David’s Keys to Victory: Submission to Authrity

David: Keys to Victory
November 21, 2019

1 Samuel 17:17-19 (NKJV) 17  Then Jesse said to his son David, “Take now for your brothers an ephah of this dried grain and these ten loaves, and run to your brothers at the camp. 18  And carry these ten cheeses to the captain of their thousand, and see how your brothers fare, and bring back news of them.” 19  Now Saul and they and all the men of Israel were in the Valley of Elah, fighting with the Philistines.

We are looking at the story of David and Goliath in light of what Peter tells us in 1 Peter 5:8-9.  We live in a world that is also occupied by and adversary.  This means we are a people at war, and we need to know how to win.  In our last post, we looked at the first thing David showed in his battle with Goliath that produced victory.  David ran to the battle not away from it.  We cannot avoid the war between darkness and light.  We must “run to the battle” as David did, knowing our God, our covenant and our weapons.  Now I want to begin to look at some more things in Davids life that enabled him to win a battle against seemingly insurmountable odds.

In today’s scripture we see something that may not seem important, but it is.  David’s father sent him on a mission to the battle front.  He was not there because he wanted to see the fight.  He was there under the authority of his father.  Submission to the authorities in our lives puts us into position to win battles.  Even Jesus understood this principle.

John 5:30 (NKJV) 30  I can of Myself do nothing. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is righteous, because I do not seek My own will but the will of the Father who sent Me.

The man Jesus was God manifested in the flesh.  The emphasis on he was God.  Yet in this verse we see that, as a man, he only did the will of the Father who sent him.  He could not do anything in himself.  This is hard to understand.  How could God in the flesh be limited in anyway?  Nevertheless, Jesus himself says he was limited.  The reason is made clear in another familiar scripture.

Matthew 8:9 (NKJV) 9  For I also am a man under authority, having soldiers under me. And I say to this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes; and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”

The Roman Centurion speaking in this verse had come to Jesus with a request that he heal his servant.  Jesus consented and said he would come to the centurion’s house.  The centurion understood a principle that most of us do not.  He understood how power and authority worked.  He was a Roman military officer.  As such he represented the power and authority of the whole Roman state.  When he gave an order, it was followed because it was Rome that gave the order.  This centurion recognized the same quality in Jesus. 

For many years I read this scripture incorrectly.  I thought the centurion said, “I am also a man in authority” and that was why the soldiers under him obeyed.  However, it says that the centurion’s claim was that he was under authority.  His submission to the authority over him was what gave him power.  He saw that Jesus was a man under authority and therefore, could operate in authority.  The power of Rome stood behind the centurion’s word.  The power of the Kingdom of God stood behind the words and actions of Jesus.

Why is this so important?  The kingdom of God is a kingdom of order.  It is a kingdom based on submission.  The kingdom of Satan was born in rebellion.  Satan, then called Lucifer, rebelled against God in heaven.  He led the heavenly worship.  There came a time when he began to believe he was worthy of the worship that was going to God.

Isaiah 14:12-13 (NKJV) 12  “How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How you are cut down to the ground, You who weakened the nations! 13  For you have said in your heart: ‘I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will also sit on the mount of the congregation On the farthest sides of the north;

Satan rebelled against God.  His rebellion did not last very long.  He was cast out of heaven and condemned to an eternity in what the Bible calls “the lake of fire.”  Since Satan’s rule was born out of rebellion, all rebellion makes us vulnerable to his influence.  Submission to proper authorities eliminates that vulnerability and opens our heart to the influence of the God to whom we ultimately submit.

It is no secret that this kind of thinking has been abused.  In the guise of submitting to God, unscrupulous leaders have dominated people and led them away from God instead of to him.  That does not change the principle.  What we must do is understand how to safeguard ourselves from the false while walking in the true.  There are some things that will help us do that.  I want to look at two.

First of all, we must understand that the only one to whom we submit unconditionally is God.  We are not required to submit to anything that leads us to do something that is contrary to the will and/or nature of God.  Even if the person asking us to, is someone we have trusted and been submitted to in the past, we cannot submit to anything that is against what God teaches.  Sometimes even good leaders make mistakes.  If they are Godly, they will be open to honest questions.  If they are not, they are not acting in a godly manner in that area and you are not required to submit.

How can we know if someone is asking us to do something we should not submit to?  We must know the Word of God.  Any leader who does not confirm what he is asking by God’s word should not be submitted to.  I am not just talking about giving a chapter and verse to confirm what he is saying.  That is part of it.  However, it is just as important to look at the lifestyle and history of this leader.  Is he or she living according to the principles in the Word?  Have they demonstrated submission to the Word of God in their personal life?  Is what they are asking something you could see Jesus asking or would it be out of character with the Jesus you know. 

If any of these things are true you must respectfully ask for a biblical explanation.  If the leader is unable or unwilling to give it, you must respectfully decline to obey until they can.  If this becomes a pattern, you might need to find another leader that you can submit to more comfortably.  This is never something you do lightly or quickly.  Not only do leaders make mistakes, but sometimes they may know things you do not.  If they are honest, approachable, kind and gentle, give them some time.  If they are not, this could indicate something is wrong. 

