Conquering by Faith

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1 Samuel 17:32-58 (David and Goliath)

INTRODUCTION: We are in the middle of our message series on David and Saul, and today we come to one of the most famous stories in the Bible, the story of David and Goliath.

Everyone knows the story of David and Goliath. Even Tom Sawyer. Poor Tom. When Judge Thatcher asks him the names of the first two apostles in a Bible quiz, Tom blurts out the first two names he can think of: “David and Goliath!” At least he’d heard of them!

Well, I’m sure you’ve heard of them too and are probably familiar with the story, but there is so much we can learn from this story about faith and God and Christ. We will be looking at the whole story from verses 32-58 during the course of the message, but to get started we will just read verses 41-44 for right now. (Read 1 Samuel 17:41-44 and pray)

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We left last week’s message on a cliffhanger. Last week we looked at the story of Saul and Goliath. We saw that Saul was the one who was supposed to fight Goliath. It should have been his story, but Saul missed out on great things because of fear. Instead of conquering by faith, Saul was paralyzed by fear. And so, the task fell to David instead.

Like Saul it is easy for us to give in to fear. The enemy is bigger and stronger than us. So how can you be a David rather than a Saul? How do you conquer by faith instead of being paralyzed by fear?

We are going to look at three simple principles from our passage this morning. How do you conquer by faith? 1) Trust God’s power. 2) Use God’s weapons. And 3) Rest in God’s victory. Let’s look at all three of these together.

I. Trust God’s power (32-37)

First of all, you conquer by faith when you trust God’s power. Remember what we learned last week. Just like Goliath was bigger and stronger than anyone in the Israelite army, the enemy is bigger and stronger than you. But God is bigger and stronger than the enemy. So, trust God’s power.

   A. Don’t worry about your weakness (32-33)
      – 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

And trusting God’s power means you don’t worry about your own weakness. And we see that in David’s story here. Look at 1 Samuel 17:32-33 with me:

David said to Saul, “Let no one lose heart on account of this Philistine; your servant will go and fight him.” 33 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.” (1 Samuel 17:32-33)

So, David comes to Saul and volunteers to fight Goliath. Saul tells David, “You can’t, you’re only a boy and Goliath has been fighting since he was your age.” Saul looks at David and immediately pinpoints his weaknesses. David is young, too young even to join Saul’s army. David is inexperienced. He lacks the training and combat experience that Goliath has.

But David doesn’t let that deter him. In fact, David is the one encouraging Saul in this situation: “Don’t let anyone lose heart on account of this Philistine.”

You see, when you’re trusting God’s power, you don’t have to worry about your weakness. As God says in the New Testament in 2 Corinthians 12:9: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9)

It’s like this. Pretend you have an 800-pound crate and a forklift. And you need to lift that crate up and put it on a truck. If you’re trusting in your own strength, you’re in trouble. But as long as you use the forklift, you don’t need to worry about your weakness in relation to the crate. It’s the same way with God. We’re all weak compared to the enemy. But as long as you’re trusting God’s power, you don’t need to worry about your weakness.

   B. Remember God’s faithfulness in the past (34-37)
      – Deuteronomy 7:17-18; Psalm 105:5

Another thing we can learn from David here is to remember God’s faithfulness in the past. Look at 1 Samuel 17:34-37:

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, 35 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. 36 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. 37 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.” Saul said to David, “Go, and the Lord be with you.” (1 Samuel 17:34-37)

David isn’t worried about his weakness, because he remembers God’s faithfulness in the past. David knows that he couldn’t have defeated the lion and the bear on his own. God did that. And God will do the same with this uncircumcised Philistine who has defied the armies of the living God.

David’s logic is perfectly sound. “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.” It is a statement of faith in the present based on God’s faithfulness in the past. “The Lord who delivered me in the past … will deliver me here, right now, in the present situation.” By looking back in faith, David is able to look forward in faith as well.

Part of trusting God’s power in the present is remembering God’s faithfulness in the past. When the Israelites were getting ready to enter the Promised Land, what did Moses tell them? He told them to remember Egypt. We read in Deuteronomy 7: “You may say to yourselves, ‘These nations are stronger than we are. How can we drive them out?’ 18 But do not be afraid of them; remember well what the Lord your God did to Pharaoh and to all Egypt.” (Deuteronomy 7:17-18) Psalm 105:5 says: “Remember the wonders [God] has done, his miracles, and the judgments he pronounced.” (Psalm 105:5)

Is whatever you’re facing bigger than you right now? Trust God’s power. Don’t worry about your weakness. Remember God’s faithfulness in the past. That’s what David did.

