Don't you love it when the underdog pulls off a victory?
There's nothing quite like defeating an opponent that clearly has the advantage. Well, today on Inside for Living, Chuck Swindoll describes an epic showdown between an Israeli boy and a Philistine giant. The story of David and Goliath is familiar to most of us, and yet today, Chuck will help us understand how David's unlikely victory should inspire all of us today.
All it took was five smooth stones and a little courage. Chuck titled today's message, When the Giants of Life Attack. To our prey, every one of us has giants in our lives. They're not nine feet tall. They don't wear armor. They don't roam the valley of Elah.
They don't have a name like Goliath, but they're giants nevertheless. And unless I miss my guess, you're afraid of yours. And I'm sometimes afraid of mine. Let's pray about that. Lord, speak to us today in ways that we can understand so that we stay realistic rather than running scared, letting our imaginations run wild, and finding a place to hide in this life, remembering that greater is he who is in us than whoever may be in this world. Thank you, Father, for putting us up against those things that we cannot overcome, which forces us to remember that it's the Lord's battle. It's your battle. We're not able to do that fighting against our giants. They're overwhelming.
Because that's true, we leave them with you and maybe learn how to do that from the scene that has been preserved for our understanding and application. Thank you for the joy of giving that giants may be conquered beyond us, in the community around us, in the shores on the other side of the world, and in lands where we'll never go among people who speak languages we don't know. Use these gifts for that purpose and also, Lord, rid us from the giant of debt as we give our gifts today.
Use them toward that end. We pray in faith, unintimidated through Christ, our Lord. Everyone said, Amen. You're listening to Insight for Living.
To study the Bible with Chuck Swindoll, be sure to download his Searching the Scriptures studies by going to Insight.org slash Hope. And now the message from Chuck titled, When the Giants of Life Attack. We just love it when an individual who isn't supposed to win, wins big. When the little guy beats the big guy, no one would have picked David over Goliath, nobody. It just didn't wash. David is back with the sheep, watching over his father's sheep and goats. The Valley of Elah is now a place of conflict. And when you go to Israel, you can visit the valley.
It's still there. And here we find a study in contrast. Here we find Saul, who is the commander of the Israelite army, scared to death over Goliath. As we read earlier, his height is literally about nine feet, nine inches tall. And he wears armor that weighs 125 pounds, the spear, head, solid iron, 15 pounds, and a javelin slung between his shoulders and a shield bearer.
I mean, this is one intimidating presence, humanly speaking. In fact, you will see the contrast in the verses. Look at verse 24.
Let's go there. Verse 1724, as soon as the Israelite army saw him, that's Goliath, they began to run away in fright. Now, why would they do that?
They judge by outward appearance. And so they say to David, who's come to visit the brothers at the battle site, have you seen the giant? He comes out each day to defy Israel. By the way, you know who the tallest one was in the Israelite army, Saul the king, stood head and shoulders above everyone else, but he's leading them on the retreat. He's in the tent, knees knocking with his troops, scared of Goliath, who is only one man out on the other side of the valley of Elah.
But look at the other response. Verse 32, David says, don't worry about this Philistine. David told Saul, I'll go fight him. No, Saul's response.
Verse 33, don't be ridiculous. Why did he say that? Because he's looking at the outward appearance. So he says to David, there's no way you can fight this Philistine and possibly win.
You're only a boy. Once again, judging from outward appearance, David is about mid to later teenage years. And he said, he's been a man of war since his youth. Verse 34, David persisted.
Now here's why. I've been taking care of my father's sheep and goats. He said, when a lion or a bear comes to steal a lion, wait, wait, wait, wait, wait, wait. This is a four-footed top of the food chain predator named a bear, maybe a lion from Syria.
I fought against them. And he's out in the open field, nobody else around. I go after him to the club and rescue the lamb from his mouth.
You got to be pretty close to rescue a lamb from the mouth. David didn't go into that battle thinking of himself as bigger than the giant. He's not bigger than the giant. But he was equipped with a strength the giant didn't have.
And it was the name of the Lord, his God, whom he took with him. So please forever remove the word miracle from the story. Just take that out of your vocabulary.
There's nothing miraculous about what David did or what happened in the Valley of Elah. Let me go into a little bit of an analysis and you'll see why I say that. Listen closely.
You'll hear things you've not heard before, most likely. Ancient warfare had three kinds of warriors, the cavalry, the infantry, and the third you've not learned about. These would be the artillery, but that's our word for them. In those days, they were the projectile warriors. They were in two different categories, the archers and the slingers.
