READ : 1 Samuel 17
We all know the story of David and Goliath, but do you know how you can kill the giants you may be facing, giants like sin, discouragement, fear? The answer is, by faith!
Most of us can’t remember the first time we heard the story of David and Goliath, but
none of us will ever forget it — the menacing figure of boastful Goliath, the heroic
courage of young David, the drama building up to their encounter in the valley, and the
thrilling conclusion as young David fires his sling, fells the giant, and wins a great
victory for the people of God.
But what I’d like you to think about is how to kill a giant for yourself. All of us
face them during the course of our lives. They might come in the form of accident or
sickness, job loss, family problems, perhaps spiritual doubts or difficulties, or our own
stubborn sins; all these things can leave us facing what Bunyan called, “The Giant
Despair.” We all will need to face a giant at some time, which gives each of us a personal
interest in understanding just how David won his victory over
The Key to David’s Victory
So let’s go back to look at the familiar story. The Philistine army has marched into
Israelite territory. The armies have pitched camp on opposite sides of a valley, separated
by a steep ravine and a dry creek bed running down its middle. The Philistines are
supremely confident. After all, they have an invincible weapon in their camp, in the form
of a gigantic warrior named Goliath.
Goliath presents a terrifying sight: fully armed he’s nine-feet tall, covered from head
to toe in gleaming bronze. His body armor weighs 150 lbs, the head of his spear nearly 20.
Thus armored, Goliath comes out every day to taunt the men of Israel. He mocks them and
their God, and challenges them to send a champion of their own out to meet him in single
Saul should have been the one to go meet Goliath — it was his place as king to do
so. He too was tall and strong; he had armor not unlike the giant’s, and once he had led
Israel to great victories. But Saul has lost his faith, and with it his courage, and so he
looks for some other brave man to go in his place, promising huge rewards to the one who
can defeat the enemy. Perhaps he believed he would never have to pay off.
Then one day young David visits Israel’s camp. He’s only bringing some treats from home
to his older brothers who are on active duty with the army. But David hears the heathen
Philistine insults, and he bristles with righteous indignation. He accepts the challenge,
and eventually goes out to meet Goliath alone, with only his shepherd’s staff and sling.
As David comes forward to meet the giant, Goliath can’t believe what he sees. He laughs,
he mocks the boy; then he curses and threatens. He moves forward with disdain, thinking to
squash David like a bug. But God has determined a very different outcome, and moments
later Goliath lies dead on the field. The Lord used David as his instrument to win a great
victory, not just for David individually, but for all the people of God.
So what’s the key to this victory? What is it that set David apart from all the rest of
the soldiers of Israel? It wasn’t just his courage. Others in Israel’s army had proved
their bravery, most notably Jonathan, Saul’s son and David’s friend. Nor was it David’s
natural strength and skill. David wasn’t the only young man with a sling at his side, we
may be sure; there were hundreds more like him in the army of Israel. Nor was David the
only good shot; many, I think, could have matched him stone for stone. No, it was
something else that set David apart — it was his faith in the Lord.
Faith, according to the writer of Hebrews, means having a sure conviction about things
we can’t prove by seeing; specifically, it’s being sure about God and his Word. And
God was real to David — that’s what made him different. The
brilliant mathematician and Christian writer Blaise Pascal wrote, “We all believe in that
dead word God; but there is only one here and another there who
really and truly believes in the living, ever-present God.” David was one of those. He
wasn’t confident that he could defeat Goliath himself; he was confident that the Lord
would defeat Goliath through him. It was David’s unshakable faith in
God that lead to victory. Here is how the writer to Hebrews explains it:
David . . . through faith . . . escaped the edge of the sword, won strength out of
weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight.
Faith in God produces boldness for God, and
boldness for God produces victory through God.
That’s David’s lesson.
The Keys to David’s Faith
But maybe you’re thinking, “That’s all very well and good, but how could I ever hope to
have that kind of faith?” But giant-killing faith is within reach for every Christian. Let
me describe some of the qualities it has. First, such faith is based on the
nature of God. Listen to what David says to Goliath,
You come with sword and spear, but I come . . . in the name of the Lord of hosts. (v.
