 58 quite long verses. We're not going to read them all, but we're going to read a lot of them, because it's just so good. It's honestly one of the richest stories in the OT.
Saul and the Israelites assembled and camped in the Valley of Elah and drew up their battle line to meet the Philistines. (1 Samuel 17:2)
The Philistines occupied one hill and the Israelites another, with the valley between them. (1 Samuel 17:3)
A champion named Goliath, who was from Gath, came out of the Philistine camp. His height was six cubits and a span. (9 feet tall) (1 Samuel 17:4)
He had a bronze helmet on his head and wore a coat of scale armor of bronze weighing five thousand shekels; (1 Samuel 17:5)
on his legs he wore bronze greaves, and a bronze javelin was slung on his back. (1 Samuel 17:6)
His spear shaft was like a weaver’s rod, and its iron point weighed six hundred shekels. His shield bearer went ahead of him. (1 Samuel 17:7)
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. (1 Samuel 17:8)
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.” (1 Samuel 17:9)
Then the Philistine said, “This day I defy the armies of Israel! Give me a man and let us fight each other.” (1 Samuel 17:10)
(He's Taunting them)
On hearing the Philistine’s words, Saul and all the Israelites were dismayed and terrified. (1 Samuel 17:11)
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 very old. (1 Samuel 17:12)
Jesse’s three oldest sons had followed Saul to the war: The firstborn was Eliab; the second, Abinadab; and the third, Shammah. (1 Samuel 17:13)
We met these bothers last week
David was the youngest. The three oldest followed Saul, (1 Samuel 17:14)
but David went back and forth from Saul to tend his father’s sheep at Bethlehem. (1 Samuel 17:15)
For forty days the Philistine came forward every morning and evening and took his stand. (1 Samuel 17:16)
Well the Israelites had a recurring and enduring enemy : Philistines.
Lived remarkably close. (Map) The bible identifies five Philistine cities: Gaza, Ashdod, Ashkelon, Ekron and Gath. Begun to move into the Israelites space. Within 5 miles of Bethlehem. Not Good. They've begun to move up into the Israelites space. The Israelite army went out, and they're in this stand-off thing. (Pic) They're both on a hill with a valley between them.
Well they had a champion: Goliath. Who was a giant. There's some debate on exactly how tall Goliath was. Different biblical manuscripts give varying accounts on his height. Popular wisdom says he was 9 feet tall. Which is incredibly tall. But it's not unhuman.
I'd like to introduce you to the tallest man recorded in the Guinness book of world records: Robert Wadlow (pic). Robert passed away in 1940. At this tallest, he was measured at 8ft 11.1in. So that's less than an inch away from 9 feet tall. So to be clear it's not jack and the beanstalk tall, it's just a freakishly huge guy. Oh and a seasoned warrior.
Every morning and every evening for 40 days - Goliath would come and taunt them.
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. (1 Samuel 17:17)
Take along these ten cheeses to the commander of their unit. See how your brothers are and bring back some assurance from them. (1 Samuel 17:18)
They are with Saul and all the men of Israel in the Valley of Elah, fighting against the Philistines.” (1 Samuel 17:19)
So like we talked about last week. Nobody except for Samuel the prophet understands the call on David's life. David's father doesn't understand it. His brothers don't understand it. I don't think that even David understands it. He's still being treated as an errand boy. To bring bread and cheese to the troops. Which sounds to me like a terribly unhealthy meal if you preparing for battle. All that gluten and fat, and no protein. Man, these must have been some seriously bloated soldiers.
Early in the morning David left the flock in the care of 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. (1 Samuel 17:20)
Israel and the Philistines were drawing up their lines facing each other. (1 Samuel 17:21)
David left his things with the keeper of supplies, ran to the battle lines and asked his brothers how they were. (1 Samuel 17:22)
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. (1 Samuel 17:23)
Whenever the Israelites saw the man, they all fled from him in great fear. (1 Samuel 17:24)
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 family from taxes in Israel.” (1 Samuel 17:25)
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?” (Old school diss.) (1 Samuel 17:26)
(That's an old school diss. 'Oh yeah?! Well you're uncircumcised!' Geez.)
