David and Goliath

1 Samuel 17:1-37


Select a church above to view sermon content.

10 Aug 2015

Guy Mason

Guy is the founding and Senior Pastor of City on a Hill, a church that began in 2007 with a small team and a big vision. Today City on a Hill is a movement of many churches that gathers across multiple locations, in different cities and is united around the central mission of knowing Jesus and making Jesus known. Guy is a passionate communicator of the gospel who is committed to engaging culture with the beauty, truth, and relevance of Jesus. Guy graduated with a BA in Public Relations from RMIT University, has a Masters of Divinity from Ridley College and is currently completing a Doctorate of Ministry with Wheaton College. He is the husband to Vanessa and the father to four children. He is an ordained Anglican Minister and serves as an Archdeacon in the Diocese of Melbourne.

10 Aug 2015

Guy Mason

Guy is the founding and Senior Pastor of City on a Hill, a church that began in 2007 with a small team and a big vision. Today City on a Hill is a movement of many churches that gathers across multiple locations, in different cities and is united around the central mission of knowing Jesus and making Jesus known. Guy is a passionate communicator of the gospel who is committed to engaging culture with the beauty, truth, and relevance of Jesus. Guy graduated with a BA in Public Relations from RMIT University, has a Masters of Divinity from Ridley College and is currently completing a Doctorate of Ministry with Wheaton College. He is the husband to Vanessa and the father to four children. He is an ordained Anglican Minister and serves as an Archdeacon in the Diocese of Melbourne.

4 Aug 2015
  • Transcript

    Now, the Philistines gathered their armies for battle, and they were gathered at Socoh, which belongs to Judah, and encamped between Socoh and Azekah in Ephes-Dammim, and Saul and the men of Israel were gathered and encamped in the Valley of Elah and drew up in line of battle against the Philistines. And the Philistines stood on the mountain on one side, and Israel stood on the mountain on the other side, with a valley between them.

    And there came out from the camp of the Philistines a champion named Goliath of Gath, whose height was six cubits and a span. He had a helmet of bronze on his head, and he was armed with a coat of mail, and the weight of the coat was five thousand shekels of bronze. And he had bronze armour on his legs, and a javelin of bronze slung between his shoulders. The shaft of his spear was like a weaver's beam, and his spear's head weighed six hundred shekels of iron. And his shield-bearer went before him.

    He stood and shouted to the ranks of Israel, “Why have you come out to draw up for battle? Am I not a Philistine, and are you not servants of Saul? Choose a man for yourselves, and let him come down to me. If he is able to fight with me and kill me, then we will be your servants. But if I prevail against him and kill him, then you shall be our servants and serve us.” And the Philistine said, “I defy the ranks of Israel this day. Give me a man, that we may fight together.” When Saul and all Israel heard these words of the Philistine, they were dismayed and greatly afraid.

    Now, David was the son of an Ephrathite of Bethlehem in Judah named Jesse who had eight sons. In the days of Saul, the man was already old and advanced in years. The three oldest sons of Jesse had followed Saul to battle. And the names of his three sons who went to the battle were Eliab the firstborn, and next to him Abinadab, and the third Shammah. David was the youngest. The three eldest followed Saul, but David went back and forth from Saul to feed his father's sheep at Bethlehem. For forty days the Philistine came forward and took his stand, morning and evening.

    And Jesse said to David his son, “Take for your brothers an ephah of this parched grain, and these ten loaves, and carry them quickly to the camp to your brothers. Also take these ten cheeses to the commander of their thousand. See if your brothers are well, and bring some token from them.”

    Now, Saul and they and all the men of Israel were in the Valley of Elah, fighting with the Philistines. 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. And Israel and the Philistines drew up for battle, army against army.

    And David left the things in charge of the keeper of the baggage and ran to the ranks and went and greeted his brothers. As he talked with them, behold, the champion, the Philistine of Gath, Goliath by name, came up out of the ranks of the Philistines and spoke the same words as before, and David heard him.

    All the men of Israel, when they saw the man, fled from him and were much afraid. And the men of Israel said, “Have you seen this man who has come up? Surely he has come up to defy Israel. And the king will enrich the man who kills him with great riches and will give him his daughter and make his father's house free in Israel.” And David said to the men who stood by him, “What shall be done for the man who kills this Philistine and takes away the reproach from Israel? For who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?” And the people answered him in the same way, “So shall it be done to the man who kills him.”

