David Jeremiah - Overcomer
Desmond Doss, the real life subject of the 2016 film "Hacksaw Ridge" was born in Virginia in 1919 to working-class parents, volunteered for the army in World War II but because he was a deeply religious man, he believed God had called him never to carry a weapon. So, he trained as a medic and was assigned to a rifle company. Imagine, refusing to carry a weapon and being determined to go to war. I mean, his convictions earned him ridicule, and abuse, and contempt from all of his fellow soldiers. He got disdained from his superiors, but he never wavered.
Terry Benedict, who filmed the documentary about Doss in 2014 said he just didn't fit into the army's model of what a good soldier would be, but all that changed in April of 1945 when Doss's company fought the battle of Okinawa, the bloodiest battle in the Pacific War. The key to winning Okinawa was gaining a Japanese stronghold atop of 400-foot sheer cliff, which the Americans called Hacksaw Ridge, a bloody battle raged, but the Japanese held their ground and finally, Doss's battalion was ordered to retreat. But Doss could see American bodies strewn all across the field and he knew there were wounded among them so he stayed behind and with machine gun and artillery fire bursting all around him, he ran repeatedly into the kill zone carrying wounded GIs to the edge of the cliff and single-handedly lowering them to safety in a makeshift rope gurney.
For 12 hours, he repeated this grueling task until he was sure there were no more wounded Americans left on the escarpment and by the time he left the ridge, Desmond Doss had saved the lives of 75 men. Days later, the Americans took Hacksaw Ridge while Doss was wounded in a base hospital and when his commanding officer brought him the precious charred and soggy Bible that he lost in the initial assault, he was told that every man in the company, the same men who had ridiculed him for his faith, had insisted on searching that field until they found this Bible for this man. For his incredible feat, Doss was awarded the congressional medal of honor. Years later, somebody asked him how he found the strength to continue that night and his answer was simple, he said, "Each time he finished lowering another wounded man to safety down the cliff he prayed, 'Lord, just help me get one more.'"
Desmond Doss was an overcomer and in my estimation, there are many overcomers, many of them you find in the Bible. My favorite overcomer in the Old Testament, and I think he may be the best Old Testament overcomer of all time, is the man David. 'Cause you know David fought a lot of battles in his life but his first one is the one that we remember the best, the day he defeated the giant Goliath. Now, the overcomer's challenge in David's life was simply one that is classic in it's presentation. You see, if you go to Israel today there's a place where there's this deep ravine and it lies in between two hills. This is believed to be the site where the battle between David and Goliath took place. Over here on one hill on the top of the hill was the army of Israel and over here on the other hill was the army of Philistine, and down in the valley between them was this plain, believe it or not, it was 100 yards wide, the length of a football field and in the middle of this plain between these two armies stood a huge man named Goliath and from the side of the Israelites came a teenage boy named David.
The story of David and Goliath in 1 Samuel 17 is not just a story about a boy fighting a giant, it's the conflict of the ages. It's the story of the battle that's raged ever since Satan first rebelled against God, the story of good versus evil, the challenge to the living God by the devil and his forces. So, how did these unlikely opponents ever get there? Let me start with the giant Goliath. How big was he? Well, in 1 Samuel 17:4, we're told that he went out from the camp of the Philistines from Gath and his height was six cubits and a span. Now, most of us don't measure things in cubits or spans, so let me translate that for you. During a time when the average man's height was about 5 feet tall, the measurements of Goliath was somewhere between 9-foot 6 and 9-foot 9. In case that doesn't register with you, in the game of basketball, the rim is at 10 feet. He was 9-foot 9. I'm pretty sure he could dunk. And that makes him 2 feet taller than the biggest players in professional basketball and more than a foot taller than the tallest human being who is alive today.
This guy's name is Sultan Kosen, he's actually 8-foot 3. But Goliath wasn't just tall and skinny. He was a huge man. Probably weighing in between 400 and 500 pounds. The sight of Goliath was something you could never forget. 1 Samuel says he had a bronze helmet on his head. He was armed with a coat of mail. The weight of the coat was 5.000 shekels of bronze. He had bronze armor on his legs, a bronze javelin between his shoulders, and the staff of his spear was like a weaver's beam, and his iron spearhead weighed 600 shekels and a shield bearer went before him". And can you imagine what it would be like to hear a 9-foot, 6-inch giant shout?
Here's what the Scripture says, "Goliath stood and cried out to the armies of Israel and said to them, 'Why have you come out to line up for battle? Am I not a Philistine and you the servants of Saul? Choose a man for yourself and let him come down to me. If he's 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.' And the Philistine said, 'I defy the armies of Israel this day, give me a man that we may fight together.'" He roared long and loud to be heard on both sides of the plain. He didn't need a microphone or a megaphone. He had a voice that was the size of his body and not one man among the Israelites could bring himself even to answer.
