Valley of Elah

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Road Trip

Valley of Elah

Looking back, I was taught stuff a kid that totally would get me locked up today if I taught them to my kids. Horrible things like nursery rhymes.

There was an old woman who lived in a shoe.

She had so many children, she didn't know what to do.

She gave them some broth without any bread;

And whipped them all soundly and put them to bed.

Crazy woman who starved & whooped her kids. Call children’s services!

Ring around the Rosey, pocket full of posies

Ashes, ashes, we all fall down.

All about the bubonic plaque thousands of dead bodies being cremated…sweet dreams!

Bedtime stories were no different.

Hansel and Gretel

Gingerbread man who at the end gets eaten by a wolf.

All time worst bedtime story, the one that freaked me out was Jack and the Beanstalk. Because there were giants. I hated giants. Remember Jack sneaks up the beanstalk to get the harp and the big, ugly giant says…fee fi foe fum I smell the blood of English man. Be he alive or be he dead I’ll grind his bones to make my bread. Ohhhh momma.

That was pretty scary stuff for a kid but we handled it and we grew up to realize giants are just fairytales so we pack them away only to discover giants are indeed real and they go by different names.

Terrorism, Financial Uncertainty, Sickness…

Your spouse says I don’t love you anymore and walks out.

Your teenage daughter struggles with addiction.

Your adult son abandons the faith.

You hear an inner voice telling you, you’re not good enough.

Giants are real. As different as giants are, they all have one thing in common. They want to cripple, intimidate and hold us hostage. The response for many of us is to run or to hide from the giants in our life. But what if there were another way? What if God could teach us how to fight back and face our giants? What would it be like to live as a giant killer?

We are starting a new 3week series called road trip. Going to visit certain spots in the Holy Land and today we start in one of my favorite spots the Valley of Elah, the valley where giants fall.

1 Samuel 17:1-3

The Philistines now mustered their army for battle and camped between Socoh in Judah and Azekah.  Saul countered by gathering his Israelite troops near the valley of Elah.  So the Philistines and Israelites faced each other on opposite hills, with the valley between them.

I’ve stood in the Valley of Elah. It’s not a narrow ravine, it’s more like a canyon. It’s maybe a mile from hill to hill. So you have these two armies, mortal enemies that hate one another. They are sizing each other up. Watch what happens next…

1 Samuel 17:4-7

Then Goliath, a Philistine champion from Gath, came out of the Philistine ranks to face the forces of Israel. He was over nine feet tall! He wore a bronze helmet, and his bronze coat of mail weighed 125 pounds.  He also wore bronze leg armor, and he carried a bronze javelin on his shoulder. The shaft of his spear was as heavy and thick as a weaver’s beam, tipped with an iron spearhead that weighed 15 pounds. His armor bearer walked ahead of him carrying a shield.

Every morning the people of God are greeted by the rumbling of a giant. Goliath was jaw dropping big. The biggest man I ever met was…

Andre the Giant, 7 foot 4, 520 pounds. You could put a hardboiled egg through the ring he wore on his finger.

Here is Andre holding a can. In high school I went to a wrestling match because you know it’s real…I shook Andre’s hand, or I should say Andre shook me. I almost peed myself. Andrew was 7’4. Goliath is 9’3.

Goliath’s armor covered his body to where there was no way, NO WAY you could get a sword or a spear on the man. The weight of his spear head 15 pounds, was more weight that the armor of an Israeli soldier.

Every day Goliath would come out and challenge the Israelites.

1 Samuel 17:11

When Saul and the Israelites heard this, they were terrified and deeply shaken.

That’s what giants do. They terrify, they shake, they threaten. One day a young shepherd boy named David walks in camp and not only faces the giant but brings him down.

When David woke up that day, he had no idea, no idea he was going to face a giant. He was just taking some food to his brothers. So it wasn’t anything he planned. David teaches us how to defeat the giants of life.

  1. Giant Killers have God vision

So David comes into the camp to bring some home cooking to his brothers

1 Samuel 17:23-26

As he was talking with them, Goliath, the Philistine champion from Gath, stepped out from his lines and shouted his usual defiance, and David heard it. When the Israelites saw the man, they all ran from him in great fear… David asked the men standing near him, “What will be done for the man who kills this Philistine and removes this disgrace from Israel? Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living God?”

Every person looking down the hill saw a giant. They saw his size, they saw his armor, they saw his weapons, they saw how big he was and thought he’s so big how can we bring him down? They saw with human vision.

David was the only one, the only one who saw with God vision. Notice David calls Goliath an uncircumcised Philistine. David was not cursing Goliath…this was not you blankety blank, blank, blank. No this is something way deeper.

