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1 Samuel 17:1-54
THE CASE OF THE BIG, BAD BULLY
Intro: One of the unfortunate realities of living is this world is the existence of bullies. There are some people, and we all know who they are in our lives, who enjoy pushing others around. Bullying is not a new phenomenon. Bullies have existed in our world since Cain killed Abel at the dawn of the human race.
While bullying isn’t a new phenomenon, it is a major problem.
• Children deal with bullies every day at school. Some then come home to a bully in the home.
• People work with bullies on their jobs.
• There are bullies among our neighbors.
• There are bullies in the church.
• There are bullies out in public.
• Bullies are everywhere.
• Bullies inhabit every sphere of our lives.
Bullying is defined as, “the use of threats of coercion to intimidate others. It is the activity of repeated aggressive behavior intended to hurt another person, either physically or emotionally.” Bullying can include verbal harassment and threats, physical assaults, or coercion. Coercion is “the use of intimidation or force to force someone into doing your will.” So, bullying is characterized by someone who behaves in certain ways in order to gain power over others.
The word “bully” first appears in 1530. At that time, it meant “sweetheart.” It comes from an old Dutch word that meant “lover, or brother,” depending on how the word was used. The meaning degenerated over time to mean “a fine fellow,” “a loud, swaggering person,” “a ruffian,” and eventually, it was used to refer to “a protector of prostitutes, a pimp.” It has become a word used to describe “one who uses physical, emotional, or verbal intimidation to gain power over others.”
A bully is someone who uses “physical, emotional, or verbal intimidation to control others.”
Here are some of the defining characteristics of a bully:
• Lacks empathy for others.
• Needs to control others.
• Gets angry quickly.
• Constantly reminds others of their weaknesses.
• Picks on those who don’t comply to his expectations.
• Makes others afraid through threats.
• Uses physical aggression to intimidate and control.
• Defies any who would share or correct his power.
Do you know any bullies? Are there any bullies here right now?
Bullies come in all shapes, sizes, colors, ages, and they wear all types of external packages.
• I have seen children who were bullies.
• I have seen husbands and wives who were bullies.
• I have seen elderly people who bullied others.
• I have seen rich people, poor people, wise people, and foolish people who were bullies.
• Teenagers can be bullies.
• Preachers and Deacons can be bullies.
• They are everywhere, and they are all the same.
• They are small-minded, evil-hearted people who want the power to control those who live around them.
Sometimes, bullies are not even people. Satan is a bully! His demons are bullies! Sin and evil are bullies. Temptation is a bully. The burdens we carry around, and the problems we face in life are bullies who seek to intimidate and control our lives.
Bullies are everywhere. I ran into one or two this very week. I’m sure you probably did too.
I want you to understand that the bullies we meet in life do not have to be tolerated. They must not be allowed to have their way. Most bullies are cowards! In spite of their threats, bullies can be overcome by people who are willing to stand up for what is right. Anyone who has faith in Almighty God, and a little courage in their heart, can see the bullies in their lives put in their place.
This passage is about a bully who was put in his place by a very unlikely young man. In the ancient, familiar story of David and Goliath, we see how all the bullies in our lives can be handled.
• If you had asked Israel about Goliath, they would have said, “This is a hopeless situation.”
• If you had asked King Saul, he would have said, “This is hopeless!”
• If you had asked David, he would have said, “Goliath is a bully, and God is about to deal with him!”
I want to walk through these precious verses today and show you once again that there is Hope For The Hard Cases. So, let’s consider the facts of this hopeless case and consider The Case Of The Big, Bad Bully.
I. V. 1-24 HOW THIS BULLY IS DESCRIBED
A. V. 1-4a His Source - Our text says that Goliath was a “Philistine.” The Philistines were one of the Canaanite tribes left over from Israel’s conquest of the Promised Land. They were a powerful, warlike people known for their expert skill in metallurgy. They crafted superior armor and weapons of war. The were also pagan idolaters, who worshipped the fish god Dagon. The Philistines occupied a region that extended from the shores of the Mediterranean Sea in the west to the foot of the mountains of Judah in the east. Goliath was a pagan, Gentile, idol worshipper. He was the enemy of Israel, and he was the enemy of God.
B. V. 4b-7 His Size - According to the first four verses of our text, the Philistines and the Israelites have met on the field of battle. They are preparing to fight a battle for control of the nation, or for a portion of it. Before the skirmish can begin, the Philistines challenge the Israelites to settle the battle using an ancient form of warfare. What they propose is for each side to send out their best warrior. These two warriors will meet between the opposing armies, and they will fight to the death. The army that loses this battle will become the servants of the victors, v. 8-9. Although it seems pretty foolish to us, it was not an uncommon thing for armies to settle their differences in this manner.
