1 The Philistines assembled their troops for war at Socoh of Judah. They camped between Socoh and Azekah at Ephes-dammim. 2 Saul and the Israelite army assembled and camped in the Elah Valley, where they got organized to fight the Philistines. 3 The Philistines took positions on one hill while Israel took positions on the opposite hill. There was a valley between them.
4 A champion named Goliath from Gath came out from the Philistine camp. He was more than nine feet tall. 5 He had a bronze helmet on his head and wore bronze scale-armor weighing one hundred twenty-five pounds. 6 He had bronze plates on his shins, and a bronze scimitar hung on his back. 7 His spear shaft was as strong as the bar on a weaver’s loom, and its iron head weighed fifteen pounds. His shield-bearer walked in front of him.
8 He stopped and shouted to the Israelite troops, “Why have you come and taken up battle formations? I am the Philistine champion, and you are Saul’s servants. Isn’t that right? Select one of your men, and let him come down against me. 9 If he is able to fight me and kill me, then we will become your slaves, but if I overcome him and kill him, then you will become our slaves and you will serve us. 10 I insult Israel’s troops today!” The Philistine continued, “Give me an opponent, and we’ll fight!” 11 When Saul and all Israel heard what the Philistine said, they were distressed and terrified.
This is the first story about Israel’s King David most children learn in Sunday School. Even in sports or business, we often talk about a “David and Goliath” story when a “little guy” takes on an established power. The Philistine giant, whatever his exact size (ancient manuscripts differ), was big enough to terrify King Saul and the whole Israelite army. But he didn’t scare David. For him, the size of his God mattered much more than the size of his enemy.
Lord Jesus, whenever I face a giant problem, teach me how to keep my trust in you, not in my own strength. And work through whatever gifts you’ve given me to help defeat life’s giants. Amen.
It’s hard to say which is more revered in western culture: the giant or the little guy. On one hand, we lift up the giants as super stars: “He’s a giant in the industry” or the New York Giants (then again, maybe I just have football on my mind since I've been watching the Chiefs play). On the other hand, we love a good underdog story. There is something exciting about cheering on the little guy. Whichever it is, we have David and Goliath to thank. I don’t know about you, but I have always thought David was such an interesting figure in Scripture. So much potential, and so many bone-headed decisions at the same time. (More on those, I’m sure, next week.) For today we get to focus on David the fierce warrior who took on a giant.
During the sermon this week, probably like many of you, I thought about my own giants. I realized that none of them took the form of suiting up for battle, but revolved around giant conversations. Preparing for a difficult conversation involves its own kind of gearing up. Think about the last time you needed to have a crucial conversation. You probably played out the conversation over and over in your head. You probably sought the counsel of people who you trusted to advise you well. Hopefully you spent a good deal of time praying about it. And finally you likely spent a decent amount of time stalling. We procrastinate because those big conversations can be overwhelming like standing in the shadow of a giant. They seem larger than life and we can easily convince ourselves that there’s no point in having it because there is no way it can go well.
I have dubbed this year my “year of difficult conversations.” Doesn’t that sound like fun? For some reason, I have found myself having more and more of these types of conversations this year. Before each one I find myself going over and over what needs to be said. My stomach gets in knots, my heart beats faster, and all I want to do is avoid it. I’m thinking David must have felt a little like this too. But here is what I have learned: these conversations are more than important, they are often life changing. What makes most of our difficult conversations hard is that it involves a relationship that is at risk. As people who were built for relationship it can often feel monumental. We ask ourselves:
If I confront them will this relationship end?
When I say “I’m sorry” will that fix it?
Will it ever be the same again?
The scary truth is we don’t know. What we do know is that it’s not supposed to be optional. Matthew tells us in Matthew 18:15, “If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over.” Moreover, we’re reminded to “Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.” (Colossians 3:13-14) We know this instinctively. When we leave things unresolved they tend to fester, further risking the relationship and our own peace of mind.
Sometimes our giant conversations won’t end in reconciliation. When I was in college I had to report my volleyball coach to the NCAA for abuse. That was a hard conversation that meant I couldn’t continue to play for that team. Other times, often I am finding this year, those conversations can bring healing and reconnection with those we love. So I ask you this week as you think about your Goliath conversations: what David steps do you need to take? It may be with shaky knees and a racing heart. It may be long overdue. It should be with prayer and grace. Let love guide you and take that first step into healing.
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