Get familiar with the second, that's what David is. The slingers were like snipers. They traveled light, they wore no armor, they carried no weapons, except a little pouch of leather with long leather strand or rope on each side of the little pouch in which they would place either a hard lead ball, more often than not a rock.
They could hit their target up to 200 yards, twice the length of a football field. They were such a deadly group to fight that the Romans even had special tongs that were made for infantrymen to carry and the tongs were designed to remove stones that had been embedded into their fellow soldiers by slingers that threw the rocks at them. If you wonder about the power of the rock, I gave thought to an illustration. Stand in a major league baseball stadium at home plate, put a major league baseball player on the mound who aims at your head. That's what facing a slinger in the battle was like.
Only what was being slung at you was not made of cork and twine wrapped around covered with leather like a baseball, but a solid rock. And were they accurate? I'm going to show you something, maybe a verse you've never seen before. Go back a couple of books to Judges. Please do. Judges chapter 20.
It'll be worth your visit. 20 verse 16. This is sort of a listing of various kinds of soldiers and we get to the soldiers of Benjamin. Look at verse 16, among Benjamin's elite troops, 700 were left handed. God bless them.
I think it's great because I'm left handed. So it says, and each hit a target within a hair's breath without missing. Southpaw slingers, cooped right between the running lights, right where I was aiming. All of a sudden it's becoming much more reasonable.
Now you haven't heard half of it. The average standard infantry soldier is weighed down with thick armor, heavy weaponry. They're sitting ducks in the presence of an accurate slinger. By the way, there are art pictures of the medieval era when slingers are hitting birds in flight.
Speaking of accuracy. They were sitting ducks to the slingers who could launch a stone from 100 to 200 yards away with deadly accuracy. David was not intimidated. He had practiced that sling for years.
Itan Hirsch is the name of a ballistic expert with the Israeli Defense Forces. He did a series of calculations showing that a typical sized stone by an expert slinger at a distance of 35 meters, a little over 100 yards, would have hit Goliath's head in a little more than one second. Another historian writes, Goliath had about as much chance against David as a Bronze Age warrior with a sword would have head against an opponent armed with a 45 automatic pistol. Returning to the original scene in the Valley of Elah, how easy it was to have been intimidated by the giant unless you were a slinger.
Giants simply mean the bigger they are, the harder they fall. Which was in David's mind, I'm sure. Goliath is huge, admittedly 9'9", of course, compared to David.
David is small and slender. The giant is heavily armored carrying massive weapons. David has no armor and carries only a sling and a shepherd's staff. Look at verse 40, where he picks up the five smooth stones, puts them into his bag, then armed only with his shepherd's staff and sling started across the Valley to fight the Felicity. Remember, King Saul is an infantryman.
He thinks in terms of size and statistics and human power. David is a shepherd whose life is spent based on faith in the open field dealing with predators like packs of wolves and roaming hungry bears and an occasional lion. Over the years, he has relied on stealth and speed and surprise and a sling. During my research into this ancient scene, I came across several fascinating observations and insights regarding this lumbering giant. It's always interested me some things about Goliath that no one had ever answered before.
I call on your memory because of your familiarity with the story as I point out these two or three observations. First, Goliath comes into the Valley with a shield bearer, but he's not an archer. Why would an infantryman like Goliath that size even need a shield bearer? Why doesn't he carry it for himself, sword in one hand, shield in the other? Why would Goliath need a archer's shield bearer if he could handle a shield on his own? Maybe the shield bearer played another role.
Keep that in the back of your mind because he did. Second, the comments of the giant are strange. How does Goliath tell David to come to him?
Look at it. Verse 43, am I a dog? He roared that you come at me with sticks and he cursed David with the names of his God. Come over here, he said.
Come over here and I'll give your flesh to the bird. Why didn't he go to David? He's the larger of the two. Why would he ask a slinger to come closer? It's like asking a man with a 45 to come closer, which only increases the accuracy unless he didn't know that he had a sling. And why would he curse David and taunt him knowing that to arouse the anger of a slinger only increases the intensity of his intentions unless Goliath couldn't see all that well?
Now, stay with me. He asked, am I a dog that you come to me with the sticks? The Hebrew says in plural, the sticks. But according to the previous verse, David only had a shepherd's staff singular.