    Now, Eliab his eldest brother heard when he spoke to the men, and Eliab's anger was kindled against David, and he said, “Why have you come down? And with whom have you left those few sheep in the wilderness? I know your presumption and the evil of your heart, for you have come down to see the battle.” And David said, “What have I done now? Was it not but a word?” And he turned away from him toward another, and spoke in the same way, and the people answered him again as before.

    When the words that David spoke were heard, they repeated them before Saul, and he sent for him. And David said to Saul, “Let no man's heart fail because of him. Your servant will go and fight with this Philistine.” And Saul said to David, “You are not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him, for you are but a youth, and he has been a man of war from his youth.” But David said to Saul, “Your servant used to keep sheep for his father. And when there came a lion, or a bear, and took a lamb from the flock, I went after him and struck him and delivered it out of his mouth. And if he arose against me, I caught him by his beard and struck him and killed him. Your servant has struck down both lions and bears, and this uncircumcised Philistine shall be like one of them, for he has defied the armies of the living God.” And David said, “The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.” And Saul said to David, “Go, and the Lord be with you!” [1 Samuel 17:1-37]

    Let’s pray together. Our Heavenly Father, we thank You for this opportunity now to open up Your Word and we thank You that Your Word is sharper than a two-edged sword. It is living and active and it returns empty. It always achieves its purpose. So we pray in confidence now that You would bear much fruit in our lives, in this church, that Your Gospel would reign supreme, and You’d move in accordance with the Holy Spirit in a very powerful way. I pray that we would not leave this day unchanged, that we would be a people after Your own heart. Lord, would You move in this time for our good and for the glory of Your name, and we pray this in the precious name of Jesus, and all of God’s people said with one mighty loud voice, Amen!

    Welcome, City on a Hill. Fantastic to be with you for this, the second instalment in our series, the King of Kings. Who enjoyed our launch last week? Praise God for that. Praise God for that. Wonderful, wonderful to be with you. A big shout out to City on a Hill Geelong who are joining us from Simonds Stadium along with all of our online listeners as well.

    As we turn in our Bibles to 1 Samuel Chapter 17, I wanted to ask whether anyone happened to catch the news about Paris Hilton last month. Paris Hilton was at a launch for a new hotel in Egypt where they invited her to take a short ride in a private jet with some other special guests. And it was a beautiful, bright, sunny afternoon, and the plane took off.

    It was kind of cruising at 20,000 feet above sea level when all of a sudden, the engine dropped and it took a sharp turn to the right, and you can see Paris and many other guests kind of flying to the side, and then it kind of took another turn, another dive to the other side. And at this point, alarms went off and you know, drinks were flying everywhere, people were screaming, and really there was a strong sense of panic, and fear set in. And I wonder what would be going through your mind in a similar situation. What would you be feeling? What would you be thinking as the plane kind of plummeted towards the ground?

    Well, you might be happy to know that the pilot eventually got a handle of the plane and was able to land safely on the tarmac, but here’s what’s interesting, if not downright disturbing. The flight was actually organised by an Egyptian television prank show, and the plane was headed up by a stunt pilot in a stunt plane who made it looked like it was crashing when it was actually quite safe. You might be surprised to know that the episode caused huge controversy. People were outraged at the ethics and the risks involved, but also the way in which it played on human vulnerability and the very thorny emotion of fear.

    As I watched the clip, it did make me wonder, what situations would bring out that same kind of panic in me. Perhaps sitting on a surfboard out the back and you see a fin going past. Maybe being stuck on a chairlift at the top of the Royal Melbourne Show. For me, believe or not, growing up, I actually had a fear of public speaking. In my 20s, there were only two types of public speakers, those who were nervous and those who were liars. I actually, only ever agreed to give my first ever sermon providing they gave me nine months’ notice. That’s as long as preparation I need. I’m pretty sure you can have child in that time, so….

    So my biggest fear, however, the one that really seriously unnerves me is watching 4D movies. Do you know what a 4D movie is? It’s this cruel invention that just invades personal space. It has no appreciation for boundaries, right? You sit in this movie and this cartoon character is going to launch out. If they sneeze, all of this like spray comes on you. It’s terrible. The last one I saw, which was truly terrifying was Shrek 4D at Movie World on the Gold Coast with my Dad. It was terrible. Dark room, creepy sounds, Shrek’s big head kind of bobbling out like this. Princess Fiona reaching out to touch you, I was like sinking into my seat, hiding behind my dad like this. I was telling it to Vanessa this week, she’s like, “How old were you, 5 or 7?” “No, no, Ness, this was last year.” I was 35 years of age. It was freaking me out.