To be uncircumcised meant that you were outside of the covenant of God. You had no relationship with Him. He was not yours, you were not His.

The covenant relationship began with God and Abraham. Let’s make a deal I’ll be your God, you and your relatives be my people. As a sign of this agreement God said I want you to circumcise your boys. Have you ever wondered why God chose circumcision? Why not pierce your nose or get a tattoo? Why the cutting and why the cutting there?

God wanted his people to be different. He wanted them to pursue holiness. This sign of circumcision that every Jewish man carried was not something anyone else did. So if a Jewish man wanted to run off one night and get freaky with a pagan when he disrobed it was going to be awkward. It was a permanent reminder I am God’s.

David is saying is…you guys see a giant. I see an immoral pagan living outside of the blessing of God. Everyday this immoral pagan taunts you and called you servants of Saul. You are not servants of Saul you are the army of the living God.

David sees things the way God sees them. If you and I are going to kill giants it all starts here.

The world calls it sexting, God calls it pornography

I tell my friends I have a short fuse, God says I struggle with rage

I tell my wife so I drink a little, God says no I am a functioning alcoholic

The world says it’s your body. God says no you are my Temple

The world redefines marriage. God says nope husband and wife

In order to beat a giant, you have to see the giant. You have to see yourself the way God sees you. We are not politically correct, we are biblically correct. Until we use God vision giants will always push us around. Giant killers see the way God sees

2. Giant Killers don’t listen to the haters

On the day David takes down the giant he is flooded with criticism.

When David shows up to the camp his brother Eliab, the oldest brother, the one who was passed over when Eli anointed the next King, Eli anointed David, the youngest. The oldest brother says this…

1 Samuel 17:28-29

When David’s oldest brother, Eliab, heard David talking to the men, he was angry. “What are you doing around here anyway?” he demanded. “What about those few sheep you’re supposed to be taking care of? I know about your pride and deceit. You just want to see the battle!” “What have I done now?” David replied. “I was only asking a question!”

The King, Saul slips in a little hate…when David steps up and says this guy is slandering our God I am going to go down there and whip his Philistine backside. Saul sends for David and when he sees him he says…

1 Samuel 17:33

“Don’t be ridiculous!” Saul replied. “There’s no way you can fight this Philistine and possibly win! You’re only a boy, and he’s been a man of war since his youth.”

The Goliath slips in a whole lot of hate.

1 Samuel 17:42-44

He looked David over and saw that he was only a boy, ruddy and handsome, and he despised him. He said to David, “Am I a dog, that you come at me with sticks?” And the Philistine cursed David by his gods. “Come here,” he said, “and I’ll give your flesh to the birds of the air and the beasts of the field!” (NIV)

You talk about haters, in the course of like an hour David crossed paths with 3 of them. Each one tried to whittle David down, make him feel small so they could stand tall.

When you find yourself in the giant killing business you are going to get criticized. It comes with the job.

Not all criticism is bad. When someone loves you and comes to you in humility and love with a suggestion that is a good thing and we should receive it well. I’m not talking about that.

How do you handle destructive criticism?

People who take pot shots, people who send anonymous notes. Don’t you just love those? Listen, if you can’t put your name on that comment that should tell you something.

A comment that dismantles your worth and demoralizes you?

You’ve never done anything right!

How in the world could you have been so stupid?

A person who nitpicks every little thing in your life or in the church

The pathological critic who never credits you with anything good, they only thing they see is how you didn’t measure up to their standard.

Criticism comes in all shapes and sizes. Whether you lead a mega church or a girl scout troop criticism is something that you have to deal with.

How did David handle criticism?

He never went gangster on his brother. Eliab was the oldest brother. God told the prophet Samuel to go to David’s house because he has rejected King Saul and is going to anoint a new king. Eliab steps out and Samuel is like that’s the one and God is like nope. Eliab is the brother who watched the oil flow down David’s head as he was anointed the next king.

David could have struck back…hey remember who’se the chosen one? Wanna practice your bow? Boo yea! He doesn’t go there.

He didn’t unload on King Saul. Why aren’t you out there? You’re our king, your taller than any of us. If you were right with God you’d be taking that giant down. David teaches us when it comes to criticism

Players are going to play

Haters are going to hate

I’m just going to shake…shake it off…I had to do it

David shows us it’s important to know who to fight and who to leave alone.

The only guy David unloads on is the Goliath. David stays focused on the enemy. When Goliath hates on him, David is like God is going to give me victory over you. I am going to cut your head off I’m taking it to show and tell tomorrow at school and feed your stanky carcass to the birds.