The other thing we must look at in the lives of our leaders, is do they pass the centurion’s test.  Are they leading from under authority?  Are they accountable to someone or are they a “lone ranger” who answers to no one?  My ministry became far more effective when I found a leader to whom I could submit my life and ministry.  I did not always agree with him.  Many times, he would give me counsel that we had to talk about so we both would have a better understanding.  In the end I decided to be under authority and receive his counsel.  When I did, I found that people had very little problem submitting to me.

David went to the battle front under authority.  When it came time for him to stand against Goliath, he went to the King who was the authority over the army.  By the time he faced Goliath, his lifestyle of submission and righteousness had put him into position where he could not lose. 

Examine your life.  Are you under authority?  Be careful to whom you submit.  Nevertheless, find a situation that will cause you to pass the centurion’s test.  This will position you to win the battles of life that face you today.

David: Run to the Battle

1 Samuel 17:48 (NKJV) 48  So it was, when the Philistine arose and came and drew near to meet David, that David hastened and ran toward the army to meet the Philistine.

Yesterday we looked at the last character besides David in the story of David and Goliath.  No study of this story would be complete without taking a closer look at the man who won the battle, David.  We began a few weeks ago by looking at 1 Peter 5:8-11.  Peter tells us that we must be sober and vigilant because our adversary, the devil, goes about like a roaring lion. 

We have an adversary.  His primary purpose is to hurt God by keeping his children separated from him by sin.  His secondary purpose is to steal, kill and destroy any human being whether they are born again or not.  This will also hurt God.  Those who are born again must remember that this adversary exists.  He is a defeated foe but not one who is ready to give up the fight.  He is taking many people, both Christians and those who do not know Jesus, down as he continues to oppose God.  The battle between David and Goliath is a type of every battle we fight while on the earth.  What we see in David can give us keys that will enable us to win every time, both for ourselves and those around us.

The verse above is one small statement but it says a great deal about what caused David to be victorious.  It says that David ran to meet the Philistine in battle.  We know Goliath was a massive man, somewhere in the around 9 feet tall.  We know David was young, but we do not know his size.  We do know he was smaller than Saul who was probably more than 2 feet smaller than Goliath.  David wore no armor, he had no weapons that would be considered suitable for war.  Yet he ran toward the enemy not away from him.  This tells us that David was confident he would defeat this mountain of a man. 

We have talked about where David’s confidence was placed.  It was not in his skill, his size or his weapons.  David was confident that God was with him.  He was confident that he was fighting in the power of the God of Israel.  He understood that everything else was irrelevant.  If God was for him no one, not even a 9-foot giant could succeed against him.

What is your battle against?  We know it is against the devil, our adversary.  However, he manifests in many ways.  It could be health, family or financial.  It could be emotional or job related.  No matter the opponent, if God is on your side there is nothing that can keep you from winning except you.  If you quit, you lose.  If you separate yourself from the Body of Christ, you will likely lose.  If you do not give time and self to the God of the Bible and the Word itself, you will have no strength.  David did those things in the context of his life and won.  David ran to the battle.

One of the devil’s favorite tactics is to keep us from fighting at all.  We have seen that was Goliath’s purpose in the battle.  He intimidated the Army of Israel until they hid in their camp and refused to come out.  David would not give in to that intimidation.  He understood who he was in God and who God was in him.  He also understood that the choice was to fight or submit to slavery.  There may be many reasons we are not inclined to fight.  It may not be our personality.  We may have been defeated before or we may be too lazy to fight.  Nevertheless, there will be battles.  We will have to choose between bondage of some kind and fighting for what God has given us. 

David ran to the battle.  All of us would rather avoid the battles of life.  That will not make them go away.  There will be battles.  If the battle is inevitable, do not try to avoid it.  You will not be able to hide from the battle.  Until you show yourself and the enemy that his tactics will not work, he will continue to do the same things.  Until you prove to yourself that Christ in you can win the victory, you will continue to fall in the same traps.  David ran to the battle with Goliath.

Sometimes we think that if we just do not “rock the boat” the devil will leave us alone.  He will not.  He will do all he can to keep you in the condition you are in.  I imagine that very few people ran toward Goliath in a fight.  He was used to seeing them run away.  What a shock it must have been when this young man with no armor and no weapons ran toward him.  So it is with the devil.  He expects you to run away.  When you do not, he is not sure what to do. 

James 4:7 (NKJV) 7  Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.

This is a promise from God and exactly what David did.  He was submitted to God.  He believed in his power and promise.  That is one of the ways we submit to God.  We believe he told the truth.  We believe his Word.  When we do that, we can resist the devil.  David ran to his battle with Goliath.  When he defeated him, the rest of the Philistine Army ran away from him.  Sometimes we are going to have to defeat giants in our lives and circumstances.  When we do, the real enemy, the devil will flee from us.

There have been many times in my life that I have had to fight difficult battles.  There were times when I just wanted it all to be over.  I knew that if I quit, I would not find real peace but some type of bondage.  I would never possess the land God wanted me to possess unless I fought through.  It was in one of these times that God said to me, “I thought you were competitive.”  I realized that God was right.  I like to win.  I do not like to win if there is no competition.  I admitted to God that I was.  He said, “Than why don’t you see this battle as a competition.”  I realized that he was telling me to run to the battle.

