Jack Graham - Run to the Battle
Welcome to Prestonwood. And on this Memorial Day weekend here in America, I know we have many people who watch all over the world to our Prestonwood services including those who watch PowerPoint, our radio and television ministry, but to all of us here in America, this is a time in which we are remembering those who have fallen in battle, who have given the ultimate sacrifice. Memorial Day is a time never to forget and always to remember those who have paid the price for our freedom. And I want to challenge you, that that includes many of you young people and boys and girls that are watching the service right now, I want to challenge you to love God and to love your country. And we ought to participate in the process of our country, and, of course, right now our country alone with many countries around the world, we are engaged in a battle; it is a battle against a micro-germ, a germ Covid-19 and we've been sheltered in place for about 70 days now, and we've been fighting this battle.
And many people are, of course, afraid, fearful, uncertain about what's next. I'm hearing questions like "when will this ever be over? Will it ever be over? When it's over, will things be the same? Will I get my life back?" Or "will I get my job back?" And there's so much fear. It's a kind of giant in the land right now.
So our message today in the FEARLESS series is about David and a giant that went down in the power and in the name of God. What an appropriate text on this Memorial Day weekend; David is one of the legendary figures in all of the Bible. In fact, it is said of David, God says of David, "He is a man after My own heart". And the scripture says that David served God, "the purposes of God in his own generation and then he fell asleep". He was a man driven with passion for God and a purpose to fulfill God's plan for his life. And at the very outset, the beginning of his life as a boy, really, a shepherd boy, probably about 17 years of age. He's described here by the giant, Goliath himself as handsome and young and ruddy. That is, he had a fair complexion. And many believe David was redheaded. So, he was such a great, great man.
Talk about the most interesting man in the world, David was the most interesting man in the world. He was a shepherd; he became a sovereign, had been anointed king of Israel as a youth. He ultimately ascended to the throne and the power of Israel, became Israel's greatest king in all of its history. He was a singer, in that he wrote the psalms and sang beautifully, played instruments. And so much of our lives, when we face battles and giants and fears, we turn to the psalms, the songs of David that he gave us in times of trouble and times of struggle, and always reflecting. David spent many hours as a shepherd boy looking up and beyond the stars into the sky and seeing the face of God by faith. He knew God, he loved God, and it was God who said this is a man after my own heart. It would be one thing if his family said it or his friends said it, but God said, "This is a man after my own heart". And it all began on a battleground at the valley of Elah.
So, let me remind you of what happened in this story. Israel was facing an enemy, the Philistines and actually a group of farmers from Israel had conquered the Philistines but the Philistines were coming back with a vengeance. And they gathered in this valley, one on one side, one on the one side of the ravine, and another on the other. Israel on the one side and the Philistines on the other. And they're both planning their strategy as to how they're going to get after it and fight this battle. Until one day the Israeli army is looking over the ridge and they see something coming at them. Something huge, something big, bigger than they've ever seen. They didn't know exactly what it was until he got nearer and nearer and he began to speak and thunder out words of profanity and blasphemy and calling out the Israelites and challenging them to a battle. His name was Goliath.
One man nearly 10 feet tall. He's just a few inches from the rim on an NBA or anybody else's court. It's a big man. He wore armor glistening in the sun, he had a huge sword. The armor may have weighed up to 200 pounds. So, you add it all up, this is a 4-500 pound beast; he's a killing machine. He's been a soldier, according to the scripture, since he was a youth. He was a bad, bad man. And he issues a challenge to the Israelites. He said, "Let's don't have all you fighting here. Let's just one on one here. I'll fight your champion. You send out the best you have, the best fighter you have, the best soldier you have, and it will be me against you. And whoever wins, wins the battle, and takes captive the other's army". So, what a dare by this giant. And the Israelites were scared to death. You might have been afraid as well. They're not coming out. And this happens every single day for 40 days. The giant comes out, he threatens them, he taunts them, he trash-talks them, he's cursing them, blaspheming the name of God, uttering profanities in the name of his gods. And that's when David, the shepherd boy, comes on the scene.
Now when he shows up, he doesn't show up as a soldier; he's actually the delivery boy. David was a very humble young man. He'd been anointed king already. Saul had forfeited the throne by his behavior and David had been anointed the king. He's not yet risen to the throne. He's still a boy. And yet his dad with his older brothers on the battlefield, wants to know what's going on down in the valley of Elah, so he sends David to get information and with food for his brothers. So there's bread and cheese and lots of it. David doesn't show up as a hero; he's just delivering the food. He's delivering the groceries. But when he gets there, he hears the taunts and the threats of this giant, defaming and blaspheming the name of God and the armies of God. And he says, "What's going on here? Why won't someone go out and fight this giant"? They said, "Have you seen how big that guy is"? David said, "Well, yeah. But do you know how big our God is"? They may have said something like, "You know, that man, that monster, he's too big to hit". But David said, "No! He's too big to miss"! And David said, "If nobody else will go, I'm going in".
