BY PASTOR JOHNIE AKERS
1 Samuel 17:1, 4, 11, 24, and 45:
¹ Now the Philistines gathered together their armies to battle, and were gathered together at Shochoh, which belongeth to Judah, and pitched between Shochoh and Azekah, in Ephesdammim.
⁴ And there went out a champion out of the camp of the Philistines, named Goliath, of Gath, whose height was six cubits and a span.
¹¹ When Saul and all Israel heard those words of the Philistine, they were dismayed, and greatly afraid.
²⁴ And all the men of Israel, when they saw the man, fled from him, and were sore afraid.
³² And David said to Saul, Let no man’s heart fail because of him; thy servant will go and fight with this Philistine.
⁴⁵ Then said David to the Philistine, Thou comest to me with a sword, and with a spear, and with a shield: but I come to thee in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom thou hast defied.
Here is our new reality: Things will never be the same as they have been. Will a vaccine be developed for COVID-19? Yes. Sooner than later. Before year end. But even with that, the world as we knew it will never be the same.
As Christians, we are now at a crossroads. Either we will be propelled to a new level of faith or be paralyzed by a new level of fear. The choice is ours.
In our text from 1 Samuel 17, verses 4, 11, and 24 describe how that Israel had been paralyzed by a new level of fear. Think about it. God’s covenant people were cowering in fear from an enemy they had never before faced.
Verses 32 and 45 describe a young man, David, who is propelled, though, to a new level of faith.
Notice. They both are facing the same giant. But one reacts in fear, and the other in faith.
Goliath’s height was 9’, 9”. His armor weighed approximately 175 lbs. He carried a spear that was like a long, heavy weaver’s beam weighing 17 lbs., with a spearhead that weighed 15 lbs. He was covered in armor made of solid brass. No doubt when this 10 foot tall giant stepped out into the sun, the reflecting rays added to his frightening appearance. Every day for 40 days this giant appeared and mocked the armies of Israel and cursed their God and challenged them to send someone out to fight him.
How long have we been challenged by the giant we currently face? China first faced it on New Year’s Eve 2019. The first case was detected in the U.S. in February 2020. By mid-March of this year, all 50 states had reported cases.
Now every day, we hear about new cases, and new deaths. As people of faith, we do not deny the reality of the giant. David didn’t tell Israel, “Oh, he’s just a figment of your imagination.” No. But instead of being paralyzed by fear at the sight of the giant, he was propelled by a new level of faith.
When Saul’s army said “He’s too big to fight.” David said, “He’s too big to miss!”
You cannot miss the importance of verse 1 of this chapter. You see, David had the home field advantage. According to verse 1, the Philistines had gathered themselves together against Israel to fight on land that belonged to the tribe of Judah. David was from the tribe of Judah. David was on his own turf. Furthermore, Judah means “praise.” While the enemy has attacked you on the field of your praise, it is your praise that will be the ground on which he is defeated!
As we move deeper into this account, David makes up his mind that Goliath has to die. When he makes this statement, he is immediately met with opposition. First, his brother, Eliab, tells him that David is just there to show off and see and be seen. Then, when King Saul hears of David’s plan, he tells David that it can’t be done because David is just a kid and Goliath is a real man and a warrior. How would you like to have these guys for your cheerleaders?
Here’s what I have learned during this Public Health Emergency. Not everyone will have the same perspective as we do. Not everyone is going to reinforce our faith. Reports now say there is a spike. There is a spike in new cases. There is a new spike in fear. Well, here’s what the Lord would say to us in this hour. With the new spike in fear, there must be a corresponding new spike in faith!
How do we experience a new spike in our faith? Look what David does:
He remembers a day when a wild lion and bear came out of the forest and attacked his sheep. He recounts in verse 34: “Thy servant kept his father’s sheep, and there came a lion, and a bear, and took a lamb out of the flock: and I went out after him, and smote him, and delivered it out of his mouth: and when he arose against me, I caught him by his beard, and smote him, and slew him.”
He continues in verse 37, “The LORD that delivered me out of the paw of the lion, and out of the paw of the bear, he will deliver me out of the hand of this Philistine.”
David affirmed that the same God who gave him victory over the lion and over the bear, will give him victory over the giant! Do you remember??? Do you remember the times the Lord has healed you, delivered you, given you the victory over what seemed to be insurmountable odds? The same God who delivered you then, can and will deliver you now!
There stands Goliath with his armor and his weapons. But David didn’t know armor, and swords and spears. But he knew slings, stones, and God. So he just stuck to what he knew.
Listen friend, I don’t know pharmaceutical research. I don’t know the biological sciences. I don’t know how to develop a vaccine. But here’s what I do know. I know prayer, I know praise, and I know purpose!
I will leave the armor, sword, and spear to the King Saul’s of the world. I will stick to my sling and stones! I will do what I know to do and use the weapons I am familiar with! The same God that gave me victory in the past, will give me victory now!
In closing, here is what the Lord would say to us in this hour. With the new spike in fear, there must be, and can be, a corresponding new spike in faith!
To establish the people of Central Appalachia in the principles of the Kingdom of God, and thereby releasing them to rise above all cultural, historical, economic, and generational limitations so they may live abundantly within their privileges and covenant as sons and daughters of God.