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Conflict With A Giant Part 1

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer
The Truth Network Radio
September 5, 2022 1:00 am

Conflict With A Giant Part 1

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer

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September 5, 2022 1:00 am

When we face insurmountable obstacles, we often ask, “Where is God?” David faced a literal giant named Goliath. In this message from 1 Samuel 17, we paint the picture of the pagan giant and the paralyzed army. What if our seemingly giant-sized problems are ultimately not the issue? 

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Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith.

As adults, most of us have a healthy fear of danger. We know enough to avoid conflict when there's no way we can win. But then there's David, a young man whose courage, when facing a giant, earned him the respect of a nation.

Today, how it all happened. From the Moody Church in Chicago, this is Running to Win with Dr. Erwin Lutzer, whose clear teaching helps us make it across the finish line. Pastor Lutzer, kids take risks grown-ups have the sense to avoid. But surely young David knew that Goliath had him outgunned. There's absolutely no doubt that David knew that he was outgunned.

But the key is this. You remember he said, I come to you in the name of the Lord. It is a remarkable story if you ask children what their favorite Bible story is, almost always they will mention David and Goliath. But it's also a true story.

Dave, I know that you have been to Israel, as I have been several times. And in some instances, we've actually gone to the valley where this battle took place, and we've all picked up stones rehearsing the story. But we have to keep in mind that it is a true story, and it was the means that God used to give David the kind of attention that he needed to eventually ascend the throne. Let's learn from the story. I've written a book entitled Growing Through Conflict. It talks about David with the conflict that was existing in his family, his conflict with the giant. For a gift of any amount, it can be yours. Here's what you do.

Go to or call us at 1-888-218-9337. Ask for the book Growing Through Conflict, Lessons from the Life of David. Now let us learn some of those lessons. All of us, I believe, from time to time come across obstacles in our lives that are at least 10 times our size. Maybe it is a bankruptcy, maybe it's a failed marriage, maybe it's bad health and a diagnosis that you hope to God you would never have to hear. Some tragedy, some personnel difficulty, being laid off on a job, and you are going through that experience and you say to yourself, where is God in the midst of it and how do I combat it? Today we're going to look at one of the most familiar stories in the Bible. It's the story of David and Goliath found in 1 Samuel chapter 17, 1 Samuel chapter 17. It's a difficult story to preach on for two reasons.

First of all, because it's so familiar. Many people who know nothing about the Bible, people who have never picked up a copy of the Bible or read a page know that David the shepherd boy conquered the big giant Goliath. Everybody knows the story and that means that it's difficult to get across because people sit back and say, I already know this one.

I could preach this one. There's a second reason and that is I think sometimes we misapply the story. You see, we think that God is going to take our giants and then we define them according to our own liking, and God is going to make sure that those giants are taken care of. And all that we need to do is to come to people or situations in the name of the Lord and God will take care of them. Maybe there's somebody here today who says, you know, my Goliath is my boss. He's a pagan.

I don't like him. Tomorrow morning I'm going to come to him in the name of the Lord and I'm going to watch God zap him. Well, your boss might zap you, but God might not zap him. Now if we can get by all that, if we can get by the familiarity and the misapplication of this passage, we can uncover a truth that I will be sharing with you in just a few moments. We can uncover a truth that will help us to never see any situation in life quite the same again. It can transform our attitude toward events and people and transform our attitude about God and we can learn a lesson that we can take with us until the day we die. All that from this passage of Scripture.

But before I lead you into that truth, I need to paint the picture. Here is Goliath on a hilltop and if your Bible is open to 1 Samuel 17, I shall read a few verses beginning at 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. That means that the guy was nine feet tall, if you can believe it. And he had a bronze helmet on his head and he was clothed with scale armor which weighed 5,000 shekels of bronze. That's about 125 pounds. And he had bronze greaves on his legs and a bronze javelin slung between his shoulders and the shaft of his spear was like a weaver's beam and the head of the spear weighed 600 shekels of iron. That's about 17 pounds and his shield carrier also walked before him. Oh man, this guy was a walking tank. There he is all dressed out in his armor.

