Have you ever noticed that your Bibles are full of adventure? It is filled with conquests, battles, victories, and losses. Love and hate. Beginnings and ends. Throughout its story, one message rings true and always stands out strong. Victory!

When we come to 1 Samuel 17 we find one of the great battle stories of the Bible. Two enemies, one with God and one against Him. This was the battle between Israel led by King Saul and the Philistines led by their champion, Goliath.

Let’s look at the setting of this great story…

“Now the Philistines gathered their armies for battle; and they were gathered at Socoh which belongs to Judah, and they camped between Socoh and Azekah, in Ephes-dammim. Saul and the men of Israel were gathered and camped in the valley of Elah, and drew up in battle array to encounter the Philistines. The Philistines stood on the mountain on one side while Israel stood on the mountain on the other side, with the valley between them”…1 Samuel 17:1-3

It was at this time that we were introduced to one of the fiercest of Israel’s enemies. He was so fierce and magnificent that his legacy and legend have lasted throughout the ages. His name is Goliath!

Goliath stood some 9 feet 9 inches tall and wore armor that weighed about 125 pounds while carrying a spear that weighed about 15 pounds. For a person to carry and wear armor like this and be an effective fighter is extremely impressive. His massive size alone would cause anyone to stand in awe and be intimidated simply by his stature. I mean think about it, if Shaq walked in the door would you not be impressed simply by his size? I would.

Some have suggested that due to his largeness, he may not have been coordinated and most likely could not see very well. Could this be true? I assume it is possible. However here is what we know. Goliath was their “champion” and he is the one they sent out in the valley for all to see! He was their fighter. He was their voice. He was their intimidator. He was their victor.

The word “champion” comes from the Hebrew (‘ish habbenayim) meaning the “man of interval” or “man in the space between.” When two armies would converge together for battle it was not uncommon for a contest between two men who represented their larger armies to battle on behalf of the larger armies. Goliath from Gath was “the man” who represented the army of the Philistines and stood in the valley between the two mountains for four days (v. 16) and shouted in defiance of both God and Israel calling for their best man to fight him (v. 10).

Amazingly when we read 1 Samuel 17:11 we see just how not only King Saul, but the Israelite army (NASB says “all Israel) felt.

“When Saul and all Israel heard these words of the Philistine, they were dismayed and greatly afraid”…1 Samuel 17:11

It was at this time he ran into a young man named David, the youngest of the four sons of Jesse who was going back and forth during this time to tend his father’s flock at Bethlehem (v. 15). One day Jesse, his father had David take some grain and cheese to his brothers to the battlefield in the valley of Elah where Israel was fighting the Philistines. So David arose early one morning, left his flock with a keeper, and took the supplies to his brothers.

It is here we read…

“…he came to the circle of the camp while the army was going out in battle array shouting the war cry. Israel and the Philistines drew up in battle array, army against army. Then David left his baggage in the care of the baggage keeper, and ran to the battle line and entered in order to greet his brothers. As he was talking with them, behold, the champion, the Philistine from Gath named Goliath, was coming up from the army of the Philistines, and he spoke these same words; and David heard them”…1 Samuel 1:20-23

The Bible records here that when they saw the man, “Goliath” they were greatly afraid and fled from him. All they could seem to say was, “Have you seen this man who is coming up? Surely he will come up to defy Israel. And it will be that the king will enrich the man who kills him with great riches and will give him his daughter and make his father’s house free in Israel” (v. 25).

It is amazing to me every time I read this story that an entire army who had done amazing things as God has fought for them throughout time and delivered them time and time again, would be so afraid! Most likely this was a reflection of their cowardly king, Saul. From the time Saul comes onto the scene in history this has been his character. From his lost livestock to hiding when appointed, he is still acting the same way. It surely is true that the followers will reflect the character and direction of their leader. In this case Saul.

To picture this as we look down beginning in 1 Samuel 17:31, you have a young man, most likely 17 to 19 years of age walking amongst and through an experienced army, trained to fight, trained for battle, and scared out of their minds, being the most confident, poised, and ready man in all of Israel to fight the champion of the Philistine army!

While Saul and others tried to stop David from fighting, Saul eventually came around because of the faith David possessed, saying…

“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.”…v. 37

Saul would clothe David with all the armor he could fit, but David refused and took them off.

“He took his stick in his hand and chose for himself five smooth stones from the brook, and put them in the shepherd’s bag which he had, even in his pouch, and his sling was in his hand; and he approached the Philistine”…1 Samuel 17:40

As the two approached each other, one was wearing all 125 pounds of his armor, with a spear and a shield to protect him, the other with nothing more than a few stones, a stick, a pouch, and a bag. As they faced each other Goliath abused him with his words, mocked him, and cursed him by his own gods. But David would respond with these words.

