In this message we will learn how God gave David the courage to face his giant, Goliath. We will learn how to face our own giants and develop courage like David. By facing everyday challenges, criticism, and resisting the pressure to conform, we can develop courage. And ultimately, we can find the kind of victory David found.
Today we’re going to look at one of the most familiar stories about David in the entire Bible.
This story begins with a very fearsome guy named Goliath, who would have been a very high draft pick in the NBA… and he’s why we decided to name the series Facing Giants.
The writer of Scripture says Goliath was a giant – the champion of the Philistines.
And he does what was custom in war in those days, which was to say, “I challenge you to send out your champion, and we’ll settle this war one on one.”
Now, the obvious guy to face Goliath would have been King Saul. He stood head and shoulders above the people of Israel.
But he wasn’t interested in taking on Goliath.
In fact, he offered a compensation package to anyone who would stand in his place and fight the giant:
“The king will give great wealth to the man who kills him. He will also give him his daughter in marriage and will exempt his family from taxes in Israel.”
Apparently he wasn’t up for Father of the Year. He would just let his daughter go to someone who would stand in his place and fight Goliath.
Yet no one took him up on his offer. For 40 days Goliath kept up this challenge, and no one would step forward.
Meanwhile, David is 10 or 15 miles away in an obscure little village where he’s gone back to shepherding after being anointed king.
And one day David’s father tells him to take some supplies to his brothers who were at the battlefront.
For 40 days Goliath has been taunting the Israelites – they’ve been living in fear and defeat for 40 days.
But now, on the 41st day, one little Israelite is going to take on a task that no one else would. On the 41st day, the history of Saul and Goliath and David and Israel would change forever because of a little shepherd boy with a courage as big as Texas.
And I don’t know about you but I want to have the kind of courage David does in this story.
But if you look carefully with me at this story today, one of the things you’ll discover is it takes time to grow the kind of courage David had.
David’s courage was in the process of being built a long time before this 41st day at this challenge of Goliath.
I think there’s a real illusion that we face in our day which is that when you face a moment of crisis, when you face your Goliath moments in life – and you will face Goliath moments at some point if you haven’t already – the illusion is that you can just develop courage out of the blue.
It doesn’t happen that way.
The truth is, if you wait until you’re facing your Goliath, you probably won’t do too well.
A man arrives at the pearly gates of heaven, and Peter says to him, “Well, I can’t find in your record that you did anything particularly good or particularly bad. Can you tell me of one impressive deed in life?”
And the man says, “Well, one time I saw a gang threatening a young woman. I stopped my car. I took out a tire iron. I walked up to their leader – a huge, ugly guy full of tattoos. He had earrings. I reached up and ripped one of his earrings right out of his ear. I said, ‘You leave this girl alone, you hear?’ I stared at all of them and said, ‘Now get out of here every one of you, or you’ll have to answer personally to me!’”
Peter was impressed. “When did that happen?” he asked.
“Just a couple minutes ago,” the man said.
If you wait until Goliath comes along – whatever your Goliath is – it probably won’t go too well.
Courage to face your giants will grow a little stronger day by day, and that’s what David did.
He faced several situations in his life that required enormous courage before he ever got to Goliath.
And God used those situations to build courage in David.
I have some Goliaths in my life… and you do too.
I don’t know about you, but I want to be known as a person of courage.
And I want you to be known as a person of courage who’s willing to face your giants… because I believe one of God’s great delights is when people follow him with courage in a world that is so timid.
So today we’re going to walk through four ways we can develop courage – four ways that David… or you or I… can develop courage.
And the first one is this: Develop courage in everyday challenges.
We don’t like the mundane, everyday challenges very much, but they provide an opportunity to develop courage.
All those years that David was on his own guarding sheep, he was building courage.
This is what David says to Saul when he’s explaining why he’s ready to take on Goliath:
But David said to Saul, “Your servant has been keeping his father’s sheep. When a lion or a bear came and carried off a sheep from the flock, I went after it, struck it and rescued the sheep from its mouth. When it turned on me, I seized it by its hair, struck it and killed it.
Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, because he has defied the armies of the living God. The LORD who delivered me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.”