You may not be as competitive as I am, but you have nothing to lose by trusting God in your situation.  Go to His word and find a promise that applies to you.  Meditate on that promise.  Speak it over your life.  Find a way you can act on what you believe.  Many of our battles have been financial.  When we were facing lack, we often took the last bit of money we had and gave it to God or someone in need.  Inevitably we saw God move on our behalf.  We ran to the battle instead of away from it. 

You may be facing something like depression or some emotional struggle.  These are some of the most difficult battles I have ever faced.  They are very real.  We want to run away and hide or retreat into ourselves.  That will not help.  Find someone to talk to.  You are not alone and there is no condemnation for feeling the things you feel.  Go to the Word of God and let God breathe life into your emotions.  He really is there.  The action you can do is revealed in the book of Hebrews.

Hebrews 12:12 (NKJV) 12  Therefore strengthen the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees,

How do we do that?  He tells us in the next chapter.

Hebrews 13:15 (NKJV) 15  Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name.

Praise is a powerful thing.  It is not just emotional, but it works through our emotions.  Nehemiah tells us that the joy of the Lord is our strength.  Praise releases the inner joy that is ours in Christ.

One more thing about running to the battle.  God has given us mighty armor with which to fight.  We read about it in Ephesians 6.  When we read about it, we find that all of the armor faces front.  There is no protection on the back side of the armor.  God will cover our back, but the armor he gives us is designed for frontal assaults.  Running to the battle seemed like foolishness to David.  In the end it was one of the keys to victory.  It will be for you as well.  Run to the battle not from it.

King Saul

1 Samuel 17:38-39 (NKJV) 38  So Saul clothed David with his armor, and he put a bronze helmet on his head; he also clothed him with a coat of mail. 39  David fastened his sword to his armor and tried to walk, for he had not tested them. And David said to Saul, “I cannot walk with these, for I have not tested them.” So David took them off.

Today I want to look at another figure in this drama.  His name is Saul.  Saul is the King.  His role as king is to lead the people of Israel.  It is also to be the protector of the nation.  He is where he is supposed to be which is with the army on the battlefield and not home in Jerusalem.  However, he is doing the same thing the rest of the army is doing.  He is hiding because of the challenge of Goliath.  In reality, it is his responsibility to determine how to deal with this threat.  If no other solution could be found, Saul should have been the one to go out against Goliath.

Saul is said to be head and shoulders taller than anyone else in Israel.  That would mean he stood somewhere in the vicinity of a foot taller than every other soldier.  He should have been Israel’s champion.  This becomes even more important when we realize that Saul had the same covenant with God that David did.  David did not defeat Goliath by his size or his military skill.  He did not defeat him because of superior weapons or even better tactics.  David defeated the “uncircumcised” Philistine because he had a covenant with God and Goliath did not. 

Saul had the same covenant.  If he had risen up by faith in that covenant, he would have had the same result David did.  It was not about who went out against Goliath, it was about their faith in the covenant and more important in the God of the covenant.  The difference between Saul and David was that it was Saul’s responsibility to go.  He was the King.

One of the things I believe that leaders must remember is that leadership in the kingdom of God is not about authority.  It is about responsibility and accountability.

Hebrews 13:17 (NKJV) 17  Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you.

There is a lesson for the follower in this verse but, for me, the lesson to the leader is even more important.  It says the leader “must give account.”  Account to whom?  He or she must give account to God.  If I am a leader who understands that God has given me authority only to fulfil my responsibility, I will not have many problems with those following me.  When I do, the accountability will fall to them since I have done my part.  Too many people want the recognition of leadership but they do not want the accountability.

In today’s scripture we see Saul receiving David into his headquarters.  David is a young man, most likely between 17 and 19.  He has probably got some growing to do, so he is certainly not as big as Saul.  Saul points out the fact that David is a youth and not experienced in war.  Yet after David explains that he fought a lion and a bear and defeated them, Saul gives him his armor and lets him go out against the giant. 

It might be said that David showed Saul something that convinced him he could to the job.  We might conclude that God told Saul to trust in David except that there is no indication of that whatsoever.  Even if both things were true, Saul should have at least gone with him.  He did not.  He just let David go.  Why did Saul fail in his responsibility?

I think we can point to a number of things.  All of which can affect us as leaders and as Christians.  We are all leaders of someone.  Even if we have no position, we are fathers and mothers.  We are brothers and sisters.  Most important, people in our community are watching us.  In a sense we are leading them.  There are three things that hindered Saul. 

Just like everyone else, Saul was afraid of Goliath.  Saul had not come up against many people who were physically bigger than he was, but Goliath was as much as three feet taller than Saul.  Just like the rest of the army, he was so fixated on Goliath that he could not see beyond him.  He was paralyzed by fear.  To be afraid is natural, but Saul was not supposed to be fighting in the natural.  God can help us with fear if we turn to him.

2 Timothy 1:7 (NKJV) 7  For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.

Second, Saul lacked understanding.  In Hosea 4:6, God says that his people are destroyed because of a lack of knowledge.  When we do not know what God has given us or how to access those things, the devil can deceive us and, if we do not learn, destroy us.  One of the most dangerous things for any leader is to become unteachable.  We who are leaders can fall into the trap of thinking that if we do not have the answers we will be viewed as weak.  No one has all the answers.   A true leader is one who knows how to say either, “I don’t know” or “I am wrong.”  A true leader will receive instruction when he or she needs it.  We must remember that a leader is never destroyed alone.  Their lack of knowledge will cause others to be destroyed with them.

