The Real Meaning of David and Goliath - Radical
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The Real Meaning of David and Goliath

Few stories have captured the imagination quite like David and Goliath. Christians and non-Christians alike want to be like David. Whether it’s a sports team that’s a heavy underdog or a start-up business looking to make it big, we want to be the hero by overcoming seemingly overwhelming obstacles. But is this actually the point of the story? In this unique message, David Platt urges us to reconsider the story of David and Goliath, and to do this, he enlists the help of kids as the events of 1 Samuel 17 are acted out. As David explains, this story is meant to point us beyond our own strength to the One who has slain our greatest enemies—sin and death—through his death and resurrection.

  1. Students, ask God to do amazing things in and through you during this school year for his glory.
  2. Jesus has defeated Satan, sin, and death, and he gives eternal victory to all who trust in him.

If you have a Bible—and I hope you or somebody around you does that you can look on with—let me invite you to open with me to 1 Samuel 17.

I want to point to next Sunday which we are calling, “Welcome Back Sunday.” As the fall ramps up, we’re going to gather together for worship and talk about the next season here at MBC. So I want to encourage you to be here next Sunday, and if you’re online, we would love for you to be here in person.

With that said, today is a special day. It’s obviously a holiday weekend, so we’ve given our Kids’ Quest workers a Sunday off, which means more kids than normal in our worship gathering. Now we do invite kids to join us in worship with your parents every week and for parents to bring your kids. This is not just the adult room for worship; this is where the church of all ages gathers together for worship.

We want to do a few unique things today to emphasize that we have finished walking through the book of 1 Corinthians. Lord willing, a couple weeks from now, we’re going to start a new journey through the Gospel of Mark, which I’ll talk more about next Sunday.

But as I prayed about where to go in the Word today, my mind immediately went to our Bible reading as a church family. If you’re not following along with our church’s Bible Reading Plan, I invite you to get connected with that. You can join in any time. Start today. Start tomorrow. It’s an Old Testament chapter and a New Testament chapter every week. And there’s a prayer podcast that goes along with it called “Pray the Word.” Then we have a devotional that goes along with it. You can get all the information about that at mcleanbible.org/getconnected.

Our Old Testament reading over the last couple weeks has been in 1 Samuel; now we’re in 2 Samuel regarding the life of David. During our family worship time with our kids, a couple weeks ago we spent time one day, based on the reading in 1 Samuel 17, acting out one of the most famous stories in the Bible, then thinking about what it means for our lives. It was so encouraging in fresh ways—in my own life, in Heather’s life, in the lives of our kids. Acting it out was memory making, for sure. So I thought, why don’t we do that together as a church family? So that’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to walk through one of the most well-known stories in the Bible, a story that people who have never been to church before or who have never read the Bible have likely heard about in some way—the story of David and Goliath.

Two Truths from 1 Samuel 17

I want to show you the truths at the core of this story in a fresh way. I’ve been praying three particular prayers for our time together over the next few minutes in this story from Scripture:

  • One, I’ve prayed specifically for those of you who are here today or watching online who are not currently following Jesus, that your life in the next few minutes might be transformed for all of eternity.
  • Two, I’ve prayed specifically for kids and students—anybody who’s headed back to school right now—that you would realize what God wants to do in and through your life right now.
  • Third, I have prayed for all every single person in this gathering, no matter how young or old you may be, whether you’ve heard this story a million times or this is the first time you’ve heard it, that you would walk away deeply encouraged by this story and how it applies to whatever is going on in your life, particularly if you are walking through some challenges.

When our family acted out this story when it was in our Bible reading a couple weeks ago, we just used props we had available in our house. So in that vein, I’ve gathered some props from my house that we’re going to use. I say that to sufficiently lower your expectations because this is not going to be professionally done. There have not been hours of practice that have gone into this. There have been just a few minutes of discussion that have gone into this.