You come to me with a sword, a spear, and 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 taunted. “This day the Lord will deliver you up into my hands, and I will strike you down and remove your head from you. And I will give the dead bodies of the army of the Philistines this day to the birds of the sky and the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel, and that all this assembly may know that the Lord does not deliver by sword or by spear; for the battle is the Lord’s and He will give you into our hands.”1 Samuel 17:45-47

If you have ever been to a vacation bible school or Sunday morning bible class or heard any “small vs. big” type of story then you know the term, “David and Goliath.” Why is it that this story along with many others stands out and has become a standard theme for victory? It is because of the power that faith can have over a person who believes.

First, when we see Saul and his army of Israel they are fearful. An entire army is all afraid of one man. Because of their fear, they stood still, fled, and ran, and they refused to fight which kept them on one side of the battle for forty days.

Second, we see Goliath. A man who seems to have had some type of faith in his gods but ultimately had faith in himself over anything else. If you have ever been the guy that everyone leans on because of your abilities, size, expertise, or success then we might be able to see how Goliath felt in times like this. You see, he was their “champion” meaning he was their guy! They believed in him and held him up, he was their trophy and their guarantee of victory, which seems to have built him up to a point where his faith was in who he thought he was.

Third, we have the Philistines. A group of people who served as one of the great enemies of Israel. As these people stood on one side of the valley they placed all of their faith in one man. A person whom they thought could solve all of their problems and fight their battles for them. He was in essence their “war idol” as they served his magnificent stature and warrior capabilities.

Fourth, We have David. A young guy who while handsome was not skilled in the art of warfare but had experience in fighting off threats and protecting his sheep. While not a large man, his faith was large and his God was even bigger. David believed in himself because he believed in God and that is what made him dangerous as he stood before the giant, that is why he won!

What can we take from a faith-building standpoint?

  1. Fear only exists when faith does not. During this time King Saul had already disobeyed God and therefore God was no longer with him as He once was. Because of this Saul had no confidence, didn’t believe they could win, stood in fear for his life, and ultimately affected an entire army to do the same. If Saul believed that God would deliver them in this battle, we would not have much of a story today.
  2. Faith in one’s self is never enough. While it is good to believe in ourselves, there are things by which we are limited in life. While we may overcome something, we will not overcome everything. Like the earth, animals, time, and all of mankind, there will be a time when we can no longer do or be what we once were. Therefore to have faith only in ourselves is self-deception because you cannot do it all and you will never be it all.
  3. Faith in one person will not guarantee victory. We should never place our faith in something or someone that is as temporary as we are. There is no value in placing that kind of importance on something that has a vast amount of physical limitations. One who truly has no power, no true authority, no ability to sustain life. When we begin to hold a person such as Goliath up he essentially becomes the idol of the people. Not because he is great, but because of what he can potentially do for you or your cause. However, when one is limited as you are in this physical life you have no guarantee of victory. That only comes in the Lord. The true Victor!
  4. Faith in God is the ultimate strength. If we were to have an actual picture of David and Goliath standing next to one another, we might be surprised at the vast difference between the two, even tho we all picture the two in our minds. However, when looking at this situation, the height, weight, size, strength, stature, and presence of Goliath was nothing to a little shepherd in comparison. The faith that one possesses in the supreme power of God can give him/her the strength and courage to truly overcome anything and be victorious over it.

Goliath carried armor from head to toe, a shield, and a spear, but David carried the armor of God! Allowing God to be his army, ruler, king, and courage. In this battle, there was nothing Goliath could do to escape his outcome. His death was imminent, not because David was a better soldier or fighter, but because his faith was stronger and in the One true God!

True faith in God leads us to victory! Even tho we may not be facing Goliath every day, there are still giant things in our lives that we face. However, with the armor of God, we will be protected from the evil presence in this life to step into the next where righteousness dwells (2 Peter 3:13).

How can we be the faithful God is looking for?

  1. Build and stand on your faith which will do away with your fear.
  2. Have faith in God over all things, even yourself.
  3. Realize that God is our true source of strength and there is none like Him.

In the end, God will be and is victorious over all things. That is enough for me to place all that I believe in Him, to have victory with Him when He decides that all of this life is over. He is the beginning and the end and all things are His choice. To choose Him is victory and nothing can take me away from that. To God be the glory!

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Garrett married his wife, Cristen, in December 2005 and has four wonderful boys! Parker is married to his beautiful wife Claire and their daughter Taytum, Cohen, Ryder, and Kamden. Garrett has directed and participated in many camps, retreats, conferences, and workshops and serves on the national staff for Lads to Leaders. He is the President of Excel Still More and an annual writer and instructor for ESM. Garrett currently serves as the pulpit minister for the Hydro Church of Christ in Hydro, Oklahoma, where he and his family reside.