    What about you? What would say is your greatest, biggest fear? Here are some options:

    Ergophobia, the fear of work. Lots of students have that one.

    Nomophobia, the fear of having a phone without reception. Terrible when you go through the loop. I know the pain.

    Heliophobia, the fear of seeing the sun. Not the problem if you live in Melbourne.

    Papaphobia, the fear of the pope. Otherwise known as Protestantism.

    Another big fear of mine, dishphobia, the fear of doing the dishes, which just happens to be my wife’s love language, so you know, go figure.

    But, of course, there are many serious fears that we all share, but rarely talk about. The fear of public ridicule, the fear of living alone, the fear of losing your loved one, the fear of missing out, the fear of being rejected.

    Now, fear is a natural response to threat. But isn’t true that it can be debilitating and often enslaving? In fear, we avoid the difficulty and neglect the important. In fear we struggle to rise up when it truly matters.

    I wanted to start today with the topic of fear, because it drives so much of the emotion in our text today. You may remember from last week that God had anointed young David to be king. Instead of the king of Israel’s choosing, this was the king after God’s own heart, yet at the start of today’s chapter, Saul, King Saul is still on the throne and there’s a menacing threat on the horizon. How will Israel respond? Will they step up in their time of need, or will they run and hide in fear? And what about us, what will we do in the face on our own danger? Who among us will rise up against our threats and take on our greatest fears?

    With that in mind, I invite you to turn to 1 Samuel Chapter 17. And the scene opens, doesn’t it, in dramatic fashion with the ominous news. The Philistine army had gathered their armies for battle.

    Now, in our day, this is a scene we’ve become very accustomed to with movies such as Braveheart, Lord of the Rings, Wrestlemania 3, these big battles. But what we read in 1 Samuel is not make belief. This is not a film set where guys could have a beer at the end of the day. This is reality. These are real men with real weapons, ready to wage a real war.

    I want you to see them coming on the horizon. The sound of blades sharpening, the thunder of horses trampling, the growl of threats escalating, and your own people trembling. The Philistines were vicious and war-mongering people. Their weaponry was superior. Their military strategy aggressive, and they were constantly holding up the sword up to the neck of Israel.

    In fact, at the time of this chapter, Israel had endured 200 years of oppression and constant attacks at the hand of this enemy. In many ways, this was the reason Israel wanted a king. They didn’t just want to be like the other nations, they wanted a gladiator. Someone who could stand for them, someone who could fight for them and put away these enemies.

    But as we saw last week, their demand for a king was fraught with difficulty. Instead of looking to the Lord, they chose a leader after their own heart, a leader who not only mirrored their own disobedience, but ultimately failed to drive away their enemies. The Philistines were not only a real and present danger, but a reminder of their lost opportunity, a reminder of how far they had fallen from the Lord. In Verse 2, we read that Saul and the men of Israel were gathered and encamped in the Valley of Elah.

    Now, here you have a picture of two armies on two different mountain sides, opposing one another, and in between them is the valley. The valley is where the battle would be fought, and this valley would determine Israel’s future. And it’s worth noting that many nations believed that the God of Israel was the God of the hilltops. They had this assumption that God would turn up and fight for Israel if they fought them on the top of the mountain. But if they could corner them, if they could get them to the valley, their own God would run away in fear, which is what makes the next verse so significant.

    Look with me to Verse 4, “And there came out from the camp of the Philistines, a champion named Goliath, whose height was 6 cubits and a span.” Into the valley, walks Goliath. Goliath is the strongest, most ferocious of all soldiers. A giant who stands hand and shoulders above the rest, and if you cast your eyes over verses 5 through 7, you’ll see Samuel paints in vivid detail the elaborate armour that he wears and the weapons that he holds. And then he speaks, “Why have you come out to draw up for battle? Am I not a Philistine, and are you not servants of Saul? Choose a man for yourselves, and let him come down to me. If he is able to fight with me and kill me, then we will be your servants. But if I prevail against him and kill him, then you shall be our servants and serve us.”

    Now, when I read this, I can’t help but get flashbacks to those moments in high school where we would play the game British Bulldogs. Anyone remember this game? Terrible, crazy, ridiculous game, where you would line up on the banks of an oval and kind of like the strongest, most intimidating kid would stand in the middle of the oval and call out for someone by name to try and pass him. And if he could make it all the way across the oval, then everyone was free, but if he caught you, which was often the case, in a headlock and grinded your head into the dirt, you became his slave. It’s this crazy game. People with busted up noses and ripped shirts, it was awesome. It was awesome.

