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STANDING AGAINST THE GIANTS IN THE LAND
A SERMON ORIGINALLY DELIVERED AT
THE HIGH HILL UNITED METHODIST CHURCH
THE FEDERATED CHURCH OF ATHENS
13 NOVEMBER 1988
By Frank L. Hoffman, Pastor
1 Samuel 17:3-11, 36-49
Last week in our sermon, we looked into the life of Caleb and the example that he set before all the people.
We also saw that the people didn't listen to him after he and the other scouts spied out the land of Canaan, but they listened to those who gave the bad report.
Those who gave the bad report feared the giants in the land, and they convinced the people to fear them also, for they feared the giants more than the Lord.
Do you fear the giants in the land?
Well, if you do, or if you just need more encouragement, then today we will try to help you stand against the giants in the land.
Do you remember why Caleb didn't fear the giants in the land?
He didn't fear them because he went in the faith of God.
He knew that since God had already promised to give the land of Canaan to the sons of Israel, He also would deliver the giants in the land into their hands or chase them away before them, just as He had delivered Israel from the hands of the Egyptians.
As we saw, Caleb was correct. Forty years after he went in to spy out the land, Israel went in and captured most of it.
But Israel's faith was not wholly with God, for they didn't fully follow His direction; and as a result, some of the giants were still left in the land.
From time to time, when Israel would turn away from the Lord, He would allow the nations and the giants to oppress them.
One such time was during the reign of King Saul, when Israel was fighting
with the Philistines. Note the account of the beginning of this battle as
recorded in 1 Samuel 17:3-11.
3. And the Philistines stood on the mountain on one side while Israel stood on the mountain on the other side, with the valley between them.
4. Then a champion came out from the armies of the Philistines named Goliath, from Gath, whose height was six cubits and a span.
Just so you can understand how big this man was, a cubit is the length of an average man's arm from the elbow to the finger tips, or about 18 inches. A span is the width of a hand, or about 4 inches.
There is also the cubit of the Temple, which is a cubit and a span, or 22 inches; and in this verse we are not told which.
Thus Goliath was either 9'4", or 11'4" in height. In either case, he was one big dude!
5. And he had a bronze helmet on his head, and he was clothed with scale-armor which weighed five thousand shekels of bronze.
6. He also had bronze greaves on his legs and a bronze javelin slung between his shoulders.
7. And the shaft of his spear was like a weavers beam, and the head of his spear weighed six hundred shekels of iron; his shield-carrier also walked before him.
The armor and weapons he had upon himself must have weighed over two hundred pounds.
With all this, and his great size, he must have looked almost impenetrable.
8. And he stood and shouted to the ranks of Israel, and said to them, "Why do you come out to draw up in battle array? Am I not the Philistine and you servants of Saul? Choose a man for yourselves and let him come down to me.
The giants in the land, like most bullies, always try to put fear into the
hearts of those who oppose them, by making themselves look more important or
stronger than they really are. They will also try to belittle their opponents,
as we see here. He also may propose what appears to be an impossible challenge,
as we see in the next verse.
9. "If he is able to fight with me and kill me, then we will become your servants; but if I prevail against him and kill him, then you shall become our servants and serve us."
Even in this challenge there is a lie; for the enemy, those who follow the devil, always come with lies. And all too often we believe the lies.
10. Again the Philistine said, "I defy the ranks of Israel this day; give me a man that we may fight together."
11. When Saul and all Israel heard these words of the Philistine, they were dismayed and greatly afraid.
The enemy’s intimidation worked. And it worked because the people were not standing in the faith of God, just as the ten of the twelve scouts who went in to spy out the land were intimidated.
But young David was not intimidated. Listen to what he said to King Saul in verses 36 and 37 about how he protected his sheep, and how he compares the Philistine with the animals that attacked his sheep.
36. "Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; and this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, since he has taunted the armies of the living God."
37. And David said, "The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, He will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine." And Saul said to David, "Go, and may the Lord be with you."
Do you see to whom David gives the credit for his successes?
David knew that he couldn't have succeeded in his own strength; but in the strength and will of the Lord, all things are possible.
But Saul still doesn't really believe, for what he is saying is that if David believes, let him go; but Saul was not willing to go.
Saul puts his strength in people and armament; thus he tries to clothe David in His armor, but David could not move in it, so he rejected it, and instead chose for himself five smooth stones for his sling, and approached the Philistine.
Note what happened, beginning at verse 41.
41. Then the Philistine came on and approached David, with the shield-bearer in front of him.
As big as Goliath was, and with all the armor he wore and with all his weapons, he still needed the added confidence of having his shield-bearer in front of him; but David had none of these.
The Lord was David's protection; He was the shield about him.