And even his own brothers questioned his motives and everyone said, "You can't do this. He'll destroy you. We'll all be defeated. It's not you; you're not the champion". But David said, "I'm going, and I'm going in the name of the Lord God"! So finally, Saul the king said, "Okay, you're going. You better put on some armor". It's a comical scene. They suit him up in Saul's big armor to go against the armored giant. And David, a little shepherd boy, he's just clanking around in this armor. He says, "I can't fight like this". He said, "You know, I learned to fight with my slingshot and a few stones. And I've done this before. Not with a giant, but as a shepherd boy I protected the sheep". They said, "Well, help yourself". And that's when David enters the battlefield. And that's where I want to pickup in the reading of our Scripture For it says, "Then he took his staff in his hand and chose five smooth stones from the brook, and put them in his shepherd's pouch, his sling was in his hand and he approached the Philistine. And the Philistine moved forward and came near to David with his shield bearer in front of him".
I don't know about you, but when I read that there's something funny about that. When this big giant is coming, 500 pounds of man and armor, like a tank, he's got this little guy who's a shield bearer in front of him; a guy with a shield. And he's walking in. That guy, you know, he's feeling pretty cocky himself walking with this giant. You know, "We're bad. Yeah, we're bad. We're really bad". But there he is with his shield bearer. And the Philistine looked at him, this is verse 42, and he saw David, and he disdained him. Now that's a word which means that he just despised him. He said, "This is ridiculous. You send a boy out here to fight a man"? He hated him "for he was but a youth, ruddy and handsome in appearance". There it is. And the Philistine said to David, "Am I a dog", he's insulted, he said, "Am I a dog that you would come to me with sticks"?
And the Philistine cursed David by his god (the filthy, Philistine gods, blasphemed by cursing David). "And the Philistine said to David 'Come to me and I will give your flesh to the birds of the air and to the beast of the field.' And then David said to the Philistine, 'You come to me with a sword and with a spear and with a javelin'". And your little sword bearer out here and your armor and your big talk, ha, that's all added in just for reference! "But I come to you," David said "in the name of the Lord of hosts". That is the Lord of the angel armies. David knew his battle was not a physical battle but like yours and mine, as we face the enemy, the devil himself, it is a spiritual battle, engaging with spiritual hosts all around us. David knew that the armies of God and God Himself was with him. "The God of the armies of Israel whom you have defied".
It's sort of reminding us, isn't it, like a pre-wrestling event, the WWF, one of their big events where you get the two guys and they're just trash-talking one another. Well, David's doing more than trash-talking; he is truth talking here and he says: "This day the Lord will deliver you into my hand and I will strike you down and cut off your head. And I will give the dead body from the host of the Philistines this day to the birds of the air and to the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel"! This was the deal; this was the dare for David. There is a God in Israel. He's much greater and more powerful than this giant. He said earlier to his brother, when his brother was questioning whether he should go to the battle or not, even his motives for going. He said, "You're just a boy; go back home". David said, "Is there not a cause every soldier who goes to battle and is fearless in the battle knows that there is a cause greater than themselves". And in this case for David the cause of the kingdom of God. The cause was the glory of God.
Remember, this man after God's own heart who loved God more than anything or anyone, this God, who was greater than this giant, David believed and trusted in Him. He knew it was a spiritual battle. The battle is the Lord's. Verse 47 said: "That all this assembly may know that the Lord saves, not by sword and spear", that is, with human weapons, "for the battle is the Lords and he will give you into our hands". God has given you into the hands of His people. "And when the Philistine arouse and came and drew near to meet David, He's getting closer and closer, what did David do? He did not do what the rest of Israel had been doing for 40 days, running and hiding, cowering, shaking in their sandals, refusing to fight. No! The scripture says that: "David ran quick towards the battle line to meet the Philistine".
That's why I'm calling this message today "Run to the Battle". As long as you keep running away from your battle, as long as you keep hiding from the enemy, as long as you stay where you are, refusing to go forth in the name of God, to take risks, to do what God has called you to do to fulfill God's plan and purpose for your life, as long as you're cowering. Again, I say you're going to be every day, every single day hearing the taunts, hearing the threats, staying in the addiction, staying in the sin, staying in the throes of that temptation, that discouragement, that defeat, you will live a life of defeat until you are willing to confront the giant, whatever that giant may be in your life! And run to the battle! That's what David did.
Verse 49: "David put his hand in the bag and he took out a stone (just one) and he slung it and struck the Philistine on his forehead, and the stone sunk into his forehead and he fell on his face to the ground". Well, when you read this in the Bible you say, Well, how could a stone take down a ten-foot giant? David hit him right between the eyes. He knew exactly how to take him down. And God guided that stone into the forehead of that giant and the giant went down and he was unconscious before he hit the ground. He fell to his face on the ground the Scripture said.
