Sermon Notes, 7th Sunday after Trinity, 19 July 2015 Anno Domini
Call to Worship:
Proverbs 14:34 “Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people.”
The Sermon Text:
“1 Now the Philistines gathered together their armies to battle, and were gathered together at Shochoh, which belongeth to Judah, and pitched between Shochoh and Azekah, in Ephesdammim. 2 And Saul and the men of Israel were gathered together, and pitched by the valley of Elah, and set the battle in array against the Philistines. 3 And the Philistines stood on a mountain on the one side, and Israel stood on a mountain on the other side: and there was a valley between them. 4 And there went out a champion out of the camp of the Philistines, named Goliath, of Gath, whose height was six cubits and a span. 5 And he had an helmet of brass upon his head, and he was armed with a coat of mail; and the weight of the coat was five thousand shekels of brass. 6 And he had greaves of brass upon his legs, and a target of brass between his shoulders. 7 And the staff of his spear was like a weaver’s beam; and his spear’s head weighed six hundred shekels of iron: and one bearing a shield went before him. 8 And he stood and cried unto the armies of Israel, and said unto them, Why are ye come out to set your battle in array? am not I a Philistine, and ye servants to Saul? choose you a man for you, and let him come down to me. 9 If he be able to fight with me, and to kill me, then will we be your servants: but if I prevail against him, and kill him, then shall ye be our servants, and serve us. 10 And the Philistine said, I defy the armies of Israel this day; give me a man, that we may fight together. 11 When Saul and all Israel heard those words of the Philistine, they were dismayed, and greatly afraid.
“And David said to Saul, Let no man’s heart fail because of him; thy servant will go and fight with this Philistine.
“40 And he took his staff in his hand, and chose him five smooth stones out of the brook, and put them in a shepherd’s bag which he had, even in a scrip; and his sling was in his hand: and he drew near to the Philistine. 41 And the Philistine came on and drew near unto David; and the man that bare the shield went before him. 42 And when the Philistine looked about, and saw David, he disdained him: for he was but a youth, and ruddy, and of a fair countenance. 43 And the Philistine said unto David, Am I a dog, that thou comest to me with staves? And the Philistine cursed David by his gods. 44 And the Philistine said to David, Come to me, and I will give thy flesh unto the fowls of the air, and to the beasts of the field. 45 Then said David to the Philistine, Thou comest to me with a sword, and with a spear, and with a shield: but I come to thee in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom thou hast defied. 46 This day will the LORD deliver thee into mine hand; and I will smite thee, and take thine head from thee; and I will give the carcases of the host of the Philistines this day unto the fowls of the air, and to the wild beasts of the earth; that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel. 47 And all this assembly shall know that the LORD saveth not with sword and spear: for the battle is the LORD’S, and he will give you into our hands.
48 And it came to pass, when the Philistine arose, and came and drew nigh to meet David, that David hasted, and ran toward the army to meet the Philistine. 49 And David put his hand in his bag, and took thence a stone, and slang it, and smote the Philistine in his forehead, that the stone sunk into his forehead; and he fell upon his face to the earth. 50 So David prevailed over the Philistine with a sling and with a stone, and smote the Philistine, and slew him; but there was no sword in the hand of David. 51 Therefore David ran, and stood upon the Philistine, and took his sword, and drew it out of the sheath thereof, and slew him, and cut off his head therewith. And when the Philistines saw their champion was dead, they fled. (1 Sam 17:1-11, 32, 40-51)
This passage is too lengthy to cover verse by verse as is our usual approach. So we will summarize this great event of which every child has heard, and which should move us to have greater faith and dependence upon God in our daily battles and struggles.
The army of the Philistines was drawn up on Judean territory to do battle with Israel. The two armies face each other from atop opposite mountains overlooking a valley. Suddenly, Goliath, a giant of awesome size and power comes forth from the Philistine side to challenge Israel. It may be important to point out that life is full of giants that arise to challenge the Christian at every turn. If the Christian is full of faith and courage, the giant will be challenging his God and not the Christian himself.
Goliath was 13 feet, 4 inches tall, wore a bass helmet of great weight, and a coat of mail (metal armor) weighing itself 208 pounds. He wore sheaths of brass protectors on the front of his legs that were exposed beneath the coat of mail. If this were not enough, the giant had a shield that covered his entire body (head to foot) and carried before him by a servant so that he could use both hands in fighting. the staff of his spear was the size of a weavers beam, and the head of the spear weighed more than 25 lbs. This Giant was better defended than a Sherman tank. No one in history is found to have better protection in battle. Apparently, even giants have a paranoia of being hurt in war.
It is interesting to note that Goliath had four sons of equal stature, one of which had six fingers on each hand and six toes on each foot. This is revealed in 2 Sam 21:16-22 & 1 Chron 20:4-8) These four were later killed in battle by Israel.
David was a mere Shepherd Boy. He was not full grown and, evident from the description given in the passage, of a very young age. He was SMALL, and he volunteered to go against the largest man Israel had ever seen. David chided the men of Israel for their lack of faith and ACTION in dispensing with the giant, being the armies of the God of Israel. His brethren, in turn, ridiculed David for his brashness. When a Christian demonstrates uncommon faith, is he not also ridiculed by his fellows for his ‘foolishness?’
