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Author:Rev. Ted Gray
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Congregation:First United Reformed Church
 Oak Lawn, Illinois
Title:The Battle Is the LORD'S
Text:1 Samuel 17:1-54 (View)
Occasion:Regular Sunday
Topic:Life in Christ

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)


From the 1976 Psalter Hymnal, unless otherwise noted:

306 - O Praise Ye the Lord

Scripture: 1 Samuel 17:1-40 

444 - A Mighty Fortress Is Our God 

453 (Red) - Faith Is the Victory

445 (Red) - Soldiers of Christ Arise

Scripture: 1 Samuel 17:41-58 


* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Ted Gray, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.

“The Battle Is the LORD'S”
1 Samuel 17:1-54
Have you noticed how often we make a judgment call about someone or about a certain situation, just by what we see? Yet Scripture warns us, as we read in the previous chapter, that we are not to judge by external appearances. 
That was true even for Samuel, the prophet of God, who saw David’s oldest brother Eliab and was ready to anoint him as the next king of Israel. 1 Samuel 16:6 and 7 describe how “Samuel saw Eliab and thought, ‘Surely the LORD'S anointed stands here before the LORD. But the LORD said to Samuel, ‘Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.’”
Now as we come to this familiar 17th chapter of 1 Samuel we see once again, right from the beginning, that we are not to judge by external appearance. Did you notice the footnotes (in the pew Bibles) as we read the opening verses? Goliath was 6 cubits, literally, “six cubits and a span” - over nine feet tall, most likely about 9 feet 9 inches. 
He was not only tall; he had some muscles! Consider that his armor of bronze weighed 125 pounds. Many of us would have trouble lifting 125 pounds, not to mention the trouble we would have trying to walk around in a suit of armor weighing that much! Even the iron point on his spear had some weight. If you have ever thrown a spear, you know that it needs a certain amount of weight to give it speed once it is thrown and to heighten its impact when it hits its target. The tip of Goliath’s spear was about 15 pounds!
Goliath was also an exceptionally well-equipped fighter. Verse 5 tells us that he wore a bronze helmet and verse 6 says he was wearing bronze greaves; greaves are leg coverings that served as part of his armor. The greaves, (“bronze armor” ESV), along with the rest of his outfit, gave him defensive protection against any fighter brave enough to take him on.
Verse 6 also describes how he had a bronze javelin slung over his back. The javelin gave him another offensive weapon; if he didn’t kill someone with his spear, he had the javelin. Later on, in verse 45, we read that he had a sword as well. He was one formidable figure!
Then we flip over to verse 42 for a description of David: “He was only a boy, ruddy and handsome.” What a contrast! David has no armor; the giant is encased in 125 pounds of armor! David has no spear. Goliath has a spear, a javelin, and a sword. David has no helmet; Goliath has a massive bronze helmet.
If you judged just by what you see externally you would say, “This fight is going to be over before it even begins. It will be a first round knockout,” – (which it was!) – but if you just looked at the externals you would never expect that David would be the one delivering the knockout blow. In a dramatic way, this chapter teaches us not to judge by external appearances!
A second truth that we see in this chapter is that the Lord builds the faith of His people through the experiences – even the hardest experiences – of life. In verse 33 Saul said to David: “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.”
David’s reply shows that although he was only a boy, perhaps a teenager at the time, he had already been prepared for this battle through some extremely hard experiences in his life. How many of us would care to tangle with a lion or a bear? If we were out in the middle of nowhere watching a flock of sheep and a lion or a bear carried one of the sheep away in its mouth, how many of us would do what David did? Verses 34 and 35 describe how “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.’”
There might be some among us who would be brave enough to go that far, but what if the lion or the bear turned on us? What if it were ready to pick a fight with us, would we just sacrifice the sheep and run the other way? Not David! “When it turned on me, I seized it by its hair, struck it and killed it,” he calmly explained to Saul (v. 35).
In these verses we see that God prepared David through some extremely hard experiences to be ready to fight this giant, Goliath. And the most important part of that preparation for David was in recognizing that it was not his power that killed the lion and the bear, but the power of God. As he says in verse 37, “The LORD who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.”
I am sure that when David had a confrontation with a wild animal, he never dreamt that those experiences were preparing him to deliver Israel from a giant foe who threatened to destroy the whole nation. Yet that is exactly what God was doing. 
And still today God builds the faith of His people through the hard circumstances of life. We often see that when we look back at life in retrospect. Then we see that the Lord allowed us to go through some deep valleys and swift waters to strengthen our faith in Him for a time of testing later on.