Someone said that he indeed was a scintillating mass of brass glittering there in the morning sun. And for 40 days he comes out and he defies God. He wants to make an agreement and says rather than all of our armies getting involved, let's do it this way. You find a representative then, I am representing the Philistines and let us fight and then whoever loses, it is their team that will become the servant of the other. Verse 9, if he is able to fight with me and kill me, then we shall become your servants. But if I prevail against him and kill him, then you shall become our servants and service. Again, the Philistines said I defy the ranks of Israel this day.

Give me a man that we might fight together. And when Saul and all Israel heard these words of the Philistine, they were dismayed and greatly afraid, greatly afraid. So Israel was having difficulty finding a volunteer.

No doubt they put notices in the bulletin and they had conferences on volunteerism and its benefits and what it can do for communities and what it can do for armies. But nobody seemed to be showing up. Now Saul himself should have stepped to the challenge. He was after all the king but he prayed about it and decided it was God's will that maybe somebody else do this. And it's in the midst of the story that we encounter David. Four years had now passed since he was anointed to be king at the age of 15. He is now 19 years old and he is running back and forth between herding the sheep and playing the harp in Saul's court.

That's what he was doing. And his dad said to him, David, would you go see your brothers and find out what's going on because there's this Philistine there who is giving the people a hard time. And so David does and you'll notice that the text tells us that David said in verse 26, he 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 from Israel? For who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should taunt the armies of the living God?

And last time we looked at the conflict within the family, the sibling rivalry, the fact that his brother chewed him out for this, the older brother Eliab, and some of you lastborns, you know how difficult that can be when your older brother gets on your case. And David speaks to Saul in verse 32 and says to him, let no man's heart fail on account of him. Your servant will go and fight with this Philistine. And Saul, who perhaps loved David at this time, later on he'll hate him, but for now he loves the boy, he wants to talk him out of it because in effect what he's saying, if you can read between the lines, is David, don't commit suicide. You don't want to do this.

You might want to rethink what's going to happen. And David says to Saul, you know, actually I'm not as unevenly matched as you might think because one day I was tending the sheep and a bear came and wanted to take one of the sheep and I actually killed the bear and on another occasion I killed a lion. And David says, your servant, verse 36, has killed both the lion and the bear and this uncircumcised Philistine will be one of them since he has taunted the armies of the living God. And Saul says to David in the last part of verse 37, go and may the Lord be with you. Which is to say, being interpreted, we'll be behind you, David, really we really will, by about a thousand yards. God bless you, God bless you. And so we have the story.

Now, I have to stop and ask this question. What is it that made David different from his contemporaries? Why was it that David was able to withstand the giant and being willing to take him on when nobody else was? I'd like to suggest that the reason was because David had a God sized imagination.

Eugene Peterson in his book on David points that out and I think that's a wonderful way to say it. He had a God sized imagination. He knew that the size of your God determines the size of your giant. Small God, big giant.

Big God, small giant. You know, it was Tozer who said that what a man believes about God is the most important thing about him. If you believe that God is holy, you're going to live a righteous life.

If you believe that God is uncaring with the way in which you live, you aren't going to trust him and you're going to basically do as you please. What you think about God is that which is most important to you. And David had a big God, a big imagination because he had a big God.

Where did he learn that? Well, I tend to think that it began out there herding the sheep and playing the harp. Day after day David played songs of praise to God. And the choir members who are behind me today will confirm this that the more you sing about God's greatness and his praises, the more these lines get into your heart, the greater your faith.

Unbelief oftentimes is squeezed to the edges of your life as you begin to focus on the Lord your God. And I believe that David walking out under the stars and seeing God in nature, his faith was enlarged. And then, of course, he began even as a youth to write those psalms of praise to God. David had many, many faults and we'll be uncovering some of them in this series of messages, many more than people realize.

