The last several weeks, we’ve been discovering the ways that God brings us hope in the face of a world that often feels hopeless. One of the most important thing for us to remember from this series is that at the basis of the Christian faith is this bold, audacious hope that God is at work in our lives every day.
It’s a hope that things don’t have to remain the same tomorrow as they are today. It’s a hope that broken things can be mended, that there is rest from the heavy burdens of life, a hope that we don’t have to be afraid of what’s next, and a hope that we are loved by our Creator.
The first week, we were reminded that God gives us hope in His promise that He does has plans for our lives. Plans to prosper and not for harm. He loves us and has not forgotten about us. No matter how out of control your life may seem, God still has a plan for you.
The second week we talked about how Jesus brings us hope when we are weary from the heaviness of life and how we do not have to walk alone. Then last week, we talked about the hope that comes from the grace of Jesus when we are broken because of sin, and how we can forgive because we have been forgiven. Today, I want to talk about the hope that is given to us when we feel like we are facing more than we can handle and fear is sinking in.
There’s a reason why so many of us love some of the classic movies. Movies like Rudy, The Karate Kid, The Blind Side, and Cool Runnings are loved because they all have a common theme. They are all movies about underdogs. They are films about unlikely characters overcoming amazing odds. They are all told in different ways, all have their own unique outcomes, but they all tell a story of the same thing – hope. Maybe these movies do something to us because at some level, we all know what it feels like to face overwhelming circumstances that we can’t overcome on our own. We cheer for the underdog because somehow, we feel like if they can win, so can we.
Life is full of daunting situations, isn’t it? Parenting children, teenagers, and even young adults can feel incredibly overwhelming. Juggling careers and family can be hard to do well. Growing in your faith and defeating sinful habits can be a huge challenge. Navigating through the lies of this world can be more than we can handle. But that’s because these things are not meant to be done alone.
The Bible is full of stories of characters who, against all odds, experience victory. But there’s a common thread in these stories as well. The characters all are fully aware that without God on their side, there is no hope of a favorable outcome. Left to themselves, they would be defeated.
One of the classic underdog stories is the story of David and Goliath, although really much of David’s life is an underdog story. But this particular account takes place long before David is king of Israel. At this point, he’s just a young boy, the youngest of eight sons. And David’s three oldest brothers are off fighting in battle, and David’s father, Jesse wants him to take his brothers some food, see how they are doing, and bring back a report.
1 Samuel 17:20-21
20 So David left the sheep with another shepherd and set out early the next morning with the gifts, as Jesse had directed him. He arrived at the camp just as the Israelite army was leaving for the battlefield with shouts and battle cries. 21 Soon the Israelite and Philistine forces stood facing each other, army against army.
Now most of you know how this story goes, but I want you to really think about this. Just hours before David arrives at the front lines of a massive conflict between the Israelite and the Philistine armies, he is in the fields taking care of sheep. Not that that’s not an important job, but it’s clear from the beginning of the story that David has found himself in a position that is way above his paygrade. This was a huge change in scenery, from the fields to the fight. The truth is….
POINT #1 – WE ARE RARELY PREPARED FOR THE FIGHT
The truth is that we are hardly ever prepared to handle what life throws at us. Whether it’s a phone call with a diagnosis, a discovery of infidelity, a temptation we did not see coming. No one asks to be placed in a position where there is no clear route to victory. This is where David finds himself within the first few verses. David arrives at the front lines to check on his brothers who are fighting in the Israelite army, and it is at that point that he gets the first real look at what the Israelite army was facing.
1 Samuel 17:22-26;32-37
22 David left his things with the keeper of supplies and hurried out to the ranks to greet his brothers. 23 As he was talking with them, Goliath, the Philistine champion from Gath, came out from the Philistine ranks. Then David heard him shout his usual taunt to the army of Israel.
For forty days, Goliath did this every morning and evening – strutted in front of the Israelite army and taunted them.
