God Owns Your Goliath

What if you could live a stress-free, worry-free life? I have a secret that isn’t so much of a secret… You can if you are in Christ. This is one of Christ’s many promises for His true children. While in the world, we worry because the world is worrisome. When in Christ, we come to worry and stress-out less and less because of His providence. It’s not a Prosperity Gospel thing. As we have seen in the story of David and Goliath so far, there is no promise that we will be able to slay our giants. In fact, God’s word has been very careful to point out human inability and insufficiency to overcome any giant, literal or metaphorical. 

1 Samuel 17:39-50

David girded his sword over his armor and tried to walk, for he had not tested them. So David said to Saul, “I cannot go with these, for I have not tested them.” And David took them off.

He took his stick in his hand and chose for himself five smooth stones from the brook, and put them in the shepherd’s bag which he had, even in his pouch, and his sling was in his hand; and he approached the Philistine.

Then the Philistine came on and approached David, with the shield-bearer in front of him. When the Philistine looked and saw David, he disdained him; for he was but a youth, and ruddy, with a handsome appearance.

The Philistine said to David, “Am I a dog, that you come to me with sticks?” And the Philistine cursed David by his gods. 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.”

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. 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, and that all this assembly may know that the Lord does not deliver by sword or by spear; for the battle is the Lord’s and He will give you into our hands.”

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. 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. Thus David prevailed over the Philistine with a sling and a stone, and he struck the Philistine and killed him; but there was no sword in David’s hand.

Throw off our ways (v. 39-40)

David girded his sword over his armor and tried to walk, for he had not tested them. So David said to Saul, “I cannot go with these, for I have not tested them.” And David took them off.

After conceding to David’s argument, Saul clothed David in his own armor. Armor is designed to protect in war. David tries to walk in the armor and the armor doesn’t work out. David perceives that the king’s armor will hinder more than help him. What is necessary in the eyes of people is, in reality, a hindrance.

There are many things we consider to be necessary from a worldly point of view but are really hindrances. We gird ourselves with weighty things that keep us from honoring God. It is difficult for us to get this, but simplifying our lives and ministries so we can focus on the thing that matters—Christ—is usually best. This means letting go of many things we think guard us according to the world’s perspective. Jobs are not as important as we believe them to be. Sports are not as important for middle-high schoolers as we have made them. Technology isn’t as integral to existence as we have made it. Material possessions are overrated. The only thing money is good for is spending. Comfort is only good for wasting away. Luxury only makes us comfortable and doesn’t accomplish much else. These things may make good slaves, but they are ruthless masters. I can go to any restaurant, people watch, and see others completely enveloped in what’s happening on their phones while the relationships they have with the people sitting at the table are withering. What if we could strip everything we consider to be necessary away till all we have is Christ? We are reminded of what we saw in the previous passage. God’s grace is sufficient for His people. The more we recognize the sufficiency of God’s grace alone, the less we are burdened by the things of this world.

The same is true for the ministry of the local church. So many local churches are so extra, girding themselves with entertainment, youth and children’s programs, and attractional stuff, they give up the simplicity of Christian living in order to stay busy. Doing more is not always best. God’s grace is sufficient even for the local church, and the local church often doesn’t operate as if God’s grace is sufficient.

Let me make a clarification. There is a popular message out there insisting that people should get away from other people so that they can live a better life. That is a false teaching that doesn’t actually help anyone. David relinquishes that which is meant to guard him according to the world, and He does so for others’ good. So it is that the more we deny ourselves and live to God’s glory and others’ good, the less we will worry and stress because, in Christ, our lives are less and less about us. That is why Christ calls His disciples to deny themselves (Luke 9:23).

He took his stick in his hand and chose for himself five smooth stones from the brook, and put them in the shepherd’s bag which he had, even in his pouch, and his sling was in his hand; and he approached the Philistine.

Instead of dressing in the king’s armor and using the king’s sword, which he has not been trained to use, David takes up his shepherd’s staff, gathers slinging stones, puts them in the bag he already has, and takes up his own sling. God owns the battle. God owns the giant. God owns the outcome. God has all providence. David is using the skills He already has, which have been provided by God like we saw last week when we looked briefly at 1 Corinthians 12. We cannot force ourselves to be equipped to handle something we are not designed to handle. So, we do what God has called us to do with the skillset God has given over the course of our lives. God has called me to do ministry. He has given me a technical skillset using technology. So, I use technology. God has called plenty of people to do ministry who are not technically skilled the way I am. They have other gifts. They use those gifts. God doesn’t call us to do what He doesn’t prepare us to do. He gifts people differently on purpose. That’s why the local church has multiple elders. One-man is never gifted to do everything the church elders must do. God doesn’t call us to be burdened by the world’s way of doing things. So often, we get focused on what we can do to overcome our problems or stressors. God hasn’t called us to be the overcomers. He is the overcommer on behalf of His people. He has called us to be faithful to His calling and equipping work in our lives. We don’t have to keep up with the Joneses in any respect, as individuals or as a local church.

David, with his Godgiven skillset, approaches the Philistine giant. He still doesn’t stand a chance. He is simply honoring God’s call and trusting that God has provided everything God intends him to have.

