A Heart for God:  David.

Facing the giants

Facing the giants

Readings:  1Sam17:21-27, 32-51
Sermon:  Sun 13th September 2015

Note for Leaders – The suggested prayer response will need you to collect one small stone for each member of the housegroup in advance.

Setting the scene:

This week we pick up one of the most well-known incidents in the life of David.  To phrase it in contemporary terms it might be called his ‘break through moment’. 

Goliath from Gath, the talisman of the all-conquering Philistine army, was a giant.  Different texts describe Goliath’s height differently, placing him anywhere between about 6ft 9” and 9ft 9” – either way he was intimidatingly tall, especially in a time when the average height of a fighting man would have likely been just under 5ft.
The Philistines have invaded Israel but have been held up for six weeks by Israel’s finest fighting men, under the command of King Saul. It’s a stand-off in military terms.

We know quite a lot about Gath, the city where Goliath is understood to have lived as it’s been extensively excavated. We know that it was destroyed and deserted around the 9th Century BC.  Several fragments of pottery that have been lifted from the site contain references to the name ‘Goliath’.

But back to the biblical narrative…
The Philistine army is camped on the southern slope of the Elah Valley and the Israelite army is camped on a hill to the north with a great valley between. Fearful of defeat, neither wants to attack.
Every morning and every evening, the men from both armies line up on their hillside opposite each other, shout abuse and bang their shields with their swords. And every day, twice a day, the fearsome Goliath makes an appearance and challenges Israel to
chose a champion to fight him.
No one volunteers until one day…. when a young shepherd boy arrives in the Hebrew camp having walked the fifteen miles from his family farm in Bethlehem. He comes to visit his three brothers who are in the army, bringing food from the family. He’s
visited before and arrives just as both armies are assembling for the morning shouting match.
We need to understand that as well as the positive value this event has for David, it also has a seriously negative value for King Saul.  Saul, as King, is the one who bears the responsibility for leading his army into battle and into victory.  When faced with Goliath he fails to lead his army and instead displays cowardly tendencies.  David on the other hand is portrayed as brave, and effectively takes Saul’s place in taking the fight to Goliath.  Victory is secured, not by Saul, but by David – Already in the narrative we see that David’s star is rising, Saul’s is sinking. 

What are the greatest “David and Goliath” moments you can think of (either events from sport/current affairs/history /your own life)?  Share your recollections.
A) Understanding David
Read 1 Samuel 17: 21-27, 32-51
1. How would you describe David’s attitude and character in verses 21 and following?
2. What two motivations did David have to fight Goliath (verses 34-36)?
3. What gave David confidence in the face of Goliath (verses 45-47)?
B) Learning from David
The story of David and Goliath speaks directly into our lives today. It reveals vital principles about the life of faith.
1. In our daily life we can encounter ‘giants’ that are just as terrifying as Goliath. They may not wear armour and shout but they can disturb our peace (shalom) and challenge our growth as disciples as Jesus Christ. These giants can come in various shapes and sizes. Can suggest some? (see Helpful Hints overleaf)
2. Perhaps in pairs, take some time to talk about these ‘giants”. Consider how we face these challenges and how and why we can choose to avoid them.
3. Re-reading the bible passage, identify how David chose to confront Goliath.
4. How can we apply these truths of how to combat ‘giants’ in our lives and win?
(see Helpful Hints overleaf)
C) Praying With David
Think of a battle that you have today in your Christian life that you really want to face and win, either for yourself or on behalf of another.
When you have identified one, take a stone from the basket and hold it in your hand.
Read 1 Samuel 17:45-50 and ask for God’s help to overcome.
Read Psalm 146 together and thank God for His power and faithfulness. Take home the stone as a reminder that “the battle is the Lord’s” (v47).
Helpful Hints for Housegroup Leaders
B 1) For example - Fear, temptation, lack of self-worth, health, unbelief, challenges caused by relationships, work, finance etc.
B 3) a) David was willing to fight.
b) He was resolute and resisted the temptation to run away.
c) He was courageous. Many make the mistake of thinking that courage means the absence of fear. Courage is about facing fear and bringing it under control. Interestingly, the most frequent command in the Bible is “Fear Not.” When we face our fears with faith, we are simply obeying Jesus.
d) David faced this battle on the basis of past experience. As a shepherd, his experience of fighting a lion and bear had helped to refine his courage. God redeemed these traumatic experiences.
e) David refused to rely on someone else’s armour and the best human weapons.  David rejected King Saul’s’ armour because it didn’t fit him and
because it was also not appropriate for His needs. David was not going to fight hand-to-hand but with a sling and stones which required Him to be able to move freely and nimbly. God had given David his tactics for defeating Goliath. These tactics were different to Saul. This underlines the need for us to look to God alone for wisdom and the right approach. Paul makes this point in 2 Corinthians 10:4.
f) David faced Goliath with total confidence in God (see verses 45-47) and gives God the glory, even before the battle begins. Ian Coffey (a Christian speaker and author) writes “In the spiritual life, worshippers always make the best warriors.”

RJ / SB, 07/08/2015