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A GIANT CHALLENGE! (1Samuel 17)
- The sudden build-up of Philistine troops in Judah was proof enough that war was in the making. No sooner had king Saul heard the report than immediate orders were given to deploy his army to the Valley of Elah, where the Israelites & the Philistines faced each other from opposite hills. The valley lay between them.
- As the armies arrayed themselves in battle lines, the powerful champion of the Philistines, Goliath of Gath, made his first appearance, striding towards the camp of the Israelites.
- He was a giant of a man, over nine feet tall! He wore a bronze helmet and a coat of mail armour weighing over 150 pounds. In his brawny hand was a huge bronze javelin tipped with a 25-pound spear head. And as if that were not enough, an armour bearer walked before him with an enormous shield!
- Defiantly he shouted to the ranks of Israel, „Do you really need a whole army to settle this? I am a Philistine, and aren’t you the servants of Saul? Well then, choose from among you a man to come down and fight me in single combat. And if he wins and kills me, we will become your subjects. But if I overcome and kill him, you will surrender and serve us.“
- When Saul and his men heard the challenge of the great warrior, they were terrified.
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- Meanwhile, David, a young shepherd boy, was on his way to the camp to take food & provisions.
- When he arrived on the outskirts of the camp, the soldiers had just gone out to their positions on the battle front. So David left his things with the baggage officer and rushed out to the ranks to greet his brothers. And as he was speaking with them there was a commotion in the direction of the enemy camp.
- Amidst the cheers and battle cries of the Philistines there came Goliath, once again to taunt the Israelites who, as soon as they saw him, began to run away from the advancing giant. For forty days the great warrior had come every morning and evening to provoke the Israelites, but there was no one to take up the challenge.
- „Have you seen him?“ the soldiers said in fright. „He comes out daily to defy Israel.“
- But David was angered to see that fear had taken hold of the men, and he questioned, „Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should insult and defy the armies of the Living God?“
- But all the soldiers could talk about was the reward offered by the king for the man who could kill him. And all the more David asked why no one had stepped forward.
- Finally some of the men who stood by went and reported to the king all that young David had said, and upon hearing it Saul sent for him. When David appeared before the king he exclaimed boldly, „O king, let no man’s heart fail because of him. Thy servant will go and fight with this Philistine.“
- Almost laughing in unbelief the king bellowed, „How ridiculous! You cannot fight him. You’re only a boy, and he has been a man of war from his youth!“
- „When I tended the sheep of my father and a lion or a bear would take a lamb from the flock, I went out after it,“ David assured him, „and I struck it, taking the lamb from its mouth. And when it turned against me I grabbed it by the hair and struck and killed it. Therefore O King,“ said David, „the Lord Who delivered me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear, the same will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine!“
- Beholding the unshakable faith of the lad, king Saul finally consented and said, „Go therefore, my son, and the Lord be with you.“
- Then Saul dressed David in his own royal tunic. He put a coat of armour on him and a bronze helmet on his head. David fastened the king’s sword on him and tried walking around a bit, because he had never worn armour before.
- Shaking his head with a sigh, David finally said to the king, „I cannot go in these. I’ve never proved them.“ So he took the sword and armour off.
- With his staff in hand he walked down to a little stream nearby, and carefully selected five smooth stones and put them into his shepherd’s bag, and with his sling in his hand, David walked out alone, approaching the area where Goliath stood.
- As the curious crowds of soldiers stood watching in silent awe, the giant began to stride in David’s direction, with his shield bearer in front of him. And seeing that David was only a boy, he despised him.
- „Am I a dog,“ he roared at David, „that you have come at me with a stick?“ And he cursed David by his gods. „Come here and I’ll feed your flesh to the birds and wild animals.“
- But David stood firm, undaunted. And with a voice emboldened with faith he yelled, „You come to me with a sword, a spear, and a shield, but I come to you in the Name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied.
- „This day the Lord will deliver you into my hands…and the World will know that there is a God in Israel! And all those gathered here will know that it is not by sword nor spear that the Lord saves, for the battle is the Lord’s, and He will give you into our hands!“
- Upon hearing this, Goliath’s face flushed red with anger, and he began to advance, his enormous spear grasped tightly in his massive hand. David ran swiftly toward the enemy line to meet him. Reaching into his bag, David took out a stone. Placing it in his sling he hurled it with all his might and it struck the advancing Philistine in his forehead, the only unprotected place on his body. Suddenly the giant warrior stopped, stumbled & fell face down. And the soldiers from Israel’s ranks let out a thundering cheer!
- „But there was no sword in the hand of David“, so he ran toward the fallen Philistine, and drawing the giant’s own sword, he cut off Goliath’s head.
- That day a young shepherd boy triumphed over the mighty champion of the Philistines with nothing but faith and a sling and one smooth stone.
- Beholding David’s courageous conquest, „the men of Israel arose and shouted and pursued the Philistines, who fled, leaving their wounded fallen along the way.“ And they chased them clear back to their own country, and then retrieved great spoil from the Philistines‘ abandoned camp. The battle was over, and Israel was safe.
- How much God can do through one young man who loves and trusts Him with all his heart! There is no limit to what God can do with a person who is loyal and willing to do His Will.
- Let God use you to the limit! The only way we can ever be conquered is if we stop attacking and give up and stop having the courage, the faith to take the initiative. If it’s worthwhile, it’s worth fighting for!
- And remember, the size of the man in a fight doesn’t count as much as the size of the fight in the man. Be ready to fight—ready to die–ready to say, „Here I stand by the grace of God!–I can do no other!“