Also, I want to show you that this is something you can do and should do in your home with your family. Parents, find age-appropriate ways to engage your children and teenagers with the Word of God. There is nothing more important for you to do in their lives than to engage them with God’s Word. I’m speaking to every parent in this room, do this with the youngest child to the oldest, as long as they’re in your home, as long as they keep coming back to your home. There is nothing more important that you can do than to teach those in your home to know, enjoy and love God and His Word. More important than you putting physical food on the table tomorrow morning is you giving them spiritual food that will last forever.

So I hope this will be a fresh encouragement to you along these lines. In a world that tells you to prioritize all kinds of things with your kids, if you prioritize those things, you may end up starving their souls from what they need most. You might think, “Well, they’ll get that at church.” Sure, but that is supplemental to what they fundamentally need from you in your home, over and above everything else. You can teach them to know and love God and His Word.

With that said, our church family is a lot bigger than my physical family, so I tried to think of some ways to include as many people as possible, particularly kids and students. So I’m going to ask for some help along the way from some children. Students, teenagers, I know some of you think you’re super cool, so you might be too cool to do this, but just do whatever you feel comfortable doing.

Let’s start with 1 Samuel 17:1. Follow along with me in the Bible as I read aloud:

Now the Philistines gathered their armies for battle. And they were gathered at Socoh, which belongs to Judah, and encamped between Socoh and Azekah, in Ephes-dammim. And Saul and the men of Israel were gathered, and encamped in the Valley of Elah, and drew up in line of battle against the Philistines. And the Philistines stood on the mountain on the one side, and Israel stood on the mountain on the other side, with a valley between them.

Here’s the picture. You have two mountains with a valley between them. On one side is going to be the Philistine army. So I need to recruit a Philistine army and am going to ask any child or student who’s not too cool, who’s willing to be part of the Philistine army. And others if you’re young in heart, feel free to join in. So I’m going to ask you to stand if you’d be willing to be part of the Philistine army. Just to let you know, you’re not going to leave your seat at any point. You will be just as socially distanced throughout this exercise as you are at this moment, so no extra precautions are needed. If you want, you can ask a parent to stand with you, if they want to do that.

All right. We’ve got a Philistine army. Here we go.

Now then, on the other side of the room is our Israelite army. I need a similar group of people over here who would be willing to stand to be part of the Israelite army. Okay, there we go We’ve even got some flexing going on back there. This is good. So here’s our Israelite army.

Now, if you noticed in verse two, the head of the Israelite army is who? King Saul. So we need a King Saul. Now I took the liberty of asking Pastor Thomas, who leads us in musical worship, to be King Saul. I sent Thomas a message earlier this week asking if he would be willing to do this and his immediate response was, “Only if I can get a fake beard.” It just so happens that I had a fake beard at my house, so here’s a beard for you, King Saul. You look good, man. You’ve aged quickly.

The only prop I did not have at my house was a crown, but every king needs one. I had princess crowns, but that would just not be appropriate for King Saul. So I found a particular fine dining restaurant that supplies crowns. I crown you King Saul! Okay, now, all the students and anybody who is part of the Israelite army, let’s give a loud shout for King Saul. Now, Philistine army, you’re not big fans of King Saul, so let’s hear a round of boos for King Saul from you. Just to be clear, booing is not appropriate in sports activities. You should always be a good sport and have a good attitude for the other team; don’t boo the other team. But it’s okay in this story today.

So we have the Israelites and the Philistines standing opposite one another. The Israelites are led by King Saul. Now watch who comes out from the Philistine army in verse four:

And there came out from the camp of the Philistines a champion named Goliath of Gath, whose height was six cubits and a span. He had a helmet of bronze on his head, and he was armed with a coat of mail, and the weight of the coat was five thousand shekels of bronze. And he had bronze armor on his legs, and a javelin of bronze slung between his shoulders. The shaft of his spear was like a weaver’s beam, and his spear’s head weighed six hundred shekels of iron. And his shield-bearer went before him.