    Unfortunately, the school eventually banned it. In an odd kind of way, that is something of the picture that we have in our text. One giant standing in the valley, calling out for one man to represent them all. If he dies, you all die. If he lives, you will live. So who will it be? Who will rise up and stand for God’s people?

    You may have noticed in Verse 8 that Goliath taunts Israel with some very familiar words. He says, “Choose a man for yourself.” Can you think back to where we’ve heard those same words? Wasn’t it Israel who wanted to choose a king for themselves? Wasn’t Saul chosen by Israel because he was head and shoulders above the rest, because he was strong, because he was mighty? Where’s Saul? What’s he doing in their hour of need?

    Look with me to Verse 11, “When Saul and all Israel heard these words of the Philistine, they were dismayed and greatly afraid.” It’s a reminder, isn’t it, that leadership is rarely tested on the peak of a mountain, but always in the depth of the valley. It’s all good sitting on your throne, isn’t it, eating your grapes when everything is going wonderful, but if you are not prepared to step off your throne and step forward for your people when it truly matters, it counts for nothing.

    So where do you go from here? We see that Saul’s fear has become the people’s fear. No leadership, no courage, and the great irony, friends, is that Goliath threatens them of being slaves to the Philistines when in reality, they are already enslaved to their own despair.

    Now, at this point in the text, it cuts to another scene, to the peaceful meadows in Bethlehem. And here’s young David playing with some sheep, and it’s important to know that this battle was going on for 40 days. Every morning and every night, Goliath would come forward and taunt Israel. And so David’s father, Jesse, equips him with some goods to go to the frontline of battle to give some food to his older brothers. And there at the battle lines, David not only hears the taunts of Goliath, but sees with his own eyes the fear that has captured God’s people.

    And remarkably, instead of succumbing to the Philistine’s threats, he begins to inquire about the possibility of battle. He asks, “What shall be done for the man who kills this Philistine and takes away the reproach from Israel?” David is the first and only man who doesn’t drop his head in fear, but sees his need to rise up. And while he gets pushback from his brothers and everyone else around him, he persists, he continues to put his case forward until eventually it reaches King Saul himself.

    Now, Saul is almost certain that young David is going to be crushed. But Saul is not prepared to go into battle himself and so he sends him forward, and then in a scene that is dripping with irony and symbolism, King Saul, the mighty King Saul, takes off his armour and places it on this teenage boy and sends him out. But, of course, David doesn’t want to be suited up like Goliath, and so we read in Verse 40 that he takes off his battle garb, puts down his sword, and then David chose five smooth stones from the brook and put them in his shepherd’s pouch, his sling was in his hand and he approached the Philistine.

    What must have looked like to see this young boy. He’s probably about 15 years of age at this time, what must it have looked like to see this young boy walk into the valley? What was going through the mind of the Philistine, Goliath himself, as he looked and saw such simple, easy prey?

    Before we see how the story ends, I want to share you three very important observations. What is it that the Lord wants us to see from this famous, famous text? First, let’s consider the roar of our enemy. Did you notice from the Bible reading the amount of time Samuel gives to describe Israel’s enemy? Goliath is not only presented as a humongous man of strength, but one built for war in every way. There’s vivid detail about the various metal in his armour, specifications about the shield that is being carried for him, the bronze helmet that sits upon his head, the spear, the javelin in his hand with a point weighing 600 shekels of iron. Not to mention the loud taunts that he spits out to crush their spirits before they come forward. Samuel wants us to see this giant for what he truly is, a frightening enemy who presents a very real threat.

    Now, personally, I think it’s safe to say that I see myself as an optimist. I’m a half full kind of guy who sees the world with a positive lens. I like to assume the best in others. I always like to see the silver lining with every cloud. But one of the great weaknesses of optimism, if pushed to the extreme, is that it fails to see reality for what it truly is. We sugarcoat what is bad, we minimise what is dangerous, and we overlook what is difficult.

    But please listen very carefully. If everything is good, then nothing is evil. And if nothing is evil, then there is no need to fight. It’s been said, friends, that during World War II, one of Hitler’s greatest allies was the indifference of the world. Many people who should have opposed his rule, refused, because they were blindsided by his destruction. Hitler moved slowly, always preventing people from seeing the full picture of his destruction. Even those who had authority, even those who were told and informed of the many concentration camps couldn’t believe it. Ignored the reality of what was going on.