Finally, I think Saul tended to be lazy.  He did not want the job of King.  When Samuel came to anoint him, he was hiding.  Once he became king, things changed.  Just two chapters before this incident, the prophet Samuel had rebuked Saul because he had only partially obeyed the command of God.

1 Samuel 15:17 (NKJV) 17  So Samuel said, “When you were little in your own eyes, were you not head of the tribes of Israel? And did not the LORD anoint you king over Israel?

This certainly applies to our last point as well, but if we were to look into the pattern of Saul’s life, we would see that he tended to take the path of least resistance.  He did not do what he should do.  To me that speaks of laziness.  A lazy leader is a dangerous leader.  God often speaks of diligence.  In Hebrews 11:6 he tells us that he rewards those who diligently seek him.  In Hebrews 4:11 of the New King James Version of the Bible, he tells us to be diligent in order to enter God’s rest.  Proverbs is full of warnings about laziness.  We do not like to see our own laziness.  I know I do not, but if we do not accept God’s correction we will not change.

David was everything Saul was not.  He was not afraid.  I do not know if he felt any fear at all.  I do know that he was not controlled by it.  He defeated Goliath by what he knew, not what he could do.  He knew the covenant of God.  He had walked in its power when he defeated the lion and the bear that attacked his father’s flock.  It was his trust in the God of the covenant that defeated the giant. 

Finally, David was not lazy.  He took care of the flock for which he was given responsibility.  He protected them against enemies.  He made sure they were taken care of when his father sent him to take food to his brothers.  When he was caring for the sheep, he also spent time writing the psalms we so love today.  He must have been diligent to develop his relationship with God.

Saul was the King.  He had the title.  David had been anointed king, but he had no title.  However, David was the leader.  When the time came, he rose up and took the responsibility, the accountability and the risk.  Leadership is not measured by a title.  It is measured by character, integrity and faith.  Which are you, Saul or David?

The Voice of David’s Brother, Eliab

1 Samuel 17:28 (NKJV) 28  Now Eliab his oldest brother heard when he spoke to the men; and Eliab’s anger was aroused against David, and he said, “Why did you come down here? And with whom have you left those few sheep in the wilderness? I know your pride and the insolence of your heart, for you have come down to see the battle.”

We have been looking at one of the most famous incidents in the Bible, as a type of the battles we fight in our Christian walk.  1 Peter 5:8 makes it clear that we have an adversary called the devil.  This adversary’s primary goal is to oppose what the Lord wants to accomplish through the body of Christ.  His secondary goal is to steal, kill and/or destroy in the lives of God’s children.  He does this in order to take us out of the fight against darkness and simply to hurt our Father because he hates him.

Goliath is the roaring lion in every battle we fight.  The roar is meant to intimidate us so we either do not fight or we fight in such a way that we will inevitably lose.  Last time we looked at the Israelite Army.  They had all they needed to defeat the Philistines.  They succumbed to Goliath’s intimidation to the point they were too afraid to fight.  They were so focused on the size of Goliath that they forgot how big their God was.  When David defeated Goliath, he did it on the strength of Israel’s covenant with God.  That is why he called Goliath uncircumcised.  Circumcision was the sign of the covenant.  David’s defeat of Goliath did not really change the odds.  It changed the focus of the Israelite army from Goliath’s size to the power of the God of their covenant.

Today I want to look at another character in this story.  His name is Eliab and he is David’s brother.  David came to the battle location because he was sent by his father.  His mission was to bring some food for his brothers and the men in their unit.  His father also wanted to know how his sons were doing.  When he got there, he observed the daily taunt of Goliath.  When he heard the soldiers talking about this situation and what the one who kills Goliath would get, this was his response.

1 Samuel 17:26 (NKJV) 26  Then David spoke to the men who stood by him, saying, “What shall be done for the man who kills this Philistine and takes away the reproach from Israel? For who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?”

I do not see anything wrong with that response.  David knew his covenant and knew that the size of the giant was irrelevant in light of it.  To his mind, defeating the giant was no problem, so he asked about the posted reward.  His response was not about how great he was, but about how great God is.  We read his brother’s response above.  Let us look at Eliab’s list of accusations against David.

The first thing he did was question David’s motive for being at the front.  He accuses David of being proud and of just wanting to see the battle.  The truth was, David was there because he was sent by his father.  What he saw at the battle was a result of his being where he should be according to his authority.  Eliab’s judgement of Davids motives proceeded from a false assumption.

Second, he accused David of neglecting his job.  The truth is that David made sure his responsibilities with his father’s sheep were covered.  The 20th verse tells us that “David rose early and left the sheep with a keeper.”  He did not neglect his responsibilities at home.

So once again Eliab’s response to David was based on an assumption that was not correct.  I think we can see something more in what Eliab said to David.  He asks David “Who did you leave those few sheep in the wilderness with?”  I do not know how many sheep Jesse had, but It seems he was a man of some influence.  David was over that part of his father’s business.  I doubt “few sheep” was an accurate description of David’s responsibility at home.

