Things Are Not As They Appear
1 Samuel 17:41-58
Review of Last week.
When Things Appear Simple – They Usually Aren’t (vv. 41-44)
And the Philistine moved forward and came near to David, with his shield-bearer in front of him. 42 And when the Philistine looked and saw David, he disdained him, for he was but a youth, ruddy and handsome in appearance. 43 And the Philistine said to David, “Am I a dog, that you come to me with sticks?” And the Philistine cursed David by his gods. 44 The Philistine said to David, “Come to me, and I will give your flesh to the birds of the air and to the beasts of the field.”
(v. 41) It wasn’t until Goliath drew close to David that he truly got a good picture of his opponent, “And the Philistine moved forward and came near to David.” Goliath despised David because the defeat of a boy, would not sound very good on a veteran champion’s résumé. What an insult to Goliath to send a young lad with no armor and a stick! Is this how seriously they take him? Do they think so little of his ability that they would send him someone like this? Goliath is mad about how this is obvious easy victory is going to make him look.
Out of this anger, Goliath then begins to insult David. He makes fun of his shepherd’s staff saying it was only fit for hitting dogs. Then he cursed David by his philistine gods. Then he says that he would feed the animals with his body.
David on the other had is mad that this “uncircumcised Philistine” would dare to curse God or his people. Leviticus 24:16 – “Whoever blasphemes the name of the LORD shall surely be put to death. All the congregation shall stone him. The sojourner as well as the native, when he blasphemes the Name, shall be put to death.” Whoever curses or blasphemes the name of God was to be stoned. This may be why David chose to attack the giant with the weapon that he did. David choose the sling and a stone for two reasons. One, that was the weapon that he was used to using. Secondly, he just may have remembered this passage of Scripture.
When Things Appear Insurmountable – A Solution Will Appear (vv. 45-51a)
Then David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with a sword and with a spear and with 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 defied. 46 This day the LORD will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you down and cut off your head. And I will give the dead bodies of the host of the Philistines this day to the birds of the air and to the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel, 47 and that all this assembly may know that the LORD saves not with sword and spear. For the battle is the LORD’s, and he will give you into our hand.”
(v. 45) “Then David said to the Philistine” – David’s words are not just for the Philistine, but for all the army to hear – they are missional words. It is a renewed call to depend upon the name of the living God. It is a proclamation that there is a God in Israel. It is a reminder that God has been faithful in the past, and He will be faithful today – for He does not change.
Acts 3:6-7 “But Peter said, “I have no silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!” 7 And he took him by the right hand and raised him up, and immediately his feet and ankles were made strong.”
David knows if he fights armor against armor, brute strength against brute strength, he will fail – so David allows a champion to go before him, “You come to me with a sword and with a spear and with a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the LORD of hosts.” There will never be a time when the world can unveil anything stronger than “the name of the LORD Almighty.” The world may have the spears, the javelins, and the shield-bearers but these are nothing compared to God who is over all things.
David says, “This day the LORD will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you down and cut off your head.” All he is carrying is five stones, a shepherd’s staff, and a sling. What is he going to cut his head off with? David doesn’t have so much as a pocket knife – God would provide what he needed.
David’s goal is not to defeat Goliath, but to defeat Goliath and the entire Philistine army! “Today I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds of the air and the beasts of the earth.” David’s vision for his life goes beyond the giant that he is running towards, and sees the thousands standing behind the giant. God has the giant before, but our battles don’t stop.
(v. 47) “the LORD saves not with sword and spear” – There is still a God who saves, but He does it His way. The church cannot compete with the world, but the world cannot compete with the church. (Church and Disney Illustration).
David knew that while he would stand with only some stones and sling, he needed two others. “for the battle is the LORD’s.” David knew that in order to defeat Goliath and the entire Philistine army, he desperately needed the Lord to win the battle for him, David also needed the army standing behind him. “and he will give all of you into our hands.” (not my hands, but our hands)
We, like David, need these same two groups. We need God to guide us, to empower us, to strengthen us, to give us courage! And we need our church to fight alongside of us in order to beat the army.
It is in our grow groups that we are able to fight battles through reaching out to our neighbors, praying for each other and to share our life’s concerns. We need God’s people to surround us and help us to win the battle. You can find a list of our small groups at the welcome table and on the web site – get in one. We were not designed to stand alone.
