David & Goliath


Sermon by Rev. Steven McClelland on 1 Samuel 17.  Focus on the story of David & Goliath.  Why David will always win over Goliath.  Check out Kelly Crandell and the choir following the sermon.

Most people when they think of the story of David and Goliath think of all the underdogs who have ever beat the favorite. Think Rocky, or the New York Giants against the undefeated New England Patriots in the 2008 Super Bowl. But what most people don’t see or think of when they hear this story is that it’s a story of the new and innovative overtaking the old and outdated. Most people like this story because they think it was amazing that David beat the giant Goliath. But what most of us don’t realize is that it’s amazing that we thought Goliath had a chance to win this battle in the first place.

What at first glance looks to be a mismatch of Biblical proportions is really the story of how what is young, new and innovative always overtakes what is established, big and inefficient. It’s a story that is constantly repeating itself throughout our history. Think Apple and Microsoft, Google and Yahoo.

So the first factor that has to be overcome is the Goliath factor. Goliath is that great big giant of an obstacle that seems unbeatable, insurmountable and impossible. Everyone has a Goliath factor. It’s your greatest fear. A difficulty so great that it has you thinking that you should not even attempt it in the first place – that’s your Goliath factor.

Everyone around you has lived under the shadow of Goliath at one time or another. It’s the fear of change, fear of confrontation, fear of success, fear of failure, and ultimately fear of death. Fear is the Goliath that paralyzes us and keeps us from going where God would have us go, which could be to something beyond your wildest imaginings. So freedom from Goliath is the gospel message today!

And everything we need to overcome Goliath is found in our reading today. Here’s the context. King Saul of Israel had been fighting tooth and nail for most of his days for every inch of the Promised Land. Even though the land was “Promised,” it did not come without a cost.

So here’s King Saul wearied and haggard by the Philistines who’ve been gaining the upper hand in recent battles with Saul and his army. The text says they were “dismayed” and “greatly afraid.” The threat of Goliath had all but incapacitated them, which is our reminder that when things are at their darkest that’s the time to start looking for agents of hope.

And in this case hope arrives as a young shepherd boy by the name of David, a boy not old enough to be conscripted into Saul’s army. A boy who comes into Saul’s camp, and tells the king that he can kill the giant. Saul doesn’t buy David’s confidence because Saul is still fighting the battle on Goliath’s terms. And so Saul tries to make David wear his armor and fight Goliath in the usual conventional way. Now imagine Gameil Osei trying to wear Johnny Bench’s Catcher’s Gear and you get the picture of what David looked like in Saul’s armor. So David takes it off.

Which brings us to the first clue in terms of beating Goliath. David had self-understanding. You must know what your strengths and weaknesses are. Sun Tzu’s The Art of War says it like this: “Know the enemy and know yourself; in a hundred battles, you will never be defeated. When you are ignorant of your enemy but you know yourself; your chances of winning or losing is equal. If you are ignorant of both your enemy and yourself, you are sure of defeat in every battle.”

The second clue to David’s success was in finding a niche. David didn’t fight the battle on Goliath’s terms. Goliath was expecting close quarter fighting where spears and swords would be used. David didn’t fight Goliath on his terms. By observing Goliath he saw Goliath’s weakness – He was a giant, which meant he lumbered about and was further slowed down by his armor, sword, spear and shield.

The third clue to David’s success was his trust and confidence. He trusted his life experiences. David had experienced giants before, because he had killed a lion and a bear with his slingshot. And he had confidence that he was the guy who could get the job done. To give you some insight on how deadly a slingshot can be. In the hands of an expert – a stone leaving the pocket of a slingshot is traveling at the same speed as a 38-caliber bullet.

And even though Goliath was fully armed and heavily armored, he was defeated because David saw a weakness in what appeared to be his very strength. David saw that Goliath’s armor made him slower and thus vulnerable to David’s weapon – a slingshot- a superior weapon to a sword or spear in terms of speed, firing rate, weight and kill radius. So David has a clear technological advantage over Goliath.

Sling and stone beats sword and armor. Paper beats rock. Scissors cuts paper. Paper covers rock. Well you get the point.

The fourth thing that David had that’s critical to success and separates the dreamers from the doers is the power of persuasion. Though David, had faith in God and confidence in his own ability, he never would have been able to confront Goliath if he had not been able to convince King Saul that letting him do so would not make Saul look like a coward and a fool.

So it wasn’t enough just that David had faith or confidence he had to sell that idea to others. I wonder where the world would be today had Thomas Edison, or Steve Jobs not been able to sell themselves to investors. Never under estimate the power of a good idea but without someone who can sell it. It remains just a fantasy or a dream.

And the final thing that David had over Goliath was a superior strategy, which was simply this: subdue Goliath with minimal effort; and to ensure that he was successful he employed the following tactics in his strategy.

He picked five stones instead of one just in case the first stone didn’t get the job done.

He had redundancies built into his strategy.

He avoided engaging Goliath on his own terms in hand-to-hand combat.

He exploited Goliath’s ego and over confidence.

He took Goliath by surprise and caught him off guard.

While Goliath stood out and terrified everyone with his size, David’s size made his opponent under estimate him. David used this to his advantage and was able to kill Goliath before he even knew that David had thrown the stone. And in doing this David won not only the battle but also the war. His kill shot so devastated the Philistine army that they simply withdrew from the battlefield.

And because of this shepherd boy who had faith, confidence, was observant, smart, fast, flexible and strategic in his thinking. David found the niche that lead him to do in one day with one shot what King Saul failed to do in a lifetime – end the war with the Philistines.

That’s what this story has to offer us: A vision, a strategy for taking on the Goliaths that paralyze us with fear, into submission and apathy. A vision that with God nothing is impossible. That with speed, flexibility and a strategy based upon your strengths and Goliath’s weaknesses you can conquer your giant and gain your freedom. Amen

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