What was really at the heart of Eliab’s accusation?  He was angry because David was willing to do what he was not.  All of Israel’s army was terrified of Goliath.  David was not.  That put pressure on Eliab.  He was not willing to fight Goliath, but his little brother was.  I think it is also telling that David says to Eliab, “What have I done now?”  It would seem that David was regularly willing to do by faith what others were too intimidated to do. 

The voice of Eliab is one we will often hear when we choose to believe God when others will not.  We may rise up in faith over one of the promises of God.  We may rise up in faith to walk in holiness and righteousness.  We may rise up in faith declaring that Jesus has made us the righteousness of God in Christ.  We may choose to commit ourselves to grow in the Lord, to serve in the church, to pray, fast and study the Word of God.  We may choose to accept the evidence of the truth of God’s word above all else.  When we do, we will often hear the accusations of Eliab. 

We may here, “You are proud.  You think you are better than everyone else.”  It is pride to not do the things above.  When we choose the way of the flesh or the way of everyone else, we are rejecting the wisdom and the word of God.  That is proud.  It is not prideful to say, “I am going to believe in God and walk in his ways.”  It is prideful to say I can do anything because of my strength.  It is not prideful to believe and therefore say, “I can do all things through Christ.”  It is not prideful to say, “Greater is he that is in me than he that is in the world.”  It is not prideful to say, “If God is for me who can be against me.”  That is what David was doing.

When we choose to be better Christians or when we choose to stand in faith there will always be voices saying, “Who do you think you are?”  Sometimes they come from without.  Some people do not like it when someone rises up and says, “I am going farther in God than where I am now.”  Often the voices come from within.  Our own failures or weaknesses condemn us.  We must remember that if we are truly believing in what the Word of God says, our weaknesses are not at issue.  We are depending on God’s strength.

Whether the voices are from without or from within, we need to listen to the voice of God instead.  We must not be arrogant towards those who may not understand.  We also must not be intimidated by those who may not be willing to take the risk.  Our job is not to condemn others, but it is also not to allow others to discourage us because they may not be willing or capable to do what we know we must do. 

I think the tactic of the enemy can be boiled down to one thought that comes out when Eliab speaks of Davids “few sheep.”  I am hearing Eliab say to his brother, “Go back to your small, insignificant life.  If we cannot defeat this giant, you certainly cannot.” 

Let me make this statement and I want you to hear it clearly.  You do not have a small life.  No life lived by faith in God is small.  You can do whatever God says you can do.  Your contribution may look small in the eyes of man, but it is not small in the eyes of God.  When you choose to be better in your walk with God, that is not thinking more highly of yourself than you should.  That is submission to God and his Word.  Nothing less than that will do. 

Do not let the Eliab’s in your life convince you to turn back.  Do not let the same voices in your own heart keep you from rising up in faith.  Where would Israel have been if David had listened to Eliab.  History may have been written very differently.  You may feel your walk of faith in God does not matter like David’s, but at the time, David was just a young man.  You count in the battle between darkness and light.  Your faith counts.  Your life counts.  Do not back down because of those who do not understand.

What About the Other Characters in the Story

1 Samuel 17:11 (NKJV) 11  When Saul and all Israel heard these words of the Philistine, they were dismayed and greatly afraid.

We have been talking about how the Bible teaches that the church of Jesus is a people who live in a time of war not a time of peace.  As such we must be aware of what Peter said in 1 Peter 5:8-11.  We have an adversary, the devil.  This adversary has an agenda and that is to hurt God by dominating his family.  He wants to control their character, there lifestyle and their destiny. 

The war we fight is a war to bring more people into relationship with the Lord.  It is a war to resist the temptation in our own lives to do things that open the door to the influence of the devil both personally and corporately.  It is a war to influence society towards God while the devil is working to push it away from God.  We are the only ones who can fight this war and we must remember that.

In looking at the story of David and Goliath, we find that Goliath is a type of our enemy.  We will look at David who is a type of how we can win what seems, at times, to be an unwinnable fight.  What about the other characters in the story?  We can learn from them how the enemy works to influence us so we will either not fight or fight in such a way as to make losing inevitable.  The first group I want to look at is the Hebrew Army. 

From today’s scripture, we find that the whole army of Israel, including King Saul, was greatly afraid.  The interesting thing to remember is that they had all they needed to defeat the Philistine army.  How do we know that?  We know it because when they finally fought, they did just that!  Goliath was one soldier.  When David defeated him, it did not make the whole Philistine army vulnerable in a way they were not before.  The truth is that they could always have won the battle.  All they had to do was fight.

Why were they so afraid?  The answer is intimidation.  Our adversary goes about as a roaring lion, but the New Testament teaches that he has been disarmed (Col. 2:15.)  The only weapon left to Satan is deception.  Part of deception is intimidation.  The army of Israel was intimidated because they were focused on the power of Goliath not on what they had at their disposal.  That is what makes David’s Words so important to us.  He called Goliath an “uncircumcised Philistine.”  Why was that important?  Circumcision was the sign of the covenant.  If Goliath was uncircumcised it meant he had no covenant with God.  David understood that no natural power could stand in the face of Israel’s covenant partner.  He was not depending on natural weapons.  He was depending on Israel’s covenant with Almighty God.  That was his focus.