Now we’re getting into this. We need a Goliath and a shield bearer. I’ve taken the liberty to recruit a giant in his own right from among our church family. I tried to think of someone who is toweringly fierce and terrifyingly intimidating. Only one name came to my mind, so without further ado, in a moment I’m going to ask him to come in from the back, with his shield bearer I want to invite the Philistine army to cheer for your champion like you’ve never cheered before. The whole Philistine army—feel free to join in. Are you ready?

Ladies and gentlemen, Philistines of all ages, give it up for Goliath, aka Chris Suarez who works with our students. [He swaggers in from the back, can’t get on stage, so his big armor bearer kneels down, Chris steps on his back, and goes on to the stage, totally out of breath after his long walk in.] So let’s give it up for Chris Suarez.

Goliath, you look good. You have a nice helmet, even though it could be a couple sizes larger. And look at that armor (shoulder pads was all I had on hand). Then, instead of a sword, he has a light saber, so we have a little Star Wars flair to this story.

All right. We’re looking at Goliath here, but there’s still something missing. Goliath’s height was six cubits and a span, which is about nine feet nine inches tall. Chris, I don’t think you’re quite there, but to be fair, none of us are. Now if we’re going to have an accurate story, we need a little more height for you. Can someone bring out a ladder? That would be great. Yeah, we need you to be a little taller, Goliath. Careful. [Another specific prayer for today is that no one would get injured.] Okay, that’s a little more like it. Here we have it—Goliath and the Philistines on one mountain; Saul and the Israelites on the other.

Verse eight says—and this is where I’m going to turn it over to Goliath—“He stood and shouted to the ranks of Israel…”

Goliath: “Am I not a Philistine, and are you not servants of Saul? Choose a man for yourselves, and let him come down to me. If 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.” Yeah!

David: Now, before Goliath reads this next line, I want to point out that the Bible is about to tell us that Saul and the Israelites were very afraid. So when I read that part of the story, I need all the Israelites over here, including Saul, to act very afraid. What does fear look like? Think about sounds of fear you might make. The Philistine said:

Goliath: “I defy the ranks of Israel this day. Give me a man, that we may fight together.”

David: “When Saul and all Israel heard these words of the Philistine, they were dismayed and greatly afraid.” [Saul makes sounds of terror.] Let’s not miss what just happened. Goliath just issued a challenge for a game of one-on-one to the death. Winner take all. The ultimate fighting championship to the extreme.

Now, as soon as he does this, the scene here at the mountain pauses; we shift to a grassy meadow where a boy named David is tending some sheep. I won’t read every word here, but David is the youngest of all his brothers, and his older brothers are actually away at this battle. David’s dad, Jesse, says, “Why don’t you take some food to your brothers there at the front line and make sure they’re okay?” So David sets off to the Israelite side of the mountain.

Now, we’re not told exactly how old David is at this time. Some Bible scholars think he is as young as 13. Others think he is maybe around 15 or maybe a little older than that. So I have taken the liberty to ask one of my teenage boys to be David. He was actually Goliath when we acted this out at home, but it didn’t work out really well for him Goliath-wise, spoiler alert, so I said, “Maybe you could be David this time,” and he said he’d be willing to do it.

So I want to invite Joshua, my son, to walk in. Now different from how the Philistines were cheering for Goliath, I don’t want the Israelites to say anything to David. Don’t even pay attention to this guy walking in because we need to realize that nobody was cheering for him. In fact, his brothers didn’t even want him there. They thought he was a pest because he was asking questions about this Philistine Goliath. He’s just a boy. He’s a shepherd. He doesn’t belong on the front lines of battle. He was even looked down on. When he got to the front lines, he started asking questions which is where we pick up in verse 26: “And David said to the men who stood by him…”

David the shepherd: “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?”

