Wednesday 8th July 2020
1 Samuel 17:1-24 & 45-50 New International Version (NIV)
David and Goliath
17 Now the Philistines gathered their forces for war and assembled at Sokoh in Judah. They pitched camp at Ephes Dammim, between Sokoh and Azekah. 2 Saul and the Israelites assembled and camped in the Valley of Elah and drew up their battle line to meet the Philistines. 3 The Philistines occupied one hill and the Israelites another, with the valley between them.
4 A champion named Goliath, who was from Gath, came out of the Philistine camp. His height was six cubits and a span. 5 He had a bronze helmet on his head and wore a coat of scale armour of bronze weighing five thousand shekels; 6 on his legs he wore bronze greaves, and a bronze javelin was slung on his back. 7 His spear shaft was like a weaver’s rod, and its iron point weighed six hundred shekels. His shield bearer went ahead of him.
8 Goliath stood and shouted to the ranks of Israel, “Why do you come out and line up for battle? Am I not a Philistine, and are you not the servants of Saul? Choose a man and have him come down to me. 9 If he is able to fight and kill me, we will become your subjects; but if I overcome him and kill him, you will become our subjects and serve us.” 10 Then the Philistine said, “This day I defy the armies of Israel! Give me a man and let us fight each other.” 11 On hearing the Philistine’s words, Saul and all the Israelites were dismayed and terrified.
12 Now David was the son of an Ephrathite named Jesse, who was from Bethlehem in Judah. Jesse had eight sons, and in Saul’s time he was very old. 13 Jesse’s three oldest sons had followed Saul to the war: The firstborn was Eliab; the second, Abinadab; and the third, Shammah. 14 David was the youngest. The three oldest followed Saul, 15 but David went back and forth from Saul to tend his father’s sheep at Bethlehem.
16 For forty days the Philistine came forward every morning and evening and took his stand.
17 Now Jesse said to his son David, “Take this ephah of roasted grain and these ten loaves of bread for your brothers and hurry to their camp. 18 Take along these ten cheeses to the commander of their unit. See how your brothers are and bring back some assurance from them. 19 They are with Saul and all the men of Israel in the Valley of Elah, fighting against the Philistines.”
20 Early in the morning David left the flock in the care of a shepherd, loaded up and set out, as Jesse had directed. He reached the camp as the army was going out to its battle positions, shouting the war cry. 21 Israel and the Philistines were drawing up their lines facing each other. 22 David left his things with the keeper of supplies, ran to the battle lines and asked his brothers how they were. 23 As he was talking with them, Goliath, the Philistine champion from Gath, stepped out from his lines and shouted his usual defiance, and David heard it. 24 Whenever the Israelites saw the man, they all fled from him in great fear.
45 David said to the Philistine, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. 46 This day the Lord will deliver you into my hands, and I’ll strike you down and cut off your head. This very day I will give the carcasse of the Philistine army to the birds and the wild animals, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel. 47 All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves; for the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give all of you into our hands.”
48 As the Philistine moved closer to attack him, David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet him. 49 Reaching into his bag and taking out a stone, he slung it and struck the Philistine on the forehead. The stone sank into his forehead, and he fell facedown on the ground.
50 So David triumphed over the Philistine with a sling and a stone; without a sword in his hand he struck down the Philistine and killed him.
Many of us love to hear about the success stories of life’s under-dogs. Those stories of someone battling against all the odds and winning. Who can forget the story of Susan Boyle, appearing as a nobody on Britain’s Got Talent, and then within a few months becoming a household name in many parts of the world?
The David and Goliath analogy is used frequently in sport when the minnows from lower leagues, with merely a fraction of the cash and resources, compete against teams from higher divisions. It’s always great to see the lower clubs doing well and producing a ‘cup upset’, but maybe not so good if it’s your team that is on the wrong end of such an upset!
And today's reading is of David and Goliath proportions because quite basically that is what it is all about. The story of a boy who went to take some lunch to his brothers and came home a national hero.
The scene was already set for David when he was sent by his dad to the Valley of Elah with food for his brothers, and to seek assurances that they were ok.
The forces of Saul's Israelites had gathered to fight the Philistine army who were wanting to make war with them. Both armies were camped on opposite hills with a valley separating them. No fighting occurs, though the troops from both sides made loud noises of defiance towards one another. In particular, the giant Philistine champion, Goliath, day after day, for forty days went out and taunted Saul’s army to send someone to fight him, which in turn sent fear and terror amongst Saul and his army.
The size alone of Goliath, of being over 9ft tall would be enough to send fear amongst the most battle hardened warrior; but also the weight and width of his spear, his helmet and coat of armour would have been too much for the average person to hold, let alone carry.
Basically, the message of and from Goliath was, that he was not a person to be messed with.
And it's into this situation that David walks; but as he assesses what is going on he finds himself talking to no one but himself as the Israelites had run away in fear as Goliath issues his daily taunt.
But unlike the others, David believes he can beat Goliath. And that belief is based on everything that has happened in the past. He is able to draw comfort and assurance from those times when as a shepherd boy, he was able to protect the sheep from prowling bears and lions. “The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine” (v37).
The story now takes on a new dimension because we see the story becoming an example to us of what can be accomplished by a person of faith.
We’ve all had these days when we’ve realised that the best thing we should have done was stay in bed!! Each new day brings new problems with it, or reminds us of the ongoing situations that we haven’t dealt with. Some of these things can drain us, give us cause for concern, can even be overwhelming at times. Facing gigantic problems makes us feel hopeless.
There are times when it just seems impossible to remove them from our lives. Sometimes we can also have the tendency to exaggerate those giants in our lives; other times life’s giants are very real. But the way we deal with them are the same. We trust and believe that they won’t have the last word in our lives; we try to believe that in amongst the chaos of our individual situations that somehow, somewhere, there is a greater force working on our behalf.
David faced the giant, Goliath. And to just look at the two of them we appreciate that David could be no match for this giant. But, he had a strong faith and believed that God was with him, and that because God would be there to assist him, all things were possible.
David trusted enough in God to face Goliath. The Bible is full of stories of people who had faith in God and believed that despite their circumstances God was in the situations they faced alongside them.
Remember the story of Jesus and his disciples on the river, and Jesus slept whilst the disciples panicked at the storm that had now arisen. Jesus, when he woke up, simply asked them, “Why are you afraid. Have you still no faith?"
Having faith doesn’t mean that our problems will go away. It means that we believe that God is there alongside us no matter what we may be dealing with. Having faith means that we can get through these things that have become giants in our lives as we remind ourselves of the many ways in which God has provided, sustained and protected us in the past. And in that confidence and assurance may we be ready and able to face the things we face this day and all days.
Time in the week to think, and learn, about how Faith can help in life today.
Rev John McCutcheon
Rev John McCutcheon
Ayr: St Quivox Parish Church: Ayr (Church of Scotland) (known as Ayr:St Quivox Parish Church) is a Scottish Charity, SC004906, regulated by the Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR)