|THE COURAGEOUS HEART
1 SAMUEL 17:1-54
Series: David: Heart Matters - Part Three
Pastor Stephen Muncherian
January 16, 2011
This morning - as we are going on with our look at David and heart matters. Please join me at 1 Samuel 17:1. This morning we have come to probably the most famous battle in the Old Testament. Which is a battle that was not fought between two armies but between two people - David and Goliath - in the Valley of Elah. Anyone ever hear of this battle before? Pretty familiar.
There are three parts to this battle that we want to focus on. The first part is What David Saw. Let’s say that together, “What David saw.”
God looks at what? The heart. What’s going on inside us. We generally look at what? The outward appearance. Height - hair color - muscle tone. We form opinions - evaluate people - make judgments - based on what we see on the outside.
But God is looking at things and people a whole different than we look at things and people. Which is why God chose David - a man after God’s own heart. David learned to look at things and people like God looked at them.
lived by his passions - succumbed to his passions. Struggled in life like we
struggle in life. Yet
through all of that God shaped David’s heart - molded
him - taught David to live life with God at the heart
Which is what we’ve been looking at as we’ve been looking at David. What it means for us to live life at the heart level with God - at the core of who we are to have a heart after God’s own heart.
Which brings us to what David saw. 1 Samuel 17 - starting at verse 1: Now the Philistines gathered their armies for battle; and they were gathered at Socoh which belongs to Judah, and they camped between Socoh and Azekah, in Ephes-dammim.
Which - unless we’re really up on our Palestine geography - probably doesn’t mean a whole lot. Except that all that is just over the hill from Bethlehem. About 15 miles southwest of Bethlehem. Hold onto that it becomes important later.
Verse 2: Saul and the men of Israel were gathered and camped in the valley of Elah, and drew up in battle array to encounter the Philistines. The Philistines stood on the mountain on one side while Israel stood on the other side, with the valley between them.
The Valley of Elah - is this place. Its a wide valley - runs mostly east and west. This is the view from Socoh looking west. Imagine the Philistines camped on one side of the valley - on the hills - and Saul and Israel camped on the other side - on the hills. Below them is this valley with this stream - which is where David picked up his five stones.
Verse 4: Then a champion came out from the armies of the Philistines named Goliath, from Gath, whose height was six cubits and a span. He had a bronze helmet on his head, and he was clothed with scale-armor which weighed five thousand shekels of bronze. He also had bronze greaves on his legs and a bronze javelin slung between his shoulders. The shaft of his spear was like a weaver’s beam, and the head of his spear weighed six hundred shekels of iron; his shield-carrier also walked before him.
Let’s pause there and put this into English. Six cubits and a span works out to about 9 feet 9 inches - toes to head. Then there’s reach - which is maybe another couple of feet. I had trouble picturing this so I got some PVC pipe and put this together - in case you were wondering what this thing is - that’s about 12 feet bottom to top - what would have been Goliath’s height fully stretched out. That’s pretty tall isn’t it. Point being Goliath was one tall enormous dude.
Goliath is kinda like this mountain covered in armor. He’s wearing what we could call a coat of mail - underwear that went from shoulder to knee - made out of ringlets of bronze - which weighed somewhere between 175 and 200 pounds. He’s wearing a bronze helmet - bronze leggings to protect his shins - and he’s carrying a bronze javelin - a spear - the pointy end of which weighs 20 to 25 pounds. All that is about 250 to 300 pounds of stuff.
how beefed up this guy was just to carry all that -
let alone use it effectively in combat.
Then there was a shield carrier than went ahead of him. The shield carrier carried the… shield. Which was about the size of a grown man - about the size of a door. Which the shield carrier carried in front of Goliath to protect him for arrows and stuff.
Just think about what that would have been like. This huge tall imposing man - shield carried in front of him - wearing this imposing body armor. A person would have to be a total dweeb to go up against Goliath.
Verse 8: He - Goliath - stood and shouted to the ranks of Israel and said to them, “Why do you come out to draw up in battle array? Am I not the Philistine and you servants of Saul? Choose a man for yourselves and let him come down to me. If he is able to fight with me and kill me, then we will become your servants; but if I prevail against him and kill him, then you shall become our servants and serve us.”
A common tactic back then was to choose a representative from each army that would fight it out one-on-one and whoever won his army won. Whoever lost his army lost. Just skip all the blood shed and solve the whole thing man to man - or man to giant as the case may be.
Goliath is on the Philistine side of the valley shouting. He didn’t just shout this at Israel once and then that was it. Goliath did this for 40 straight days. Imagine hearing this challenge for 40 straight days - and no one takes him up on it.
Verse 11: When Saul and all Israel heard these words of the Philistine, they were dismayed and greatly afraid.
