“Against All Odds”
At times do you feel overwhelmed by the enemy? Are there obstacles, problems, or perhaps even people who stand in your way? They make your life more difficult than it already is and cause a great deal of anxiety. You might even feel like you are facing insurmountable odds. Well, that happens to all of us at one time or another. Our patience is tested. Our faith is challenged. We even consider a variety of options. We do everything we can to overcome as we rely on our own abilities and resources. Often times the last option we consider is the Lord. Yes, we forget about our powerful God. In fact, the Lord Almighty is always to be our first option. He is able to do far more than we could ever ask or imagine. The Lord fights our battles, overcomes our problems, and defeats our enemies. Well the message today revolves around a young man who faced all kinds of obstacles. His back was up against the wall, and the odds of him coming out on top were against him. He had little experience in battle, but he had lots of experience in trusting the Lord. In the face of great danger he did not rely on his own strength, rather he trusted in the strength of God. Indeed, the Lord provided the victory. He defeated the enemy and was victorious. In this Old Testament story I hope you will discover that God is constantly at work in your life; He knows your name, He sees what you need, and He always provides. Spend the next few minutes with us as we study the lesson titled, "Against All Odds," here on, "Key to the Kingdom."
One of the most familiar and popular stories in the Old Testament part of the Bible is found in 1st Samuel chapter 17. Perhaps you have heard the story of David and Goliath. Today I want us to take a fresh look at that story and make some practical application for our lives today. The man Goliath was a warrior in the Philistine army who stood almost 10 feet tall. That's hard to imagine; isn't it? Whenever he went out he received all kinds of stares and looks from other people. Perhaps they were wondering how he could grow so tall, and not only that, but he was a very powerful and impressive and imposing figure. We might call such a person today a giant. And as he was a warrior in that army, he struck fear in the hearts of all of the enemy nations and the enemy armies the Philistines faced. Often times when the Philistines would come up against an army and Goliath would be out front, the people would see him and just turn around and run away. Oh, they did not want to have anything to do with Goliath and the Philistines. His armor was also big and heavy, weighing some 125 pounds. Even the tip on the end of his spear weighed some 15 pounds. Certainly it must have killed a number of people. Well, the Philistines were perhaps the number one enemy of God's people, the Israelites. They constantly fought over the possession of land and boundary and property lines. In chapter 17 the two armies prepared for battle near the Valley of Elah. Saul was the king of the Israelites, and he had his people on one side of the valley on the edge of a mountain, while Goliath and the Philistine army was on the other side of the valley, there on that mountain. And at least two times every day for some 40 days Goliath walked down into the valley and he taunted the Israelite army. He asked if there would be anyone in that army who would come down and do battle with him. Yes, he made fun of the army. He made fun of the God of Israel. We read about that happening in the 17th chapter beginning with verse 8: <Goliath stood and shouted to the ranks of Israel, "Why do you come out and line-up for battle? Am I not a Philistine, and are you not the servants of Saul? Choose a man and have him come down to me. If he is able to fight and kill me, we will become your subjects, but if I overcome him and kill him, you will become our subjects and serve us." Then the Philistine said, "This day I defy the armies of Israel, give me a man and let us fight each other." When hearing the Philistines words, Saul and all the Israelites were dismayed and terrified.> We can imagine that going on; can't we? Goliath is walking back and forth in front of the Israelites, he is taunting them, he is making fun of them. Then he says, "I really have absolutely no respect for you and for your God. I defy the armies of Israel. Just send one down, one man down to me and we will fight here in this valley and the victor will take over the other person's army." Well the Israelite army perhaps responded like many of the other enemies of the Philistines, they backed away from the battle line. Perhaps they even were so terrified they thought about turning and running away like so many others had done. Well about that time a young man by the name of David comes upon the scene. He has been back home, near the village of Bethlehem, taking care of the family sheep, and that's what he did; but his father Jesse asked him to make this 15 mile trip over to the Valley of Elah, and to check on the status of the battle. Jesse had at least three other sons who were fighting in the Israelite army and he had not heard from them for quite some time. So, David was sent there to see what was happening and then to return with a report of what was going on. Well, Jesse also gave David some grain and some cheese and some bread to take with him and to give to his brothers there on the battleground. When David arrived, his brothers were concerned and they said, "What are you doing here? You need to be back home taking care of the sheep. Let us handle the battle. We know what we are doing. And, tell your father that everything is fine." Well, David was a little bit confused. He saw what was happening here, and he heard the taunts and all of the threats of Goliath. And he asks a question in verse 26, "What will be done for the man who kills this Philistine and removes this disgrace from Israel?" David did not back down from the threats of Goliath. He did not see Goliath as any kind of a figure that would overtake the armies of Israel. In fact, David said, "You are nothing more than a disgrace and an embarrassment to the armies of Israel." And so he asked the question, "Is there a reward for someone who will take down Goliath and get rid of this disgrace who is embarrassing our people and our God?" Well, no doubt there was some discussion going on about that. Saul was concerned about this young man going and fighting the battle by himself, and David said, "Oh no, it can be done," and his brothers no doubt were involved in that conversation as well. Then David tells Saul a story about what had happened to him in the past. We find that story in verses 34 through 37. <David said to Saul, "Your servant has been keeping his father's sheep. When a lion or a bear came and carried off a sheep from the flock, I went after it, struck it and rescued the sheep from its mouth. When it turned on me I seized it by its hair, struck it and killed it. Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear. This uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, because he has defied the armies of the living God. The Lord who rescued me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will rescue me from the hand of the Philistine."> Even though David was probably no more than 20 years of age at this time, he was willing to go down and to fight the giant Goliath; for he knew that God would be with him and that God would provide this great victory. And as he tries to convince King Saul of that, he shares this story, that some time back in the past when he was in the field taking care of the sheep, a lion attacked the flock, and so did a bear. Those animals took the sheep in their mouth and carried them off, but David chased the lion and the bear, rescued the sheep, and then killed those animals. Then he said something very important, "As the Lord has rescued me from the paw of the lion and the bear, so too He will rescue me from the hand of Goliath." David has complete confidence in the Lord. Oh, nobody believes David can handle this task, especially King Saul. In fact, Saul gives David his armor. He says, "Put this on, so you will be protected when you fight Goliath." David put it on and it was bulky and heavy, and he quickly got rid of it, because he knew he did not need it. And so, with that in mind, David prepares to go and meet Goliath. And he confronts this great giant with these words in verses 45 through 47. <David said to the Philistine, "You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel whom you have defied. This day the Lord will deliver you into my hands, and I will strike you down and cut off your head. This very day I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds and the wild animals, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel. All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves, for the battle is the Lords, and He will give all of you into our hands."> As David confronts the giant, and he lets him know that this is the last day he will live upon the earth, David said, "Here's what's going to happen. I am going to come to you in the name of the Lord my God, and He will be victorious over you and your sword and your spear. I'm going to strike you down and I'm going to kill you, and it will be all over. And once that happens then everyone will know that there is a God in Israel, and He is far more powerful than you or anybody else." Well, we know what happens next; don't we? David goes down into the Valley of the Elah, he gathers some stones, he puts one into his slingshot and he throws it at the giant. That stone hits Goliath in the middle of the forehead and Goliath falls face forward to the ground, dead. David then goes over to the giant and he takes the giant sword from his belt and he chops off Goliath's head. When the Philistines see that, they begin to run. They are afraid. They realize that their great warrior has been defeated and he is dead. Well, the Israelite army begins to pursue the Philistine army and many of the Philistines are overtaken and killed. And David's prophetic words that he told Goliath indeed come true as their carcasses are left for the birds of the air and the beasts of the field. Well, as we see in this story, David killed Goliath, the Israelites were victorious, and God received the credit. When I think about this story there are at least three things that stand out to me, and perhaps you notice them as well. Number one, the foolishness of making fun of God and his people. Oh, Goliath did not know what he was doing, He did not know who or what he was up against. He was a foolish giant who laughed at these people, who had no respect for God or for the armies of Israel. Because of that he met with his death. His life was over. Oh how foolish it is, even still today, to make fun of God and to show no respect for Him or for His people. The second thing we notice is the fearlessness of a young shepherd to battle a giant. David trusted God to provide the victory. Oh, in the minds and the eyes of so many people, David was at a huge disadvantage; he was young, he was inexperienced, he was nothing more than a sheepherder, he had no armor, he had no weapon. But, he had God, and he was fearless as he stood toe to toe with Goliath the giant and took his life. Oh, the fearlessness and the courage of this young shepherd encourages us to live with great courage today. And then the third thing that I noticed in this story revolves around the faithfulness of God to fight the battle. God worked through this courageous young man to demonstrate His power and His strength. He let the whole world know that He is far more powerful than any enemy that might come up against the army of Israel. Over and over again through Scripture we find that God reminds His people that He indeed is faithful. If they would but simply put their trust and confidence in Him, then He would provide the victory. And we see that here; and we know that it is true still today. The faithfulness of God is always available. When I think about this story I sometimes reflect on what Goliath must've looked like. I wonder what he really was like as a great big huge giant. And when I think about Goliath, I sometimes think about Satan. If Satan was to have some kind of flesh or skin or physical features about him, he might resemble the imposing figure of Goliath. I think about someone who is powerful and mean. I think about someone who wants to destroy our relationship with God. That's what Satan wants to do; isn't it? Satan is alive and well and working in this world, and there is a battle going on between us. He seeks to draw us away from the Lord. He wants us to be on his side. He wants us to belong to him. He wants us to turn our back on the Lord God Almighty, and to submit to him, and to give into the temptations and to the sin that he puts into our lives. At the same time, God wants us to be on His side, He wants us to resist Satan. He wants us to say, "No more Satan," and to stay away from Satan's temptations and his entices to enter into that valley of sin. Yes, the battle we fight against Satan has absolutely nothing to do with battlegrounds or boundary lines; it has to do with our hearts. Satan wants our hearts, and so does God. Satan wants our allegiance, and so does God. Yes, Satan wants to draw us into a battle with him, much like Goliath tried to draw David into a battle down there in the valley. Satan does