During this quarantine, my 4 and 6 year old daughters learned to ride their two wheel bikes. It was such an amazing moment watching them figure it out, and seeing the immense fear turn into joy as they embraced what they could now do. We bought the girls their two wheel bikes the Christmas before last, so they had been sitting unused in our garage for almost 18 months. I knew that they could balance, and based on their tricycle usage, I knew they could pedal. They had all the tools, they just needed to overcome their fear, trust me, and trust themselves to be able to do it.
My 4 year old daughter is much more fearless than her older sister, so she hopped on and circled our neighborhood a few times with me holding onto the bike seat and running beside her. At a certain point (when my back hurt from running in circles hunched over), I gave her a pep talk. I assured her that she could pedal, she could balance, and I was barely holding onto her, but that I would be there if she needed me. The next few circles I would let go and show her my hands, and she would be so excited that she was doing it herself. Eventually I no longer had to run alongside her. Her older sister hopped on her bike that very afternoon, and seeing that her sister could do it, only made me go around a couple times until she was riding off into the distance. I think we all face our own giants in a similar way to my daughters and their bike riding.
“A champion named Goliath, who was from Gath, came out of the Philistine camp. HIs height was six cubits and a span (9’9”). He had a bronze helmet on. His head, and wore a coat of scale armor of bronze weighing five thousand shekels (125 lbs); on his legs he wore bronze greaves and a bronze javelin was slung on his back…” 1 Samuel 17:4-5
Goliath was no joke. The Israelites were terrified. They were standing in a field of battle, staring up at a man who was tall, armed, and confident. He threatened them daily for forty days, and they had nothing to say or do for themselves. They had forgotten. They had forgotten that the Egyptians had enslaved them, and the Lord sent seven plagues to convince Pharaoh to let them go. They had forgotten that the Egyptians were after them and the Lord parted the Red Sea, letting them through and crushing the Egyptians behind them. They had forgotten that standing in front of another large fortress (Jericho), they had shouted in the name of the Lord, and the walls had come tumbling down. In the face of great fear, they had forgotten who was on their side.
The Israelites let worldly fears cloud their experiences with the living God who had come through for them many times before. How often are we faced with scary situations and succumb to our fears? How often have we been paralyzed with fear and not known where to turn? David knew where to turn. David saw Goliath and was unimpressed.
“…Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living God?” 1 Samuel 17:26
David remembered what God had done before and knew that, in the name of the Lord, they could triumph over Goliath. The world is scary. Evil is real and present in our world, but so is God. If we let the giants in front of us get bigger than God, we’re already defeated. What is this pandemic that it should defy the armies of the living God? What is the police brutality and riots that they should defy the armies of the living God? What is my anxiety that it should defy the armies of the living God? Who are these bullies that they should defy the armies of the living God? What thing are you allowing to stand in front of you daily hurling insults and defying the army of the living God inside you?
“For the Lord your God is the one who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies to give you victory.” Deuteronomy 20:4
The Lord your God is within you fighting for you, so you don’t need to be afraid. David, a shepherd boy knew this fact. He knew that in the face of Goliath God would be with him, fighting for him. He also knew, like we talked about last week, that God had been preparing him for this moment.
“The Lord who rescued me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will rescue me from the hand of the Philistine.” 1 Samuel 17:37
David’s experiences as a shepherd had prepared him for the moment that he would be asked to slay a giant. He had never been in battle, and Saul was certainly concerned about that. Saul gave David some armor and a huge sword. David had tried to explain to them that all he needed was God, but these men had seen Goliath and they were afraid. They thought let’s give you all of these things you need to be prepared to fight, and then you will be safe.
In the face of our circumstances, the world is going to give us tools to combat the evils in this world. The world will offer us things that look like a good defense, that may even be good, but nothing can replace the power of God in our lives. We need to look to God first to defeat our enemies. After David refuses the ill-fitting armor, and huge sword, he goes outside and picks up five stones to defeat Goliath.
David picked up five stones that he knew had defeated his adversaries in the past to use against this giant Goliath. These five stones may have seemed insignificant, or unworthy of defeating the giant, but with God behind them, they were unstoppable. When we face a giant, we need to look back at what has served us before, and use it again. We need to look back and see how our experiences have shown the Lord to be faithful. What has God used in the past to show that I can defeat this enemy today? What stones do I need to remember that I can sling at this giant here and defeat him? David refused to use what the world deemed useful in defeating the enemy, and picked up what he knew God could use against Goliath.
What have you allowed to get bigger than God? What ambition, challenge, or fear have you allowed to get bigger than the God who has walked you through a lot? And what stones do you need to remember to pick up on your way to that battle? What has God done in the past to pave the way for your victory?
“…when the Philistines saw that their hero was dead, they turned and ran. Then the men of Israel and Judah surged forward with a shout and pursued the Philistines…” 1 Samuel 17:51-52
If you defeat your giant, with the stones that you’ve gathered in your life along the way, who might see this victory and become bold? Who might be able to see your victory as a stone they can carry to their own battle? If we don’t fight our battles in the name of the Lord, then people around us might be missing out on seeing the Lord in our victory. Because David slung a rock and defeated Goliath in the name of the Lord, the Israelites suddenly remembered who they were. This defeat gave them the confidence to chase down the Philistines and defeat them. After forty days of fear, David’s actions enabled them to act in confidence.
Because my youngest daughter got on her bike it enabled her sister to hop on hers with confidence. My girls knew they could pedal, they knew they could balance, but riding their bikes seemed like a Goliath-like task. All they needed was someone telling them they could do it, and then someone showing them it was possible. They no longer fear their bikes, and the freedom and confidence they gained from the experience is invaluable.
We can live in fear of our giants or we can lean on his faithfulness and be victorious. Find your stones, and start slinging!
Week 3: 1 Samuel 18-23:
1. Who is after David and why?
2. How is the Lord looking out for David during this season?
3. How has God, in a dark season, been looking out for you?