The issue here is the warrior the Philistines have chosen to fight for them. His name is Goliath, which means “splendor,” and he was a splendid physical specimen. Goliath was from the city of Gath. Gath was one of the five major cities of Philistia and it was located just west of the mountains of Judah in southern Israel. It was a very strategic military city on the Philistine/Israelite border. The people of Gath are referred to in the Bible as “Gittites.”
Goliath was not an ordinary soldier.
• He stood “six cubits and a span.” This means that he was “9’ 9” tall,” v. 4.
• He wore copper armor that covered his body from head to toe, v. 5-6.
• He wore copper body armor constructed from overlapping copper plates that resembled the scales of a fish. The piece of armor weighed “5,000 shekels,” v. 5, or about “200 pounds.”
• He wore “greaves,” or wrappings of copper, which protected his legs, v. 6.
• The “target” of copper that hung between his shoulders on the back was a round piece of copper that protected his upper back and held his spear.
• His spear is compared to a “weaver’s beam,” v. 7, which means it was several feet long and very thick. The head of his spear weighed “600 shekels of iron,” which is about “25 pounds.”
• Walking before Goliath was a soldier who carried another shield to help protect him from any arrows or spears launched by his enemies.
Goliath was a very formidable soldier. No doubt everyone who saw him feared him. No one wanted to face him in battle. He appeared indestructible and unconquerable.
C. V. 8-10, 16, 23 His Statements - Goliath comes out from the Philistine lines and challenges the Israelites to a fight. He mocks them and calls them cowards, v. 8. He demands that they send out a soldier to fight him, v. 8. Goliath does this twice every day for forty days, v. 16. Goliath is a persistent bully who will not give up. He is determined to get what he wants from the Israelites.
D. V. 11, 24 His Success - Verse 11 says when Israel heard the taunts of Goliath, they were “dismayed, and greatly afraid.” The word “dismayed” means “to break down from fear.” The phrase “greatly afraid” suggests they overcome with an “exceeding great terror.” The army of Israel was horror-struck, petrified, panic-stricken, and alarmed! The presence, appearance, and threats of the giant Goliath literally left the soldiers and king of Israel paralyzed with fear.
Goliath possessed all the trademark characteristics of a true bully.
• He was big.
• He was intimidating.
• He was bold.
• He was persistent.
• He was out for blood.
• He wanted to take the away the power from God’s people, and wanted total control over them.
• Goliath achieved his primary goal. He left the people of God intimidated and broken. He held absolute power over Israel and her king!
Are you facing any bullies? Got anything, or anyone, in your life that resembles Goliath? What I am asking is this: are there events, circumstances, or people in your life that leave you paralyzed with fear?
I think we all face such things from time to time.
• There are problems that arise in life that assume power over us.
• There are people who loom large in our minds, to the point where we actually fear them and what they might do to us.
• There are circumstances and situations that overwhelm us with their intensity.
• Sometimes the bullies we face leave us not knowing what to do or where to turn.
• If we are not careful, we will allow those bullies to intimidate us to the point where we become too afraid to do or say anything, lest the bully attack us and makes us hurt worse.
• If that describes your life right now, then your bully has you right where he wants you.
• Your bully is cruising to an easy victory.
I am thankful that this story doesn’t end with a victorious bully. If we will give our attention to the rest of this story, we might discover an amazing truth. That truth is this: The bully does not have to win! Folk, you can defeat your bully, no matter what, or who it is.
I. How This Bully Is Described
II. V. 25-30 HOW THIS BULLY IS DEFINED
So, Goliath threatens Israel. He mocks them. He challenges them to send out a man to fight him to the death. He does this eighty times over forty days. Each time he does, Israel responds by hiding in fear from an opponent they see as unbeatable. Even their powerful leader, King Saul, doesn’t out to face the giant from Gath. Fear rules the day in Israel.
Things are about to change. A young man named David has arrived on the battlefield. When he shows up, he sees the same giant the rest of the Israelites see. He hears the same taunts. He hears the same challenge. Instead of hiding in fear, David rises to the challenge and he does something about the bully.
What made David different from the rest of the men there? What made him think he could do what no one else thought could be done? I think the difference between David’s opinion of the situation and the rest of their opinions all came down to perception. David saw the same events and heard the same things the rest of the people heard, but he perceived things very differently. The difference in David’s viewpoint made all the difference in the outcome of this situation.