Verse 50: "David prevailed over the Philistine with a sling and with a stone and struck the Philistine and killed him". There was no sword in the hand of David. "Then David ran over and stood over the Philistine and took his sword and drew it out of its sheath, now this gets bloody right here, "pulled it out of its sheath, and killed him and cut off his head with it. And when the Philistines saw that their champion was dead, they fled". They ran away, and the victory was the Lord's. You know what we're saying today? Be fearless in the face of your enemies. Anything or anyone that is taunting you, threatening you, Satan himself, know that the power of God, the name of the Lord our God is greater than all. "Greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world". Have a heart for God. Love God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength. Live for the cause of His kingdom and live in the victory that He has provided at the cross.
What is the giant you're facing today? What is the spiritual battle, the struggle that finds you in the valley of Elah today? What's the purpose of this whole battle? It's to see the greatness of God. The glory of God, not the glory of a man. The power of God, that God would use a little shepherd with a few stones, just one and a slingshot to win perhaps the greatest battle in the history of the Israeli army. And I'm just thinking in your life today that it's about time that you stop telling God how big your giant is, and you start telling your giant how big your God is! And how great your cause is! That we stand up to the enemies of Christ in this culture, that we stand for truth and righteousness, that we stand for the sanctity of life against the enemies that would destroy life, that we stand for the sacredness of the home and of the family, that we give our lives for religious freedom whatever the cost. People have paid a valiant price that we would live in freedom and practice our faith. And we need to always fight the battles that we need to fight in every generation. But we will never grow until we grow to face our giants.
Why does God allow these giants? Like all adversity, to grow us up. David was just a boy but he became a man that day. He became a champion on that day because God gave him the giant and David became a man in full. So God may send some giants. You can even thank God for the giants if they grow you up. You can thank God for the battles when they build you up. But I promise you, you're never going to grow up in your faith and get strong and mighty against the enemy as long as you keep running and hiding in fear. Got to come out and face your giant. You can't change what you don't first confront. So confront your giant. It's when you stand up that you overcome and become an overcomer. That you discover that God fights for you and God fights with you. Because the battle is the Lord's.
Now it doesn't mean that we don't have fears. I think David as courageous a young man as he was, he had to have normal human fears going against the giant. But this was more than bravado coming from David; this was believing in God! And he overcame his fears. One of the best definitions I've heard of courage is this: A brave way to be scared. Courage is a brave way to be scared. Sure, there are things in life that scare us, that frighten us, but what we need is a bold faith that overcomes our fears, knowing that our God will come through in His own time and His own way every single time. You can trust the Lord. One thing that we have learned during these days of separation and isolation, fighting this germ, this virus is that our God is enough. He can sustain us and He can strengthen us. And that it is "Perfect love that cast out fear". When we know that we are perfectly loved by God, His everlasting love for us, we can know for sure, for certain that we're going to get through this, not barely through. I'm saying not just survival but revival in our lives.
Are you facing some giants today? Fears? Failures? Is that giant tempting you, taunting you, telling you "you can't" constantly? The Bible says, "If God be for us, who can be against us"? The Scripture says, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me". And whatever giant you're facing in your life, whatever problem, obstacle, big thing that stands in front of you, the problem with big thing, they tend to occupy our minds. They're so big in our brains, the battle is often, you know, fought between our ears. The battleground is your mind! That's where you win or lose! And you can either be a pessimist, always thinking you're going to lose, always thinking you're never enough, always thinking that the giant is bigger and better and stronger than you. Or you can live in the power of God, in the greatness of your God, the greatness of your cause.
You can be an optimist, a Christian optimist fueled by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ! And that's my message to you today. Run quickly to the battle just like David. Don't run and hide anymore. But begin to live in the victory that is ours in Christ. And you know what that means? First and foremost, it means to become a follower of the Lord Jesus. You know, in one way, this story is an illustration of what happened at the cross, because years later, the Son of David, the Lord Jesus Christ, in David's lineage and family, Jesus the Son of God, the Son of David, went one on one against the devil himself at the cross.
Just like it was one on one, winner take all in the Valley of Elah, it was winner take all on the Mount of Calvary when Christ went to the cross. And at the cross Jesus did battle face to face with Satan himself, with sin and judgement and hell and Jesus conquered death that day, and cut off the head of Satan when He died and rose again! And because of this victory, a vicarious victory for us, that word means He took our place on the cross! He fought the battle for us, and He won, He won, He won! And because Jesus finished the fight that day, the battle is over! The victory is won! And if you will trust Jesus as your Lord and Savior, believing and receiving Him today, you will begin to live in this victory and grow strong in your faith and face every battle not with fear, but with fearlessness. You can't live in fear and faith at the same time! One will defeat the other. I'm calling you to live in faith! Not faith in faith, but faith in God through the Lord Jesus Christ!