For forty days Goliath mocked the Israelite soldiers. He wore a suit of armor that weighed more than the average man could pick up. He didn’t have to know how to fight, he could just step on you, or fall on top of you, and squash you like a bug. But he did know how to fight; he was a trained warrior.
His voice was as big as he was tall. He stood across the valley and shouted for hours on end, ridiculing and mocking and taunting and making the men feel like helpless little boys. There was no escape from his voice. In the camp in their tents, during the night when they tried to sleep, while they ate, no matter where they went or what they did, Goliath’s voice reminded them of their hopeless situation. Consider it: you against Maximus Prime.
Along came an untrained brother who had been sent by his father to “see how the battle goes.” Soon after David found his brothers in their tents, Goliath came out of his to begin his show. After one sentence, in which Goliath ridiculed God, David was ready to fight. He turned to his brothers and the group of soldiers near him and said, “That’s not right. That philistine is making fun of God. What are you going to do about it?”
David’s focus was not on himself or even the Israelite army. David could not bear the thought that someone was saying bad things about God. David’s focus was on God – on defending God against the accusations being made and the insults being shouted for all to hear.
You know the story. Saul, the king, had informed the soldiers that he was to be notified as soon as anyone was ready to do battle with Goliath. David, in his youthful innocence and naiveté boldly stated that he would fight this giant in order to show the world the truth about God. Soldier’s armor was placed on him; soldier’s weapons were provided him; soldier’s battle plans were drawn out in the sand for him.
But, David picked up his sling and ran forward to the streambed that lay between the two armies. Many stones of the right size and shape, smoothed by the rushing waters as in a stone polisher, lay in the stream. David selected five stones for his mission. Four of them he placed in his leather bag that hung from his belt. The fifth one went into his sling. Then he bounded across the stream toward Goliath.
Goliath was shocked. “You send a puppy out for me to play with?” he roared. David watched his enemy carefully. He saw the giant throw down his shield and push his protective helmet back so that he could better see this teenager who was coming toward him. It was then that David prayed out loud as a warning to the enemy and as a reminder to the Israelite soldiers, watching and listening as they cowered in their tents behind him.
“My God, the One you have been blaspheming, the One you have been lying about, will today deliver you into my hands so that all may know God is the One who saves.”
One stone, carefully guided to the right place brought honor to God. He had four more ready, in case other giants ran to Goliath’s rescue. But one did the job.
The stones had been there all the time. The stones were in the reach of the rest of the Israelite soldiers all the time. They had complained “these dumb stones are difficult to walk on in sandals” “it takes too long to fill my water bottle with these stone in the way”; they had thrown the stones at nothing, at birds, at rocks. But the attitude and focus of the soldiers was – the stones were a nuisance. The stones made their lives more difficult. The stones had no value in their lives right then.
But David had a different focus and a different attitude from the soldiers who were too afraid to do anything. David’s focus was on God and Honoring Him; his attitude was “I will use the skills that I have to stand up and stand out for God.”
We all have skills. You don’t need my skills in order to stand up for God, just as David didn’t need the tools that the king offered him for the fight. The shield and sword and armor were Saul’s, not David’s. David needed to use his own skills, focus on honoring God, and show by his actions his confidence that God will save.
Five stones. It’s good to have more than one. When your teachers and parents are offering you the opportunities to learn, to develop skills, don’t short-change yourself. Don’t be content with one stone. You may not be naturally good in math or history or science, but pick up those stones and place them in your tool bag. God never asks you to acquire a skill for which He doesn’t have a task that it will enable you to complete for Him.
You can choose not to take on learning the skill, but in doing so, you will be less useful to God than you have the potential to be. Someone else will be called on to complete the mission, it just won’t be you. Just like the Israelite soldiers who were trained to fight for God’s honor. They chose not to accept the mission. God provided someone else After David killed Goliath, I can imagine that there were numerous soldiers who said to each other, “That was easy. I could have done that.”
The difference was in the focus and the attitude “All of my skills and talents are to be used to honor God.” The other soldiers did not know God well enough to have confidence in His ability and willingness to deliver – they weren’t really sure that God Saves. They were worried about losing the battle with the giant. They were worried about the possibility of shame and defeat. They were focused on themselves. Can any normal soldier compete against such an enemy? My dagger against that giant’s sword? My spear against the tree-spear that Goliath carries? Their focus was on self; their attitude was “I can ignore the insults to God . If He isn’t going to send lightning to strike that giant, why should I risk my life?
We all face giants every day. Sometimes I think it would be easier if the giants were flesh and blood like Goliath. But often the giants can’t be seen. They are real, but we have gotten pretty good at hiding in our tents and pretending they will go away if we ignore them.
What giants are you facing today? Finances? Addiction? A life-style? A schedule that is too busy so you don’t think you have time to get to know God? Rebellion? Maybe you think your parents are too strict. Maybe you think the church has too many rules that just don’t make sense to you. Maybe you think God is too strict. Doubt – does God really care? You just want to be left alone so you can do what you want to do.
Where do I begin the battle? What weapons do I have to fight with? We begin with Trust that He cares. We begin with faith that He saves. That’s all He asks of us: begin with a small stone. Like that small stone in the riverbed was waiting, He is waiting for you to pick Him up and be delivered.
It was just a small stone that David used to honor God. To everyone is given a measure of faith. If you are looking for a small stone that you can pick up, here’s the most powerful one I know: Jesus loves you. There is nothing you can do to make Him love you any more; there is nothing you can do to make Him love you any less.
Jesus loves me. Say it with me, Jesus loves me. Do you mean it? Do you know it to be true? It is the truest statement that can be made.
Years after defeating Goliath David wrote, “The LORD is my Rock, my fortress and my Deliverer. My God is my rock in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.” (Psalm 18) The small stone had grown into a Rock.
Jesus loves me is your defense against the Goliaths that you and I face in our lives right now and into every tomorrow. It is our fortress, which Satan cannot enter.
My grandson is 2 years old. When I put him up on the second step on our stairs and hold out my arms to him and encourage him to jump, he doesn’t look down to see how far it is to the floor. He looks right in my eyes. He doesn’t say, “No. Papa, I’ll get hurt if you drop me.” He laughs, he giggles, then he jumps. He knows, he has experienced, that Papa cares, Papa is safe, and Papa will catch him.
Focus and attitude: Stand up and stand out for God’s honor.
God holds out His arms to you today. Don’t look down; don’t worry that you might fall, that you might get hurt, that your friends might make fun of you. Look into His eyes, look at the scars in His hands. Know this: God cares; God is safe; God is the One who saves from all giants, even the ones that you face today.
Stand up and stand out for God’s honor.