David Platt: David is asking questions, wondering, “Who is this guy defying God and why the army of God is doing nothing about it.” Let’s pick up in verse 31 and these guys can act it out. “When the words that David spoke were heard, they repeated them before Saul, and he sent for him.  And David said to Saul…”

David the shepherd: “Let no man’s heart fail because of him. Your servant will go and fight with this Philistine.”

David Platt: “And Saul said to David….”

Saul: “You are not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him, for you are but a youth, and he has been a man of war from his youth.”

David Platt: “But David said to Saul…”

David the shepherd: “Your servant used to keep sheep for his father. And when there came a lion, or a bear, and took a lamb from the flock, I went after him and struck him and delivered it out of his mouth. And if he arose against me, I caught him by his beard and struck him and killed him. Your servant has struck down both lions and bears, and this uncircumcised Philistine shall be like one of them, for he has defied the armies of the living God.”

David Platt: “And David said…”

David the shepherd: “The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.”

David Platt: “And Saul said to David…”

Saul: “Go, and the Lord be with you!”

David Platt: Now King Saul is about to send this teenage shepherd boy David to the front lines, out of all his soldiers, to battle with Goliath of Gath. At this point, Saul tries to put his armor on David, but David refuses it. Verse 40 says David, “took his staff in his hand and chose five smooth stones from the brook and put them in his shepherd’s pouch. His sling was in his hand.”

Now, we really don’t want anyone to get hurt in this re-enactment today. I did find a slingshot around our house, but instead of five smooth stones, I’m going to provide five ping pong balls that are much more kid friendly and much more Chris Suarez friendly.

So now we’ve got David, slingshot, five “smooth stones,” plus Goliath and all of his “armor.” The battle is now set to begin: the clash of champions, the rally in the valley, the royal rumble. In this corner, weighing who knows how many pounds—probably more than David in his armor alone—is Goliath of Gath. All the Philistine army is cheering for him. In the other corner, a teenage shepherd boy with some ping pong balls [ah, stones] and a slingshot. All the Israelite army is now cheering for him. David approaches the Philistine; the Philistine moves forward toward David.

“And the Philistine moved forward and came near to David, with his shield-bearer in front of him. And when the Philistine looked and saw David, he disdained him, for he was but a youth, ruddy and handsome in appearance. And the Philistine said to David…”

Goliath: “Am I a dog, that you come to me with sticks?” Ruff, ruff, ruff.

David Platt: “And the Philistine cursed David by his gods. Then the Philistine said to David…”

Goliath: “Come to me, and I will give your flesh to the birds of the air and to the beasts of the field.”

David Platt: “Then David said to the Philistine…”

David the shepherd: “You come to me with a sword and with a spear and with a javelin [and with a green plastic light saber], but I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. 46 This day the Lord will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you down and cut off your head. And I will give the dead bodies of the host of the Philistines this day to the birds of the air and to the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel, 47 and 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.”

David Platt: “When the Philistine arose and came and drew near to meet David,” [which he can’t do because of the ladder], “David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet the Philistine. And David put his hand in his bag and took out a stone and slung it and struck the Philistine on his forehead.” Now, to the naked eye, it looks like he missed. But, if we rewind it and put this in slow motion, this is what we actually saw. [Goliath carefully climbs down the ladder and falls dramatically to the ground.]

[Now, it gets kind of graphic after this, so we will not act out the cutting off of Goliath’s head. Instead, we’ll skip to the reaction of the armies.] Verse 51. “When the Philistines saw that their champion was dead, they fled.” [So Philistine army, start running in place with fear on your face.]

Verse 52, “And the men of Israel and Judah rose with a shout and pursued the Philistines as far as Gath and the gates of Ekron.” So start running and shout very loudly as you do. In this way, David and the armies of Israel defeated Goliath and the Philistine army.

Let’s give it up for our actors all across this room. Well done, guys. There should be an award coming for that acting.

It’s not hard to see why this narrative is so well known, right? Who doesn’t love an underdog story? Who doesn’t want to picture themselves as David, taking on a giant and conquering him in triumph? Coaches give pep talks before sports games using this story. I’ve seen coaches give their teams rocks, saying, “We can win this game,” especially when they’re playing a really, really good team. What does that lead us to think about this Bible story?