The ways of the world (v. 41-44)

Then the Philistine came on and approached David, with the shield-bearer in front of him. When the Philistine looked and saw David, he disdained him; for he was but a youth, and ruddy, with a handsome appearance.

Why does Goliath disdain David? Goliath is prepared for battle. He has been trained from his youth. He has technologically advanced weaponry. He is large. He disdains David because David is merely a youth, and ruddy with a handsome appearance—a cowboy. Goliath challenged Israel to send a fighting man (v. 10); instead, they send a shepherd boy who knows neither the art of war nor the tools for war. Goliath will surely make quick work of David.

The Philistine said to David, “Am I a dog, that you come to me with sticks?” And the Philistine cursed David by his gods. 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.”

Goliath has propped himself up like a god. He mocks David. You think your puny weapons will fell me? You think you can touch me with that? Am I a dog, that you come to me with sticks? All Goliath can see, at this point, is David’s shepherding staff. He curses David by his gods. That’s interesting, isn’t it? Goliath hasn’t mentioned any god or gods up to this point. Then, as soon as he sees David, he is cursing David by his gods? Goliath sees himself as a sort of god. He is a blasphemer. He hasn’t even recognized Dagon up to this point in the story. Why would Goliath now feel a need to curse David by his gods? Goliath probably has not heard David’s words up to this point. Philistia did still worship some state gods. Goliath uses the Philistine gods as a slur against David. We have a phrase used by also rat of unbelieving people today, don’t we? “God da** you!” David will make a point about this later in the conversation. Goliath also vows to kill David and leave him as fodder for the birds and beasts.

Fight the correct battle (v. 45-47)

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.”

Goliath cursed David by his gods. David’s response is, “Look at all the weapons you are carrying.” David’s sarcasm emerges again in the story, as if to insinuate, “Your gods need you to fight on their behalf?” David isn’t carrying any war-worthy weapons. To show Goliath that God owns the battle, David comes in Yahweh’s name, not with advanced weaponry or even armor. There will be no doubt that God is the one with all the power.

“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, and that all this assembly may know that the Lord does not deliver by sword or by spear; for the battle is the Lord’s and He will give you into our hands.”

David now tells Goliath that Yahweh will deliver Goliath into David’s hands. David is surer now than he was; as if the abiding Holy Spirit might be assuring him (cf. 16:13). Goliath only cursed David by his gods, as if the gods were something to be used when convenient. David attributes all power to Yahweh. While Goliath promised to give David to the birds and beasts, David promised to give the bodies of the Philistine troops to the birds and beasts. David one-ups Goliath again. He claims God will do this so that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel and that God needs neither human means nor methods to deliver His people. Yahweh owns the battle.

The whole world is concerned about beating its giants. We worry and stress and experience anxiety over life’s battle because we see it as our battle. The battle never belonged to us. It belongs to God. God does not rely on our talent or tools. When we understand God’s providence, we can rest in the midst of whatever battles we face. That’s one way we know that we are really in Christ. Consider Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount,

Do not worry then, saying, “What will we eat?” or “What will we drink?” or “What will we wear for clothing?” For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own (Matthew 6:31-34).

When I got kicked out of my first church, there was much to worry about from a human perspective. I was making $40,000/yr, about to have a baby, going to school, and starting several ministry efforts in the city we served. My income and house were suddenly gone. I had every reason to worry, worry, and worry. There were so many stressors all at once. When I would talk with people, they would ask how I seemed to have so much peace even though my whole life fell apart in moments. I didn’t focus on the means and methods of this world. I went about serving Christ however I could. Tomorrow took care of itself because God is the providential one, not me. David understood God’s providence in his circumstance. The more we understand and trust that God really works all things together, the less we will worry and stress about our days. We have all the time God has given us to do all He has called us to do. He prepares us. He owns the battle and its outcome. Worrying, stressing, or obsessing doesn’t accomplish anything.

Win the right victory (v. 48-50)

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. 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. Thus David prevailed over the Philistine with a sling and a stone, and he struck the Philistine and killed him; but there was no sword in David’s hand.

Notice how very little attention is given to David’s victory over Goliath. We’ve been looking forward to the fight for so long, and so little attention is given to the finishing blow. The battle seems too easy. That’s because the battle isn’t the main focus of the text; God’s glory is. God’s glory receives the most attention in this story, not David’s victory. We worry and stress when we see the battle as our battle and the victory or loss as ours. Theologically, if God is sovereign and owns all things, if He is working all things together, neither the battle nor the victory is ours. God owns it and He works the circumstances and their outcomes together according to His own will for His own purpose. That is David’s point. The story concentrates on God’s glory rather than David’s small victory. God works things together the way He has so that He will be known. God does what He does through the Biblical narrative consistently for this reason. Practically, then, worrying, complaining, stressing, or obsessing about our circumstances implies that we don’t really believe God is working all things together purposefully. When we do worry, complain, stress, or obsess about our circumstances, we are mocking God’s sovereignty and providence. On the other hand, it is freeing to know that we don’t have to fight our own battles and overcome our own giants. God is in control. We find rest when we are less concerned about slaying our giants and more concerned about simply participating with Christ in His work. This is why Jesus will say, 

Come to Me all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light (Matthew 11:28-30).

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