24 As soon as the Israelite army saw him, they began to run away in fright. 25 “Have you seen the giant?” the men asked. “He comes out each day to defy Israel. The king has offered a huge reward to anyone who kills him. He will give that man one of his daughters for a wife, and the man’s entire family will be exempted from paying taxes!”
26 David asked the soldiers standing nearby, “What will a man get for killing this Philistine and ending his defiance of Israel? Who is this pagan Philistine anyway, that he is allowed to defy the armies of the living God?”
David’s like, “really?” Turns and asks someone else, “What’s the reward?” Notice that David points out that this giant is not only defying Israel with his taunts, but he’s also defying God.
27 And these men gave David the same reply. They said, “Yes, that is the reward for killing him.”
28 But when David’s oldest brother, Eliab, heard David talking to the men, he was angry. “What are you doing around here anyway?” he demanded. “What about those few sheep you’re supposed to be taking care of? I know about your pride and deceit. You just want to see the battle!”
Here we are reminded that David is young, like a prideful teenager.
29 “What have I done now?” David replied. “I was only asking a question!” 30 He walked over to some others and asked them the same thing and received the same answer. 31 Then David’s question was reported to King Saul, and the king sent for him.
32 “Don’t worry about this Philistine,” David told Saul. “I’ll go fight him!”
33 “Don’t be ridiculous!” Saul replied. “There’s no way you can fight this Philistine and possibly win! You’re only a boy, and he’s been a man of war since his youth.”
34 But David persisted.
Here’s the blessing of being a teenage; they have persistence. “I can do this. I can do this. Let me tell you how.”
“I have been taking care of my father’s sheep and goats,” he said. “When a lion or a bear comes to steal a lamb from the flock, 35 I go after it with a club and rescue the lamb from its mouth. If the animal turns on me, I catch it by the jaw and club it to death. 36 I have done this to both lions and bears, and I’ll do it to this pagan Philistine, too, for he has defied the armies of the living God! (Here comes the how…) 37 The Lord who rescued me from the claws of the lion and the bear will rescue me from this Philistine!”
So this boy has already seen the power of God. And He knew that if God was with him then, he’d be with him now too. And Goliath was a target too big to miss!
Saul finally consented. “All right, go ahead,” he said. “And may the Lord be with you!”
You can hear in this passage the determination within David. Though he is just a boy, he knows someone has to stand up to this threat. This threat is a massive man named Goliath, who was a decorated warrior, who struck fear into the hearts of all who saw him. He was a giant. He was terrifying. The whole Israelite army was paralyzed with fear including their king, and no one was willing to take on this giant. However, someone has to do something, and David is willing to take that on.
What causes a young boy, an underdog, to take on such a mountainous task? Hope. Hope that he will not fight this battle alone. Hope that with God’s help there is nothing that is impossible. Hope that what little he has to offer is enough. David’s reasoning for this hope comes from God’s faithfulness in the past. What David has discovered is….
POINT #2 – IF GOD IS FOR US, NOTHING CAN STAND AGAINST US
When we find ourselves in seasons of struggle, sometimes we have to remind ourselves too of how God has been with us in the past. Hope is a derivative of trust. When we believe that something or someone is trustworthy, it gives us hope.
It is like a child who plays with his parent in the pool. The child will launch themselves into the water. There is no fear. There is no concern. There is only trust in the father or mother’s love to catch them as they have in the past. They’re hopeful that though they will splash into the water, their parent will keep their head above water. David’s confidence comes from God’s faithfulness, and it’s the drive that he needs to overcome this.
1 Samuel 17:40-47
40 He picked up five smooth stones from a stream and put them into his shepherd’s bag. Then, armed only with his shepherd’s staff and sling, he started across the valley to fight the Philistine.