Now it’s easy to just kind of pass right over that, but let’s stop and think about this for a moment.
Imagine you’re David. You’re in a field watching sheep – they’re not even yours; they’re your dad’s sheep – and a bear comes along. And you have no gun. You have a big stick. That’s what David would have had. What would you do?
David could have run. He could have. And the only one to see him would have been the sheep.
No one ever would have known if David had run except David and God. But David stayed, and David fought, and David learned.
It’s very interesting to me what David says in verse 37. David doesn’t say, “I learned that I could defeat lions and bears.” He doesn’t say, “I learned my own sufficiency.”
He says: “I learned that God, who delivered me from lions and bears, can deliver me from this challenge too.”
“God can deliver me from any challenge that comes before me,” David says. “I’ve learned that.”
And I want to tell you something. You can hear “God is faithful” a thousand times, and a lot of people have. And you can read “God is faithful” in a hundred books, and a lot of people have. But you will only come to believe it deep down in your heart when you test it out in your life.
You see, lions and bears come after sheep all the time. And you have your own flock of sheep; and lions and bears come against you on a daily basis.
*Maybe you have a difficult project at school or work, and you could procrastinate and get away with it. Or you could pray, “God, with your help, I’m going after that lion.” And your courage will grow.
*Maybe you’re facing a parenting challenge. Maybe there’s a behavioral trend in one of your children, and it’s going the wrong direction, but it will take energy and time to confront it… and there’s a part of you that’s tempted not to.
And you don’t have to. You can take the easy route if you want to, and just ignore it, a lot of people do. Or you could say, “God, with your help, I’m going after that lion.” And your courage will grow.
*Maybe you have a friend whose behavior is not pleasing to God and they need to be confronted in love. You could pretend not to notice. You could say, “It’s not my problem.” Or you could pray, “God, with your help, I’m going after that lion.”
I’ll tell you the truth about David, and about you, and about me. It was in everyday moments when no one was watching in an unglamorous job as a shepherd that David, day after day, grew courageous.
If he would have waited until he faced Goliath, he would have run away like everyone else. But he didn’t. He took on everyday challenges – lions and bears – and God was faithful. And David became very courageous.
Alright, so the first way grow courage is to face your everyday challenges. If you run, you will lose heart. If you face them, God is faithful, and you’ll grow courage.
Alright, another thing we learn from David about developing courage is this: Develop courage in the face of criticism.
Now we don’t tend to like criticism very much, but it’s a great opportunity to develop courage.
This is what happens to David when he takes the supplies to his brothers:
David asked the men standing near him, “What will be done for the man who kills this Philistine and removes this disgrace from Israel? Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living God?”
They repeated to him what they had been saying and told him, “This is what will be done for the man who kills him.” When Eliab, David’s oldest brother, heard him speaking with the men, he burned with anger at him and asked,
“Why have you come down here? And with whom did you leave those few sheep in the desert? I know how conceited you are and how wicked your heart is; you came down only to watch the battle.”
Now these are cheap shots at David. David had been sent by his father. He didn’t go on his own. And the sheep were being cared for by someone else. He was just being obedient.
But Eliab takes cheap shots at him. Why?
I’ll tell you what I think it was. I think for Eliab and the other brothers, Goliath dominated their world. They suffered from a kind of Goliath sickness of the spirit.
And every day that Goliath came out and issued that challenge – it had been happening for 40 days now – every day it happened, and Eliab heard it, and he shrank back and he didn’t respond, every day he felt a little more like a coward than he did the day before.
Every day he died a little more for 40 days.
I think he didn’t mind being with his other brothers who were there because they were all in the same boat. That didn’t make him feel bad. But I think when David came along Eliab didn’t want David to see the coward he felt himself to be in David’s presence.
He saw someone who was courageous, and by contrast, I think he saw what was going on in his spirit, and he didn’t like it.
In the face of David’s defiant courage, he felt ashamed.
Fear made him unable to love his brother, to receive his brother’s gifts.
Fear does that to us as well.
And I have to say one of the most important reasons to have courage is this:
When we shrink back before our giants, it eats away at our self-respect.
If you shrink back before a Goliath – whatever your Goliath is – if you shrink back before a Goliath long enough, it eats away at your self-respect. It just does.