Let’s take a moment to consider the different perceptions that were active that day.
A. V. 25 Some Saw This Bully As An Opponent - When Israel saw and heard Goliath, they said “surely to defy Israel is he come up.” They saw Goliath merely as a threat to their nation. They saw him as a threat to their peace, their prosperity, and their happiness. When this bully stood up, all they could see was him and them. They could not see beyond how they felt about the matter. This is the view of fear!
This describes us, doesn’t it? When we face one of life’s bullies, there are times when we forget that the issue is bigger than us. For most, our primary focus is on how things make us feel. When we are afraid or threatened, and when the peace and security of our lives are in danger, we circle the wagons and we think only about how the unpleasant events of the moment are affecting us. In other words, when we face a bully, most of the time we turn our focus inward, and attempt to protect our little kingdom. When we do that, we miss the bigger picture.
That bully, no matter the name or face it wears, was sent to help you grow in the Lord. Whether you believe it or not, God is behind your bully! I’m not saying God did those bad things to you. I am saying that He permitted that bully to come into your life for your good and for His glory.
Remember what He said to us in Romans 8:28-30. “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.”
No matter how much pain your bully causes in your life, it wasn’t sent to you to destroy you. Your bully thinks it is there for that very reason. Despite what it thinks, it was sent to develop you. It was sent to make you more like Jesus, which was God’s goal in saving you to begin with. Listen to me today, if that bully in your life succeeds in getting your eyes off the Lord, the bully has won! If, however, you can face your bully with your eyes on the Lord, God will use the pain from that problem to help you become more like Jesus.
B. V. 26 Some Saw This Bully As An Obstacle - Israel saw Goliath as standing between them and what they wanted. David saw Goliath as standing between God and what God wanted. David said, “…for who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the Living God?” To David, this issue was bigger that Saul. It was bigger than the army of Israel. It was bigger than all of them put together. To David, this issue was about the glory of God. This was the view of faith!
For David, Goliath stood as a obstacle between God and His people. Goliath had to go, or Israel would be trapped in fear as they faced a bully they believed they could not defeat.
We need that same perspective. When we allow any bully to paralyze us with fear, we are rendered ineffective in the work of the Lord. Fear of your bullies will prevent you from saying what needs to be said. Fear of your bullies will stop you from doing what needs to be done.
• There are preachers who will not preach what the Bible says because they are afraid the bullies in the church will run them off.
• There are Deacons who won’t support their Pastor when he does preach the Bible because they are afraid of some bully.
• There are church members who won’t tell a gossip to shut their mouth because they are afraid of that gossiping bully.
• There are people who won’t witness because some bully has made them afraid.
• There are parents who won’t stand up to their children because they have raised bullies and the parents are afraid of them.
• There are wives who live in fear because a bully who keeps them in line with verbal threats and physical violence.
• There are husbands you are henpecked and browbeaten because their wife is a bully who does not know where the off switch is on her tongue.
• There are children who deal with bullies all day long at school only to go home to more bullying from their parents.
• There are churches who sit in fear Sunday after Sunday because their Pastor is a ignorant bully who intimidates the people and uses the Bible as a club to force them to walk according to his will. (Beware of the preacher who is always preaching about issues. Tie chains, long hair, tattoos, earrings on men, makeup on woman, short skirts, pants on women, etc. There is a glorious Gospel to preach. We need to tell this generation about Jesus, and not try to indoctrinate them and make them like us. Jesus said this to the legalistic Pharisees of His Own day: “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves,” Matt. 23:15. A congregation ought to be taught to live right because they love Jesus, not because they fear their preacher!)
• There are people who won’t vote their conscience in a church business meeting because it might offend some bully in the church.
• There are people who won’t teach Sunday school or serve in some other capacity because they are afraid of some ignorant bully.
• In our church life, all these bullies and more, stand as obstacles between God’s children and the will of God. The bullies must be seen for what they are. Bullies are trouble! Bullies are obstacles, and bullies must go!
In our personal lives, the bullies we face there, the problems, and other things that come our way are obstacles to the Lord’s will being done in our lives. We need to see them that way. When we do, we are ready to see those circumstances change!
C. V. 25-30 Some Saw This Bully As An Opportunity - The men around David tell him at least three times, vvs. 25, 27, 30, that the man who kills the bully will be rewarded by the king. Verse 25 says “the king will enrich him with great riches, and will give him his daughter, and make his father’s house free in Israel.” So, the man who kills the bully will get lots of money, he will marry the princess, and his family will no longer have to pay taxes.