Leadership gurus have used this story to motivate corporate leaders to take on new challenges. Secular books have been written using this story to inspire unexpected people to muster up their strength to do extraordinary things.

But what if none of these things are actually the reason God gave us this story? Even more, what if many of these things actually miss the entire point of this story? What if the point of this story, the reason God gave it to us, is far greater and far more meaningful than any of these things?

I mentioned at the beginning of our time together that I was praying God would use this story in three particular ways. One, for those of you who are not currently followers of Jesus; two, specifically for children and students; and three, for all of you who are walking through challenges in your life right now, that you might be deeply encouraged today. So let me take those in reverse order. I want to bring this story into your lap, into your story, right where you are sitting.

First, for those who are walking through particular challenges, there’s a tendency to take this story, put ourselves in the shoes of the story’s hero, David, and think, “I may be small, I may be weak, I may not have a lot of resources, but just like the hero David in this story, I can overcome any giant that comes my way.” But here’s the whole problem with that take on this story. David wasn’t the hero. David actually did everything he could to make sure that we don’t see him as the hero. Did you hear his words to King Saul when he said he could defeat Goliath? Verse 37 says, “The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.” The Lord has delivered me before and the Lord will deliver me again. Saul said to David, “Go, and the Lord be with you!” Then when David spoke to Goliath, what did he say?

You come to me with a sword and with a spear and with 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 defied. This day the Lord will deliver you into my hand…that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel,  and 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.

David knew exactly who the hero of this story would be, yet so many interpretations and applications miss this completely. This is so important. We can so easily view ourselves as David in this battle. We think we can overcome, whether it’s in a sports game, a corporate challenge, whatever battle we may engage in or trial we may walk through. But the reality is David only defeated this giant because the Lord, the true Hero of this story, was with him. David only defeated Goliath because he was standing on the word of the Lord, trusting in the power of the Lord and living for the glory of the Lord.

1 Samuel 17 Reminds us the Lord fights our battles

Follow this. If you’re not doing those things in any battle you face, then regardless of what you try to convince yourself of, you are not David—you are actually Goliath, opposing the word, power and the glory of the Lord. That’s the first takeaway from this story. Write it down. The Lord God fights battles for those who stand on His Word, trust in His power and live for His glory. This means then when you and I face challenges in our lives, first and foremost, we need to make sure, one, that we are standing on and obeying the Word of God. If we’re not walking in obedience to the Word of God, no matter how we may picture ourselves, we will be found opposing God.

In addition to obeying God’s Word, standing on His Word means trusting His Word, trusting His promises to you, that He is with you, that in the battle God is working in ways you don’t see. God has promised in His Word to provide you with everything you need. Stand on God’s Word and as you do, trust in God’s power. This is where I hope the story will prove deeply encouraging to you today.

I love how David basically says to Saul and the other Israelites, “You think this guy is a giant? You clearly don’t know the Lord. He’s the Giant.” David knew Goliath was a dwarf compared to God. We need to keep our trials in proper perspective. I don’t know what challenges you’re facing in your life right now—in your health, relationships, emotions, thoughts, trials or temptations—but I do know this: None of those challenges are greater than God.

For all who trust in Him, our battles belong to Him. The battle is the Lord’s, verse 47 says. God, the Lord, fights for those who stand on His Word and trust in His power. He fights for you and does it for His glory. Verse 46 says, “That all the earth may know” that He is the Lord. Don’t miss this. The point of this story is not to be brave and face giants; the point of this story is to be passionate about the glory of the Lord. What drove David into battle? It was zeal for the glory of God’s name, the Lord Yahweh.