    It brings to mind the words of French poet, Baudelaire, who said, “The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world that he didn’t exist.” Friends, ignorance is not bliss. Blindness aids brokenness. Darkness conceals death. Just as Samuel acknowledged the giants of their day, so we need to acknowledge the threats that loom large in our day. We need to understand that there are real opponents that seek to wreak havoc, and that is true for human life generally, but it’s particularly so for God’s people.

    In the Bible we read in Genesis 1, that God creates. But in Genesis 3, we meet the Serpent who destroys. We see in the Garden with Adam, the attack on truth, Joseph and the attack on leadership, Moses and the attack on worship, Naomi and the attack on family, Samson and the attack on purity, Job and the attack on faith, Nehemiah and the attack on purity, and of course, Jesus and the attack on life.

    William Gurnall says, “Where God is on one side, you may be sure to find the devil on the other.” Now that is worth considering because the work of the devil is not only an attack on well-being, but an assault against God’s glory.

    Do you know that in the ancient world the battles between two opposing nations were less about military strength, and more about who had the strongest, biggest god? The Philistines didn’t just want to plunder Israel’s silver and gold and take their women. They wanted to demonstrate that their god was stronger, that their god was bigger, that their god is mighty than their God. They would come to battle with symbols and signs, all to provoke their enemy and to call on their god, and that is why David is so offended. That is why David is running to battle, because David knows that God’s glory is at stake. That while King Saul hides behind his own men, the glory of God is being run through the mud.

    It makes me wonder, who are giants of our day? Who or what presents the biggest threat to the well-being of our world, but ultimately the glory of God?

    This week I came across an article that appeared in the Guardian newspaper. Here is the byline, “Increase in murder as well as rape, torture and discrimination has led those on the ground to warn of religious cleansing and genocide.” Some of the more noted attacks included the abduction of 270 Nigerian schoolgirls, beheading of 21 Egyptian Christians, the killing of 147 students on a university in Northern Kenya.

    But those monitoring these travesties say that persecution of Christians goes far beyond these profile cases. Open Doors, which is a global organisation that looks into persecution of the church estimates that 4,344 Christians were killed for their faith in 2014. Persecution has increased in 24 countries with Kenya, Sudan and Nigeria entering the top ten while North Korea heads the list with up to 70,000 Christians in Gulags. Tens of thousands of people banished, arrested, tortured and in many cases, killed.

    And while we might point to the threat of communism and the rise of Islamic extremism, we must also consider the increasing push of secularisation in the West. Secularisation not only wants to push the Church to the periphery of society, but it’s blurring the lines between what is right and what is wrong, what is truth and what is false, what is good and what is evil. Whether it’s about what we believe about marriage, what we believe about life itself and when life begins, what we believe about the notion of truth, Christians are forced to erase the lines and remove the borders. If you are happy to play the game and celebrate with the masses, you’ll be fine, but if you draw a line in the sand, you can expect increased hostility.

    You know, there was a time where being a Christian in the workplace came with a certain respect. It’s a good thing that you are a Christian. You may have noticed that that is no longer the case. Whatever credibility has been established is slowly, brick by brick, being pulled away, and this rise of secularisation not only seeks to silence God’s word, but has left a vacuum when it comes to meaning in our world.

    Ravi Zacharias has this insight on how secularisation has fractured the Western world. He says this, “In the 1960s, kids lost their authority. It was a decade of protest. Church, state and parents were called into question and found wanting. Their authority was rejected, yet nothing ever replaced it. In the 1970s, kids lost their love. It was the decade of me-ism dominated by hyphenated words beginning with self; self-image, self-esteem, self-assertion. It made for a lonely world. Kids learned everything there was to know about sex and forgot everything there was to know about love, and no one had the nerve to tell them there was a difference. In the 1980’s, kids lost their hope. Stripped of innocence, authority, love and plagued by the horror over a nuclear nightmare, large and growing numbers of this generation stopped believing in the future. In the 1990’s, kids lost their power to reason. Less and less were they taught the very basics of language, truth and logic, and they grew up with the irrationality of a post-modern world. In the New Millennium, kids woke up and found out that somewhere in the midst of all this change, they’ve lost their imagination. Violence and perversion entered them, till none could talk of killing innocents since none was innocent anymore.”