The more we focus on the roar of the lion, the more we believe in the power of the lion.  We look at the problem and begin to imagine what might happen.  In the case of the Army of Israel, they probably began to think that all the Philistines were giants like Goliath.  They were not.  They were normal people just like the Israelites except without a covenant partner in God.

The truth is it did not matter whether they were all giants or not.  God was on the side of Israel because of their covenant.  All they had to do was trust in that truth and something good was going to happen.  Paul understood this when he wrote the book of Romans. 

Romans 8:31 (NKJV) 31  What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?

What a powerful statement.  If God is for me, who or what can possibly prosper against me.  It does not matter what I face.  God is for me!  As we read on in Paul’s letter, we find that even when things looked bad in the natural, Paul understood that if God was for him, he was more than a conqueror even in the middle of trial.  Nothing the devil did to Paul kept him from accomplishing his great commission from the Lord.  When it was finished, he went to where he always wanted to be.  He went into God’s presence for all eternity.

2 Timothy 4:6-8 (NKJV) 6  For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand. 7  I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8  Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.

The Israelite army was afraid because they were focused on the size of the problem.  They allowed themselves to be intimidated by a roaring lion who did not have the power to defeat them.  What did David’s victory really do?  It did not change the numbers in any significant way.  The death of Goliath had no military effect on the potential outcome of the battle.  What David did was change the focus of both armies. 

For the Israelites, David showed them that what they had was far greater than the power of a giant.  Their covenant, as applied by David, defeated the worst that the enemy had to offer.  In that moment they remembered who they were and more important whose they were.  That is why they were no longer afraid and that is why they attacked.  When they did, they won the victory.

For the Philistines, David’s victory proved what I think they already knew.  They sent Goliath out because they knew that the God of Israel was more powerful than anything they could bring to the battle.  If Goliath could get Israel to agree to the terms he shouted at them, then the Philistines would win.  If they had to fight and Israel’s covenant partner got into the battle, they knew they had lost before it began.

As you face the roaring lion of your battle, where is your focus.  Are you focused on what the lion says could happen?  Are you focused on how big the problem is?  Are you focused on how weak you seem to be?  All of them will lead to defeat.  Either you will not fight, or you will fight without confidence.  Either way you lose.

If you change your focus you cannot lose.  You already have everything you need to win. 

2 Peter 1:3-4 (NKJV) 3  as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, 4  by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.

Focus on the presence of God in your life.  Focus on the great and precious promises that have been given to you in the Word.  Focus on what God has already done in your life and not on what the enemy says he will do.  Once your focus is right you can prove what the devil already knows.  Jesus is alive and well and nothing can stand against the power of God’s covenant in your life.

Ephesians 3:10 (NKJV) 10  to the intent that now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by the church to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places,

Once our focus is where it belongs, we can do what David did.  We can run to the battle instead of away from it.  When we do, we will win a great victory in this war.  I believe that victory can be for our own lives and needs.  However, I also believe that when we win any victory over the kingdom of darkness, we take ground from the devil and open the way for someone to see that God is alive and involved in the lives of people.  When that happens, we can share the wonderful Gospel with them and see more and more children come back into the kingdom of God. 

Goliath: Know Your Enemy

1 Samuel 17:8-10 (NKJV) 8  Then he stood and cried out to the armies of Israel, and said to them, “Why have you come out to line up for battle? Am I not a Philistine, and you the servants of Saul? Choose a man for yourselves, and let him come down to me. 9  If he is able to fight with me and kill me, then we will be your servants. But if I prevail against him and kill him, then you shall be our servants and serve us.” 10  And the Philistine said, “I defy the armies of Israel this day; give me a man, that we may fight together.”

As New Testament Christians, we must recognize the fact that we have an adversary.  Peter calls him the devil and characterizes him as being like a roaring lion.  Yesterday we began looking at one of the most famous battles in history.  Even people who know nothing of the Bible know about David and Goliath.  Their names have become synonymous with any fight where an extreme underdog fights an undefeatable giant.  I believe this is also a type of every battle we will ever fight in our Christian walk.

Goliath is the roaring lion Peter is talking about in his letter.  The roar is designed to bring intimidation.  Intimidation is used to bring so much fear into an adversary that he will give up with out a fight.  When we are intimidated, we believe we cannot win so we look for any means to avoid the fight.  That is what Satan, the roaring lion, tries to do to us.  We can see that Goliath has been very successful in intimidating the Israelite army.  The war has ground to a halt because no one wants to fight Goliath.  One of two things must happen.  Either they choose a champion to fight for them and he loses.  Or they surrender without fighting at all.  Neither is acceptable.

As I have looked at this story, I see a number of things we can learn from Goliath about our enemy the devil.  First, Goliath was the enemy’s attempt to separate one soldier from the army as a whole.  Goliath could not defeat the whole army, but he could defeat any one soldier.  We must be careful of this tactic.