This changes the way you face challenges in your life. Because now when you face challenges in your life—your health, relationships, work, whatever it may be—more than you desire anything else, you desire the Lord to be glorified in that challenge. That’s a different way to look at challenges in your life, because now your prayer, first and foremost, is not, “God, please take this challenge away.” Or, “God, please bring this challenge to an end.” Not that it’s wrong to pray that, but your prayer first and foremost should be, “God, please glorify Your name in this challenge, however You will, according to Your wisdom, because I want Your glory more than I want this challenge taken away. I want Your glory more than I want anything else.”

I think about men and women across our church family whom I’ve walked alongside amidst physical challenges. I think about a conversation I had just this morning, saying, “I want this to go away.” Even more than that, somebody is saying, “I want God to be glorified. And if that means this challenge endures, then I’ll pray that His glory may be known all the more clearly as a result.” That’s what’s happening here in 1 Samuel 17.

So for this perspective as we face challenges in our lives —and in this world—we say the Great Commission to one another every Sunday when we leave this room. Now if we’re going to make disciples of all the nations—starting right here in this city, then beyond this city in places like Afghanistan, Yemen, Somalia or North Korea—we’re willingly entering into challenges. This is what Jesus has called us to do in the Great Commission. Why? Why do we make sacrifices? Why do we change our life’s plans? Why do we rearrange our spending for the spread of God’s gospel among the nations? Why? Because we want God’s glory in this city, we want God’s glory among the nations, more than we want anything else. This is biblical Christianity. Not sitting back in fear like the Israelite army on the sidelines of this Great Commission, but stepping forward.

We are in a spiritual battle

There’s a spiritual battle raging for the souls of our family members, friends, neighbors, coworkers and three billion people in the world who have never even heard the name of Jesus. So where’s the brother/sister/man/woman/child who will step into the battle for the souls of others, that they might know the goodness, the love, the power, the Word and the glory of our God?

That’s the point of this story: that all the earth may know the salvation of our God. This is what we live for. We stand on God’s Word, we trust in God’s power, we live for God’s glory, then as we do, we can be confident. Every battle we face will belong to Him. He will fight for those who are doing these things.

That leads to the second takeaway, specifically for students and kids—so for all of you starting back to school. The reason I want to make this application today is because you’re in this season here at the beginning of fall when you’re going back to school, the time when you are technically training and learning for the future. Based on this story, I want to remind you of what God wants to do in and through your life in the present, like right now. Anybody school age, picture this. We don’t know how old David was exactly, but we do know he was looked down on as being too young—even ignored as being too young. But David knew something, and I pray that every student in this church family would know that it is not your age that is most important. I pray that you would know what David knew, when you’re standing on the Word of God, trusting in the power of God and living for the glory of God, that kind of faith can defeat giants and armies that even kings are afraid to face.

1 Samuel 17 reminds us to ask God to work

So here’s the second takeaway, specifically for students: Ask God to do amazing things in and through you during this school year for His glory. I want to challenge the next generation in our church family. Now, to be clear, I’m not talking about taking on a bigger guy at school or defeating a harder team in sports. I’m talking about something much greater than that. I’m talking about you—elementary, middle, high school, college—reading and memorizing God’s Word in ways you never have before, so you have something to stand on no matter what this world brings you. I’m talking about you, in all kinds of battlefields in our culture. I’m talking about praying at a deeper level.

I think about one middle schooler who committed to pray through the people in his yearbook every day, praying over every name, every face; praying for them to come to know Jesus, then looking for opportunities to share the gospel with them. That kind of praying is what I’m talking about. I’m talking about students carrying their Bibles around with them at school, initiating Bible studies at school, starting Bible studies in your homes, sharing the gospel with your friends, in your neighborhood, on your team, in that club—wherever it may be. I’m talking about getting together with friends and going to the mall or other public places just to share the gospel with other people. I’m talking about sacrificing any money you make from work or an allowance you get for the spread of the gospel.

