1 Samuel 17:45-47
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 I come against you in the name of , the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. 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. 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.”
Sometimes I think, “they’ve heard this all before, should I try and tell them something new?” Jesus loves you is a song we hear from our childhoods, and David and Goliath is too. The same message again and again, but I also know that we forget the same message of God’s grace again and again, so again we need to hear it. There is much to this story of ancient Israel, motivations, family obligations and jealousy, fear and struggles, kingship and leadership, the underdog beating the champion, and some even use it as proof that God makes His people succeed in all their struggles. However, I’m not convinced of that last one, because God has not promised me that He will make all my plans succeed. Rather He has promised me, and you, life eternal, peace and joy, but also suffering in this life.
Back to those verses I just reread, it comes to what we rely on. Goliath came at David with sword and spear, but David at Goliath in the name of the Lord Almighty. Goliath relied on his own strength and tools, David relied on God’s promises to the people of Israel. Goliath died, David was victorious. And now we know, along with all those Philistines and Israelites that The God of the armies of Israel saves His people, but not with sword and spear.
Here He saved the Israelites through a shepherd, but He has saved the whole world through the Good Shepherd (John 10), the great Son of David, Jesus Christ. Because of Jesus, His life, death resurrection and ascension, we are saved from sin, death and the Devil. 1 Corinthians (15:54-57) “Death is swallowed up in victory,” “Thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” God has promised you eternal life, peace, and joy with Him, but now we do not see it.
And that is the struggle, God has told us we have won, but it still doesn’t look like it. We know that Jesus defeated sin and the devil on the cross, but it didn’t look like it. The Israelites had heard that God would give them the Promised Land and be with them, but looking at the Philistine army and their powerful champion Goliath it didn’t look like it. The Israelite army looked at the strength of the Philistines and Goliath and looked at their own strength and knew that they would fail. They would fail because their own abilities and tools were not good enough to get the victory they needed. They Philistines on the other hand could easily rely on their military prowess, particularly in Goliath, to defeat these Israelites. They both saw what they had and relied on that for the struggle against them. How often we rely on our own strength to get us through difficult times, or maybe we turn to rely on something else, to our savings, to alcohol, to family connections, to the medical profession, to any number of other things. But we often turn to these things instead of God. Proverbs 3:5-6 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge him, and He will make your paths straight.”
That’s not to say don’t go to your friends or the doctor, David did still have his sling, but rather that we first turn to God and trust that He will do what He has promised, and certainly He may work through His creation, the gifts that He has given to all people. But it’s also important to remember what God has promised.
He promised the Israelites their own land, that those who curse them He will curse, that He will be their God, the God of the armies of Israel, and also, as we heard last week, David would be king (Exodus 23:22-31; Genesis 12:3 & Numbers 24:9; Exodus 7:4 & Exodus 29:44-46; 1 Samuel 16:1, 13). This is what David was relying on, not that God said David would kill Goliath. Sometimes we come up to different trials and struggles and turn to God to succeed and to find lazy comfort, but God never promised us that we will always succeed. In fact He has promised that we will struggle in this life (Romans 8;17; 1 Peter 2:20); Paul and John teach us that we will fail and fall into sin; the lives of the early Christians show us that we are not promised cosy lives with Christ here (Romans 7; 1 John 1). But He has promised to be with you, the Holy Spirit alongside you to bring you the peace of God and the assurance of your sins being forgiven and taken away, not just this but also life eternal with God in the new and renewed world after this one.
And so we ask God for help to always rely on Him instead of His gifts, to trust Him and not ourselves.
Pastor. Joseph Graham