How do you measure success?
Noah preached 120 years without even one convert and yet we see him as successful.
Gideon began his speech to his army in front of 32000 men. By the time he finished talking 22000 deserted. Later Gideon whittled the remaining 10000 down to only 300 before he got to the first battle. Yet, we see Gideon, and his military strategies, as being successful.
Jesus did not consider Zacchaeus successful just because he was the richest sinner in Jericho.
Even Jesus was convicted of blasphemy and treason and was executed by the state at 33 years old without a friend willing to testify on His behalf. Yet He is the greatest success the world will ever know.
How do you measure success?
This morning we are going to learn some new things from an old story in the Bible. It’s the story of David and Goliath from 1 Samuel 17. Let me set the stage to get us started.
The year was about 1050BC, during the reign of the first king of Israel, King Saul. At this time David was still a teenager and had responsibilities to help his father care for the sheep out in the fields around Bethlehem.
We begin our story today with David’s father, Jesse, calling David in from the shepherd fields to run an errand. Jesse had 8 sons and David was the youngest. The oldest 3 were soldiers in the army of King Saul and had gone with him to fight against the Philistines in the Valley of Elah, which was only about 15 miles away.17 Then Jesse said to his son David, "Take now for your brothers an ephah of this dried grain and these ten loaves, and run to your brothers at the camp.
18 And carry these ten cheeses to the captain of their thousand, and see how your brothers fare, and bring back news of them."
Jesse asked David to take food for his brothers, go to the encampment and bring back word concerning his brothers. David readied himself and began his journey early the next morning. By the time David arrived at the camp the two armies had set themselves in battle line against each other as they had done for the 40 mornings before. However, in all those days no fighting had occurred.
9 "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."
You may remember that each morning a giant named Goliath had come out from the ranks of the Philistine army and laid a challenge before Israel’s soldiers. “Why should we all fight and die”, he would say, “send out one to fight with me and whomever shall prevail, the other army shall become their servants.”
Goliath was the biggest, strongest, most well equipped and experienced fighting machine the world had ever known. He stood 6 cubits and a span, from the measurement of that day. A cubit is considered by most to have been either 18 or 21 inches and a span either 6 or 7 inches. At the least Goliath was 9 ½ feet tall … consider the larger cubit and he stood 11 feet even. Either scenario, cover him with armor and the best weaponry of the day to fit his size and you have the giant – Goliath!
5 He had a bronze helmet on his head, and he was armed with a coat of mail, and the weight of the coat was five thousand shekels of bronze. (more than 150 pounds)
6 And he had bronze armor on his legs and a bronze javelin between his shoulders.
7 Now the staff of his spear was like a weaver’s beam, and his iron spearhead weighed six hundred shekels (17 to 18 pounds); and a shield-bearer went before him.
And … he was not just big, he was loud; and aggressive; and boastful; and taunting; and threatening; and just plain mean and scary. On top of this, there was no one in King Saul’s army who believed they could defeat Goliath – so no one went out to meet him.
Morning and evening for 40 days Goliath issued his unmet challenge. It was victory after victory, 40 victorious days of battle which the Philistines had won against the children of Israel without ever drawing the sword. The whole ordeal was a shame.
24 And all the men of Israel, when they saw the man, fled from him and were dreadfully afraid.
25 So the men of Israel said, "Have you seen this man who has come up? Surely he has come up to defy Israel; and it shall be that the man who kills him the king will enrich with great riches, will give him his daughter, and give his father’s house exemption from taxes in Israel."
When David asked concerning the battle, he was told what Goliath had done and how there was no champion to fight for Israel. David further heard how the King promised to reward any man who defeated Goliath. This man was to be made the King’s son-in-law and his family would be exempt from taxes in Israel.
I have to imagine that this was an added benefit to think that David’s father Jesse might never have to pay taxes again. But, even if that were not true, how could David allow this giant to stand and defy the armies of the living God.
28 Now Eliab his oldest brother heard when he spoke to the men; and Eliab’s anger was aroused against David, and he said, "Why did you come down here? And with whom have you left those few sheep in the wilderness? I know your pride and the insolence of your heart, for you have come down to see the battle."