41 Goliath walked out toward David with his shield bearer ahead of him, 42 sneering in contempt at this ruddy-faced boy. 43 “Am I a dog,” he roared at David, “that you come at me with a stick?” And he cursed David by the names of his gods. 44 “Come over here, and I’ll give your flesh to the birds and wild animals!” Goliath yelled.
45 David replied to the Philistine, “You come to me with sword, spear, and javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies—the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. 46 Today the Lord will conquer you, and I will kill you and cut off your head. And then I will give the dead bodies of your men to the birds and wild animals, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel! 47 And everyone assembled here will know that the Lord rescues his people, but not with sword and spear. This is the Lord’s battle, and he will give you to us!”
Saul, the King of Israel at the time, tries to fit David with armor and weapons to protect him in the conflict, but none of them fit. As if David being a boy did not make him disadvantaged enough, now he is going to fight Goliath with nothing but a slingshot and five smooth stones. After Goliath breathes out threats to this little underdog, David responds by telling him that though Goliath fights with sword, spear, and javelin, he is letting God fight his battles for him.
POINT #3 – THIS IS HOW WE NEED TO FIGHT OUR BATTLES
Maybe you don’t feel equipped to overcome the things that you are facing. Maybe you know that your trial is too much for you. Well first, you’re in good company. But look, it’s only when we realize that our battles are not waged in conventional ways, but rather in the spirit, that we will begin to experience God fighting for us. For David, this is a spiritual battle, and it takes God’s involvement to experience a victory. Paul speaks to this in Ephesians.
12 For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.
Paul’s saying that if our battles are not really about the physical world around us, then we can’t overcome by physical means. It takes a spiritual approach. We fight our daunting battles by submitting to the will of God. We fight our most difficult circumstances by bring them to God in prayer. We fight the evil that we come against by inviting God to intervene on our behalf.
David calls upon God as he engages Goliath on the battlefield. With a single stone, a precise throw, and the power of God, David’s shot flies straight and true and connects with Goliath’s forehead. The giant falls to the ground, dead. This single victory turns the tide of the entire war. The Philistines run, and the Israelites pursue.
1 Samuel 17:51-52
51 Then David ran over and pulled Goliath’s sword from its sheath. David used it to kill him and cut off his head.
When the Philistines saw that their champion was dead, they turned and ran. 52 Then the men of Israel and Judah gave a great shout of triumph and rushed after the Philistines, chasing them as far as Gath and the gates of Ekron.
Suddenly, the once frightened Israelite army is encouraged by a little boy and his sling shot. Because of David’s bravery and trust in God, they are all given hope that they too can be a part of the triumph of God.
POINT #4 – HOPE IS CONTAGIOUS
David’s hope in God spreads like wildfire. The entire story changes. The entire narrative takes a new tone. It is no longer about defeat; it is now about victory.
There’s something that happens within a fellowship of faith when just one person has the audacity to believe God for great things. The church benefits greatly from just one person with a little hope, because hope is contagious. It spreads.
It begins with one person in the congregation who believes that God can use them to lift others out of poverty. It starts with one person who wants to see children in the community impacted by a Vacation Bible School. It takes one person with a heart for overseas missions. It takes one person who believes that prayer changes things. It could be the spark that ignites a whole congregation of hope. And that person could be you.
Ancient church father Thomas Aquinas said it this way, “Faith has to do with things that are not seen, and hope with things that are not at hand.”
Even though you cannot see how God might come through, faith is believing that it is still possible. When a whole church begins to function in this way, that is when the world changes.
My God, your God is more powerful than any force in the universe. And together, we can do amazing things. If God is with me, there is absolutely nothing I cannot overcome.
David was only a young boy when he decided to go toe-to-toe with a giant. Everyone else was too afraid to fight because it seemed like more than they could overcome. They were right. The only way this battle would be won was by trusting God to intervene. On his own, David was an underdog, but with God, he was an overcomer.
There is no enemy you can face in this life that God cannot give you the victory over. But you must trust in Him. When the Church comes together in great faith, there is nothing it cannot do.