And David’s faith was so strong he even convinced Saul! Saul told David, “Go, and the Lord be with you.” Even Saul is showing a little faith here. Not enough to go fight Goliath himself, but enough to let David go and fight. Remember, there is more on the line here than just David’s life. Whoever loses this fight, their whole people become slaves to the other nation. Saul is entrusting the fate of his entire army and the whole people of Israel to David.

So that’s the first thing we learn about conquering by faith this morning. If you want to conquer by faith instead of being paralyzed by fear, you need to trust God’s power.

II. Use God’s weapons (38-50)

Secondly, use God’s weapons. Every fight involves some kind of weapons. Even in a fist fight you are using your fists. A battle of wits means you are using your mind. I like the person who said, “I refuse to have a battle of wits with an unarmed opponent.” Every fight involves some kind of weapons. Conquering by faith means you use God’s weapons.

   A. Do not use the weapons of this world (38-40)
      – 2 Corinthians 10:3-4

If you’re going to use God’s weapons, that means you are not to use the weapons of this world. This is illustrated nicely for us in the next section of our passage. Look at 1 Samuel 17:38-40:

Then Saul dressed David in his own tunic. He put a coat of armor on him and a bronze helmet on his head. 39 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. 40 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. (1 Samuel 17:38-40)

This is a fun part of the narrative, and we’re meant to see the humor in it: Saul dressing David in his own armor, and young David stumbling around in armor that is clearly too big for him. David rightly tells Saul, “I cannot go in these.” And so, David chooses five smooth stones from the stream and approaches Goliath with his sling in hand.

David couldn’t use Saul’s weapons, and in the same way the Bible tells us we do not use the weapons of this world. We read in 2 Corinthians 10: “For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. 4 The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.” (2 Corinthians 10:3-4)

What are the weapons of the world? Violence, intimidation, manipulation, deceit. As Christians we don’t use those weapons. We use God’s weapons: prayer and the word of God, faith, truth, mercy, love and compassion. It doesn’t make sense to the world, but it makes sense to God, and that’s all that matters.

   B. Put on the full armor of God (41-44)
      – Ephesians 6:10-18

As Christians we are to put on the full armor of God so that we will be ready for battle. It doesn’t look like much to the world, but we don’t dress for the world. We dress for success, not to impress. And Goliath was not very impressed with David. Look at 1 Samuel 17:41-44:

Meanwhile, the Philistine, with his shield bearer in front of him, kept coming closer to David. 42 He looked David over and saw that he was only a boy, ruddy and handsome, and he despised him. 43 He said to David, “Am I a dog, that you come at me with sticks?” And the Philistine cursed David by his gods. 44 “Come here,” he said, “and I’ll give your flesh to the birds of the air and the beasts of the field!” (1 Samuel 17:41-44)

Goliath wants to fight a champion, a worthy opponent. So, when he sees that David is only a boy, he despises him. First, he insults David; then he curses him; then he threatens him. This is now the third person who has tried to discourage David from fighting Goliath. First, David’s older brother Eliab falsely accused him of wrong motives. Then Saul told him he was too young, that he couldn’t do it. Now Goliath curses him to his face.

But once again, David is not dissuaded, and neither should we. You need to be prepared for battle. You need to put on the full armor of God.

So, what is the armor of God? God tells us in Ephesians 6:14-18: “Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.” (Ephesians 6:14-18)

How do you prepare for spiritual battle? Seven things – with truth, righteousness, the gospel of peace, faith, salvation, the word of God and prayer. That’s God’s armor. This armor is not recognized by the world, but it is essential to winning our spiritual battles.

David approaches Goliath, and Goliath keeps coming closer to David. Goliath’s shield-bearer goes before him, but you know what? The Lord went before David. And that makes all the difference.