    You see, a world that silences God deafens its ears to truth. And if you can no longer stand for anything, we will fall for everything. Consider, friends, the ongoing injustice against the poor, the trafficking of young girls, the hypocrisy of the religious, the worship of greed, the legalisation of abortion, the epidemic of abuse, the commercialisation of lust and the obsession with self. These are not only symptomatic of a world void of truth, these are javelins in the hearts and the hands of giants who seek to bring you down at the knees. It’s intimidating. It robs God of His glory, and it poses a very real threat to the world that we will hand on to our children.

    This leads to our second observation, the courage of an underdog. It’s very clear from our text that David is a young boy, but he does rise up. And you can’t help but ask a question, where does he find his extraordinary courage?

    Now, if you’ve read Malcolm Gladwell’s book, David and Goliath, you will be presented with a view that David was a man of mastery skill and wisdom. His view was that David knew without a doubt that he would win, and that is because he made a decision not to fight Goliath on Goliath’s terms. He knew that if he went and did man-to-man combat, he would be crushed. He didn’t want to play according to his rules, he played to his own, he knew how the sling would work. He'd used it frequently and so Gladwell says this, speaking of the sling, “It’s not a child’s toy. It’s in fact an incredible, devastating weapon. If you do the calculations on the ballistics, it’s roughly equal to the stopping power of a handgun. When David lines up, he has every intention and expectation of being able to hit Goliath at his most vulnerable spot between his eyes.”

    So Gladwell’s point which he applies to a whole range of different contexts is that we should think strategically when we face our giants, and that we shouldn’t take giants on in their own game, but play according to our own strengths. And to be sure that’s a valuable lesson and we can certainly see the skill and wisdom of David, but of course, our text goes much, much, much further, doesn’t it?

    Where does David find the courage and confidence to enter the valley? Let’s hear what David says himself. He says this, “The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.”

    David does not ascribe his previous escapes to his own will and on his own wisdom and on his own skill. No, he ascribes his salvation to the Lord, to the Lord. The Lord who was faithful then, is the same Lord who will be faithful now. And so as he walks into the valley and faces this giant, he has the courage to say these words, “This day the Lord will deliver you into my hand. I will strike you down and cut off your head, and I’ll give the dead bodies of the hosts 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, and that all this assembly may know that the Lord saves not with the sword and spear, for the battle is the Lord’s and he will give you into our hand.”

    Where did David find the strength to face the giant?

    Psalm 1, “For the Lord watches over the righteous, but the way of the wicked will be destroyed.”

    Psalm 20, “Some boast in chariots, and some in horses, but we will boast in the name of the Lord.”

    Psalm 27, “The Lord is my light and my salvation, whom shall I fear? The Lord is my stronghold of my life, of whom shall I be afraid?”

    Psalm 23, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil for You are my God and You are with me.”

    Come on, we can be excited about that good news. David enters the valley because he knows that God is with him and God will fight for him. As one writer says, “It was not David’s true grit, but because David knew his true God. He knew the Lord.”

    Do you know, friends, are you gripped by the reality that the same God who was at work in David is now at work here and now through you? The same God who was faithful then continues to be faithful now. I don’t know about you, but I often can be overwhelmed by the enemies of this world; the present darkness, the challenges, be overwhelmed by their size, and my limitation. We can get so focused on ourselves and our own weaknesses and our own limitations, we forget the God we worship. God is not deterred by size of Goliath.

    Do you know that He’s not frightened by the snarls of the devil? Do you know that God is not overwhelmed by the challenges of our day? He's not running scared. He’s not hiding because God does not see as man sees, but according to the heart. And if He wills to use a shepherd boy like David or a young believer like you, there is none who can stand in His way.

    In fact, if there is one thing I know through reading the Bible is that God delights, God delights to choose the weak to shame the strong. God delights to elect that which is deemed foolish in the eyes of the world to reveal his wisdom.

    Friends, God doesn’t call the qualified. God qualifies the called. Do you want to make a difference in this world? Do you want to take on the giants of our day? You don’t need a bigger vision of yourself. You just need a true vision of God.

    And this leads to our third and final point, friends, the victory of the Lord. Do you want to know how this story ends? Here’s a spoiler alert, Verse 48, “David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet the Philistine, 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. So David prevailed over the Philistine with a sling and with a stone and struck the Philistine and killed him.”

    Now, while this is one of the most famous victories in the entire Bible, many have missed its greatest significance. On one level, it is a story of great courage that should give you confidence in your battle. But at a deeper level, it’s pointing you to something much more. You see, this was a stunning victory, and it did usher in a new period of peace and prosperity and security and identity for Israel. And as we leave these pages behind, we might be tempted to think that Israel had finally arrived. But the truth is, the truth is that the battles raged on. Hardship continued, opposition remained, the kingdom of Israel stood, and David’s victory was glorious, but they didn’t silence their enemies forever. There will be new opponents, and ultimately a giant that they could not bring down.