I’m talking about college students seeing your campus as a mission field, coming up with creative ways to spread the gospel there. I’m talking about serving in local outreach, signing up for mission trips once we’re able to resume them. I’m talking about students who moved here this weekend to start our gap year program that starts today. Let me ask, would you stand and let’s thank God for His grace in them. These are for the most part high school graduates, from all over the United States, who have come here to spend the next nine months saying, “Before we go to college, before we start making decisions when it comes to my major, job, future, marriage or anything else, we want to make sure that we’re walking deeply with Jesus and are driven by zeal for His glory among the nations. That’s going to drive every decision we make.” Don’t forget. There are cults whose parents will raise their kids to spend a year out of high school spreading a false gospel all around the world. It’s time for those of us with the true gospel to start having different expectations for our kids in this world.

I’m talking about students of all ages following in the footsteps of David, refusing to say, “I’m only this old, so can’t do this or that.” Instead, say, “I want God to do amazing things in and through my life right now for His glory.” And for parents to set an example for what that looks like, to build that kind of faith in the next generation, to show what that kind of faith looks like in action. Students will not be what they cannot see, so let’s show them what this kind of faith looks like, what God wants to do in and through the next generation for His glory.

1 Samuel 17 leads us to pray for God to transform lives

Finally, I mentioned I was praying that God might use this story today to transform some people’s lives for all eternity. The ultimate purpose of this story is to point us to a much, much greater story. The ultimate purpose of this battle is to point us to a much, much greater battle, one fought, not in the middle of a mountain in Judah, but one fought at the center of all history.

On one side, there is an adversary called the devil, whose aim is to destroy every single one of our lives. He’s the liar, tempter, slanderer, deceiver who has lured every single one of us away from God and God’s ways for our lives. Who is able to stand against Satan? None of us. All of us have been wooed by him to defy God in our lives. And as a result, all of us deserve death—the just judgment due our sin. So where is the One Who can defeat sin? Where is the One Who can defeat Satan? Where is the One Who can conquer death? Where is the One Who is able to give life?

Over here, out of the meek shadows of a stable in the town of Bethlehem, the city of David, steps an unlikely Champion from the line of Jesse. He steps forward and stares temptation in the face day after day, year after year, of his life. He never once gives in. Then, even though He has no sin to die for, He willingly chooses to pay the price of death for sinners. He willingly goes to a cross where He breathes His last breath and is buried in a tomb—and it looks as though the adversary has won. Until three days later, He rises from the grave! “Who is this unlikely Champion?” you ask. His name is Jesus. He is the Lord. And all who trust in this Champion will be forgiven of all their sin and given life forever with Him.

Jesus has won

This is the ultimate story that has the power to change all of our stories for all of eternity. This is the third primary takeaway from this story. What’s this story about? It’s about the truth that Jesus has defeated Satan, He has defeated sin, He has defeated death, and He gives eternal victory to everyone who trusts in Him. Another way to put it is this: Jesus has slain the ultimate giant. Jesus has won the ultimate victory and is worthy of all of our trust. That’s the point of 1 Samuel 17. Not to trust in yourselves to go out, be brave and fight the giants in your life. No. That’s foolishness. No, put all your trust in Jesus, then every giant you face He will fight for you and with you, as you stand on His Word, as you trust in His power and as you ask Him to do amazing things in and through your life for His glory. That’s the real meaning of 1 Samuel 17.

So will you bow your heads with me? I just want to lead us right before God, based on His Word and what we’ve just seen. I want to lead us in a time of prayer specifically in light of these three groups I’ve talked about today. So if you’re walking through challenges in your life right now, if you need God to fight your battles for you, I’m going to invite you to raise your hand. All across this room and those who are watching online, just to acknowledge in a physical way before God, “I need Your help.” If you would say, “Yeah, I’m walking through some challenges. I’m walking through some battles right now,” just raise your hand. I want to pray over you.