   C. Remember the battle is the Lord’s (45-50)
      – 2 Chronicles 20:15

And that’s the third part when it comes to using God’s weapons. You need to remember who is really fighting this battle. You need to remember the battle is the Lord’s. Look at 1 Samuel 17:45-47:

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. 46 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. 47 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 17:45-47)

This is one of the great statements of faith in the Bible, indeed in the history of the world. These three verses are the heart and soul of the whole David and Goliath story. Here’s where we see the David’s heart for God on full display. This is where we all fall in love with David, and so will all of Israel.

Notice David’s zeal for God’s honor again. We talked about zeal for God’s honor last week when we talked about getting past your fears. Let your zeal for God’s honor outweigh any fears you may face.

Well, David is facing Goliath, and David is not intimidated in the least. He has no fear. Goliath comes against him with sword and spear and javelin, but David comes against Goliath in the name of the Lord Almighty, whom Goliath has defied. David is confident of victory. Why? Because the battle is the Lord’s. Let God get all the honor. Let the whole world know that the Lord, he is God. Let everyone 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 the Philistines into Israel’s hands. Now that’s faith!

I love what Chuck Swindoll calls this part of the story. He doesn’t call it “David and Goliath” or “David and the Giant.” He calls it “David and the Dwarf!” David sees Goliath not through his own eyes, but through God’s eyes. And in God’s eyes Goliath is a puny giant who’s going down. Look at verses 48-50:

As the Philistine moved closer to attack him, David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet him. 49 Reaching into his bag and taking out a stone, he slung it and struck the Philistine on the forehead. The stone sank into his forehead, and he fell facedown on the ground. 50 So David triumphed over the Philistine with a sling and a stone; without a sword in his hand he struck down the Philistine and killed him. (1 Samuel 17:48-50)

The battle is over before it barely begins. This is a knockout punch in the first round, on the very first punch! David triumphs over Goliath without a sword in his hand. Trusting God’s power and using God’s weapons, David triumphs over the Philistine with just a sling and a stone. I like what A.W. Pink says here: “One stone in [the hand of faith] was worth more than all the Philistine’s armor on the giant of unbelief.”

We read in 2 Chronicles 20:15: “This is what the Lord says to you: ‘Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s.’” (2 Chronicles 20:15) You can apply that to any situation in your life. Do not be afraid or discouraged whatever you are facing this morning. For the battle is not yours, but God’s.

So, use God’s weapons. Don’t use the weapons of the world. Put on the full armor of God. Remember the battle is the Lord’s.

III. Rest in God’s victory (51-58)

How do you conquer by faith instead of being paralyzed by fear? 1) Trust God’s power. 2) Use God’s weapons. And then finally, 3) Rest in God’s victory. God is the one who wins the victory, and we rest in his victory for us.

   A. Faith is the victory that overcomes the world (51-54)
      – Genesis 3:15; 1 John 5:4

Look at 1 Samuel 17:51-54 now as we wind down the story:

David ran and stood over him. He took hold of the Philistine’s sword and drew it from the scabbard. After he killed him, he cut off his head with the sword. When the Philistines saw that their hero was dead, they turned and ran. 52 Then the men of Israel and Judah surged forward with a shout and pursued the Philistines to the entrance of Gath and to the gates of Ekron. Their dead were strewn along the Shaaraim road to Gath and Ekron. 53 When the Israelites returned from chasing the Philistines, they plundered their camp. 54 David took the Philistine’s head and brought it to Jerusalem, and he put the Philistine’s weapons in his own tent. (1 Samuel 17:51-54)

Now cutting off Goliath’s head, that’s a gruesome detail. You might wonder why it’s even in the Bible. This was an accepted part of warfare in those days, sort of like a trophy for the winning side. When Saul dies at the end of 1 Samuel, the Philistines will cut off his head, too. It’s like the movie villain, Thanos, in the recent Avengers films when he tells Thor: “You should have gone for the head!” And then Thor does!

I don’t think God was particularly pleased with this custom, and we are certainly not to go around cutting off our enemies’ heads today. But it does serve several purposes in the passage at hand. For one thing it confirmed to Philistine troops that their champion truly was dead, not just fallen.

But more importantly, it points forward to Jesus and the cross. Jesus defeated sin and death and Satan at the cross which is described in the Bible as Christ crushing the head of the enemy. Remember David is a type of Christ who points forward to Christ in the New Testament.