And it’s okay when you’re around other people who are also living in fear, but when you’re with someone who dares to challenge Goliath, you feel your own cowardice by comparison, and it doesn’t feel good.
And you need to do something to strengthen your sense of esteem… so you become angry or resentful, or put on this image of courage that isn’t real. It just eats away at your soul.
See, Goliath was killing Eliab one day at a time and so as a result, David faces unfair criticism.
Now, how do you respond to that?
This is very interesting to me. David could have wasted all of his time and energy fighting his own brother. I probably would have been tempted to do that, but he doesn’t because he knows this is not the story of David and Eliab – this is the story of David and Goliath.
This is all David says:
“Now what have I done?” said David. “Can’t I even speak?” He then turned away to someone else and brought up the same matter, and the men answered him as before.
He doesn’t give in to Eliab, but he doesn’t go get the slingshot either.
He just doesn’t allow unfair criticism to have much power in his life. He gets on with his mission.
Don’t allow unfair criticism to have power in your life. Get on with your mission.
He just says, “God has something for me to do, and I’m not going to get sidetracked.”
And his courage got a little stronger.
So, let me ask you: How do you handle criticism?
Because criticism will reveal something about you.
I’ll tell you my own weakness. I think if I was doing what David was doing – if I was going to take on Goliath – I would expect other people around me to respond with something like this: “What a brave thing you’re doing. We want you to know how much we admire your courage. We’re going to applaud you as you go into battle.”
David doesn’t get that.
And I’ll tell you something. When you get real serious about trusting God and facing your Goliath, there’s a real good chance that there will be some people in your life who will be threatened by that, and they’ll want to hold you back.
And they will not feel good at all by someone else who’s facing their Goliath when they’re not.
You’re going to face some criticism when you try to do what’s right and honor God. You just will; sometimes from your friends and family; sometimes from someone you know and love.
And you can give up and lose heart. You can. You can get defensive and spend the rest of your life trying to straighten them out. But it’s real hard to straighten these people out.
Or you can say, “This is what I think God is calling me to do as best I can discern it.” And then get on with what God has called you to do – develop courage in the face of criticism.
Alight, I want to talk about two more ways we can develop courage, and the next one is this: Develop courage by being authentic.
Don’t try to be someone else.
Saul hears about what’s going on, and he has David brought before him:
David said to Saul, “Let no one lose heart on account of this Philistine; your servant will go and fight him.” Saul replied, “You are not able to go out against this Philistine and fight him; you are only a boy, and he has been a fighting man from his youth.”
Now stop and think about this interaction. David has to have the courage and presence of mind to persuade the king of Israel that the king is wrong and David is right, and he ought to fight Goliath. And David does precisely that.
Verse 37: Saul said to David, “Go, and the LORD be with you.”
Maybe Saul is being cynical here. I don’t know, maybe he’s sincere. Maybe he’s envious. We don’t know.
But then look at verse 38. It’s kind of a funny scene.
Then Saul dressed David in his own tunic. He put a coat of armor on him and a bronze helmet on his head. David fastened on his sword over the tunic and tried walking around, because he was not used to them.
“I cannot go in these,” he said to Saul, “because I am not used to them.” So he took them off. Then he took his staff in his hand, chose five smooth stones from the stream, put them in the pouch of his shepherd’s bag and, with his sling in his hand, approached the Philistine.
Here’s the scene. Saul puts all of his best championship armor on David, and David can’t even walk.
So David has to do a real courageous thing. Again, remember, Saul is the king, and David is just the subject. Saul is an impressive man, head and shoulders above everyone in Israel; David is a kid. Saul is a warrior; David is a shepherd boy, never been to a battle in his life.
And I think it would have been very easy for David to say, “You know, Saul knows more than me. He’s been at this longer. I’ll do it his way.”
But David knew something very important. He knew himself, and he knew his enemy, and he knew God, and he knew that when he went to face Goliath, he would stand alone. God would be there with him, but on a human level, he would stand alone.
*Saul was not going to be there with him.
*His brothers were not going to be there with him.
*Jesse was not going to be there with him.
David was going to be alone.
