Foundry United Methodist Church

Rev. Dean Snyder, Senior Minister




Facing Our Goliaths

Sunday, June 25, 2006



I Samuel 17: 1a, 4-11, 19-23, 32-49


Rev. Dean Snyder


Itís an old story. Deryl shared with the children the G version of the story. Weíve just heard the R version. It is story that was told long after David was King of Israel. Itís a story like the story of George Washington and the cherry tree and not being able to tell a lie that was meant to say something profound about a great leader of the nation of Israel.


As I was sitting with this old story of David and Goliath this week, I found myself asking four questions about my own life based on this story. I would like to ask those same four questions of you this morning.


Question number 1: What is your Goliath? What makes you feel like a loser? What intimidates you and makes you feel like quitting and giving up? What situation, circumstance, or condition in your life makes you feel like a loser?


It only seems to be a person. Itís never really a person. It may feel like a person, someone with a name like Goliath, but it is never really a person. You find this in the story about David and Goliath as itís told in scripture in I Samuel. Only twice in the long passage (and we heard only a small portion of the passage this morning), only twice in the long passage that tells this story is the name ďGoliathĒ used. Over 30 times he is referred to simply as ďthe Philistine.Ē More than a person, he is a symbol of something.


Israel may have felt as though it were a giant named Goliath that made them feel like losers, but it was really another circumstance. It was a circumstance that existed within their history and within their hearts. As a matter of fact, itís interesting to me that when you read the story of David and Goliath in I Samuel, Goliath starts out being around six feet tall. As the story goes on, he gets taller and taller, until he ends up being about nine feet tall, because when we feel like losers, the enemy becomes larger and larger in our minds and in our hearts. The reason Israel felt like losers is because of the circumstance of being a weak nation unschooled in the ways of conflict. So, anyone who was their enemy felt intimidating and overwhelming. The condition of feeling like a loser was actually within themselves. Whenever we feel intimidated and defeated, we always need to look inward.


So, the first question is what, not who, is your Goliath? What is your life makes you feel defeated and intimidated and like a loser?


The second question is this: What is the armor that is weighing you down? What is the armor that is making it almost impossible for you to move? What are the expectations about the way you live your life that are actually oppressing you rather than empowering you?


The armor that worked for Saul wasnít going to work for David. What worked for your parents may not work for you. What worked for your predecessor at your place of work may not work for you. What worked for you in your life ten years ago, maybe even five years ago, may not work for you any more. Instead of empowering you, it may actually weigh you down, oppress you, and immobilize you.


I wonít ask you to raise your hands, but I want to say a word this morning to all of us who are 45 or older. This is one of the most important things I have learned in the second half of my life. The things that worked best for me in the first half of my life: the defenses, the armor and the swords that I carried in the first half of my life that worked best for me donít work any more in the second half of my life. The things that made me relatively successful in the work that I did in the first half of my life get in the way in the second half of my life. The things that worked for many of us ten years ago arenít going to work any more. Instead they will weigh us down and oppress us. But we still carry them around like armor, like expectations that are not serving us well any more.


What is the armor that you are carrying that is meant for somebody else, or some other time, or some other place that is weighing you down and keeping you from succeeding in your life personally and professionally today?


The third question is this: Where is the David inside of you? Where is the honest, authentic, sincere, confident, idealistic, young David inside of you? I am convinced that inside each one of us there is a confident person who wants to live our lives authentically according to our understanding of who God created us to be. But the Davids inside of us tend to get turned into cynical, strategic people who are just trying to figure out how to make it through the next day, through the next week, through the next year, how to make it at work, how to make it in our lives and our communities and at home. And so, whenever we are feeling like losers, we have to ask the question: where inside of us do we know who we really are? How do we find the confident self who is living for the purpose of doing what is right and good and honest and true?


I feel very fortunate. The first memory that I have in my life is a memory that helps me over and over again. It happened when I was three, almost four, years old. One Sunday night we had a family gathering. My family took off in two different cars to attend an evening church service where my brother was the pastor. My mother thought I was in the other car. My father in the other car thought I was with my mother. They took off and left me there. They drove about a half an hour until they got to the church. When they got out of the cars, they realized I wasnít around. Somebody jumped in a car and drove back and discovered that I had watched which way the cars had gone and taken off. At three, almost four years old, in a half an hourís time, I had made it a half a mile down the road.


This is why it is a wonderful memory for me because itís taught me that even though I may not always do something thatís very smart, thereís always something that I can do in every situation in life. I never need to be a victim. I never need to be passive. I might not be smart about what I do, but thereís always something that I can do in my life.

Whereís the David inside of you? Whereís the courageous one, the one who believes in what is good and right and who will live it out?


The fourth question is this: What is your slingshot? What is the special gift that you have in your life, that God has created you to be and that are the experiences in life that you have had? What is the special gift that has developed in your life that most of the world around you will not even honor or recognize to be a gift? Everyone thought the great gift in Israel was to be able to wave a heavy sword and carry a thick, sharp spear. But God had given to David the gift of a slingshot.


I wonder what your gift is that God has given to you that you might not even recognize because the world isnít impressed by it, but it exists within you through the grace of God as to who you are and the grace of God in terms of what you have experienced in life. What is the special gift that you have been given?


These four questions:


  • What is your Goliath? It is not a person. Goliath is always within ourselves.


  • What is the armor, the unhelpful expectations that are oppressing you?


  • Where is the David, the confident, young one inside yourself, the true believer?


  • And what are the special gifts that God has given to you by grace and experience for you to live out in your life, whether the world recognizes them as great gifts or not?


There is an old Jewish teaching that says that on the Day of Judgment for each one of us, God will not ask us why we were not like Abraham. God will not ask us why we were not like Moses or the prophet Isaiah or the prophet Jeremiah. God will ask us why we were not the person that God created us to be. Each one of us has been given a gift. Let us live out the gift that God has placed within us.