The name of the Lord. In the Bible, that means the nature of God.
It refers to his power, sovereignty, grace, and holiness — and everything else that
makes God God. So David is basing his faith on God’s character.
Moreover, he invokes one specific name — the Lord of hosts
— that calls attention to one specific aspect of God’s nature.
When the Allies were preparing to invade Europe in World War II, they gave overall
authority to one man, Dwight D. Eisenhower, whom they named Supreme Commander of Allied
Forces. Well, that’s exactly what “Lord of Hosts” means — God is the Supreme
Commander of all forces, both physical and spiritual, in the whole
The key to having great faith is to believe in a great God. Your faith is only as good
as the God you put it in. We believe in the living God, the Lord of
Hosts. If you want greater faith, get to know him better, study his
Word, meditate on his nature.
Here’s a second key: Our faith is strengthened by our past experiences with
God (vv. 34-36). When King Saul expressed doubt about David’s ability to fight,
David told him about the times God had delivered him in the past from attacks of wild
animals as he guarded his father’s sheep in the wilderness. “The Lord who delivered me
from the bear and the lion will deliver me from this Philistine,” says David confidently.
Faith grows through trial and experience. Writing to his young friend Timothy about his
various trials before the Roman authorities, the apostle Paul said, “The Lord stood by me
. . . so I was rescued . . . and the Lord will rescue me and save me” (2 Timothy 4:17).
Like Paul, David’s faith wasn’t flabby; it was ready to face the great test because he had
been exercising it all along.
Because of God’s character, our faith can argue from past help to
future deliverance. Believers can be confident that what God has done
he will do again. You know, the world can’t do that. A football team can’t say, “Because
we won last game, we’re going to win the next one too.” There are simply too many
variables that affect the outcome. But a believer can say, “Since God
delivered me the last time, I can trust that he will deliver me the
next time, because in the midst of all life’s variables the Lord is
an unchanging constant.” So faith grows from past experience.
Here’s another key to David’s victorious faith: he was completely devoted to the glory
of God in what he attempted to do (v. 46). You see, David had only one motive in engaging
Goliath; not the hope of a reward from Saul, not to win glory for himself, not even the
patriotic desire to save his country. David himself explains why he fought. He would
defeat Goliath, he says, so that “all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel.”
Faith like that, which doesn’t care anything about self-glory but cares everything for
God’s glory, is the sort of faith that can kill a giant.
And finally, this last key to explain David’s faith: he trusted absolutely in the
sovereignty of God, that God was in control, and God would guide and govern the outcome
(v. 47). “The battle is the Lord’s,” David proclaimed, and he believed it. This was
David’s unwavering conviction.
The whole story of David and Goliath from one angle looks like a remarkable series of
coincidences: by chance Jesse decides to send David to see how his
brothers are doing, by chance David happens to arrive just as Goliath
is uttering his challenge, by chance Saul hears of David’s brave
words against the giant and agrees to let him fight. So David goes out alone and virtually
unarmed and by chance the only unprotected part of Goliath is his
forehead, and then again by chance that’s exactly the spot David’s
stone strikes. By chance? Hardly! David knows the secret, you see,
and he confidently announces it to Goliath beforehand:
This day the Lord will deliver you into my hand . . . that all this assembly may know
that the Lord saves not with sword and spear. For the battle is the Lord’s, and he will
give you into our hand.
That’s great faith, faith in a great God, faith that is grown and developed out of our
past experiences. Faith that cares only about God’s glory, faith that rests in God’s
Talking of faith, what about yours? David’s faith was magnificent, wasn’t it? But it
can’t help you. You need your own. There is no such thing as faith by
proxy. Your friends and family can do many things for you, but they can’t believe in God
or trust in Christ for you. You need to do that yourself. So when you face the giants, you
will have to rely on own faith. Is it there?