There was no breaking news announcement scrolling across the bottom of the television screen. Nobody was recording the event on a cell phone. There was no simulcast broadcast. It was not a-pay-per view event. It was not a media circus. It was, quite simply, a challenge of faith for a boy who was facing a giant in a fight that would impact the course of Israel’s future for generations to come.
The giant’s name was Goliath. He had earned the right to represent the Philistines, Isarel’s archenemy, in a fight against Israel. The stakes were simple as Goliath called for Israel to send out its best fighter into a winner take all battle. If Israel’s best fighter could beat Goliath, then the Philistine’s army would become the slaves of Israel. If Goliath won the fight, then Israel’s army would become the slaves of the Philistines. Obviously, Goliath did not expect to lose the fight or he would not have issue the challenge. After all, he was not called Goliath for no reason at all.
Goliath stood 9 ½ feet tall. The coat of armor he wore weighed about 150 pounds. The head of his spear weighed about 19 pounds. He was a giant with an attitude. The mere sight of Goliath and the sound of his booming challenge was enough to make the soldiers of Israel quake in their boots. When they saw Goliath all they could see was defeat as they lost hope. That is the way it works with giants. They make you lose hope, and if you let them, giants can even make you lose sight of faith in God.
Eli Wiesel knows about the terror of giants. In his book Night he tells of how he spend his teenage years in a Nazi death camp at Birkenbau. His young eyes witnessed tragedies too horrible to repeat. The toll it took on him is best described in the forward to the book by Nobel-prize-winning author Francois Mauriac:
“For him (Wiesel), Nietzche’s cry expressed an almost physical reality: God is dead, the God of love, of gentleness, of comfort … has vanished evermore … And how may pious Jews have experienced this death. On that day, horrible even among those days of horror, when the child watched the hanging of another child, who, he tells us, had the face of a sad angel, he heard someone behind him groan: “Where is God? Where is He? Where can He be now?” p. 25, Growing Strong Charles Swindoll
The boy’s name was David. He was a shepherd to the family’s sheep. He was not an imposing figure as he refused to wear the traditional protective armor that King Saul provided. I Samuel 17:42-43 describes Goliath’s encounter with David this way, “When the Philistine looked and saw David, he disdained him, for he was only a youth, ruddy and handsome in appearance.” The Philistine said to David, ‘Am I a dog, that you come to me with sticks?’” Then Goliath followed up with this threat to David, “Come to me, and I will give your flesh to the birds of the air and to the wild animals of the field.”
Giants always work in the context of fear. The next time you face a giant, remember how David responded to Goliath’s fear-filled taunts. Remember how David responded to Goliath as he affirmed his faith in the God of Israel by saying, “the Lord saves not with sword and spear; for the battle is the Lord’s and he will give you into our hand.”
Rev. Amy Starr Redwine describes David’s response to Goliath this way.
What David did, when he came face to face with Goliath, was remember what he already knew deep within his soul: that God is faithful, that God is present, that God equips us with what we need for the task at hand. David remembered God. David knew that he did not need the trappings of someone else’s ill-fitting armor to do what he did best, he simply needed to choose a smooth stone from the river and send it flying.
The Baptist preacher and civil rights activist Will Campbell was once invited to participate in a debate on capital punishment. At the last minute, he discovered that his opponent was an erudite scholar. After his opponent delivered a lengthy philosophical argument in favor of the death penalty, Campbell got up to deliver the case against it. He had prepared no long or intellectual remarks, so after a long pause he said, slowly and deliberately, “I just think it’s tacky.” Then he sat down. The audience laughed. “Tacky?” the moderator asked. “Yessir,” Campbell repeated. “I just think it’s tacky.” “Now, come on, Will,” the moderator said, “‘Tacky’ is an old Southern word, and it means uncouth, ugly, lack of class.”
“Yessir, I know what it means,” Campbell replied. “And if a thing is ugly, well, ugly means there is no beauty there. And if there is no beauty in it, there is no truth in it. And if there is no truth in it, there is no good in it. Not for the victim of the crime. Certainly not for the one being executed. Not for the executioner, the jury, the judge, the state. For no one. And we were enjoined by a well-known Jewish prophet to love them all.” Paul Loeb, Soul of a Citizen. St. Martin’s Press, 2010. Amy Starr Redwine, 2021, A Sermon Every Sunday
The next time you are facing a giant in your life, remember the story of David and Goliath. Remember how David had all the necessary resources close at hand as he responded to the giant in his life.
The next time you are facing a giant in your life, remember how David remembered the faithfulness of God.
The next time you are facing a giant in your life, remember that David beat Goliath.

Any Giants In Your Life?

by Pastor Marc Brown
June 9, 2024

Accompanying Scriptures: 1 Samuel 17:1-11, 38-47

Fort Hill United Methodist Church
Order of Worship for June 9, 2024

Scripture Lesson      1 Samuel 17:1-11, 38-47

The Good News      “Any Giants In Your Life?”

Music                          “This Is My Father’s World” Hymn #144



Closing Music      “Meditation on Neumark” by Roy Danielsen.

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