They repeated to him what they had been saying and told him, “This is what will be done for the man who kills him.” (1 Samuel 17:27)
When Eliab, David’s oldest brother, heard him speaking with the men, he burned with anger at him and asked, (Eliab has no respect for his brother. He's not looking at him as the next King, he's just this embarrasing little twerp who keeps asking questions.) “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.” (1 Samuel 17:28)
“Now what have I done?” said David. “Can’t I even speak?” (Classic teenager) (1 Samuel 17:29)
I love this. This is a classic teenager response. "Gah, now what have I done, can't I even speak?! - Funny.
He then turned away to someone else and brought up the same matter, and the men answered him as before. (1 Samuel 17:30)
What David said was overheard and reported to Saul, and Saul sent for him. (1 Samuel 17:31)
David said to Saul, “Let no one lose heart on account of this Philistine; your servant will go and fight him.” (1 Samuel 17:32)
David arrives in times to hear Goliaths 'Mono-E-Mono' challenge. And he's shocked that nobody took challenge. "I'll do it" says the scrawny musician.
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.” (1 Samuel 17:33)
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, (1 Samuel 17:34)
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. (1 Samuel 17:35)
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. (1 Samuel 17:36)
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.” (1 Samuel 17:37)
Basically: when the King doesn't want him to fight Goliath, David says 'Well I've killed a lion and a bear, how much more work can a giant be?"
The King basically says "Fine. It's not like he have any better ideas."
When David is about to go a do the scariest thing he's ever done, he pictures in his mind the things he has seen God do before. David isn't just doing this to convince Saul, the King, he's convincing himself how good God has been. We'll come to some scriptures later where David will anoint HIMSELF at times.
There's time when God is telling you to do something huge and scary, that you have to remind yourself of all the times God has come through in amazing ways.
Then Saul dressed David in his own tunic. He put a coat of armor on him and a bronze helmet on his head. (1 Samuel 17:38)
David fastened on his sword over the tunic and tried walking around, because he was not used to them. (There's definitely some humor happening here.) “I cannot go in these,” he said to Saul, “because I am not used to them.” So he took them off. (1 Samuel 17:39)
So now there's this awkward phase of trying to put on Saul's armor. Goliath has been a warrior his whole life, and David has been a musician slash sheep herder. And now his challenge is to figure out 'HOW'.
I wonder how many of you have found yourself at this place of: "I feel confident that God has told me to do something, now I'm trying to figure out HOW to do it." And you're trying on different kinds of armor, different ways of doing something. What's gonna work, what's not gonna work.
I don't know about you, but there's been a bunch of times when I've awkwardly waddled along in someone else's armor. I'm honestly trying to do the right thing, and not even realizing that trying to do things exactly like your mentor, or your leader, or your king (in this story) is exactly the thing that's messing you up.
David at this point has finally got enough courage to actually go and do something amazing. And he's confronted with other people's expectations. Parents, friends, teachers, family members - that are convinced they know exactly how you should do it. They have the best intentions in the world. Saul is not trying to get David to fail.
Saul's armor - nothing wrong with it.
There's nothing wrong with Saul's armor, it's perfectly good armor. I would surely think it was quite sophisticated at the time. It might have been the best armor in the world. It was probably the BEST armor in the world for Saul. But it wasn't David's armor. It didn't fit HIM right. It wasn't sinful, it wasn't bad, it wasn't wrong. It just wasn't FOR David.
Don't misunderstand me, God has put people in your life who have gone before you and made a bunch of mistakes, that if you'll listen to them, they can show you both some things to try and things to NOT do, because they did it and it turned out so bad.
So I'm not saying we don't get good council and good advice, I would never say that. But what I AM saying is that you are not going to do things exactly like other people. Wear your own style.