David is apparently interested in the reward because he asks the men around him to tell him what will be given to the giant slayer twice more, vvs. 27, 30. Don’t get the idea that David is motivated by greed. Wealth is always appealing. Marrying a princess probably sounds good to a young man. The thought of not having to pay taxes would make anyone’s heart race with joy. David’s goal is not wealth, position, or power. David is motivated by something far greater. He is motivated by the glory of God.
Back in 1 Sam. 16, the prophet Samuel came to David’s house and he anointed David to be the next king in Israel. David knew that one day, he was going take Saul’s job. David knew that he was headed to the throne. I believe that David saw Goliath as a steppingstone in that direction. I believe that David looked at Goliath and realized that killing that bully would bring him closer to achieving what God had promised to him.
In verse 29 David, in response to the childish rant of Eliab, asks, “Is there not a cause?” David was the man God had chosen to be the new shepherd in Israel. When the bully Goliath threatened those people, it made David livid. He was angry because that bully was a threat to God’s people, God’s plans, and to God’s glory. In David’s mind, that simply would not stand. That bully had to go!
The sooner we realize that our bullies are an opportunity for God to receive glory from our lives, the sooner will be willing to stand up and face them in His power. He is not glorified when I am paralyzed by fear. He is glorified when I forget about myself, my agenda, my feelings, my wants, and concern myself with His glory alone.
Every bully in our lives is an opportunity for God to get glory from our lives. By the same token, every bully is an opportunity for us to fail. Our duty is to trust Him for the power we need to stand up to the bullies we face.
I. How This Bully Is Described
II. How This Bully Is Defined
III. V. 31-54 HOW THIS BULLY IS DEFEATED
David is determined to defend Israel and to deliver them from the insults and attacks of the bully Goliath. The remainder of this chapter teaches us how David defeated this bully. The methods he used to defeat that bully will work with any bully you face in your life. Notice how David defeated Goliath.
A. V. 31-37a He Is Defeated By Courage - David says that he will fight the giant. When he does, he is brought before the king. Saul doesn’t think David could do it, and he says so, v. 33. But, then again, neither did anyone else, Ill. V. 29. After all, what does a young man who has never been proven on the field of battle know about whipping bullies?
David quickly lets Saul and the rest of the men know that he has faced a bully or two in his time. He tells them about two times when bullies attacked his sheep. He tells them about how he killed a lion and bear that were threatening his sheep, v. 34-36a. David tells Saul that he sees no difference between those animals and Goliath, v. 36b. To David, they were all bullies who needed someone to stand up to them, and he was just the man to do it. In verse 37, David states his absolute confidence that just as God gave him victory over the lion and the bear, God would give him victory of the giant. In David’s mind, this is a fixed fight!
These verses teach us many truths, but what I want you to see today is this: David succeeded because he was not afraid to face the bullies in his life. That is not to say that David didn’t dread what was coming. I am sure there were butterflies the size of pterodactyls in his stomach. I am sure there were times when he faced the lion, the bear, and the giant that his heart nearly hammered out of his chest. It’s not that David didn’t have fear; what matters is that he did not allow his fears to stop him. David had the courage to stand for what was right, and against what was wrong. David triumphed because he was a man of courage.
Friend, if you are going to whip your bullies, you are going to need courage as well. I know how fearful it is to confront painful issues, and problem people. I know about the fear that rests in the pit of the stomach; the gnawing ache that warns you that things are about to get bad. I know about that, but I also know that when the moment to face the bully comes, the Lord will give you the courage you need to stand for Him against that bully.
It won’t be easy to face the bullies in your life, but remember this:
• The Lord has promised to be with you. “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee,” Heb. 13:5.
• The Lord had promised to see you through to the other side. “When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee,” Isa. 43:2.
• The Lord has promised to protect you. “No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and their righteousness is of me, saith the LORD,” Isa.54:17.
• The Lord has promised to enable you. “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me,” Phil. 4:13.
• The Lord has promised to give you victory. “Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us,” Rom. 8:37.
• The Lord has prepared us for a showdown with our bullies. “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind,” 2 Tim. 1:7.
Let these promises, and a thousand more besides, give you the courage you need to face your bullies. Without courage the bully will never be faced, thus it will never be defeated.