that in a variety of ways; doesn't he? Consider some of the battles you might be facing in life. Do people make fun of you and your faith in the Lord? Do they laugh at your commitment to the Lord God Almighty? Do they try to get you to turn away from Him and to go into the ways of the world and to do that which is not right? Perhaps there are some people who make you feel insignificant or inferior, and that's a real struggle. You perhaps feel like David felt when his brother said, "Let us handle the battle, you can't contribute anything here, you are insignificant, go back home and take care of the sheep." Perhaps there are some who make you feel like that, that you are insignificant and you have nothing to contribute and nothing to offer. Yes, we face all kinds of battles and struggles in life, and those are Satan's temptations to get us to go to his side and to turn our back upon the Lord. I think also about the armor that Saul put upon David. It was heavy, it was bulky, and David got rid of it just as soon as possible. He did not want that, but rather he simply wanted to put his trust in the Lord. Perhaps there is some baggage that you carry into your battles. Maybe it's time to get rid of that, so that you can be freed up to fight Satan by the strength and the power that comes from God. When we think about all of those things, we recognize that it's not our battle, but rather it is a battle that belongs to the Lord. When we feel under-whelmed or overwhelmed or under-prepared for the battles in life, we are to remember that God is the source of our strength, and He wants us to rely upon Him. So, we can fight the battles on our own and meet with certain defeat, or we can trust God to fight our battles for us, and meet with certain victory. There is a little passage found in 2nd Chronicles chapter 20, verse 15, the words are simple, but so true: "The battle is not yours, but God's." That's good to know; isn't it? Whatever battles we might be facing in life, we don't have to take them on ourselves, they belong to the Lord and He has already provided a victory on our behalf. In Psalm number 27 we find some words that perhaps were written by David. Oh there was some controversy as to who is the author of these words, but they seem to come from this young man, David. I want to read the first three verses of that Psalm. As I do, think about how they apply to the very thing that we just studied here in 1st Samuel 17. David writes, "The Lord is my light and my salvation, whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life, of whom shall I be afraid? When evil men advance against me to devour my flesh, when my enemies and my foes attack me, they will stumble and fall. Though an army besiege me, my heart will not fear. Though war break out against me, even then will I be confident." Yes, David had great confidence in God, out in the field keeping the sheep or in the Valley of Elah fighting the giant Goliath; and, he knew that he would be victorious. Oh there is no need to be afraid of the enemy when God goes to battle on our behalf. I don't know for sure what battles you might be facing in life. I don't know what kind of struggles you are up against. In fact, you may find yourself with your back against the wall, and you are facing all kinds of odds. But I want you to know that whatever battle you might be facing, the victory belongs to the Lord, and He already has a solution. Therefore, my prayer for you today is that you will live with great confidence and courage in the Lord God Almighty, and allow Him to fight your battles on your behalf, and to know that He will be victorious.
Not long ago I took a short trip with my friend. As we were traveling together he got to sharing with me all of the various things going on in his life. He told me about his sister who recently passed away. He told me about another family member who was put into hospice care, and she was not expected to live very long. He talked about his children and some of the medical problems and issues they had to deal with on a regular basis. He then said that, "I don't have time to work, because I have to see about all of these family members. And then on top of that, I don't know for sure what I want to do." Oh, he does pick up a few jobs here and there, and is able to get along. But I thought to myself, there doesn't seem to be much hope for this man. Everything and everybody is against him and he is fighting an uphill battle. No doubt, all of us sometimes feel like we are fighting an uphill battle. We feel as if the enemy is weighing heavily upon us and we don't know for sure how to handle all of that. We get discouraged, and we are overwhelmed by the enemy. We are afraid for our life, and we wonder what's going to happen from one day to the next. The message is, remember that God fights our battles for us. The battle belongs to Him. He has already provided a victory. We may just not quite know it yet; and that's okay. The Lord will provide the victory in His due time. He knows exactly what needs to take place in your life. I trust that you will put your faith and your belief in the Lord God Almighty, as the victory belongs to Him.
Thank you for taking time to watch this latest episode from, "Key to the Kingdom." I trust it blessed you spiritually. The next time you face incredible odds, or feel as if you are overpowered by the enemy, remember the Lord, who fights your battles. If you have not visited our website recently, I encourage you to do so. Go to keytothekingdom.com, and there you will find this lesson and a number of others, which might be of interest. Feel free to download any of them without any cost or commitment. Other resources are also available, daily devotional thoughts, and short video messages are easily accessible. Information about this ministry and the work in India is there as well. You can even sign up for a free Bible study. When you call the number on the screen, you can request the same Bible study to be sent by mail. Leave your name and address, and we will be happy to get it out to you very soon. It will tell you more about God's love and salvation. Again, there is no cost or obligation to receive it. At "Key to the Kingdom," we try to take advantage of many media opportunities. A free phone app can be downloaded onto your smart phone. You can find us on Roku® television, Facebook, and when you type in the words "Key to the Kingdom" on the Internet. I hope you will do that and explore our ministry, both in the United States and in India. Thank you so much for being a part of today’s message. Next week at this same time another one will be shared. I hope you will join us then, as we continue to study the Bible on “Key to the Kingdom.”