A foreign enemy on your soil is a problem, but it was not the really big problem for the Israelites. Looking at a familiar Bible story, helping us to answer the question, "How do I overcome really big problems?"Greensburg Church of the Nazarene
*not a word for word transcript, but the sermon manuscript*
A REALLY BIG PROBLEM
PART ONE: UPSET AND AFRAID
How do I overcome really big problems? That is the question for this series, looking at an Old Testament featuring a really big problem. We watch movies like Rocky, The Lord of the Rings, and read stories of others who encounter impossible obstacles and find a way to triumph. But cannot seem to find a way to overcome the obstacles in our life. Let us look at this familiar story to learn how to be conquerors.
1 Samuel 17:1-11:
1 Now the Philistines gathered their armies for battle; they were gathered at Socoh, which belongs to Judah, and encamped between Socoh and Azekah, in Ephes-dammim. 2 Saul and the Israelites gathered and encamped in the valley of Elah, and formed ranks against the Philistines. 3 The Philistines stood on the mountain on the other side, with a valley between them. 4 And there came out from the camp of the Philistines a champion named Goliath, of Gath, whose height was six cubits and a span. 5 He had a helmet of bronze on his head, and he was armed with a coat of mail; the weight of the coat was five thousand shekels of bronze. 6 He had greaves of bronze on his legs and a javelin of bronze slung between his shoulders. 7 The shaft of his spear was like a weaver’s beam, and his spear’s head weighed six hundred shekels of iron; and his shield-bearer went before him. 8 He stood and shouted to the ranks of Israel, “Why have you come out to draw up for battle? Am I not a Philistine, and are you not servants of Saul? Choose a man for yourselves, and let him come down to me. 9 If he is able to fight with me and kill me, then we will be your servants; but if I prevail against him and kill him, then you shall be our servants and serve us.” 10 And the Philistine said, “Today I defy the ranks of Israel! Give me a man, that we may fight together.” 11 When Saul and all Israel heard these words of the Philistine, they were dismayed and greatly afraid. (NRSV)
This is the Word of God, for the people of God, thanks be to God.
IN THE TEXT:
***[v1-3] THE NOT-SO-BAD PROBLEM***
The really big problem was not the Philistine army. Do not get me wrong, anytime a foreign army is standing on your soil, that is a problem. But for the Israelites, this was not a really big problem. This is why they asked for a king, and God gave them one in Saul. Saul had already lead them to victory against the Ammonites and also the Philistines.
***[v4-10] THE REALLY BIG PROBLEM***
The really big problem was Goliath, the Philistine champion. He was nine feet tall. Goliath was wearing bronze armor that weighed one hundred and fifty pounds. His spear, the part that stabbed you, weighed fifteen pounds. And if that was not warning enough to keep away from this guy, Goliath had a guy who stood in front of him holding his shield. Okay, maybe that is not that scary. But let’s face it, Goliath was a tank who did not need a shield.
If his appearance did not scare you, then Goliath’s attitude would. He stood between the two armies, shouting, “Today I defy the ranks of Israel!” Goliath had a lust for blood, indicated by, “Give me a man, that we may fight together!” It was not enough that Goliath was a giant, but he knew it and deemed himself unstoppable. To be free of the Philistines, a champion from the Israelites would have to fight this man, and his shield bearer.
***[v11] THE IMPOSSIBLE PROBLEM***
The Israelites had a champion, his name was Saul. That is why Saul was anointed as king. When he was anointed as king, Saul was described as a son of a man of wealth who “there was not a man among the people of Israel more handsome than he; he stood head and shoulders above everyone else.” (1 Samuel 9:1-2) Saul fit the part of a champion. He had lived the part in the past. But notice in verse 11, the writer makes sure to mention Saul as being “dismayed and greatly afraid.” Goliath was a really big problem, too impossible to be defeated by Israel’s champion.
Saul was not the only one who was too afraid to fight. “All Israel…was dismayed and afraid.” Then again, when your champion, the leader who is supposed to never back down is hiding in the bushes, what do you expect to happen? As king, Saul was to lead by example. Goliath was a really big problem, that no one could conquer.
FROM THE TEXT:
Goliath was a really big problem, inflating the other problem that was the Philistines. But it was the minds of Saul and the Israelites who had built it up as an impossible problem. Their mind led to a loss of heart, which is important to overcoming any problem. Then again, the Israelites allowed outward appearances to dictate their response.
In Ephesians 6, Paul writes to the church about being ready for spiritual warfare, telling them to suit up in spiritual battle armor. The very first piece Paul tells them to put on is the “the helmet of salvation.” He does not tell them to put blinders on to ignore the problem. Instead, Paul tells them to put on a helmet on, because the battle is going to be intense. The intensity creates fear that will take control of your mind.
“The helmet of salvation” that protects our mind is remembering the identity of our champion. The word “salvation” tells us that our champion is Jesus. Jesus is our steadfast anchor, that keeps our mind floating in the midst of the wind and waves. (Hebrews 6:19) No matter what really big problem we face, through Jesus Christ you and I are more than conquerors. (Romans 8:31-39) With that truth protecting our minds, we cling to hope, even if it is the hem of His garment, knowing that our fear and the problem that is its source are no match for the power of Christ in us.
BEYOND THE TEXT:
How do I overcome a really big problem? Do not allow fear to cripple you. Allow the perfect love of God to cast out fear and His Spirit to empower you to take the next step. Even if the next step is to take the next breath.
Season 1 Episode 33, "Most important question." The text for the message is from Mark 8:27-30, part 1 of a series called The Son of Man. The question we are trying to answer is "What is the most important question?"