As a pastor, I have seen this work again and again.  When we are under pressure, we will often tend to retreat into ourselves.  We do not want others to know that we are struggling.  When I would see a regular member of our congregation missing, I would often discover that they were dealing with something..  The last thing any of us should do when we are going through a difficult time is stay away from church.  Our strength is in the Body of Christ.  If the roaring lion can get you away from that strength, he will defeat you, at least in the short term.

It is important that we understand this in ourselves.  Usually the devil will enforce the tendency to withdraw by telling us that no one understands us.  He will usually see to it that somebody says something we do not like.  When we do go to church, it seems like nobody talks to us, the pastor does not greet us, and the message is something we do not want to hear.  All of this is to convince us that we should not go to church.  The point is to separate you from the army.

Do not fall for this kind of intimidation.  Go to someone you can trust, hopefully a leader, and share with them.  Ask them for prayer and/or counsel.  You will find that everyone is not against you.  Sometimes there may not be anything in the natural the body can do to help you, but they will pray for you, stand with you and help you through the trial.  You are not alone.  That is what the devil really wants you to believe.  Do not let Goliath separate you from the army.

Second, Goliath was the enemies attempt to set the rules of engagement for the battle.  Every time an army goes into battle there are rules for how they must engage the enemy.  When the initial push was over during the Iraq war, the rules of engagement were that our soldiers could not fire upon someone unless they could be proven to be a threat.  That usually meant they fired first.  Goliath was attempting to set the rules by which the battle between Israel and the Philistines would be fought.  Two champions fighting to determine the outcome of the war was an accepted method of fighting.  However, it was not the only method.  If God said to fight by those rules, that would be one thing.  However, it was the enemy who tried to determine the rules.  It should be obvious that he is going to set rules that favor him.

No one soldier could defeat Goliath using only natural means.  The Philistines knew that.  If the fight was according to those rules, the Philistines believed they were assured of victory.  The outcome was not so sure if the two armies fought.  In the end, they did fight by those rules because David took up the challenge.  That does not mean they had to.  Goliath came out every day for 40 days to the same place and made the same challenge.  This was war!  If I were the commander, I would have picked about a thousand of my best soldiers, sent them to where Goliath was going to come to issue challenge and ambush him.  Problem solved! 

The devil wants to set the rules for your encounter with him.  He wants to make you believe you cannot call for help.  He wants to get you to believe that the promises of God will not work for you.  He wants you to focus only on what you can do.  The truth is we have rules by which we are to engage the enemy.  They are written in the Word of God.  They tell me I can use anything God has put at my disposal to defeat my enemy.  They tell me God is for me and will never leave me.  They tell me I am loved by my Father.  Look at this verse in Romans 8.

Romans 8:29-31 (NKJV) 29  For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. 30  Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified. 31  What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?

The truth is your life, your sin, and your failures are none of the devil’s business.  It is God who justified you.  The rules of our engagement with the devil say that he cannot bring up any of that.  Our covenant says all God has belongs to me and that includes his almighty power.  In Joshua 10:13 we learn that Joshua was having such a good day at battle that he told the sun to stay still so the day would not end until he had won complete victory!  That is how our rules of engagement read.  

I have heard it said this way.  My Father is the official of the game we are playing.  In Soccer they have something called extra time.  I do not understand it, but when they get to the end of the game the officials can say, “No, the game is not over.  We are going to play for another 5 minutes.”  In the battles of life, the game is not over until the Father says it is over and we can play as long as necessary for me to win.  Do not let the devil set the rules of engagement.

There are two more things we learn from Goliath.  Goliath was a liar.  When David did defeat Goliath, the Philistines did not throw down their weapons and submit to slavery under Israel.  The Israelite army attacked them and killed most of them, but they could have surrendered. 

The devil is a liar and the father of lies.  Everything he says is a lie even if it contains some truth.  When he tempted Jesus, he used the truth of the Word of God but combined it with a lie.  Whatever he tells you he will do, he will not.  Whatever he tells you will happen, is not guaranteed to happen.  Whatever he says is the way out of trouble will only get you in deeper. 

Finally, Goliath was an indication of the weakness of the Philistine position.  I believe they knew that God was on Israel’s side.  There only hope was that Israel would consent to their terms.  When the devil is really roaring in your life, just remember that is an indication of how weak his position really is.  We have the Word of God, the Holy Spirit and the New Covenant on our side.  Do not give in to the roar.  You will win if you do not quit.

Goliath is the Roaring Lion

1 Samuel 17:8-10 (NKJV) 8  Then he stood and cried out to the armies of Israel, and said to them, “Why have you come out to line up for battle? Am I not a Philistine, and you the servants of Saul? Choose a man for yourselves, and let him come down to me. 9  If he is able to fight with me and kill me, then we will be your servants. But if I prevail against him and kill him, then you shall be our servants and serve us.” 10  And the Philistine said, “I defy the armies of Israel this day; give me a man, that we may fight together.”

As we look at the idea that we are a church living in a time of war, I want to look at one of the most famous battles in the Bible.  1 Peter 5:8-11 reveals to us that the church has an adversary.  This adversary is the devil.  He goes about as a roaring lion seeking those who will succumb to his intimidation and deception.  Peter goes on to tell us to resist this adversary by being steadfast in the faith.  I believe we can look to the battle between David and Goliath to find some important keys as to how to do that.