I started preaching when I was 19. I remember wanting to 'make it big,'
As I've already told you, I preached my first sermon when I was 19. And in case you don't know this: In the same way you can 'make it big' in the world, you can 'make it big' in church ministry too. ESPECIALLY youth ministry. So even as a 19 year old, I was starting to feel this pressure of becoming the type of preacher that would be desirable to come and be a guest speaker at a conference.
I remember early on, I had lunch with a friend who said to me: "David you could be one of those guys who goes around and speaks at all the youth conferences. - Your content is the best, but you'd just need to deliver it with a little more STYLE. You're going to feel the pressure to come tell me you like my style, thank you. I know I've got style, I've got my own style. It's just not traveling youth guy style. And you know what, I love that about me. I know that now. But back in the day, man, I used to study how and when people would say 'Come on somebody' 'Can someone give Jesus some praise in this house tonight?!' Again, perfectly good armor, just doesn't fit me.
Really funny - In bible college - I got nearly straight A's EXCEPT for the preaching course. About the only bad grade I ever got was in preaching. Some of you - well that explains everything.
I think a brilliant example of this is parenting. That there's these common things that all healthy parents do, absolutely. But there's A LOT of stuff, where people can come and offer you advice and that's all great, but at the end of the day, you have to wear your own armor. I see how some other people raise their kids and I think 'yeah perfectly good armor. But it doesn't fit me.' And there's nothing wrong with that.
I think it a lot of ways Outlet was this season where I was starting to figure out how to get out from under this unbelievable pressure to do ministry in just a certain way, or talk in exactly the right way, or wear the right clothes, and have the right fashion. Outlet has been a lot of things for a lot of different people, but for me, one thing that it was was me slowly and surely (with a lot of help from my friends) developing the courage to take off Sauls armor and put on my own.
People will often come up to me and say 'Pastor David, what do you think about Steven Furtick?' or 'What do you think about Joel Osteen?' Or 'what do you think about 'Matt Chandler'. Here's my answer. All amazing gifts to the body of Christ. And I celebrate the incredible gift that they have, but and I think for the first time in my life, I have no desire to try to mimic them. Perfectly good armor, just not my armor.
My point: You can really make yourself miserable if you spend too much time thinking about that stuff. That's true for you as an individual, and that's true for communities too. I'm just not going to waste too much brain power worrying about how to describe us, or what we're doing here. Are we seeker sensitive? Are we emergent? Are we reformed? Are we pentecostal? All of that ultimately points back to what people are expecting of us, and I just think that doesn't do anything good for us.
I'm actually very comfortable with who we are. I'm comfortable with the way we do ministry. I think we have a little new school mixed with a little old school. I think we're smart, but we're also loving. And we refuse to cave in to the pressure of outside voices telling us what we ought to look like. I just think that's true across the board for anyone trying to do anything for God.
So what is that for you?
What are the things God has told you to do? Do you ever feel pressure to do it exactly like other people? Well maybe God is telling you that you have your own style and ways of doing things. If you're not careful, you might end up playing down those things about you that to God, are the most precious.
You're going to have to shake off the expectations of other people, and HOW they want you to be, if you're really going be true to who God has called you to be.
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 17:40)
David rejects Saul's sword, and instead opts to fight Goliath with 5 smooth stones. And even for David's time, this was unsophisticated technology. The writer goes to great lengths to describe how incredible Goliaths armor and shield. David is going to refuse all of that and instead use absolutely normal rocks.
The rock is the only tool he knew how to use. He had used rocks before. He trusted that God would take something super regular - like a rock - and do something amazing with it.
The soccer ball project that we did. Amazing how God is able to use it. loveABQ, it's amazing how God is using ordinary things to do amazing things. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to operate a shopping cart. This past year we gave out 100 turkeys to families around thanksgiving. It doesn't take an astrophysicist to hand someone a turkey.