David’s oldest brother became angry with him when he heard him talking with the soldiers. He belittled David and rebuked him for his prideful, arrogant and empty talk. David responded to his brother in earnest:
29 And David said, "What have I done now? Is there not a cause?"
As David continued discussing these things with the soldiers, someone reported to King Saul what he was saying. Saul sent for David.
1 Samuel 17
32 Then David said to Saul, "Let no man’s heart fail because of him; your servant will go and fight with this Philistine."
33 And Saul said to David, "You are not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him; for you are a youth, and he a man of war from his youth."
34 But David said to Saul, "Your servant used to keep his father’s sheep, and when a lion or a bear came and took a lamb out of the flock,
35 I went out after it and struck it, and delivered the lamb from its mouth; and when it arose against me, I caught it by its beard, and struck and killed it.
36 "Your servant has killed both lion and bear; and this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, seeing he has defied the armies of the living God."
37 Moreover David said, "The LORD, who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, He will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine." And Saul said to David, "Go, and the LORD be with you!"
The story continues with David refusing to wear Saul’s armor in favor of his sling and 5 smooth stones which he chose from the brook flowing through the Valley of Elah.
The Bible says that when the Goliath looked and saw David coming towards him that he “disdained” David because he was only a youth. – Bad Mistake! – Never underestimate a young person with passion!
If that giant would have known then what he knows now – he would have run for the hills or just submitted and become David’s armor bearer.
We have to read this:
1 Samuel 17
43 So the Philistine said to David, "Am I a dog, that you come to me with sticks?" And the Philistine cursed David by his gods.
44 And the Philistine said to David, "Come to me, and I will give your flesh to the birds of the air and the beasts of the field!"
45 Then David said to the Philistine, "You come to me with a sword, with a spear, and with 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 defied.
46 "This day the LORD will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you and take your head from you. And this day I will give the carcasses of the camp of the Philistines to the birds of the air and the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel.
47 "Then all this assembly shall know that the LORD does not save with sword and spear; for the battle is the LORD’S, and He will give you into our hands."
About that time Goliath rose up and came towards David. Goliath most likely figured that David would run away in fear. However, instead of running away – David ran towards Goliath and the whole Philistine army. While David was running he put his hand in his bag and took out one of those 5 smooth stones from the brook. David put that stone securely in his sling and slung it. The stone hit Goliath in the forehead with such force that it sank into his forehead and Goliath fell down on his face to the earth before David.
David took Goliath’s sword and cut his head off. When the Philistine army saw that their champion was dead, they ran in fear. The armies of Israel with King Saul and David’s three oldest brothers all saw what David had done Goliath and how the Philistine army fled. This gave them the inspiration and motivation they needed to charge their enemies.
The Bible story the army of Israel’s great victory over the Philistine army that day as they fought and defeated them all the way to the cities of Ekron and Gath.
Besides the evident encouragements this story yields, what more can we learn? Well, the new lessons from this old story are these:
1. One of the most wonderful things about Goliath is that he is just too big to miss!
2. If you defeat the giant in your life all your other enemies will be easy to defeat.
3. Your victory inspires others to their victory.
I want to encourage you to take inventory of your life today to discover your greatest enemy. What is the biggest threat you face in life?
If you want the greatest success, attack your biggest enemy.
What is it that threatens you and your way of life … you and your success … you and your family - alcoholism, sexual immorality, financial stress, anger or unforgiveness, worry, fear, sickness or disease?
This giant will taunt you, call you out, ridicule you, threaten you, scare you and control you if you let him. He thinks so much of himself because he has defeated everyone else he has ever gone up against. He sees you as nothing but a dog, no challenge and no match for his cunning skills and straight on attack. He has plans to conquer you and enslave your family.
The sad thing is that many today are working with him. They are no longer struggling against him … no longer resisting his advances but give into his taunts and obey his commands.
Don’t see yourself already as defeated and continue to live a defeated life.
Refuse to believe the giant who is staring at you, cursing you, making you afraid.
He wants us to believe that no one ever has and no one ever will defeat him … but … he is a liar – he has never met the new, anointed you with a Rock in your hand! Come on now – we can do this …
All we need do is Identify and Attack!