First, we must know our enemy.  Intelligence gathering is one of the most important things any army does before a battle.  The more they know about the composition, strength and positioning of the enemy the more likely they will win the battle.  Intelligence will also seek to know the psychology of the enemy and the nature of how the enemy fights.  We can learn a great deal about our enemy by looking at Goliath.

In 1 Samuel 17 we see that Israel has been attacked by the army of the Philistines.  I think it is interesting to note that the place called Sochoh where the armies had gathered belonged to Judah.  The devil tries to deceive us into thinking he has a right to what is ours.  He does not.  The Philistines had invaded Israel.  The devil is invading your peace, your health, your prosperity and anything else he tries to take.  It is our right to resist him and drive him out of our lives and the lives of those we love and are responsible for.

The picture is that there are two hills with a valley between them.  The Hebrew army led by King Saul is on one side while the Philistine army is on the other.  Every morning for 40 days the Philistines sent out a champion called Goliath.  His message is simple.  “Send someone to fight me.  If he wins, we will be your slaves.  If I win you will be our slaves.  There is no need for more bloodshed than that.” 

This was an accepted method of warfare in the ancient world, but it was not mandatory that this challenge be accepted.  The Bible tells us that Goliath was defying the army of Israel.  In doing so he was also defying God himself.  The army of Israel only saw how big Goliath was.  They knew that no one Israelite could defeat this Giant.  When we break down his size according to modern values, he was about 9 feet tall.  His armor altogether weighed about 270 pounds.  The weight of a normal soldier’s armor was about 60 pounds.  You can imagine how big a man had to be to wield such heavy weapons. 

Goliath was a dangerous adversary.  We must realize that the devil is also a dangerous adversary.  He has been stripped of most of his weapons by Jesus, but one remains.  That is the weapon of deception.  He has been around as long as time.  He knows things none of us can know.  If we are not grounded in the Word of God and in our relationship with him, he can and will deceive us into allowing him to defeat us. 

Part of that deception is the roar of the lion.  Satan has no teeth and no claws.  Yet a lion’s roar is very loud and intimidating.  To intimidate is to compel or deter by threats.  The threats may be real or only perceived but the real goal is to stir up so much fear that the opponent will not fight.  We see that Goliath had done just that.  No one in Israel had the courage to fight him.  The whole war was at as standstill because of Goliath’s threats.

Goliath is a type of the roaring lion.  There is always a roaring lion in every battle we face.  There is always someone or something that is trying to intimidate you into giving in without ever fighting.  It may be the failures of your past.  It may be your upbringing.  It may be other people, or it may be your own inward voices.  The source changes but the content is always the same.  The devil tells us that we can not win.  We must just accept things as they are.  The obstacles are too big, the enemy is too strong, you are too weak or both.  As long as you focus on the roar of the lion you will never win because you will never fight. 

How do we deal with the roaring lion?  We will look at David later in this study, but right now let me point out the most important thing he used to silence the roar of Goliath.  He pointed out that he had a covenant with God and Goliath did not.  When we speak of the covenant, we must first believe we have one.  We must also know what our covenant says.  A covenant is a much stronger word for contract.  If we have a contract but do not know what the terms of the contract are, we are unable to access its power.  An adversary will take advantage of our lack of knowledge to use our contract against us. 

Hosea 4:6 (NKJV) 6  My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. Because you have rejected knowledge, I also will reject you from being priest for Me; Because you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children.

Over my more than 40 years of ministry, I have found this scripture to be true.  Many of the people that I was responsible for were being destroyed because they just did not know what God had already said about their life.  The covenants of God contain promises.  David knew that his covenant guaranteed that God would fight for them when they were in his will.  The philistines had attacked the land God had given to Israel.  The size of the enemy was irrelevant because of the promise of God.  In the power of that covenant promise David easily defeated Goliath.  The rest of the army was, in a sense, perishing because they had forgotten the covenant and what it said.

When the Goliath in your life roars at you, remember that you have a covenant.  It is a better covenant than the one David had.

Hebrews 8:6 (NKJV) 6  But now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, inasmuch as He is also Mediator of a better covenant, which was established on better promises.

Our covenant is stronger than Davids because it is between Jesus and the Father.  It is based on better promises because Jesus is alive to see to it that the promises of God are yes and amen in him (2 Corinthians 1:20.)  Our covenant contains all that the Old Covenant did but also contains everything written in the New Testament.  When the lion roars or Goliath challenges us, it will mean nothing if we know what the covenant promise says. 

When the devil tells me that my needs will not be met, I know that he is just trying to intimidate me.  I know that my covenant says that my Father knows my needs and if I seek his kingdom, he will supply them all (Matthew 6:31-32.).

When Goliath says that I am alone I know that Hebrews 13:5 says he will never leave me nor forsake me.

When he tries to make me see how much is against me, I know that Romans 8:31 tells me that God is for me so nothing can succeed against me.  Whatever we face in life is covered by our covenant with God.  We never need to be so intimidated we quit if we know what the Word of God says is ours in Christ Jesus. 

Goliath is the roaring lion in your battle, but Jesus is the true lion of the tribe of Judah.  You do not need to fear or give into your Goliath.  The promises of God are written in the Word of God and when we stand on those promises, we cannot be intimidated no matter how loud the lion roars.