42. When the Philistine looked and saw David, he disdained him; for he was but a youth, and ruddy, with a handsome 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 also said to David, "Come to me, and I will give your flesh to the birds of the sky and the beasts of the field."
45. Then David said to the Philistine, "You come to me with a sword, a spear, and 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 taunted."
Christian! We make too many excuses why we can't do something.
We say we're too young in the Lord.
We are afraid to pray for each other in public.
We say that we could never know what the Pastor knows, or teach and preach like he does.
These statements are just not true! They are cop-outs!
And it is exactly why we are oppressed by the giants in the land.
It is exactly why we cave in to peer pressure, and go along with the evil and uncompassionate ways of the world, when in reality we know what the Lord desires of us.
But David stood firm in the Lord, and thus he was able to stand firm against the Philistine, and say with confidence:
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 may know that there is a God in Israel,
47. and that all this assembly may know that the Lord does not deliver by sword of by spear; for the battle is the Lord's and He will give you into our hands."
People, we have been given the Book that has all the answers.
We even have read the end of the story. We know that the Lord has already won.
Then why do we cave in to the giants in the land?
48. Then it happened when the Philistine rose and came and drew near to meet David, that David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet the Philistine.
David didn't cower back in the face of the enemy. He ran quickly to meet him, so that the enemy's evilness would not harm anyone else.
We must learn to do the same!
And when we do that, we will have the same results that David did.
49. And David put his hand into his bag and took from it a stone and slung it, and struck the Philistine on his forehead. And the stone sank into his forehead, so that he fell on his face to the ground.
And so will all the evilness and insensitivity in this world cave in before the power of the Lord, if we are willing to deliver it.
How do we come to have the confidence of a David?
We were told in our New Testament lesson for today, Ephesians 6:10-20.
10. Finally, be strong in the Lord, and in the strength of His might.
That means that after everything you have tried to do on your own has failed.
It means when you have come to your senses and are finally sick and tired of going along with the ways of the world.
Then, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might, and not your own.
Do you want to see an end to child abuse and pornography?
Do you want to see an end to pit-bull fights?
Do you want to see an end to the drug, alcohol, and free sex culture that is ever present around us?
Do you want to see an end to the warring madness and insensitivity that causes millions of our fellow human beings and billions of animals to suffer and die every year?
Do you want to see people truly care for and love each other?
Do you want to be loved and cared for?
11. Put on the full armor of God, that you may be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil.
Why the devil, when we see that people are doing these things?
12. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.
O people, hear this message! We can make a difference! We can!!!
13. Therefore, take up the full armor of God, that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm.
We can stand firm against what is wrong, and stand for what we know in our hearts to be right; for we have God's armor, if we are willing to wear it.
What is that armor?
14. Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breast-plate of righteousness.
What is the truth?
The truth is Jesus Christ. He is the way and the truth and the life, and no one comes to the Father, but through him (John 14:6).
We must gird Him about our loins, so that we will have the strength to stand firm.
And how do we put on the breast-plate of righteousness?
When we believe in Jesus Christ, God reckons it to us as righteousness (Genesis 15:6).
If you believe in Jesus Christ, know that you have been forgiven; and then wear that knowledge as a breast-plate for all to see.
15. And having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace;
What is that?
It is our being prepared to bring the good news of Jesus Christ, and the peace that He brings, to all who truly believe.
We are to bring peace and not violence.
For there is a loveliness in the feet of him that brings good news (Isaiah 52:7).
And in the process of bringing it, our feet are protected from walking on those things that will hurt us.
16. in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming missiles of the evil one.
If we believe God, if we believe that He is able to do all that He says He will do, if we believe that what He says is the truth, then step out in the faith of that belief.
If we know the truth, then lies mean nothing; and no matter how many lies, or how big they are, or no matter where they come from, they cannot hurt us, for we know the truth, and the truth will extinguish the lie, and it will do it every time.
17. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
Are you saved?
Then if you are, put that assurance over your mind and ears, like a helmet, and keep it on, so that no one can convince you otherwise.
If you are born again, then know it and have confidence in the assurance that you will be with the Lord forever in heaven.
And above all, read your Bible; for without the word of God, we will be going into battle without the only weapon that can defeat the devil.
18. With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints,
We are not to stand alone.
We are to stand together with fellow believers. Even back to back to protect ourselves in all directions.
We are to watch out for each other, and pray for each other.
And then Paul closes this encouraging passage with a personal note that also applies to us.
19. and pray on my behalf, that utterance may be given to me in the opening of my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel,
20. for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in proclaiming it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.
Are you willing to stand up against the giants in the land?
Paul was in prison when he wrote this, and he was in chains; but when we back away from the giants, they will devour us, and put us in chains and make us useless.
Stand firm against the giants in the land.
We can, if we are willing.