We find the Bible’s earliest prophecy in Genesis 3:15 where God curses Satan after Satan tempts Adam and Eve to sin. God says to Satan: “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.” (Genesis 3:15)

Jesus is the seed of the woman who crushed the head of Satan at the cross as prophesied in Genesis 3. I wonder if Satan shuddered when David cut off Goliath’s head, recognizing this scene as a preview of coming attractions.

When the Philistines see that their hero is dead, they turn and run. The Israelites pursue them and plunder their camp. This is a picture of what Jesus has done for us. Christ has defeated the enemy, and the enemy is now on the run. Jesus has crushed the enemy’s head and by faith we rest in his victory. Were you going to defeat sin and death and Satan? I don’t think so! Jesus has defeated the enemy, and we rest in his victory.

1 John 5:4 says: “For everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.” (1 John 5:4) If you want to conquer by faith, you need to rest in God’s victory by faith. Faith is the victory that overcomes the world.

   B. Be ready to testify (55-58)
      – Genesis 49:10; 1 John 5:11-12

And then finally, be ready to testify. When you live by faith, people are going to notice the difference, and they may even ask you questions. Look at 1 Samuel 17:55-58 now in closing:

As Saul watched David going out to meet the Philistine, he said to Abner, commander of the army, “Abner, whose son is that young man?” Abner replied, “As surely as you live, O king, I don’t know.” 56 The king said, “Find out whose son this young man is.” 57 As soon as David returned from killing the Philistine, Abner took him and brought him before Saul, with David still holding the Philistine’s head. 58 “Whose son are you, young man?” Saul asked him. David said, “I am the son of your servant Jesse of Bethlehem.” (1 Samuel 17:55-58)

Saul was impressed by David’s faith even before David won the battle. Even as David goes out to meet Goliath, Saul is already asking, “Whose son is that young man?” Now Saul already knows David. Remember David has been serving Saul at the palace playing the harp for him. But up until now Saul has probably not paid much attention to David’s family.

So, why does Saul suddenly want to know who David’s family is? Well, there are a couple of reasons. First of all, Saul had promised whoever defeated Goliath, their family would be exempted from taxes. So, he would need to know who his family is. He had also promised whoever defeated Goliath could marry his daughter, and so he would want to know the family background of his new future son-in-law.

But I also wonder if Saul wanted to know if David was from the tribe of Judah. As far back as Genesis 49:10 God had identified Judah as the royal tribe from whom the king would come. Saul wasn’t from the tribe of Judah himself. He was from the tribe of Benjamin. Samuel has already told Saul that God is replacing him as king. And so even as David is going out to face Goliath, Saul is already wondering about his family.

And then after David kills Goliath, Saul calls for him. David appears before Saul still holding Goliath’s head. Saul asks him directly, “Whose son are you?” David replies, “I am the son of your servant Jesse of Bethlehem.” Bethlehem is in Judah, and so yes, David is from the royal tribe of Judah. Saul has every reason to be scared.

David testified to Saul, and we also should be ready to testify. Because we also have a royal lineage. David was from the royal tribe of Judah. We are from the royal tribe of Jesus. We have been adopted into God’s family, and we are daughters and sons of the King of the universe.

When you live by faith, people are going to want to know who you are. So, you need to be ready to testify. And this is our testimony. We read in 1 John 5:11-12: “And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12 He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.” (1 John 5:11-12) We need to be ready to testify for Jesus, the true King who won the victory for us at the cross.

Jesus has already won the victory for us! Now we rest in God’s victory by faith and testify to Jesus our Savior. Faith is the victory that overcomes the world.

CONCLUSION: So that’s the story of David and Goliath. It’s a much better story than last week’s story of Saul and Goliath. Saul was paralyzed by fear, but David conquered by faith.

There are two ways we are meant to view this story of David and Goliath, and both are equally important. The first way is to see yourself in David. David is a personal example of faith in God, and we are meant to follow his example. The second way is to see Jesus in David, because this story also points forward to Jesus who conquered the enemy for us.

You do not need to be afraid of the enemy, because Jesus has already won the victory. How do you conquer by faith instead of being paralyzed by fear? Trust God’s power. Use God’s weapons. Rest in God’s victory by faith.

And remember God’s words to you from 2 Chronicles 20:15: “This is what the Lord says to you: ‘Do not be afraid or discouraged.… For the battle is not yours, but God’s.’” (2 Chronicles 20:15)

© Ray Fowler

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