It's much greater than just the Bathsheba and the Uriah affair. But one of the things that he did do is he kept, he kept this desire for God. In fact, as I mentioned, it is the hollowness of his own life and the sense of failure and emptiness that kept driving him to God. And that's what made the difference. And so what I'd like to suggest to you today is that a God-sized imagination does several things for us.

First of all, it gives us faith, faith with action, faith with action. Notice that Saul tries to get David to wear his armor. It says in verse 38, then Saul clothed David with his armor and put garments and a broad helmet on his head and clothed them with armor. And David girded his sword over his armor and tried to walk for he had not tested them.

I think if we do see videos in heaven someday, this is surely going to be one of the ones that the Lord is going to show us when we need a little levity in the midst of the celebration because this is really funny. Here's a boy of 19 trying to wear the armor of a very tall experienced soldier, namely Saul. And David said, I can't wear them because I haven't tested them.

What does a God-sized imagination help us with? First of all, you'll notice that David understood that the issue was not the size of the giant. It was ultimately the size of his God versus the size of David's God. You'll notice in verse 45.

Well, let's pick it up in verse 41. Then the Philistine came on and approached David with the shield bare in front of him. The Philistine looked and saw David.

He disdained him for he was but a youth and ruddy with a handsome appearance. And the Philistine said to David, am I a dog that you'd come to me with sticks? The Philistine cursed David by his gods. And may I say that one of the gods would probably be Beelzebub, the Lord of Flies. And I will spare you the indelicacy of giving you a reason why their gods were called the Lord of Flies. The Philistine said to David, come on to me and I will give your flesh to the birds of the sky and the beasts of the field.

But verse 45 is the key verse. Then David said to the Philistine, you come to me with a sword and a spear and a javelin. But I come to you in the name of the Lord of Hosts, the God of armies of Israel whom you have taunted. And that is the key difference between David and everyone else who is running from the giant. David said, you are coming to me purely in human strength.

And even though I'm good at my sling, I'm not confident that I can overcome you. In fact, David goes on to say that the issue is not really who has the best weapons in this case. He said the real issue is which God is going to prevail. You know, in the Bible, the Lord of hosts is but one term among many. Jehovah Jireh, the Lord will provide. Jehovah Shalom, God is our peace. Jehovah Nitzi, I believe it is, the Lord our banner.

In fact, whole studies have been done to show that whatever you need for a particular situation, you have in God. The Lord of armies, the Lord of hosts, this represents God as a warrior. One day when Elijah was there at Dothan, he said, Lord, open the eyes of the servant that he might be able to see all of your armies that were surrounding Dothan.

And these were angels. Just this morning in my devotional reading, I was reading this psalm that says the angel of the Lord encamps round about those who fear him and God protects them. So what David is saying is that because this is a battle, a spiritual battle, what I will do is to trust a God who is the Lord of all battles. My dear friend, today I want you to know that the invisible God, the invisible God was more real to David than the visible giant on the hilltop. And David says, I am willing to have faith and action, faith and action.

I know what I would have done. I'd have said, Saul, I'm not volunteering, but I am going to pray and I'm going to pray that the giant die of a heart attack. That would have been my prayer. David says, I'm not going to pray that. I'm going to go and I'm going to attack him with what I have, like the boy who brings his loaves and fishes to Jesus, and to see what God can do with gifts that I have honed and developed and used in different contexts. Now I'm going to put them to use for the greatest challenge of my career and I will come in the name of God, in the name of God, the Lord of armies. So what you have is you have faith with action.

You also have faith with authority. We pick it up at verse 46. 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 might 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 it into your hands.

And then comes the shock. Can you imagine the army of Israel off in a distance seeing this boy unarmed apart from his sling? And they watch this shepherd boy run not away from the giant, which they had been getting good at for 40 days, but rather toward him. And David comes and you know the rest of the story. David takes his sling and puts a stone in it and so far as we know it's the very first stone and it hits the giant in the forehead and something like that had not entered into his head before and he is dead.