So, that was the overcomers' challenge, just think about Goliath. Get a good picture in your mind of this gigantic brutal man standing in the valley of Elah between the stands on both sides. Now, the overcomer's character is gonna take some kind of warrior to face Goliath and nobody in Saul's army was prepared to accept the job but here comes David. David was the youngest son of Jesse. Jesse had eight sons, as you remember, and David had been anointed by the Prophet Samuel as the next king of Israel. He'd been anointed but never became the king until 15 years after he was anointed. His time for rule had not yet come and he was still living at home with his dad.
So, when David's father sent him on this errand, it must've been like thrilling for this young boy to run off. I'm sure he always thought, "Why don't I get to go to war? I'm out here with these sheep and my brothers are having all the fun". And when he got there, they were talking. Goliath strolled out on the field below and shouted his challenge and David seemed shocked that nobody from the side of Israel even responded. So, he asked the men around him, here's from the Scripture, "What shall be done for the man who kills this Philistine and takes away the reproach of Israel"? And the soldier said, "Well, let's think about that for just a moment". Here's what the king said, he said he would give that man great riches. He would give him his daughter in marriage.
And here's the best part, he would never have to pay taxes again the rest of his life. And so, it was hard for David to understand why nobody would step up and take that opportunity. So, 5-foot tall David volunteered. Before he decided to do this, something happened that revealed the human side of overcoming, a side that hasn't changed since biblical times. Listen to this, when David's oldest brother Eliab heard David asking about the reward, he was furious. Verse 28 says, he's speaking to David, he said, "Why did you come down here and with whom have you left those few sheep in the wilderness"? Sarcasm. "I know your pride. I know the insolence for your heart for you have come down to see the battle". And David answered his brother this way, "What have I done? Is there not a cause"? It's a brilliant answer. He deflected Eliab's anger and he brought the focus back to the matter at hand. "Don't be angry at me," he says, "isn't there something more important for us to be thinking about"?
When a man or a woman, listen to me, decides to be a champion for God, they set themselves up for a lot of heat and criticism, and David tells us that we have to stand firm in our convictions even when the closest people to us are telling us, "No, you can't". Over the years that I've been leading and doing the things God has called me to do, I've had so many of the people that are close to me try to talk me out of what God talked me into. Isn't that the truth? Isn't that something? You would think they'd be on your side saying, "Go for it". No, they're trying to keep you from doing it. They don't have the guts to do it and they don't want you to do it either. Then David declared that he'd fight Goliath. The Bible describes Goliath by his size, and his sight, and his shout, but the Bible describes David by his courage, his conviction, and his confidence. The Bible describes Goliath by his physical attributes, and the Bible describes David by his spiritual attributes, very important point to remember.
Well, one of the things that David had that Goliath didn't have was a sling. The Bible says David headed for the plain and on the way he stopped at a brook and gathered five smooth stones and put them in his pouch. And he had a sling in his hand and he approached Goliath. When Goliath saw David, he was insulted. Read the Scripture, I mean it's so graphic. The Bible says when he saw David, he said, "Am I a dog that you come out to me with sticks"? And he cursed David by his gods, probably using the name of Dagon, and then he goaded the boy even more. In verse 44 of chapter 17 he says to David, "Come to me and I will give you and your flesh to the birds of the air and the beasts of the field". Just imagine Goliath, he'd been coming to this valley every day for six weeks, twice a day, waiting for someone to show up who's willing to fight him and on this day, he sees this little boy come out there, no shield, no sword, and the Bible says he disdained David.
And I looked that word up, you know what it means? He curled his lip at him. And David replied, "You come to me with a sword, and with a spear, and with a javelin but I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel whom you have defied. This day the Lord will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you and take your head from you. And this day I will give the carcasses of the camp of the Philistines to the birds of the air and the wild beasts of the earth that all the earth may know that there's a God in Israel. Then all this assembly shall know that the Lord does not save with sword and spear; for the battle is the Lord's and he will give you into our hands". That was David's speech, amen?
Now, I don't know if you get this folks, but David had just infuriated the biggest bully on the block and if God isn't who David says he is, David is history. He purposely intimidated Goliath and in doing so sets himself up to win the battle. Notice what happens next. The Bible says at that, Goliath moved toward David and then the Bible says that David ran toward the giant. If you're watching from the hill, you'd have seen this enormous armed man start walking toward an apparently unarmed boy and then you'd have seen something really amazing. You'd see that boy began to run towards this warrior. And when he was there where he wanted to be, he stopped running, quickly took a stone from his bag and put it in the sling, and with years of experience and practice, the Scripture says he slung it and struck the Philistine in this forehead so that the stone sank into his forehead and Goliath fell on his face to the earth.