David’s reason for defeating the whole Philistine army was so that “the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel.” David’s victory over Goliath is known the world over, they have heard of God’s working through the weak to defeat the powerful.
48 When the Philistine arose and came and drew near to meet David, David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet the Philistine. 49 And David put his hand in his bag and took out a stone and slung it and struck the Philistine on his forehead. The stone sank into his forehead, and he fell on his face to the ground. 50 So David prevailed over the Philistine with a sling and with a stone, and struck the Philistine and killed him. There was no sword in the hand of David. 51 Then David ran and stood over the Philistine rand took his sword and drew it out of its sheath and killed him and cut off his head with it.
As the battle begins what we thought were advantages for Goliath actually are not advantages at all. Something prevented Goliath from clearly seeing David until he drew close to him (impaired vision). He simply stood (which meant he was resting or sitting); while David moved quickly around, Goliath moved slowly because of his heavy armor (over 100 pounds). Goliath even says, “Come to me.”
David’s sling (a leather strap with a pocket in the center) and a tennis ball sized stones gave him the ability to attack at great distances (up to over 100 yards) at a rotation of 6-7 spins per second; All of Goliath’s weapons are for close range combat. Our interpretation of the situation is all wrong.
In ancient times armies typically had three main sections. Cavalry, heavy infantry, and projectiles or slingers. It was like the game of rock paper scissors. The archers or slingers could defeat heavy infantry, but calvary moved too quickly for them to aim, up close heavy infantry beat archers or slingers, with long pike infantry can stand up cavalry, etc. we see an example of this in Judges 20:16 “Among all these were 700 chosen men who were left-handed; every one could sling a stone at a hair and not miss.”
Goliath was prepared to fight a battle as he had always fought battles. He expected to fight one-on-one close quarters, as heavy-infantry, where he assumed he had the advantage. Goliath had won many battles fighting man-to-man in armor in close quarters, . . .
“he could no longer conceive of any alternate armament; and he believes that this armament was invincible. He feels assured that any Israelite who has the hardihood to accept his challenge will likewise be a spearman armed cap-a-pie, and that any such competitor in his own panoply is bound to be his inferior.”
But what happens if we change how we fight the battle? “Giants are not what we think they are. The same qualities that appear to give them strength are often the sources of great weakness.”
The story of David and Goliath is typically described as a small person fighting a big person, against all odds, overcoming the impossible. But it could also be a story of a zealous person, changing the rules, using his advantage (what he knows), and seeing the massive weaknesses of his enemy.
The enemy of this world is a defeated foe. He knows his days are numbered, and Satan eventually will be cast into a lake of fire – so he wants to pull as many people as possible with him. He has since the beginning tried to corrupt the creation of God. When this world seems overwhelming, and life is at its darkest – remember it may not always be as it seems. The hard road you are on now, may be your greatest strength tomorrow.
Go back to Saul sitting in his tent; he feels hopeless. He is the king of the Israelite army, “the army of the living God.” Yet he can’t see past his own armor. He is dependent upon something other that God’s protection. Ultimately, this is what it means to be a follower of God – either you depend upon yourself, or you depend upon God. When the problems come, do you reach for the armor to strap on, or do you cry out to God for your protection.
David already knew how the battle would, go “I will strike you down and cut off your head.” Vision can be defined as being able to see what should be done, developing a strategy, and having the courage to do it. Change to way things are done. Overthrow the tables. Do the unexpected. Turn the world upside down.
It was typical to prove the enemy was dead, the victor would strip the enemy of his weapons, and decapitate the opponent. David was giving undeniable proof that Goliath was dead.