He's dead out in the battlefield. But folks, I want you to get the sense of authority with which David approached the giant. First of all, he was confident God was going to give him the victory. This was not presumption. It wasn't, well, I'll take my sling and I'll try to shoot a stone in his direction and we'll see whether or not God will come through. That kind of faith and David would have been the one whose head would have been cut off by the end of the day.

No. He says, I come to you in the name of the Lord of armies whom you have defied. Now catch this, the giant had no right even to be standing on that land. That part of the territory had been deeded to the tribe of Judah. God had said through Moses and then through Joshua, every place that the sole of your footsteps I have given that to you and it belongs to you.

And then the tribes had the land divvied up and it belonged to them. What in the world was this pagan doing on soil that belonged to Jehovah? You know, someday in heaven, I'd like to talk with David about that experience and ask him what he was thinking when he went up against the giant.

Because even though we bring God into the picture and of course God is actually the one who is orchestrating this story, still you have to wonder about this young man being willing to take on the giant with just a sling and five stones and then ending up not needing the other four stones. It's a remarkable story. But it's one that teaches us lessons about faith, how to fight battles. That's why I've written a book entitled Growing Through Conflict, Lessons from the Life of David. I think that this book is going to be of great help to you. We make these kinds of resources available to all who listen to the Ministry of Running to Win because we want to help you grow in the Christian life.

And as we frequently say, we want you to be able to run all the way to the finish line and to do so successfully. Ask for the book Growing Through Conflict. Now here's what you do. Go to That's By the way, thanks in advance for your generosity. Thanks for holding our hands as we continue to share the Word of God through this ministry.

Go to or you can call us at 1-888-218-9337. As I think about the Ministry of Running to Win, I visualize in my mind a large family of people, thousands upon thousands who listen, also thousands who support this ministry. Thanks in advance for helping us and we want to bless you. Ask for the book Growing Through Conflict, or call us at 1-888-218-9337. It's time once again for you to ask Pastor Lutzer a question about the Bible or the Christian life. The church is divided about how God currently treats the nation of Israel.

Mitch has been looking into this and wants your take on an issue, Dr. Lutzer. He asks, do you believe in replacement theology? That is, that the church replaces Israel and that God no longer has any special plans for the Jewish nation.

Mitch, the answer is no. I do not believe in replacement theology. And you're absolutely right. Replacement theology says that the church actually takes the place of Israel in God's economy and God is totally finished with the nation Israel. But you know, when you read the Old Testament and you might want to read, for example, Jeremiah 33 and other passages where it says so clearly that as long as sun and moon endure, the nation of Israel shall remain before me.

And then think of it this way. Think of the words of the angel to Mary. He shall be great. He shall be called the son of the highest. The Lord God shall give onto him the throne of his father, David, and he shall rule over the kingdom of Judah, et cetera. Now, has that been fulfilled?

I don't think so. And yet Jesus is going to be sitting on the throne of David. I interpret that to mean ruling from Jerusalem someday. And so I don't believe in replacement theology.

There are other implications to this. I could go on a long time, but just read the prophets of the Old Testament. Read the continual repetition of God saying again and again, I will bring a remnant back into the land. And then ask yourself, has this been fulfilled? No, because even after the captivities, after Israel has been so disciplined by God, you still have those promises.

So I believe in a future fulfillment for Israel. Thank you, Mitch, for your question. And thank you, Dr. Lutzer. If you'd like to hear your question answered, go to our website at and click on Ask Pastor Lutzer, or call us at 1-888-218-9337. That's 1-888-218-9337. You can write to us at Running to Win, 1635 North LaSalle Boulevard, Chicago, IL 60614. This is Dave McAllister. Next time, what one boy did with a simple sling and five stones. Running to Win is sponsored by the Moody Church.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-03-02 07:04:36 / 2023-03-02 07:13:38 / 9

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