    You see, no matter what peace they found or prosperity they secured, it was always, always overshadowed by the blight of sin, the constant roar of Satan, and the unstoppable destruction of death itself. Sin, Satan, death is the triune enemy that

    enslaved God’s people then, and continues to wage war now. That despite human advancement, military strategy, technological progression, humanity continues to be enslaved by sin. Death continues to rule. It is a menacing giant of unstoppable force that renders every single person in this room powerless. This enemy is not only the reason for all brokenness in this world, it is the explanation behind all our fears. Every fear is symptomatic of a much deeper fear that we all share in death. The problem is that not many of us are prepared to see this enemy for what it truly is. We all see death as something that always happens to other people, but surely it would never happen to us, and so we don’t look in the face of death, we hide, we run, we distract ourselves, we entertain ourselves.

    I was chatting with a guy this week who shared these words, he said, “You can trace all marketing back to key emotions such as hope and fear. Hope sells because in our quieter moments, live lived with the present shadow of death and the nothingness beyond is hard and claustrophobic. Relief in a bottle, holiday, sex, money, and housing is in high demand. Fear sells because anxiety about the nothingness and unknown of death means we fight with everything we have to live one day more. And so a million dieting books and strategies, fitness tools and programs, hygiene, health products and so on, it is the unknown of tomorrow that drives our effort today.”

    You see, we were made for more. But our hunger and thirst for life is always overshadowed by the reality of death. You can’t deny it. You can’t fight it. You cannot buy your way out of it. We are all slaves. We can only look on in fear.

    So what do we need? We need a new and better David. One who would step forward and intercede on behalf of God’s people, one who would enter the valley to not merely defeat Goliath, but take on sin, Satan and death itself. This is what makes the Gospel such good news for you and your friends today. The Bible reveals that just as David’s father sent David to the front lines of battle, so our Father in heaven sent Jesus to step off His throne and into human history, to the front lines of battle. And like David, Jesus was rejected by those He came to save, an unlikely warrior who came to do good, but was called evil. But in the face of opposition, Jesus did not hide in fear or run in rebellion. But in honour to God, in honour of His Glory, Jesus entered the valley of the shadow of death because greater than the size of the enemy was his love for you.

    Here’s what’s extraordinary. David escaped that battle without one scar to his body, but not Jesus. Jesus knew that if He was to win on your behalf, if He was to be our perfect Mediator, it would cost Him everything. Yet the Lord who was faithful then, He was with Him in the Garden, was with Him every step. He trusted in Him, and He knew that He could take what men used for evil and bring great good. His sacrifice for your forgiveness, His death for your salvation, and then on the third day, as promised in the Scriptures and witnessed in history, this Jesus, our Jesus, was raised to new life. Jesus was victorious, friends, over sin, and Jesus was victorious over Satan, and Jesus was victorious over death itself. The apostle Paul says these remarkable words, “Where oh Death is your victory? Where oh Death is your sting? The sting of Death is sin and the power of sin is the Law, but thanks be to God, He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

    That is good news. You know, death continues to spit out its murderous threats, but in Christ, it will not have the last word. In Jesus, you just like Him will rise to new life. And in your resurrection, there will be no more sin, there will be no more suffering, there will be no more death because the former things will have passed away and the dwelling of God will be with man forever.

    Please ask yourself this question, what would it be like to live this life free from the fear of death? What would it mean to live in light of eternity? If you are not yet a believer, then I urge you to seek Him today. Jesus has fought the battle. He has won the war. In him, you can be secured of His love, of His peace, of His identity, and indeed His life. Please do not leave today without talking to myself or one of the other leaders about what it would mean to follow Him, what would it mean to be part of His eternal kingdom. There is grace for you. There is an invitation for you. Please don’t leave without finding out more about that Good News.

    If you are here today as someone who is a Christian, may you step out today with courage, knowing that in Him, we have victory. Now, like David, we’re called to follow the example of Christ and take on the giants of our day. That’s the call. And what is the chief weapon in our fight against the forces of darkness? Consider the words of Charles Spurgeon, he says this, “The preaching of Christ is the whip that flogs the devil. The preaching of Christ is the thunderbolt, the sound of which makes hell shake.”