When Things Appear Unbelievable – Stop “Going through the motions” (vv. 51b-58)
When the Philistines saw that their champion was dead, they fled. Then David ran and stood over the Philistine and took his sword and drew it out of its sheath and killed him and cut off his head with it. When the Philistines saw that their champion was dead, they fled. 52 And the men of Israel and Judah rose with a shout and pursued the Philistines as far as Gath and the gates of Ekron, so that the wounded Philistines fell on the way from Shaaraim as far as Gath and Ekron. 53 And the people of Israel came back from chasing the Philistines, and they plundered their camp. 54 And David took the head of the Philistine and brought it to Jerusalem, but he put his armor in his tent. 55 As soon as Saul saw David go out against the Philistine, he said to Abner, the commander of the army, “Abner, whose son is this youth?” And Abner said, “As your soul lives, O king, I do not know.” 56 And the king said, “Inquire whose son the boy is.” 57 And as soon as David returned from the striking down of the Philistine, Abner took him, and brought him before Saul with the head of the Philistine in his hand. 58 And Saul said to him, “Whose son are you, young man?” And David answered, “I am the son of your servant Jesse the Bethlehemite.”
1 Samuel 17:20 “And David rose early in the morning and left the sheep with a keeper and took the provisions and went, as Jesse had commanded him. And he came to the encampment as the host was going out to the battle line, shouting the war cry.” Do you think that the shouts were the same? No way, the first shout was a shout of going through the motions, the first shout was when they were standing still.
The second shout was one given on the run, chasing the enemy. The second shout was one filled with the excitement of a victory! A shout of God moving forward with them. They chased the Philistines for over 10 miles, shouting!
This morning when you worshipped the Lord in song, was your shout to the Lord one of going through the motions? Are you spiritually standing still or are you running forward. The two cries to the Lord are not the same.
When you have your quiet times, is your time just going through the motions – or when you lift your song to the Lord is it is a victorious cry, is your shout one filled with victory in the Lord’s name?
It was one little shepherd boy’s faith that drew an army forward and caused another army to run in fear. That whole battle was changed by one person. Don’t wait for someone to come to you to see what you could be doing in the church, you step out from the line and say “hand me a stone.” You step in front of the line and say “I will fight the enemy.” “In the Lord’s name I will defend his army!”
“and he put the Philistine’s weapons in his own tent.” If David looked silly with Saul’s sword around his waste, how much more with Goliath’s sword. But would you have said anything to him?
“The king said, “Find out whose son this young man is.” 57 As soon as David returned from killing the Philistine, Abner took him and brought him before Saul, with David still holding the Philistine’s head . . .” Do you remember Saul’s words to David? “You are not able to go out against this Philistine and fight him; you are only a boy.” The king had told him that he could not do it, but here David stands with Goliath’s head in his hand. David never said anything – he just held the head.
Later David will have to run from Saul because he desired to kill him, 1 Samuel 22:10 “Ahimelech inquired of the LORD for him [David]; he also gave him provisions and the sword of Goliath the Philistine.” David would carry Goliath’s sword for most of his life. The sword was bigger than life, and it would always be a reminder to David of God’s deliverance. Everywhere we went people would have seen the sword and known that this was the Giant slayer.
Saul asks “Whose son are you, young man?” in other words he is asking, “Whose are you?” This morning if someone were to ask “whose child are you?” What would you say? God created you, and He has a plan for your life. He desires to make you his child. But there is something that separates us from Him. It is our choice to rebel and turn form His ways – the Bible calls this sin.
It is like the Grand Canyon with man on one side and God on the other, no matter how hard to jump, you will never be able, in your own strength to get across. God in his love has provided a bridge across the divide. Jesus died on the cross, and God took sins penalty off of us and placed it upon His Son.
He did this as a free gift. This morning if you would like to receive this gift, to be forgiven of all of your sin, and to become His child you can say a prayer something like this:
“Dear Jesus, I know that I am a sinner and need your forgiveness. I believe that You died for my sins. I want to turn from my sins, I now invite You to come into my heart and life. I want to trust and follow You as Lord and Savior.” In Jesus’ Name
If someone were to ask you – “whose child is this,” what would you say?
 Robert D. Bergen, The New American Commentary, 1 & 2 Samuel (Nashville, Tennessee; Broadman and Holman Publishing, 1996) 195.
 Bergen, 195.
 Walter Brueggemann, Interpretation, First and Second Samuel (Louisville, Kentucky; John Knox Press, 1990) 132.
 George Arthur Buttrick, The Interpreter’s Bible, Volume 2 (Nashville, Tennessee; Abingdon Press, 1982) 979.
 Malcom Gladwell, David and Goliath (New York, New York; Little, Brown and Company, 2013) 6.
 Bergen, 197.