He didn't have several. Why would Goliath, especially if David's coming closer, refer to the sticks in David's hands? Medical doctors have weighed in on this and they have come to some conclusions that are fascinating. Many now believe that this giant was a man who had a serious medical condition. His actions and his words look and sound like a person suffering from what is called acromegaly, acromegaly, A-C-R-O-M-E-G-A-L-Y. Dictionary has the word, you can check it for yourself, acromegaly, which is the pathological enlargement of the bones of the hand, the feet, the face, and the head. That is caused by the chronic enlargement and overactivity of the pituitary gland in the base of the brain inside Goliath's cranium.
And get this, one of the common side effects of acromegaly are tumors. And the tumors on the pituitary are known to cause visionary problems because they grow to the point that they compress the optic nerves with the result that those with this problem often suffer severely restricted sight called diplopia, D-I-P-L-O-P-I-A. We know it as double vision. It's what you see when you cross your eyes.
The world around you becomes a blur. This helps explain first why Goliath was led into the valley with a shield bearer. He couldn't see where he was going. He couldn't make out clearly his opponent, which required David to come closer at Goliath's invitation. Life around him was a blur. Goliath often reminds me of the cross-eyed discus thrower.
He didn't set many records, but he kept the crowd awake. I've always loved that story. If David didn't come closer to Goliath, he'd remain a blur, which explains why Goliath never knew he had a sling.
His opponent had a sling, which explains why he called what was in his hand those sticks. Now listen to me. It is easy to forget that what gave the giant his enormous size was the source of his greatest weaknesses. That's always true. That's always true.
That's why we don't go by size. That's why statistics don't intimidate when you have the right perspective. There's an important lesson here for all of us, each of whom battles his or her own giants. The powerful and fearful in appearance are not always what they seem to be. Most of us are familiar with this story about David's battle with Goliath, but very few of us have heard the kind of details that Chuck Swindoll shared on today's Inside for Living.
To learn more about this ministry, you can visit us online at InsideWorld.org. We trust you're enjoying this in-depth portrayal of the showdown described in 1 Samuel 17. Chuck titled today's message, When the Giants of Life Attack, and there's much more that Chuck wants to show us.
First, we know you may be facing a few giants of your own right now. Chuck wrote a brand new book that includes a chapter on this topic. It's called Clinging to Hope, and as you're prepared to apply these biblical principles to your life, we highly recommend requesting a copy. When face-to-face with enormous problems, nothing will elevate your courage any higher than the assurance of God's presence.
He is at your side, and he has your best interest in mind. We believe that Chuck's new book, Clinging to Hope, will be an encouragement to you. You can purchase a copy right now by going to Inside.org slash Hope, or call us.
If you're listening in the United States, call 800-772-8888. Even though this series from Chuck has never been shared on the broadcast before, we're confident that God will use it to inspire listeners around the world. We say that based on experience, because we hear from people in all walks of life, from all points on the globe, who tell us their personal stories. These comments come through phone calls, letters, and emails.
Every single one reminds us that God is faithful to those who follow Him, even when giants attack. We invite you to participate financially in this effort to bring God's hope to people around the world. You can give a donation today when you call us.
If you're listening in the United States, call 800-772-8888. Or you can also give online at Inside.org slash donate. Travelers who want to take a tour to Israel have lots of choices, but few measure up to the thoughtful journey prepared by Insight for Living Ministries. With a proper mix of historical information and biblical context, we provide ample opportunities to pause and let the wonder in. Our goal is to create special moments when you deepen your love for the Bible and draw closer to your Lord. Experience an unforgettable 12-day tour to Israel with Chuck Swindoll and Insight for Living Ministries.
March 5th through the 16th, 2023. To help you grasp the significance of each site, you'll be accompanied by hand-picked Israeli guides, and we choose the best, along with seminary-trained pastors and professors to enhance your spiritual journey. No organization I know of offers this level of exceptional, in-depth instruction and personal care for Holy Land travelers. To learn more, call 1-888-447-0444. Just imagine walking along sacred sites and watching the Bible come to life. Make your reservation by calling 1-888-447-0444 or go to Insight.org slash events. Insight for Living Ministries Tour to Israel is paid for and made possible by only those who choose to attend. I'm Bill Meyer, inviting you to join us again when Chuck Swindoll describes what to do when the Giants of Life attack. That's Thursday on Insight for Living. The preceding message, When the Giants of Life Attack, was copyrighted in 2019 and 2022, and the sound recording was copyrighted in 2022 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. All rights are reserved worldwide. Complication of copyrighted material for commercial use is strictly prohibited.
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