So who is telling you it can’t be done? Who is hating on you today? Who is causing you to doubt your value or worth? You have to shake them off. Don’t even pause to listen. Don’t go gangster on them but stop allowing them to paralyze you and stay focused on the giant.

So David is talking to the King and he says something so cool. Every giant killer knows…

1 Samuel 17:34-37

But David persisted. “I have been taking care of my father’s sheep and goats,” he said. “When a lion or a bear comes to steal a lamb from the flock, I go after it with a club and rescue the lamb from its mouth. If the animal turns on me, I catch it by the jaw and club it to death.  I have done this to both lions and bears, and I’ll do it to this pagan Philistine, too, for he has defied the armies of the living God!  The LORD who rescued me from the claws of the lion and the bear will rescue me from this Philistine!”

  1. Giant killers remember God’s faithfulness

David was a shepherd, there were a couple of times when a lion, a bear attacked his sheep. David jumped up and went after them.

David stood toe to toe with lions and bears and God saw him through that. David never took credit for those wins right? He knew God helped him.

It’s the lions and the bears that prepare you to face the giants.

It’s the lions and bears of life, the daily troubles and worries, the hardships, the struggles, the difficulties that God moves me through that builds this giant killing faith. So here’s the deal…

What victories of God do you have chiseled in stone?

What battles have you fought with Him that are engraved in your heart?

Can you name them?

Maybe it’s how God moved in your life to save you. So many of you were baptized a few weeks ago and maybe you see how God put a person in your life or how God reached you and called you.

Maybe you were facing a situation where you were scarred and you prayed for strength and God somehow gave you strength to say or to do something you didn’t think you could do…you fought a lion.

I can’t tell you how critical it is to remember those victories.

In Mark 8 the disciples get into a boat to sail across the Sea of Galilee. They only thing they brought was a loaf of bread. They get into an argument because they only have one loaf of bread they was hawngry.

Check this out…

Mark 8:17-18

Jesus knew what they were saying, so he said, “Why are you arguing about having no bread? Don’t you know or understand even yet? Are your hearts too hard to take it in? ‘You have eyes—can’t you see? You have ears—can’t you hear?’ Don’t you remember anything at all?

Jesus grieved the fact that the disciples so easily forgot the victories of the past.

Do you remember, can you identify how God has taken care of you in the past? Maybe you were stranded in an airport or didn’t know how you were going to pay a bill and asked God for help. Some person showed up, some check showed up, you got the job, you fought a bear that day and God helped you win.

Maybe you broke down on a road, prayed for help and God sent someone to assist you. Maybe you faced a dilemma, a problem, a nuisance and God came through, you fought a lion and God helped you win.

When we face giants we tend to forget the victories and we only see the failures. When just the opposite should happen. When we face the giants it is crucial to remember the victories, remember the faithfulness of God with the lions and bears of yesterday.

If you can trust God with the lions and the bears, no problem trusting him with the giants!

One of the best things we could do is to keep a listing, chisel on an index card of every lion and bear God helped us defeat. When we face the giants we pull that record out and know God helped me here and I know he will help me face this giant today! Last thing I’ve learned from David…

  1. Giant killers fight uniquely

Saul says ok David go and face this giant but watch what King Saul does

1 Samuel 17: 38-40

Saul gave David his own armor—a bronze helmet and a coat of mail. David put it on, strapped the sword over it, and took a step or two to see what it was like, for he had never worn such things before.

“I can’t go in these,” he protested to Saul. “I’m not used to them.” So David took them off again. He picked up five smooth stones from a stream and put them into his shepherd’s bag. Then, armed only with his shepherd’s staff and sling, he started across the valley to fight the Philistine.

Saul wanted to help so he puts his armor on David. Problem is he’s a 52 long and David is a 38 short. Puts his helmet on him and it totally wobbles and he can’t see. David was like there is no way I can face that giant using your stuff. I gotta fight him in my own way.

This is so huge. Mom and Dad how you fought the giant is not necessarily the same way you kid is going to fight him. Good Christian, your counsel is great but stop putting your armor on everybody else.

One of the most freeing moments in my life happened when I learned I will fail trying to be like someone else. God created me and He longs to use me. While I can learn from others I don’t need to fight the way they do.

God had placed inside David the skill of slinging stones. And he was good, real good. David relied on his unique calling. He fought with his unique strength. And God blessed that. And God will bless your uniqueness as well.

David went out and killed the giant and a great battle was won that day.

So what giant roars at you today? What have we learned?

Giant killers have God vision

Giant killers don’t listen to haters

Giant killers remember God’s faithfulness

Giant killers fight uniquely

Let’s pray!

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