And when you go to face your Goliath, although you may have wonderful friends and family and community in your life, in a very real sense… you stand alone.
And David understood that Saul would really keep him from pursuing his mission in the way that God uniquely called David to, that Saul would turn David into kind of a miniature version of himself. And David was not called to be a little Saul.
You need to hear this, at the end of the day, you must choose how you will go to battle. You must choose.
No one else can choose your weapon for you – not a pastor, not a teacher, not a boss, not a friend, not a parent. These are your gifts, your time, your possessions, your mind, your calling from God – it’s yours.
And we live in this world that just tries to squeeze us into its mold like Saul tried to do with David.
And God just longs for you to have enough courage that you will not be squeezed into the world’s mold.
*Maybe you’re part of a group where gossip is kind of the way that group works, and you’re just under pressure. If you’re going to be a part of that group, you’ve got to bow to that pressure.
And God is wondering, “Is there someone who has enough courage to say, “No, I’m not going to be involved in anything that tears down other people. No.”
God wants for there to be courage in a timid world.
*Maybe at your school or work there’s pressure to just compromise on some standards or commitments you’ve made, and you know that you could have more fun or be more well thought of if you just break those.
And God is waiting to see if you’ll be a strong enough person to have the courage to say, “No, I will not give in to that pressure.”
*Maybe you know someone who’s left out all the time. They’re not thought of very well by others. Maybe they need desperately to have someone love them and pray for them.
But because of pressure, you’ve just shrunk back. And God’s waiting to see someone with courage enough to say, “I’m going to serve you and share my life with you.”
God just loves it when people follow him with enough courage to withstand the pressure that this world puts on us.
And David does this. David comes to this defining moment in his life… and Goliath’s life… and the life of the people of God.
I mean, think from a human perspective, what would have happened to Israel if David hadn’t come to this moment?
Which leads us to the fourth way to develop courage: Develop courage at the great crisis moments of your life.
Finally, now, David stands before Goliath:
Meanwhile, the Philistine, with his shield bearer in front of him, kept coming closer to David. He looked David over and saw that he was only a boy, ruddy and handsome, and he despised him.
He said to David, “Am I a dog, that you come at me with sticks?” And the Philistine cursed David by his gods. “Come here,” he said, “and I’ll give your flesh to the birds of the air and the beasts of the field!”
It was kind of a trash-talking deal. It was standard operating procedure before a battle in those days.
David had never been in this situation before, so he’s got to respond. He’s got to say something.
David said to the Philistine, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the LORD Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the LORD will hand you over to me, and I’ll strike you down and cut off your head.
Now, I want you to consider something – whatever giant you face today, it may be coming against you with sword and spear and javelin, the way Goliath came against David.
But we have to realize what David realized – it’s nothing that the God of Israel can’t handle.
Imagine Goliath in this moment. He never counted on this. Goliath had been through a lot of battles before. We’re told he had been a fighting man since his youth. He had never faced one like this before. Imagine Goliath’s shock. Here’s a skinny kid – no armor, no experience, no sword, no javelin, no spear… nothing but the God of Israel.
He hurls a single rock, and it’s all over.
Goliath never expected it. He was ready for a lot of stuff, but he never expected that.
I want to tell you something, whatever your Goliath is, whatever you face, whatever creates fear or anxiety in you, it’s like the sword and spear and javelin. And what God did for David, God can do for you.
I don’t know what the Goliath is in your life.
*Maybe it’s failure. Some people are paralyzed by that.
*Maybe it’s a difficult person.
*Maybe you just have a personal Goliath in your life.
*Maybe it’s a vocational decision you’ve been afraid to make.
*Maybe it’s a risk you’ve been afraid to take.
I don’t know what your Goliath is, but I know this: I know that if you let your Goliath – whatever your Goliath is – intimidate you, if you let him convince you that you’re helpless, if you run away day after day like the Israelites did, you’ll die a little more every day of your life. You will.
You’ll lose heart, and your life is too precious to God, and the battle is too important for you to go down that road.
I know that if you turn, and you face your Goliath with one small stone and confidence in God, your Goliath doesn’t stand a chance because one little stone and the power of God is stronger than anything this world can throw against us.
Blue Oaks Church