A third truth this chapter teaches is that the honor of the Lord must incite us to action. Did you notice David’s motivation for fighting Goliath? It wasn’t for his own personal gain, which Saul had already advertised as an incentive for an Israelite to fight Goliath. Verse 25 describes how Saul was ready to give great wealth, along with his daughter’s hand in marriage, and even a lifetime exemption from taxes (“make his father’s house free in Israel” – ESV) to anyone who killed Goliath. A few commentators have pointed out, tongue in cheek, that Saul’s daughter was no prize, but the exemption from taxes was a really good incentive!
But David wasn’t going out to fight Goliath for monetary rewards, or for Saul’s daughter’s hand in marriage, or for a lifetime tax break for his father’s family. He went out to fight Goliath because he was angered that the honor of God, and His people, was maligned by this Philistine giant. In verse 26 “David asked the men standing near him.... ‘Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living God?’”
And in verses 45 to 47 he confidently predicted his victory to Goliath, and the motive behind it: “This day the LORD will hand you over to me, and I’ll strike you down and cut off your head. Today I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds of the air and the beasts of the earth, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel. All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the LORD saves; for the battle is the LORD’S, and He will give all of you into our hands.”
Here again, how many of us are like David? The name of our Lord is maligned and mocked in ways that are almost unbelievable, and yet many Christians are silent. Back in the 1990’s already there was so called “art” in which a crucifix was submerged in a jar of urine and portrayed as a creative work of art. Can you imagine the outcry if that was done with an image of Mohammed? Or if that were an image of our current president? Or anyone else for that matter, except for Jesus? David was willing to fight for the honor of God’s name. 
The Battle of the Greater David
The account of David and Goliath is one of the best known stories in the Bible. Many people who know very little about the Bible know something about this boy taking on a fearsome giant and killing him. Almost everybody, even in our secular culture, knows the meaning of the phrase “David vs. Goliath.” But the account of David and Goliath is far more than just a well-known interesting story drawn from the biblical record: David’s encounter with Goliath points to a greater victory by “the greater David,” Jesus Christ, who defeated the ultimate “Goliath” through His life, death and glorious resurrection.
We know that Christ is written about throughout Scripture, Old Testament and New. David was a type or foreshadow of Christ, as well as being the line from which Jesus was born, the line of David. And Jesus, as the greater David, conquered a far greater foe than Goliath. Jesus conquered Satan, sin, and all the forces of evil through His life, death, and resurrection.
In Matthew 12 we read that when Jesus cast a demon out of a man, the Pharisees said that He had done that only by the power of Beelzebub, another name for the devil himself. Jesus pointed out to them that a kingdom divided against itself cannot stand, that obviously Satan would not drive out himself because that would bring about his own ruin. And then, in Matthew 12:29, Jesus says: “Or again, how can anyone enter a strong man’s house and carry off his possessions unless he first ties up the strong man? Then he can rob his house.”
Jesus, by His life, death, and resurrection has tied up the strong man. He has bound one far stronger than Goliath. He has bound Satan and his demons, and their demise is certain. He has, in fact, made a spectacle out of them. Colossians 2:15: “And having disarmed the powers and authorities, (a reference to evil, demonic powers), He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.”
The spectacle of David’s fight with Goliath was watched by a great crowd of onlookers, both Philistines and Israelites. But the spectacle of the cross, where Jesus totally defeated Satan, has been seen and read about by a much larger multitude. As Acts 26:26 points out, concerning all the events in the life of Jesus, including His crucifixion and resurrection, “it was not done in a corner.” In other words, the life, death, and glorious resurrection of Jesus Christ is a historical fact. His appearances after His resurrection were witnessed by more than 500 people at one time (1 Cor. 15:6), and His appearances after the resurrection are testified by reputable historians. 
Yet Peter describes how many people “deliberately forget” (2 Pet. 3:5) the truths concerning Jesus Christ, and they ridicule the certainty of His second coming. Many people purposely try to erase the magnitude of the events that are so great that they have marked our calendar years for two millennia. But the day is coming when every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord of all, that He has conquered sin, Satan, death in all its forms, and has made a spectacle of them.