B. V. 37b-40 He Is Defeated By Conviction - David receives Saul’s blessing, and he prepares to go face the bully. Saul tries to put his armor on David, v. 38-39. David attempted to wear those things, but he realizes that they were not made for him, they were made for Saul. Of course, Saul is a foot taller than anyone else in Israel, 1 Sam. 9:2. There was no way his armor would fit David. David also knew that Saul had possessed this armor the whole time, and he still didn’t have the courage to face the bully. David knew the secret to success wasn’t in the armor of men.
David was a shepherd, and he picked up the tools of the shepherd, his shepherd’s bag and his sling, and he went out to meet Goliath. On the way, he stopped by a brook and chose him five small stones. He planned to use those stones as ammunition for his sling. Thus armed, David went to battle.
David has the conviction that bullies aren’t defeated by weapons or by the tactics of men. David knew that Goliath would only be defeated by the same power that had enabled him to defeat the lion and the bear. In both those cases, David identified “the Lord” as the source of his victory, v. 36. David’s conviction was that victory was in the hand of the Lord and nowhere else.
That’s the same conviction we need if we would see our bullies defeated. We can’t defeat them in our own power. Our weapons are ineffective against the bullies in our lives. But, against God’s power, they are helpless! I pray the Lord will give each of us the conviction that we need the Lord and His power if we are to defeat the bullies we face.
Where we are weak, He is strong. So, we need to forget about what we have done, or what we think we can do, and we need to place our faith in the God Who can!
“Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us,” Eph. 3:20. (That includes the power to give us victory over all our bullies.)
May God give us the conviction to know that He “is able,” even when cannot see what He is doing, how He will do it, or when it will be done! Ill. “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen,” Heb. 11:1. Faith in God is never misplaced, but it allows us to hold the victory over our bullies in our hands before we face them on the field of battle. David was convinced that he would be victorious, because David knew that God never fails!
C. V. 41-54 He Is Defeated By Confidence - David walked out to face that bully that day with absolute faith that he would walk back with the victory. Consider the conversation David has with the bully in verses 41-47. David knows what is about to happen. He has his faith in the Lord, and the Lord doesn’t lose!
• David and the bully close the gap in verse 48.
• David has such faith in God that he is running to meet the bully.
• As he runs, David reaches into his shepherd’s bag and takes out a single stone.
• He places that stone in his sling, he winds up, and he slings that stone at Goliath.
• The stone hits him directly between the eyes, sinks into his head, and the bully is dead before he ever hits the ground, v. 49.
• To be sure, David runs to the fallen body of that bully, draws Goliath’s own sword and cuts off the bully’s head, v. 51.
• The Israelite soldiers, inspired by David’s faith and courage, join the battle and rout the enemy, v. 52.
• David walks off the battlefield with a bully’s sword in one hand and a bully’s head in the other, v. 54.
• What a victory!
What made this victory possible? It wasn’t David’s ability with a sling! It wasn’t David’s power, or his skill as a warrior! The secret to David’s success and Goliath’s death all came down to one word: faith. David believed God, and God handed David the victory.
That’s how it works. You will never defeat your bullies in your own power. You need not even try. But, you can and will defeat them through His power. Put your bullies in the hand of God and trust Him to give you the victory over them all. Faith in God is the key to victories in all the battles we face with life’s bullies.
• “For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith.Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them,” Mark 11:23–24.
• “And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us: And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him,” 1 John 5:14–15.
How do I know that it is God’s will for my bullies to be defeated? I know because “faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God,” Rom. 10:17. And the Word of God says, “If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed,” John 8:36. The Lord did not save us for us to be defeated and held in bondage by the bullies we face in life. The Lord saved us to set us free to live a new life of victory for the glory of God. It worked for David! It will work for you too!
Conc: How about you? Are you facing any bullies today? I would say we all are. What are you going to do about them?
• Are you going to hide in your tent and let those bullies hold you in bondage?
• Are you going to let them defeat you and stand between you and the wonderful things God has for you?
• Or, are you going to stand up to them like David did?
• Are you going to stand up to them, with your faith in the power of God, and trust Him to give you the victory?
Whatever, or whoever, the bullies may be in your life, today is the day when they need to be faced. Today is the day when you can be set free from their power in your life.
• If your bully is sin, and it has you held in cruel bondage, come to Jesus and let Him save your soul. He can deliver you from that bully today.
• If you are saved, and your bully is a person, or a problem, some besetting sin, or anything else you want to name. Bring that bully to Him and let Him give you the courage you need to face it and deal with it.