Sermon on 1 Samuel 17:1-54 | Facing the Enemy

Facing the Enemy (1 Samuel 17:1-54)

Troubles abound in this life. Diseases can zap our bodies. Loved ones disappoint. Sin constantly begs for our attention.

We must deal with these struggles-Ignoring them doesn’t make them go away.

The Jews faced trouble with Goliath. This giant threatened to destroy their army. We can see how to handle struggles by studying this story.

We Can Face the Enemy with Fear, vv 1-11

The Philistines and the Israelites were at war. “There was hard fighting against the Philistines all the days of Saul” (1 Sam. 14:52). The Philistines have been known as a war-loving people.

Goliath, the champion, came forth, and challenged the Israelites. In this age, single-combat was common. Two individuals would represent their armies and fight. The entire war would be determined by that one fight. Goliath was a champion in that he had proved himself in single-combat.

Goliath’s appearance was impressive. He stood almost ten feet tall. His armor weighed about 150 lbs. His spear’s head weighed about 19 lbs.

Goliath came forth and defied God’s army. He wanted to know why Israel had even shown up for battle since he was so powerful. He wanted the Israelites to send him a soldier. These two would fight. If Goliath won, the Israelites would serve the Philistines; if the Israelite won, the Philistines would serve the Israelites. He defied, cursed the Israelites.

Saul and those with him were terrified. They knew with Goliath’s great size they could not win. The Israelites really had given up hope-they were saying, “We just can’t win against him.”

We can be afraid of our enemies. The Israelites were afraid of the Canaanites (Num. 13:3-14:1). Our fear will accomplish nothing.

We Can Face the Enemy with Confidence, vv 24-40

Goliath came and defied Israel 40 days. During this time, Jesse sent David with provisions for David’s three brothers who were fighting alongside Saul. When David arrived on the scene, Goliath came forward and defied Israel.

The Israelites continued to be greatly afraid of Goliath. Although the Israelites had gone forth in battle, they fled from Goliath’s presence. The rumors in the camp was that great things would happen to the man who killed Goliath.

David wants to know what right Goliath has defying God. David inquires concerning what will be done for the man who kills Goliath. David sees Goliath as evil. This giant is a reproach to Israel. He defies the armies of the living God. Since Goliath defies God’s armies, he really defies God. There is here a contrast between the living God of the Israelites and the dead gods of the pagans.

David is brought before Saul. David told Saul not to worry that he would go fight Goliath, yet Saul knows that David cannot defeat Goliath. David can defeat Goliath because of God’s help. As a shepherd, David had killed both lions and bears. Goliath shall become like one of them since he has defied God’s armies. The LORD shall deliver David from the Philistine’s hands.

Saul sends David forth into battle. Saul gives David his blessing. Saul also fits David with his armor, yet because David isn’t used to it David refuses to wear it. David took his staff, five smooth stones, and his sling and went to meet the giant. In the Ancient Near East, slings were often used in war. Although David couldn’t use more sophisticated weapons, he could use what he had.

Like David, we can place our confidence in God. “Those who trust in the LORD are like Mount Zion, Which cannot be moved, but abides forever” (Ps. 125:1). “We may boldly say, ‘The LORD is my helper, I will not fear. What can man do to me?” (Heb. 13:6).

We Can Face the Enemy with Victory, vv 41-54

David and Goliath exchanged taunts. The Philistine disdained David. The Philistine saw that David was a youth–this made him angry, for he wanted to fight. Since David did not come with sword or javelin, the giant ask, “Am I a dog that you come after me with sticks?” Goliath cursed David with the name of his gods. Goliath promises to feed him to the birds and the beasts. Such was common for victors in the Ancient Near East. This shows that Goliath is assuming victory.

David taunted Goliath. Although the Philistine had great military might, David came before him in the name of the LORD. The LORD would strike down the Philistine, his head would be cut off, the Israel would gain victory over the Philistines. Everyone who heard this tale would know that God gives victory. The LORD does not save using conventional military weapons. The LORD will give victory.

When the Philistine came forward, David struck him down with his sling.

The Israelites conquered the Philistines. David cut off Goliath’s head causing the Philistines to run. The Israelites pursued the Philistines and conquered them. David took Goliath’s head to Jerusalem. Jerusalem was occupied by the Philistines at this time. Many speculate that David may have thrown the head over the wall as a warning.

We are more than conquers through Christ (Rom. 8:35-39).


This sermon was originally preached by Dr. Justin Imel, Sr., at the Owingsville church of Christ in Owingsville, Kentucky.

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