As overcomers, we fight a battle like David fought, and I know you know this story but you could tell I was having fun telling it to you again. It's one of my favorite stories in all the Bible. All of us have felt like David on occasion with giants in our way but because we're talking today about how we become overcomers, David was surely an overcomer, wasn't he? He overcame a giant that nobody would have given him a chance to overcome. And I'd like to just take just some moments now and see if we can wrap this story around our own lives. How do we take the principles from this story from the Old Testament, which we all know so well, and apply them to our own lives? What can we learn that will help us from watching David do what he did by the hand of God?
First thing I want to tell you, number one, refuse to be discouraged by your friends. I just want to tell you, friends, when you want to do something great for God, get ready for your brothers and sisters to give you all the reasons why you should fail. Often the criticism comes from those who don't have the courage to accept the challenge themselves. Their thinking seems to be if they're not gonna succeed, they don't want anyone else to succeed either. Don't let your friends talk you out of God's purpose for your life. Number two, it's all right to talk to God about your problems, but sometimes you need to talk to your problems about God. Preach the goodness of God to them, prophecy to promises of God to them, proclaim the victory of the cross to them. Put your problems in perspective and then go win the fight. Refuse to be discouraged by your friends. Reinforce your focus on God. And then I like this one, reflect on your previous victories.
You know, all of us have some victories in the past. If we've walked with God for one day, we got a few. Listen to what David did. David didn't exclaim, "I can't do this". Instead, he said that God had been on his side in the past. He said, "Let me give you my resume here. Let me tell you how equipped I am to go fight this giant". And so, he gave old Saul a victory of his past accomplishments. And men and women, I need to tell you, we need to do the same thing. We need to understand that God has been on our side, has he not? And if we just remember that, it helps us. I remember reading somewhere if you have never had a test, you can't have a testimony. You know, I might not be able to do this if I compare it to what's going on in the world, but I have a God. I have a great God. My God always wins.
Okay, here's the fourth one, this is one I love, run towards your problems, not away from them. The Bible says that when Goliath started toward David, David ran toward Goliath. I mean it takes a lot of guts to run toward a 9-foot 6 giant. He ran toward them. Let me tell you what I've learned from this, you guys. Your problems aren't gonna go away. I mean, every morning for six weeks and every evening for six weeks, Goliath showed up. How many of you know if you got problems, they show up. I keep thinking one of these days I'm gonna pray and God's gonna make my problems go away, but he doesn't do that. But I want to tell you something I've learned, problems don't go away so you might as well deal with them as soon as they pop up.
Run towards your problems, embrace them, confront them. Don't postpone them. Don't ignore them. Don't try to work around them. Don't try to push them over on somebody else. Deal with them, confront them face to face, head-on, and watch God go to work on your behalf. Problems don't go away, but God can deal with them if we put them in his hands. When you're running towards your problems, be sure to remember for whom you are fighting. David said, "You came to me with a sword, and with a spear, and with a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts. All this assembly shall know that the Lord does not save with sword and spear, for the battle is the Lord's and he will give you into our hands". What a difference it would make if you and I faced all of our challenges like David did, if we said, "Lord, for your honor, and for your glory, I'm gonna do the right thing and I'm gonna face my battles in the power of your name, and I'm gonna trust you to help me overcome the giants in my life".
In the messages that are in this book, you'll find the strategy of the overcomer explained. You will find the path of the overcomer laid out for you. You'll discover what happens when you remember for whom you are fighting. The Bible says in Revelation 21:7, "He who overcomes shall inherit all things". We're called to be overcomers, men and women. We're called to walk in victory, and strength, and peace, and love. Sometimes I hear people say when I ask them how they're doing, "I'm doing okay down under the circumstances". But we don't belong under the circumstances. We belong above the circumstances. We're not undercomers, we're overcomers, amen? And the Bible says it this way, "In all these things, we are more than conquerors through him who loved us". God is not partial to David. What he did for David, he'll do for us.
I don't know what your giant is. I got a few in my life, but none of these giants intimidate the God of heaven and none of those giants can defeat you if you stand in the strength of the Lord God. So, as we go through all of these things, we're gonna see how almighty God helps us overcome our weakness with strength, overcome our anxiety with peace, overcome a lot of things in our lives, and the same God who helped David overcome Goliath is the God who's just waiting for us to put ourselves in his hands so we can overcome the giants in our life. Can I get an amen? Amen, thank you so much.