Get's especially funny when people don't speak much english. God - incredible - normal stuff. God using ordinary things in amazing ways.
This story isn't about what an amazing SHOT David was, it's about what God is able to do with normal things when we step our with courage. They're ordinary rocks, but what God does with them is super-natural.
He's giving God the opportunity to show up.
The ordinary things that need to be done in a church to have a fully functioning ministry.
None of that comes across as particularly glamorous. But see I'm the one who gets the phone calls, who gets the emails, of people who's lives have been changed b/c the very moment they step foot on the property, someone was here displaying the Kingdom of God to them. They may not say it like that, but that's what they mean.
Always about : Changing Lives
So when you get the opportunity to serve, understand this: It's always about changing lives. Don't be deceived by how small and unimpressive it looks. It's not about the things we do, it's God that is able to add that force behind what we do that changes peoples lives. Even an act Jesus mentions "Offering a cup of cold water in my name" can be something that radically changes a persons life.
Boy who offered Jesus his lunch - 5 bread/2 fish - Feed 5000
Think about the snotty nosed, 12 year old kid that gave Jesus his bag lunch. 5 pieces of bread and 2 fish, 5000 men plus woman and children were able to be fed. Because of 1 kid. It's not that the bread was just incredible. It was abut bringing something very regular, very ordinary and seeing what God might do with it.
Meanwhile, the Philistine, with his shield bearer in front of him, kept coming closer to David. (1 Samuel 17:41)
He looked David over and saw that he was little more than a boy, glowing with health and handsome, and he despised him. (1 Samuel 17:42)
He said to David, “Am I a dog, that you come at me with sticks?” And the Philistine cursed David by his gods. (1 Samuel 17:43)
“Come here,” he said, “and I’ll give your flesh to the birds and the wild animals!” (1 Samuel 17:44)
I think there's something really amazing about the pushback here. Just because David has actually stepped out in faith and is actually doing something, doesn't mean that people all of a sudden are going to start recognizing how amazing he is. No, even when you finally decide to DO something, people will still make fun of you. It's easier to blend in to the crowd, no one will notice you.
The attacks become more personal. Before it was just about the Israelites in general, now it's a personal insult to David. That doesn't mean you've done something wrong. Anyone ever done something good and you feel like people didn't recognize how awesome you were? "I can't believe people aren't recognizing how selfless I'm being here!"
Think about this story, couldn't you see David really being psyched out by this? OMG, he DOES have a point. How on earth am I going to shoot a rock hard enough to seriously hurt this guy. He's not like a little bird or something, this is a HUGE man, and you don't kill men with slingshots..
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. (1 Samuel 17:45)
This day the Lord will deliver you into my hands, and I’ll strike you down and cut off your head. This very day I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds and the wild animals, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel. (1 Samuel 17:46)
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 17:47)
As the Philistine moved closer to attack him, David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet him. (1 Samuel 17:48)
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. (1 Samuel 17:49)
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. (1 Samuel 17:50)
David ran and stood over him. He took hold of the Philistine’s sword and drew it from the sheath. After he killed him, he cut off his head with the sword. (No one asked him to do this. This is extra credit right here. Above and beyond the call of duty.) When the Philistines saw that their hero was dead, they turned and ran. (1 Samuel 17:51)
David took the Philistine’s head and brought it to Jerusalem; he put the Philistine’s weapons in his own tent. (1 Samuel 17:54)
I find that to be a weird detail. That David took the head back with him. It wasn't just as a trophy. Like the put chips in. It's interesting to note that he doesn't take it HOME, he takes it to Jerusalem, which is not where he lives, he actually passes right by Bethlehem, his home and goes another 5 miles to Jerusalem. It's a weird way of him staking his claim, that he will be the next King.
Here's what I want you to get from this story:
There was nothing special about the rocks.
In the same ways, you might feel like your gifts and talents are totally ordinary. But Truth : It's not about being the most unbelievable singer, or the greatest preacher, or the worlds best anything. It's about offering those things to God and trust that he's able to do amazing things with them.