Dismayed translates a Hebrew word that means they were broken - shattered - confused with no idea of what to do. Afraid - has the idea of terror.
Ever been here? We all encounter giants. Yes? They don’t just show up once and leave us alone. They come morning and night - over and over - relentlessly trying to intimidate us. A person - a pressure - a worry - some fear that just keeps nagging at us - wearing us down - day after day - night after night - challenging us across our own personal Valley of Elah. Giants that break us down - confuse us - bring fear to our hearts.
Are we together?
The minimum age to be a warrior was probably 20 - which means that David’s three older brothers qualified. But David - at this point - is probably about 13 - 15 years old. So while his older brothers are off with Saul at the Valley of Elah David is in the hills near Bethlehem pasteurizing his father’s sheep.
David probably didn’t know a whole lot about what was going on at Elah. He doesn’t seem to know anything about Goliath. What he does know is that his three oldest brothers are off fighting in Saul’s army.
Verse 17 - Jesse - who was? David’s father. Jesse gives David an errand - “Take now for your brothers an ephah of this roasted grain - about 6 gallons of grain - and these ten loaves and run to the camp to your brothers. Bring also these ten cuts of cheese to the commander of their thousand, and look into the welfare of your brothers, and bring back news of them.
Bethlehem is how far from the Valley of Elah? About 10 to 15 miles. Probably this is a two day journey there and back. Take the food. Make sure your brothers are okay. Come back with the latest news. Period. Point being that David is not going to there to fight.
Verse 20: So David arose early in the morning and left the flock with a keeper and took the supplies and went as Jesse had commanded him. And he came to the circle of the camp while the army was going out in battle array shouting the war cry. Israel and the Philistines drew up in battle array, army against army.
Day 41 dawns just like day 40 dawned.
What would that have been like? To come over the top of the mountain and there’s the valley - two armies spread out on the hills - arrayed for battle - the sight of armor - the sounds of warriors - the battle cry. Can you imagine a 15 year old seeing all that for the first time? A tad scary. But definitely a rush. We’re not in Kansas anymore.
Verse 22: Then David left his baggage in the care of the baggage keeper, and ran to the battle line and entered in order to greet his brothers. As he was talking with them, behold the champion, the Philistine from Gath named Goliath, was coming up from the army of the Philistines, and he spoke these same words - same challenge he’s shouted for the last 40 days - only on this day - David heard them.
Grab the moment. David and his three brothers talking. There’s this shout from the valley. Suddenly everyone is moving backwards to their tents. 41 days into this - they’ve all heard this before. David hasn’t.
There’s David staring down at Goliath - this mountain with armor - standing in defiance of God’s people.
Grab something else. We’d almost miss this. But it gets repeated later so it’s there for a reason. In verse 23 where’s Goliath standing? On day one - back up in verse 8 - Goliath stood and shouted to Israel. He’s across the valley on the hill with the Philistines. Here in verse 23 he’s coming up from the army of the Philistines. He’s come down the mountain - crossed the stream - he’s coming up - closer - towards Israel’s army. If you give a giant a cookie… I don’t know how to finish that. But, it isn’t good.
If we tolerate our Goliaths - try to ignore them - avoid them - they don’t go away. They just keep coming. They move into our homes - our lives - they take over.
If we’re avoiding that conversation we know we need to have with our kids or our spouse or someone at work. If we’re hanging on to denial about an addiction or some habit we need to deal with. Maybe its about sharing Jesus or confronting someone.
If we hang on to our Goliaths they don’t just go away. They just keep coming.
The way to deal with a Goliath is to kill it.
What David saw was the army of the living God demoralized by a Giant they should have never hesitated to kill.
The second part of this What David Did. Let’s say that together, “What David did.”
Verse 26: Then David spoke to the men who were standing by him, saying, “What will be done for the man who kills this Philistine and takes away the reproach - the disgrace - the humiliating shame - from Israel? For who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should taunt the armies of the living God? The people answered him in accord with this word, saying, “Thus it will be done for the man who kills him.”
If you go back to verse 25 - you’ll see that Saul had come up with a plan to reward who ever could take out Goliath. Take out Goliath and as a reward you got the king’s daughter as a wife and tax free riches. Which was a really good deal. The riches part. The daughter ended up being kind of royal pain. Pun intended.
Saul - remember - was kind of a giant himself. Remember this? Saul was taller than anyone else - a strapping specimen of a man. The people’s choice for king. Outward appearance.
Saul could have led his people into battle. Could have taken on Goliath himself. But he was a coward. A coward with a plan to get someone else killed. Why? Because Saul is all about who? Saul. Saul isn’t walking with God. He’s not focused on God. Saul is focused on Goliath and saving his own skin. He’s intimidated by Goliath. He’s tolerating this uncircumcised Philistine who’s about to move into the Hebrew camp.
