on A Sling And A Prayer

Fighting in God’s strength

So how do we fight Goliath in God’s strength and not our own? Let’s ask young David. First he tells us: don’t listen to your critics.

When this youngest of Jesse’s eight sons volunteered to fight the giant, his brothers laughed him to scorn (v. 28). So did Joseph’s, as you recall, and Jesus’.

Then Saul would ridicule him (v. 33), as did Goliath; but so did the crowds while Noah built his ark. The children of Israel slandered Moses before the Read Sea; the crowds accused Peter of being drunk at Pentecost; the Romans thought Paul insane when he stood before their governors; the thieves made fun of Jesus on the cross. There will always be doubters.

To fight in the power of God, don’t listen to his enemies or yours.

Second, believe what God has done, he can still do.

David has killed a lion and a bear, so he knows he can kill a man (vs. 33-37). He knows what God has done in his life, so he knows what God can do.

In South America there is an Indian tribe which looks at life in exactly the opposite way from our worldview. We picture the past behind us and the future before us. They picture the past before them and the future behind them. They look at the past they can see for guidance in facing the future they cannot see. So did David. So should we.

Where has God been faithful to you in the past? Where have you seen his healing power, his forgiving grace, his mercy in your circumstances? Remember the lions and bears you’ve killed before with his help. What God has done, he can do.

Third, trust what God has given you.

Saul wants David to wear his armor (v. 38). The ancients saw this as a way of giving David some of his strength, and also gaining some of the glory for the victory David would win. Saul wants to defeat Goliath using the weapons of Goliath.

So David, a boy of 12 or 13, tries the armor of the tallest man in Israel, but it doesn’t fit (v. 39). We can imitate others, but we cannot wear their armor.

God has given you all you need to win the battles he has called you to fight. In this case the weapons are simple (v. 40): five smooth stones, typically two to three inches in diameter. The sling shot is two long cords with a pocket in the center in which the stone is placed; the slinger grasps the ends of the cords, whirls the stone, and shoots it by releasing one of the cords. The weapons aren’t much, but they are his. They are the abilities and gifts God has given to him. And they are enough.

When God called me to preach he called me, not Billy Graham. When he called you, he called you. With your faith, your talents and abilities, your problems and shortcomings. Moses stuttered, Daniel was a foreigner in a strange land, Peter and James were just fishermen, Paul was a murderer. Yet because of them the world will never be the same.

He called you. Find your weapons right now, and use them.

Fourth, fight in the power of God.

Goliath taunts David: “Come here, and I’ll give your flesh to the birds of the air and the beasts of the field!” (v. 44). To which this young shepherd boy replies, “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…All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves; for the battle is the Lord’s and he will give all of you into our hands” (vs. 45, 47).

To fight in the “name of the Lord Almighty” is to fight in his presence and power, with his strength and Spirit. Give the battle to him, and trust him for the victory he alone can give. Pray first, then step by faith into the future which is his.

When you refuse to listen to your critics, believing that God’s power in the past is his power for today, trusting all he has given you, fighting in the power he gives to those who surrender the battle to him in prayer, Goliath cannot win. Your sling will be true, the stone will find its mark, the giant will fall, the enemy will fail, the victory is sure.


Emily Dickenson’s experience with fighting Goliath is all too often ours:

I took my power in my hand

And went against the world;

‘T was not so much as David had,

But I was twice as bold.

I aimed my pebble, by myself

Was all the one that fell.

Was it Goliath was too large,

Or only I too small?

But it doesn’t have to be so. On Easter Sunday I quoted Dr. S. M. Lockridge’s description of the risen Christ. So many of you have asked me for those words that I thought I’d read his longer prayer from which they were taken. Today, as you face your Goliath, make this God yours:

He is unparalleled and unprecedented; he is the centerpiece of civilization.

He is the superlative of all excellence; he is the sum of human greatness.

He is the source of divine grace.

His name is the only one able to save, and His blood the only power able to cleanse.

His ear is open to the sinner’s call, his hand is quick to lift the fallen soul.

He is the eternal love of us all, every one, and you can trust him.

He supplies mercy for the struggling soul, and sustains the tempted and the tried.

He strengthens the weak and the weary; he guards and guides the wanderer.

He heals the sick and cleanses the leper.