David was emboldened by his faith in God to go against the giant. When told this to Saul, the King was incredulous! “And David said to Saul, Let no man’s heart fail because of him; thy servant will go and fight with this Philistine. And Saul said to David, Thou art not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him: for thou art but a youth, and he a man of war from his youth.” (1 Sam 17:32-33)
Faith, and the courage it engenders, is persevering and not subject to discouragement. David persisted in his determination to go against the giant. Saul loaded David with his own armor, head to foot, and gave him his heavy helmet, and his broad sword; but it was too much for David, so he took them off and would go in his shepherds attire in which he had come. God expects our battles to be without fanfare, but serious and full of faith. So the least armed shepherd boy will go against the mighty giant, armed to the teeth, to do battle. What is wrong with this picture? Everything in the eyes of the world, but nothing but commendable character in the eyes of God.
We are to go against the enemies of God armed with faith and the natural weapons of our daily lives. That is what David did.
Look at the attire David wore as he went forth to fight the giant, compared with the mighty armor of Goliath:
1. His shepherd’s staff or club
2. Five smooth stones out of the brook
3. His shepherd’s bag to hold stones
4. His sling in his hand
5. Faith in God (1Sam. 17:36- 37)
A soldier of God is wise and considers contingencies that may develop – so did David. Why do you suppose David took five smooth stones? First of all, a smooth stone will sail with smoother trajectory through the air and is, therefore, more accurate than a jagged stone. But why five? I believe it was because Goliath had four giant sons that might come forth to battle if they saw their father slain.
As a prelude to the account of David killing Goliath, we should note that two separate characters of Israel are depicted in this account – that of King Saul, and that of David the Shepherd boy.
Saul was out of favor with God. “. . . . the Spirit of the LORD departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the LORD troubled him.” (1 Sam 16:14) This happened before the confrontation with the giant, Goliath.
David was in the full favor and protection of God: “Then Samuel took the horn of oil, and anointed him in the midst of his brethren: and the Spirit of the LORD came upon David from that day forward. So Samuel rose up, and went to Ramah.” (1 Sam 16:13) The LORD, who knows the hearts before He calls them, knew David to be His man even as a little shepherd boy. He knows your heart and mine too even before we came into this world.
It defies reason and logic to believe that a mere boy, only slightly prepared for battle could defeat a giant perhaps four times his size and well arrayed in the most complete armor available for the day. But there was one implement of armor which Goliath could not bear – the faith that empowered David ( vs 36-37)
How hesitant was David to go against Goliath? Let us determine that from the biblical account: “And it came to pass, when the Philistine arose, and came and drew nigh to meet David, that David hasted, and ran toward the army to meet the Philistine.” (1 Sam 17:48)
Goliath was enraged that a mere boy was sent forth to do battle with a mighty giant. His pride added to his vulnerability, and so with us when we are lifted up in pride at the success of our service to God. Our pride diminishes our favor with God. The giant ridiculed David as if he were coming to kill a giant like he would kill a dog – with staves, or a shepherds staff. But David would use something much smaller as a weapon – a small, smooth stone! When the LORD directs the projectile, more than one is not necessary.
Allow me to quote the evidence before the bar of David’s faith in responding to the chiding of Goliath: “Then said David to the Philistine, Thou comest to me with a sword, and with a spear, and with a shield: but I come to thee in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom thou hast defied. This day will the LORD deliver thee into mine hand; and I will smite thee, and take thine head from thee; and I will give the carcases of the host of the Philistines this day unto the fowls of the air, and to the wild beasts of the earth; that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel. And all this assembly shall know that the LORD saveth not with sword and spear: for the battle is the LORD’S, and he will give you into our hands.” (1 Sam 17:45-47)
David calmly drew from his pouch one of the smooth stones and sent it home to its destiny in the exposed forehead (perhaps the only exposed part) of Goliath. Wearing a helmet that covered most of his face, the stone found its way (guided by the LORD) into the eye opening of the face armor to the forehead and proud brain of Goliath. He pitched forward to the earth, and David drew the Giants ten pound sword and beheaded him on the spot (leaving little doubt that the giant, being headless, was most likely DEAD!).
Note that David actually RAN to meet the giant. Do we eagerly run forth to face the giant challenges of our labors for the LORD? What have we to fear if we act in the favor and faith of God?
When a Christian acts with extraordinary faith and righteous cause, a curiosity arises in the minds of those who witness our faith. And so was the curiosity of King Saul aroused at David’s feat of faith: “And as David returned from the slaughter of the Philistine, Abner took him, and brought him before Saul with the head of the Philistine in his hand. And Saul said to him, Whose son art thou, thou young man? And David answered, I am the son of thy servant Jesse the Bethlehemite.” (1 Sam 17:57-58)
David was from Bethlehem and the grandson of Ruth and Boaz. He was not the last good thing to come from Bethlehem of Judaea, was he? In his royal line will another come forth who went to battle with the giant of the world, and won – our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!