1 Samuel 17: 1-4
Now the Philistines gathered their forces for war and assembled at Sokoh in Judah. They pitched camp at Ephes Dammim, between Sokoh and Azekah. Saul and the Israelites assembled and camped in the Valley of Elah and drew up their battle line to meet the Philistines. The Philistines occupied one hill and the Israelites another, with the valley between them.
A champion named Goliath, who was from Gath, came out of the Philistine camp.
There's a song by John Mayer that says, "I'm bigger than my body gives me credit for." David, I think, was like that. He was bigger than he externally appeared. He was big on the inside, he had a huge heart for God, he had built up huge capacity through serving and worshiping in private. He might have been just a teenage shepherd, but on the inside he was a mighty warrior. He was a bold, fearless man of God just waiting for his moment.
And his moment would come. Because those moments always come. Those moments when what is on the inside has to come out. When who we really are in here comes forth for everyone to see.
We’re all like tubes of toothpaste – when we squeezed what’s inside of us comes out.
When the pressure comes all around us – it’s then that what we have built inside us will come out.
Who you are in secret will always eventually come out in public.
We live in a pretty shallow and superficial world. It’s all about image management, PR spin, looking good and presenting ourselves in a certain way.
As Christians, we need to be people of substance, depth and character. That we have more on the inside than we might show on the outside. That we are dealing with our private world, our character issues, the stuff that no one sees. That way when the pressure comes, which it will, we’ll be able to bring forth all that we have already built up inside us. When everyone else is falling apart, we’ll be able to hold things together. When everything is crumbling, we’ll be strong and secure.
That’s exactly what we see in the life of young David. It was only when the pressure came, in the form a giant warrior called Goliath, that what was built up inside David was able to come out.
Over the coming days we're going to take some time to work our way through this very familiar story because I think there’s much in here that God wants to teach us.
As we begin the story, we find God’s people on one side of a valley and their enemies, the Philistines, on the other side. Today I simply want to remind us of something: You are in a battle and you have an enemy.
There is a constant spiritual conflict going on all around us all of the time between invisible spiritual forces. Between God’s Kingdom and the kingdom of the evil one. Because it’s in the invisible realm we can’t see the battle, but we can see the consequences and effects of it all around us, and even within us at times.
The moment you surrendered to Jesus you became enlisted in His army, and you have an enemy who is out to destroy you and all of the good things God wants to do in and through your life.
Paul puts it very clearly in Eph 6:11-12:
“Put on the full armour of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”
Paul says our real struggles in this life aren’t against people, structures and situations that we can see – but it’s against invisible spiritual forces which are often behind those people, structure and situations. Because we can’t see them we forget about them and think they’re not really there. And so we do battle against them or resist them or defend ourselves from them. We just give into them and lie down and let them do whatever they want to us.
What do these evil forces want to do?
Jesus tells us in John 10:10: “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy…”
Notice that word ‘only’. The enemy only has one agenda, he only has one goal for your life – to steal your destiny, to kill your future and to destroy what God wants to do in you and through you.
Imagine right now you got on a plane and landed in Syria or some other war torn region. You are pushed off the plane, it flies off and leaves you standing there. You can hear bombs and guns all around you. How would you behave? You would be actively trying to protect yourself. You know you’re in a war zone, you can see bodies all around you, and so you would do whatever you have to do to avoid being killed.
In the same way, we live in an invisible war zone. The casualties are all around us in the form of those who are wrestling with addictions, victims of abuse, poverty, despair, violence, racism.
If we accept it all and think – this is just the way the world is – we become passive and powerless to do anything about it. But when we see it for what it really is – an attack by the enemy against God’s good creation – we can step up and start to fight against it. In God’s strength we can battle to overthrow injustice and poverty and help people with addictions and who have been abused.
In the battle between Israel and the Philistines – you were on one side or the other. There was no middle ground, no safe zone.
That struggle you have with temptation isn’t just about some character weakness in your life – it’s part of an attempt to destroy the future that God has for you.
That addiction to alcohol or prescription medication isn’t just some struggle you have to live with – it’s an attempt by the enemy to kill all the great things you could do in the next 20 years.
That anger problem or lust problem or debt problem isn’t neutral – but it’s an outright attack against your marriage, your confidence, your calling, your destiny.
When we face an enemy we only really have 3 choices:
We can give in and let them win.
We can fight. We can engage the enemy.
Or we can stand there and do nothing – just get used to the problem. Hope it will go away.
As we’ll soon see, that’s exactly what Israel do when faced with Goliath. The problem is, the enemy isn't going away, not yet anyway. We don't have to be afraid, we don't have to look for evil - but when we face it, like David, we boldly confront it in the mighty power of God.