David’s victory over Goliath was great. But it was only a foreshadow of a far greater victory by the greater David as He defeated the ultimate Goliath, Satan himself. And we share in that victory through saving faith in Christ. Did you notice how in the passage from 1 Samuel 17 we read how when Goliath was defeated all the Philistines ran? (51b). Did you notice how all the Israelites rejoiced and pursued them and plundered their camp? (52-53)
The principle is one of representation. Goliath represented the Philistines (v. 8); if he won, the Philistines would share that victory. By the same token, David represented Israel. When he, by God’s enabling power, killed Goliath, all Israel was victorious.
And Scripture clearly teaches that because Christ has been victorious over Satan, sin, the forces of evil, and death in all its forms, all of us who have saving faith in Him are “more than conquerors”. 
We are more than conquerors through saving faith in Christ. Although He is the One who has conquered the greatest foe, Satan, we are yet called to battle. We are not only called, but also equipped by the power of the Holy Spirit through the Word and prayer, as you and I are told to “Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.” (Eph. 6:11).
Christ is the Victor, but we are yet called to battle and are more than conquerors, not through our strength, but through the strength of Christ who has defeated the evil one and equips us for battle. That we share in His victory is put beautifully in Romans 8:
       - V. 31b:  If God is for us, who can be against us?
       - V. 33:  Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who 
       - V. 35:  Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or 
                      persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?
      - V. 37:  No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.
And that leads us to the obvious conclusion: Our faith must be placed where David’s was; his faith was not in himself, but his faith was focused entirely on the Lord. Saul was amazed that David would go up against Goliath, without armor, without a helmet, greaves, shield, spear, sword and javelin. He saw the sling and the shepherd’s staff that David carried with him. But Saul failed to see, with the eye of faith, the One who was with David in the battle. Saul could not begin to comprehend the faith of David, as expressed in verse 37: “The LORD who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.”
And the same was true for the women who sang David’s praise. If they had true saving faith they would have sung praise to the Lord instead of to David. If they had eyes of faith they would recognize with deep gratitude that David’s victories were not accomplished by his power, but by the power of God who graciously worked through David.
But what about you, and what about me? Have you and I seen, with the eye of saving faith, the power of One far greater than David? Do you rejoice as Israel did, in the conquest of the greater David, Jesus Christ? Is your life and mine lived to the praise of His glorious grace? Do you and I express deep and sincere gratitude to Jesus for giving us victory over sin, Satan, and death by redeeming us at the cost of His own life blood?
If your faith is truly focused on “the greater David”, Jesus Christ, then you can have blessed assurance that your sins are forgiven, that you are right with God, justified by faith in Christ alone. And with that knowledge, you can then face a hostile world with confidence. You can rest in the confidence that David wrote about in Psalm 27:
The LORD is my light and my salvation;
    whom shall I fear?
 The LORD is the stronghold of my life;
    of whom shall I be afraid?
When evildoers assail me
    to eat up my flesh,
 my adversaries and foes,
    it is they who stumble and fall.
Though an army encamp against me,
    my heart shall not fear;
 though war arise against me,
    yet I will be confident. (Psa. 27:1-3)
May you and I, not only comprehend something of the faith that God graciously gave to David, but also share in that faith, so that whatever battles we face, whatever Goliaths are in our lives, whatever conflicts are before us, that we face them with faith in Christ, echoing with confidence the words of David, “...It is not by sword or spear that the LORD saves; for the battle is the LORD'S.  Amen!
sermon outline:
“All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves; for the battle is the LORD’S, and he will give all of you into our hands.” - 1 Samuel 17:47
“The Battle Is the LORD’S”
1 Samuel 17:1-54
I. The conflict between David and Goliath teaches us:
    1) We are not to judge by external appearance (4-7; 42, 1 Sam. 16:7)
    2) The Lord builds the faith of His people through the experiences – even the hardest experiences – of life (34-37)
    3) The honor of the Lord must incite us to action (26b, 45-47)
II. Applications: 
    1) David’s encounter with Goliath points to a greater victory by “the greater David,” Jesus Christ, who defeated
         the ultimate “Goliath” through His life, death and resurrectio (Matthew 12:29; Colossians 2:15)
     2) We share in that victory through saving faith in Christ (Rom. 8:37), who equips us for spiritual warfare by His Word
          and Spirit (Eph. 6:10-18)
     3) Our faith must be placed where David’s was: in the Lord (37, 45)

* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Ted Gray, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.
(c) Copyright 2012, Rev. Ted Gray

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