    In other words, the way you confront the darkness of this world is with the light of the Gospel. Which is why Jesus says, “You are a city on a hill, let your light shine before others that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.”

    Do you know that when you step up with courage in the workplace, in the university, when you overcome those fears and share something of the Good News of Jesus, your light shines and you push darkness back. Do you know that when you enter the valley, to comfort those who are oppressed, to give hope to the marginalised, to serve the poor, when you enter into the valley, your light shines, God is glorified.

    Do you know, friends, that when you serve a church, when you give of your finances, when you give of your creativity and your leadership so that the kingdom of God can go forward, the light will shine and God is glorified? Do you know that when you make a decision before God to give your life completely to Him, and do whatever it takes, that His goodness will spread and His glory would be known, that light shines?

    This is our day. Only one life that soon will pass, only what is done for Christ lasts. And we can rejoice, can't we, in the many faithful men and women throughout history who have stood up in their hour of need. I think of people like Martin Luther. Martin Luther lived in a time where the church was in bondage to lies and false teaching. He began reading the Scriptures and seeing the truth and at a great cost to himself, he stepped forward. He entered the valley. He was excommunicated from the church, banned from the Empire, lived in seclusion for 11 months, but he didn’t give up.

    William Wilberforce, a politician, was overwhelmed, grieved by slavery in his day. It was a huge menacing giant, much bigger than him, and because of the Lord, he stood up in his hour of need. He entered the valley, and through much resistance, committed himself for 20 years so the glory of God would stand.

    Corrie ten Boom, a woman working in her father’s jewellery store, a simple job. She was broken, broken by the oppression of Nazi invasion upon Jewish people, and at great cost to herself, she put herself forward to provide a safe haven for hundreds and hundreds of people. It came at great cost.

    Where did they find the courage? They found their courage in the Lord who was faithful then, is faithful now, and will be faithful tomorrow. Could it be that God wants to do something extraordinary in our generation? Could it be that the same Lord who heard the afflictions of Israel then, hears the afflictions of God’s people today? And could it be that his Spirit is prompting you to make a stand, that his Spirit is calling you to rise up, to not let this world pass you by, but to do something radical, something bold, something audacious, something Christ-centered, that would echo throughout eternity.

    Why don’t we commit ourselves to Jesus in prayer, let’s do that. Our Lord, our God, our thanks and praise belongs to You alone, because You are our Lord, You are our strength, and in Christ we have victory. We thank You that in Him we have victory over sin, victory over Satan, and victory over death. And so we pray, Lord God, that by the power of Your Holy Spirit, You would help us to make us a stand for You.

    Lord, in this room are hundreds of men and women, fearfully and wonderfully made, people of talent and skill and wisdom and experience. People you are calling to rise up for You. Lord, help us to know how we can best serve You. Help us to take on the giants of this day to see them for what they truly are, but to be truly gripped by a big vision of You. Give us the courage that only You can give, that we could achieve things that would give You all the glory. We pray this in Jesus’ precious name, and all of God’s people said Amen, Amen.

    Well, City on a Hill, we have an opportunity now to respond to this Word, trusting in faith that the Holy Spirit is at work within each and every one of us, and one of the ways we get to respond is by sharing of the Lord’s Supper together. And it’s fitting, isn’t it, because the night before Jesus was betrayed, He shared this meal with the disciples and He took bread and He broke it and He said, “Eat this in remembrance that My body that was broken for you, and they took a cup of wine and He said, “Now, drink this in remembrance of My blood that was poured out for you.”

    That in our greatest need, Jesus stepped forward and offered His life so that now, we could be free in His love, and in His grace and in His purpose, and so, perhaps you might like to spend some time reflecting on what you’ve heard today, asking the Lord to instil within you a heart for Him, and then when you are ready, please come forward and share of this meal. We share this meal as one church, in thanks to our great God.

Guy Mason

Guy is the founding and Senior Pastor of City on a Hill, a church that began in 2007 with a small team and a big vision. Today City on a Hill is a movement of many churches that gathers across multiple locations, in different cities and is united around the central mission of knowing Jesus and making Jesus known. Guy is a passionate communicator of the gospel who is committed to engaging culture with the beauty, truth, and relevance of Jesus. Guy graduated with a BA in Public Relations from RMIT University, has a Masters of Divinity from Ridley College and is currently completing a Doctorate of Ministry with Wheaton College. He is the husband to Vanessa and the father to four children. He is an ordained Anglican Minister and serves as an Archdeacon in the Diocese of Melbourne.