It looked like David won the battle when he killed Goliath, but REALLY, he won the battle when he had the courage to get on the battlefield and throw the rock.
While David won the battle once he killed Goliath, REALLY he won the battle when he had enough courage to get on the battlefield and throw the rock. That's where most people get stuck. Most people talk themselves out of doing cool things before they even give God a chance to show up.
Give God the chance to do something awesome. But that won't happen if you sit at home, saying to yourself 'Nah, I'm not good enough for him to use.' Join the club! The difference is getting out there and going for it. Give God the chance to take those normal little rocks and do something amazing with them.
And if you would allow me to be so bold, that's a lot of what this 12:30 service is for me. I mean to move from this comfortable thing we had at 5pm. It was safe, it was predictable. But as a pastor, and heck as a person, I need to get out of the safe shallows of what's comfortable, and throw some rocks and give God an opportunity to show up. I don't want to be a pastor of church that only reaches heavily churched people. This is about us as a community putting ourselves out there, getting on the battlefield, and giving God a chance to show up.
We want this to be a ministry that reaches your friends. We want this to be a ministry that reaches your family. And so we've stepped out and done this thing.
And I hear you, inviting someone to a church service can be a truly horrifying thought. I've been there. But I'm so sick of just playing the safest game imaginable where it God does or does not show up, it doesn't really make any difference. Because your life is spent sitting on the bench. And there's no dependency, there's to risk, there's no danger. And there's no possibility that God will come and do something surprising.
And believe it or not, it's not actually about having the most streamlined service in the whole world, where there's music in the just the right parts to play on your emotions. Where we can just manufacture the presence of God. It's not about that stuff at all. It's about taking our very ordinary gifts, and placing them before God. It's about having the courage to get on the battlefield and throw what to you, can seem like very ordinary rocks, and believe that God can do something amazing.
Question: What is the rock God has placed in your hand?
I know you're not some unbelievable prophet person, but what has God given you that you can use to make a difference?
I want to broaden it a little. I believe that God has anointed you and gifted you to do something amazing where you work. I believe that God has anointed you and gifted you in your family.
Most tragic thing would be to be so unimpressed by your rock that you never use it.
That's the thing, when it's your rock, you're not impressed. You're impressed with other people's rocks, but not your rock. I'm not impressed with my rock. These basic skills that I have, they don't WOW me.
Me : Talk pretty
Almost all I know how to do is talk pretty. I don't know how to fix things, build things, My practical value as a human being is very low. In the case of a Zombie Outbreak, I don't think you'd want me on your survival team. I don't know if Zombies would be willing to sit down and listen to REASON. But it's amazing how God has been able to use me. Because I'm open to it.
What is the rock God has placed in your hand? I don't want to make this too spiritual, b/c if I do, you'll miss the point. I'm not just talking about church, or evangelizing. I'm talking about the regular things we do in our lives. What is it that God has placed in your hands?
(Prepare for communion)
A Bishop in the 5th century named Caesarius talks about the scene of David & Goliath is a foreshadow of Jesus. Throughout all eternity - the people of God are here lined up. And Satan and his angels are lined up on the other side. No one that could come from among us to challenge and defeat the enemy. Ultimately it's Jesus who comes and steps out on the battlefield. Jesus alone who takes on the evil one and defeats him on our behalf.
Encouragement to me: It's really God's fight and not mine. And it's not about me being the most talented anything. Or even having the perfect faith.
I want to be careful here b/c this story has a lot to do with faith, but understand it took faith to throw the rocks at all.
God doesn't require perfect faith. Just enough faith to get you moving.
As they pass - moment w/ God - being you.
Ask: What are the gifts & talents God has given you?
Apostles Creed - 4th Century
And confess the creed that the church has been confessing for nearly 2000 years.
This is His body - broken for you / Blood - poured out for you.
(Pray) Show us. / Give us - courage.