Saul’s army is playing follow the leader - living in dismay and fear. No amount of reward is going to generate the kind of courage that’s going to get some dweeb to go out there and take on Goliath.
But David has “chutzpah.” Guts. Audacity - the good kind. Raw courage. David isn’t impressed with Goliath. He’s not intimidated by Goliath. David’s basic question is, “Why is everyone running away? How can you guys let that uncircumcised Philistine shame the God of Israel? Why hasn’t someone taken this guy out?”
“What will be done for the man” - verse 26 - put another way is, “I will be that man.”
What David said is told to Saul. Saul sends for David.
Verse 32: David said to Saul, “Let no man’s heart fail on account of him - that uncircumcised Philistine - your servant will go and fight this Philistine.” Then Saul said to David, “You are not able to go against his Philistine to fight with him; for you are but a youth while he has been a warrior from his youth.”
God isn’t impressed with what’s outside - the externals. God looks at the what? The heart. Saul doesn’t get that. Saul is about Saul. Which means Saul’s looking at appearances. He’s seeing a giant - a seasoned warrior. He’s seeing a kid - someone who should be home taking care of sheep.
But David has a heart after God’s own heart. Which means he’s learned to look at Goliath the way God sees Goliath. If God is all powerful - sovereign - on my side - I can’t lose. Compared to God Goliath’s not a giant. He’s dwarf.
In verses 34 to 36 David tells Saul how God was faithful when David killed a bear and a lion. Verse 37 - David gets to his point - verse 37: And David said, “The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, He will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.”
A Chuck Swindoll quote: “So often, when facing our own giants, we forget what we ought to remember and we remember what we out to forget. We remember our defeats and we forget the victories. Most of us can recite the failures of our lives in vivid detail, but we’re hard-pressed to name the specific, remarkable victories God has pulled off in our past.” (1)
Not David. “If God gave me power over a lion and a bear God will give me victory over this Philistine. Just let me at him.”
Don’t miss that. A huge source of courage is remembering what God has already done.
Saul loads David down with his own armor. Puts his chain mail underwear on him. Puts his bronze helmet on David. Gives him his sword. What an honor - to go into battle wearing the kings own armor.
David tries to walk with all that on him. Which doesn’t go well. Finally David tells Saul, “I can’t go into battle with these. I don’t have any experience with this stuff. Its just not working for me.”
Verse 40: He - David - took his stick in his hand and chose for himself five smooth stones from the brook, and put them in the shepherd’s bag which he had, even in his pouch, and his sling was in his hand; and he approached the Philistine.
Grab onto two things here - what David did.
First: David goes with what he knows.
Have you ever asked yourself - why five stones? Why not just one? If David is really trusting God he only needs one stone.
Bottom line is that we don’t know why he chose five. Its easy for us to look back and see that it only took one stone. But what if David missed on the first try. What if it had taken more than one stone to knock Goliath out? David’s got chutzpah. But he’s not stupid. David goes prepared for battle.
He takes the weapons of a shepherd - his staff and sling shot - what he’s trained to use. David never allows the conflict to force him to abandon what was a proven path to victory.
Second thing we need to grab onto here. David goes with God.
Its a great picture isn’t it? David - in the middle of the valley - down by the stream - his sling and his staff - choosing stones - ready to do battle. A moment of solitude in the midst of great conflict.
Goliath is watching this. Both armies are watching this. There isn’t a guy in the Philistine or Israeli camp that’s betting on David. The odds are overwhelmingly running against him. His own people are expecting him to get creamed.
Let’s be careful here. When David is out pasteurizing sheep he’s doing a whole more than entertaining sheep with his harp and learning how to pick flies off a rock with a sling shot.
In the solitude of the mountains - under the stars - in the cold of winter and in burning heat of summer - he’s been trained by God - learning patience and character - to be a godly man when its just him and God - when people aren’t looking - even in the mundane things of life. He’s been out there with God - learning to hear God’s voice - to follow God - to trust God.
He’s experienced God in the reality of where he’s lived his life. Learned to rely on God while he defended his sheep when he’s up against lions and bears. He’s ready - prepared by God - with courage that comes from knowing God - from a heart that’s been shaped by God
David is seeing Goliath as God sees Goliath. He’s learned that God is greater and more powerful than anything David could possibly come up against.
David doesn’t need the king’s armor. He has no clue what to do with all that anyway. He’s going to get tripped up and messed up and probably dead if he tries to go into battle with all that. David doesn’t need the fickle support of God’s people.
