6th November 2023
Read - 1 Samuel 17:1-11
Message Alan Burke
This week we finally get to the bit of 1 Samuel that everyone who knows anything about David knows, the battle of David and Goliath. There are many people who while they may not know the account know the idiom ‘it’s a David vs Goliath contest’ which of course means the little guy against the big guy. It is one that captures the imagination all of us want to see the little guy overcome the big guy especially when there is injustice, discrimination, corruption, we want to see the wrong righted. That’s why so often in films and media the good guy, the little guy wins in the end. But I want to start off and say that this passage is not about you and your trials or problems. I’ve heard far to many sermons or talks given over the years that make it all about us and how we can overcome the giants in our lives and while I’d love to make that application it’s not about that.
We will get to the defeat of Goliath later in the week but for now it’s the opening 11 verses that I want to focus on. These opening verses set the scene, the Philistines facing off to Saul and the Israelites. Another military crisis that was just one of many between the people of God and the Philistines. Remember the reason why the Philistines were here at all, was that because of Saul’s own failure, his foolish oath when he forbade his army to eat, they were weary and faint (14:28) and unable to have the victory the should have had over their enemy. Saul’s own faithlessness his lack of fidelity was in large part to blame of why the armies were gathered facing off. The Philistine champion comes out and challenges the Israelites to produce a champion so that they can fight to the death, whoever has the victory will win the day.
We’re given some detail about the champion from the Philistines, the man Goliath and he’s a big lad, over a meter taller than I am. He was also wearing the best body armour that money can buy, that would have made him invulnerable to anyones attack with the only bit of him that you can see is his face. Notice in the call of Goliath to the Israelites what he says, the NIV puts it as ‘Choose a man’ and the thing is those words should be ringing a bell in our ears. For Samuel spoke to the people gathered of the king that they had chosen for themselves, (1 Sam 8:18, 1 Sam 12:13). The people had really chosen a man for themselves, they had chosen Saul, Saul who was a head and shoulders above all the people if you remember (1 Sam 9:2) Saul who was a foot taller than most of the Israelites, the one that the people had chosen as their king. The chosen Saul though is just as afraid of the Philistine Goliath as the rest of the army gathered.
Saul was the one that the people wanted, they wanted to be like that nations around them (8:5) one who would go before them and fight their battles (8:20). They had a king like the nations to fight their battles but he is a coward, he is showing again a failure to lead the people of God. Saul’s reign might have started well but he wasn’t fit to be king. Even though Saul was the best match for Goliath he was to afraid to do anything and instead of leading as he showed his failure once more. He was supposed to be a model of faith to the people but he wasn’t, his successor who is about to come on to the scene though is one who was and is a model of faith (Deut 17:14-20).
What I want to draw out for us today is that the taunt of Goliath is a taunt of the enemies of God against his people. Ok they are maybe not standing on the top of a hill shouting for all to hear but we can face them in many situations, those who oppose God’s people and make it clear, who taunt his people for their foolishness and ignorance who even pity the people of God for their stupidity. God will deliver his people from our enemies for we will share in the glory of what lies ahead in the new heavens and the new earth, whereas those who are the enemies of God and his people will be defeated and brought judgement. There are times that we will have to wait until then, that we will not get reprieve from the enemies of God in this life but he can be trusted in the midst of it all.
Q89 How is the Word made effectual to salvation?
The Spirit of God maketh the reading, but especially the preaching of the Word, an effectual means of convincing and converting sinners, and of building them up in holiness and comfort, through faith, unto salvation. (Neh. 8:8, 1 Cor. 14:24–25, Acts 26:18, Ps. 19:8, Acts 20:32, Rom. 15:4, 2 Tim. 3:15–17, Rom. 10:13–17, Rom. 1:16)