FACING THE GIANTS (TRIALS) IN OUR LIFE – 1 SAMUEL 17; PSALM 23
HE IS WITH ME ALL THE WAY – SO IN TRIALS I CAN SAY: “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies (my giants). You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.” God goes before us to prepare good pasture to restore us from valley experiences – from fighting the giants in our life. In Mark 4:35-41 Jesus says to His disciples, “let’s go over to the other side.” As they set out a storm comes up and the disciples are fearful while Jesus is sleeping calmly in the midst of it. They awake Him and He rebukes the waves (wow!) and says, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” He had told them that they were going to the other side and wondered why they couldn’t trust what He said. God is in our boats (our storms of life) and promises to get us to the other side – “and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever” (heaven) so let’s relax and trust Him in the midst of them.
GOD IS WITH US AND TRAINS US FOR BATTLE IN OUR TRIALS . It is on the battlefields of life that we learn to trust God. “The LORD who delivered me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine." (1 Sam. 17:37) “Fear not [there is nothing to fear], for I am with you; do not look around you in terror and be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen and harden you to difficulties, yes, I will help you; yes, I will hold you up and retain you with My [victorious] right hand of rightness and justice.” (Isaiah 41:10 Amp.) “He trains my hands for battle; my arms can bend a bow of bronze.” (David from Psalm 18:34) As we face each trial (giant) in God’s strength we are toughened ( hardened to difficulties) for future battles and trained for bigger ones. Jesus promised us that in this world we will have tribulation (pressure, affliction, trouble) so He trains us to deal with it.
WE ARE CALLED TO CONFRONT OUR GIANTS NOT TO IGNORE THEM. “When a lion or a bear came and carried off a sheep from the flock, I went after it, struck it and rescued the sheep from its mouth.” “As the Philistine (Goliath) moved closer to attack him, David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet him.” (1 Sam. 17:34, 35, 48) We can try to ignore our giants (hurts, wounds or sins) by stuffing it or medicating our pain (staying busy, pleasure seeking, addictions, etc.) but it will affect us until we take it to the Lord. God’s Word tells us to share our struggles with the Lord and others; to be transparent and real and admit our weaknesses, needs and sins to God and others. “When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer.” “Listen to my cry for help, my King and my God, for to you I pray.” (Psalm 32:3, 4; Psalm 5:2) “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.” (James 5:16)
FOCUS ON GOD NOT THE GIANT . “Then the Philistine said, "This day I defy the ranks of Israel! Give me a man and let us fight each other." “For forty days the Philistine came forward every morning and evening and took his stand.” (1 Sam. 17:10, 16) Our giants – worries, fears, difficult relationships, financial problems, etc., “come forward every morning and evening” day after day and taunt us. But like David we must remember how the Lord has helped us in the past and do and say what Samuel did and said: “Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen. He named it Ebenezer, saying, "Thus far has the LORD helped us." (1 Samuel 7:12) Like David and Samuel we must recall God’s past faithfulness to us and know that He will help us all the way home. As Chuck Swindoll says, when we focus on God rather than Goliath it is no longer David and the giant but David and the dwarf. Remember “it is not by sword or spear that the LORD saves (man’s strength); for the battle is the LORD's”(1 Sam. 17:47) and He is bigger than any giant we face.
LET FAITH RULE OVER LIES AND FEAR. “You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever. ” (Psalm 23:5, 6) Shepherds anoint the heads and noses of their sheep to kill bot flies, nasal flies and a variety of parasites from harassing and even driving the sheep to self-destruction. The flies can lay larvae in infected wounds and they multiply rapidly and drive the sheep to distraction and death. Satan is called Beelzebub (Matt. 10:24 -means “lord of the flies”) and can deposit lies in our unhealed wounds or unconfessed sins (Eph. 4:26-27). As we grow in the knowledge of our Lord by renewing our mind (Rom 12:2) and reckoning our self dead to sin (Rom. 6:6-7, 11, 13) and submitting to God and resisting the devil (James 4:7) we can defeat Satan. But as Paul reminds us we need to continually “be filled with the Holy Spirit” (Eph. 5:18) which is God’s anointing oil to empower us to fight the good fight of faith in the armor of God and with the weapons God has given us – His Word, prayer and faith. (Eph. 6:14-18; 2 Cor. 10:3-5; 1 John 5:4) “ For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds.” (2 Cor. 10:4) Don’t let Satan rob you of your destiny in the Lord. (See Phil. 3:7-15)
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS FOR APPLICATION OF GOD’S WORD
Discuss how important it is to know that God is with us in the midst of every trial to face every giant. Ponder Romans 8:31 He is a lot bigger than any giant.
It is on the battlefields of life that we learn to trust God. What lions and bears have you fought and defeated to prepare you for the “Goliaths” that may come?
Confront your giant. We can stuff our pain and try to hide our sins but in doing so we miss God’s healing and deliverance. Scripture calls us to share our pain and our sins with God and a friend. Share how God has healed you and freed you by being transparent with Him and a friend.
A stronghold is a lie that we believe is true. For example, “God doesn’t love me” or “God can’t be trusted so I have to take care of myself.” How do we “pull down strongholds”? Are there any lies about God that you still believe?
“Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it—he will be blessed in what he does.” (James 1:22-25) It is in doing God’s Word, not in just hearing it, that we are blessed. What action will you take to apply these truths to your life?
Scripture memory verse: ”For I know the plans I have for you," says the LORD. "They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. In those days (in trials) when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me in earnest, you will find me when you seek me. I will be found by you," says the LORD. "I will end your captivity and restore your fortunes.” (Jeremiah 29: 11-14a)