What David needs is God. David chooses to engage Goliath with courage he’s learned from God.
When it comes to the battles of life - the stuff we all go through - one size does not fit all. Each of us is a unique work of God in progress. Whether that’s in the routine of being a mother or a father or a student or working at some mundane job - like tending sheep. God is already working in you to work through you in the circumstances of your life - even when you come up against giants. Hold on to that.
Be who God has led you to be and God will use you. God will bring the victory.
We don’t have to be eloquent or strong or handsome or clever or brilliant or have all the answers to be blessed by God. Faith is obeying God - trusting God - when we have no clue what comes next. In that simplicity of trust - in our weakness God brings glory to His name - He wins the battle. God waits for us to trust Him so that he can empower us to do battle with giants.
What did David do? How did David prepare for battle? He put all of himself into the hands of God - took what God had prepared him with and trusted God to lead him forward.
The third part of this battle that we want to focus on is What David Experienced. Let’s say that together, “What David experienced.”
Verse 41: Then the Philistine came on and approached David, with the shield-bearer in front of him. When the Philistines looked and saw David, he disdained him - literally despised him - thought he was worthless - for he was but a youth, and ruddy, with a handsome appearance. The Philistine said to David, “Am I a dog, that you come to me with sticks?” And the Philistine cursed David by his gods. The Philistine also said to David, “Come to me, and I will give your flesh to the birds of the sky and the beasts of the field.”
That’s intimidation. A pagan Philistine cursing. I bet that was colorful. By his gods. A long list. Every deity he knew. They’re gonna send you to hell, boy. I’m gonna feed you to the birds. The beasts of the field are gonna rip you apart.
Can you imagine standing there - facing that mountain with armor on - that onslaught of invectives. I bet he even smelled bad. Wouldn’t it be easy to focus on what’s against us? To stand there knees knocking - going all clammy?
Verse 45: Then David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with a spear, and a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have taunted. This day the Lord will deliver you up into my hands, and I will strike you down and remove your head from you. And I will give the dead bodies of the army of the Philistines this day to the birds of the sky and the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel, and that all this assembly may know that the Lord does not deliver by sword or by spear; for the battle is the Lord's and He will give you into our hands.”
Where are David’s eyes? His eyes are fixed on God. This is about God - God’s reputation - God’s honor. God’s the God with the... plan. God’s the one who’s proven Himself to David - to us - over and over and over again.
David’s eyes aren’t on the giant. Intimidation has nothing to do with what’s going on in his heart. This isn’t about swords and spears and javelins - oh my - this is about God.
That’s the bottom line of the courageous heart - verse 47: “The battle is the Lord’s and He will give you into our hands.”
49: And David put his hand into his bag and
took from it a stone and slung it, and struck the
Philistine on his forehead, so that he fell on his
face to the ground. Thus
David prevailed over the Philistine with a sling and a
stone, and he struck the Philistine and killed him;
but there was no sword in David’s hand.
David takes Goliaths sword and cuts off Goliath’s head. We know how this ends. Right? The Philistines take one look at Goliath lying there and they start running. God’s army takes off after them and a lot of Philistines get dead.
Then notice this - verse 54: Then David took the Philistines head and brought it to Jerusalem. But he put his weapons in his tent.
David drags Goliath’s spear and the heavy sword back to Bethlehem. Trophies to go next to the lion’s paw and the bear paw. Maybe some day in the future they ended up in a trophy room in the palace - souvenirs - reminders of God’s victory.
What did David experience - God’s victory. A God moment for the ages. God doesn’t waste victories. Neither should we.
In the Old Testament God had His people piling up stones to remind them of what God had done. God records the history of His people so we’ll see that He is the omnipotent God who is greater - who is victorious - who is trustworthy.
When we experience God’s victories in our lives - God moments - we need to hang on to those. To remember them. Maybe in a journal. However. Because we’ll need to remember when we come up against a Goliath in our lives.
Let me share one encouraging thought for us to take home. Here it is: The battle is the Lord’s. Can we say that together, “The battle is the Lord’s.” Share that with the person next to you. “The battle is the Lord’s”
Facing giants is intimidating. Yes? Often times facing a giant is a lonely experience. Yes?
But facing giants we learn that God is trustworthy. That if we try to take on that giant in our own strength we’re going to get creamed. But when we spend time on our knees - in God’s word - seeking out God - focused on God - it is amazing how that giant can shrink to the size of a dwarf.
We begin to experience the amazing reality - at the heart level - that the all powerful God who is greater than anything is right there with us in the battle.
Remember the victories. Because they remind us that God loves us and is there beyond the end of our strength and the victory is His.
1. Charles Swindoll, David: A Man of Passion and Destiny
Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE ®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by the Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.