1 Samuel 17 leads us to pray

God, we pray for every single person with their hand raised right now. You see them, You know them, You know their battles even better than they know them. You know those trials. You know every single detail involved with them. So, God, we pray—based on 1 Samuel 17—for all who trust in You, may they know that this battle belongs to You. May they know that You are with them, that Your Word is for them. God, we pray that You would protect them from every attempt of the adversary to fill their minds with lies about who they are, about what’s happening here or there, about Who You are. God, may they know they are loved by You.

May they know that they can trust You, that in the waiting You are working, in the hurt You are their Healer, that amidst sorrow, You provide comfort. God, may You give peace that passes all understanding. Guard their hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Provide everything they need according to the glorious riches that are ours in Christ Jesus. God, I pray that You would give them faith on days when faith is hard to come by, that You would help them patiently endure, so that You would be glorified in Your provision in them and through them. God, we pray that You would help them hold fast to You, draw closer to You through this trial, experiencing Your provision—to draw closer to You than they have ever been before. We pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.

You can put your hands down. We’ll continue in an attitude of prayer while I pray for the second group, praying specifically in light of 1 Samuel 17. Could you raise your hand if you are in preschool, elementary school, middle school, high school, college—any school age? I just want to pray a prayer over you.

God, You see all these hands. I pray that they would know how much You love them. I pray they would know You love them so much that You sent Your Son to die for them. God, I pray that You would draw them to Yourself, amidst all the attempts of the adversary to pull them away from You. In all the battles that are being fought around them, God, I pray that You would draw them to Yourself, that You would guard them, keep them and protect them.

Then I pray that You would bless them for the spread of Your glory through them. I pray that You would use them to lead others to Christ. I pray that You would give them bold faith, that they would not settle for anything less than all You desire for their lives. I pray that You would use them on school campuses, that You would use them in friends’ and neighbors’ lives, that You would use them on sports teams, in clubs and in all kinds of places where they are.

I pray they would spend their lives for Your glory. Help them experience the radical joy of walking with You in a way that’s totally different than anything else this world offers. May they find their deepest satisfaction in You. May You raise up, O God, a generation in this church family that loves You more than life itself, that’s living for the spread of Your glory, however You desire. We pray that over every single hand raised, in Jesus’ name. Amen.

You can put your hands down. Then I want to pray for this last group. I want to ask, all across this room and those online, are you a follower of Jesus? Have you put your faith in Jesus to save you from your sin, to give you eternal life with Him? If your answer to that question is not a resounding yes in your heart, then I invite you today to put your faith in Him. If you’re willing to do that, again with our heads bowed and eyes closed, would you just lift your hand right now, as a picture of you saying, “Today, I want to put my trust in Jesus. Today I want to follow Jesus. Today is the day.”

O God, You see these hands. We praise You that salvation belongs to You, that everyone who calls on Your name as Lord will be saved. So, God, as they raise their hands and say in their hearts, “Save me, O God, from my sin. I trust in Jesus as the Champion, the Savior, the Lord of my life,” may they know that this moment is the defining moment for all of eternity for them. May they walk with You from this day forward and experience Your victory in every way over sin and ultimately, by Your grace, over death.

Jesus, we praise You for dying for our sin, for rising from the dead. We praise You as the ascended Lord on high right now. We exalt Your name as our Champion, saying, “All our trust is in You. All our hope is in You. All our joy and peace is in You. You are the Hero. We’re definitely not the hero. So exalt Yourself as the Hero in our lives and through our lives.”

We pray that You would lead us and guide us, individually, as families and as a church family for the spread of Your glory as the Champion, here in this city and among the nations. We pray all of this in light of Your Word to us today in 1 Samuel 17, and in Jesus’ name. And all God’s people said, “Amen!”

David Platt serves as a pastor in metro Washington, D.C. He is the founder of Radical.

David received his Ph.D. from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and is the author of Don’t Hold Back, Radical, Follow MeCounter CultureSomething Needs to ChangeBefore You Vote, as well as the multiple volumes of the Christ-Centered Exposition Commentary series.

Along with his wife and children, he lives in the Washington, D.C. metro area.

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