Tuesday, July 7, 2015

How Big Is Your Giant?

Scripture Reference  1 Samuel 17:(1a, 4-11, 19-23), 32-49
Message:         “How Big is Your Giant?”
I am a big guy.  I’m six feet tall and weigh close to 300 pounds.  I am neither the tallest nor the heaviest person in my family.  I come from a large family of large people so I’m not easily impressed by someone’s size.

Years ago I had a chance to see Andry the Giant.  He was a professional wrestler and also played the part of the giant (how’s that for type casting?) in the movie “Princess Bride”.  Andry was seven foot four inches tall and weighed nearly 500 pounds!  I was impressed when he stepped over the top rope of the wrestling ring.

A Google search reveals that the tallest man in modern times, Robert Pershing Wadlow at eight feet eleven point one inches tall.  Just short of nine feet!

Goliath was ten feet tall.  Which means that he would have looked down and patted Andry the Giant on the head and said, “Aren’t you just the cutest little thing!”

Even Robert Wadlow would have only come to Goliath’s shoulder!

I said that I’m six feet.  My wife is five feet tall.  So, if she stood on my shoulders, she could look Goliath right in the eye.  That would not be a good idea.

Not only was Goliath huge, but he was equipped for war.  He had his battle armor on.  He had his sword, shield and spear.  What a spear it must have been … with it’s five pounds of iron for a spear head.  A thing like that could kill you seriously dead!

He came up to the battle line and issued a challenge that he would fight any man of the Israel army.  If he won, then Israel would become slaves of the Philistines.  If the Israeli won, then the Philistines would become slaves of Israel.  Now that sounds like a civilized way to wage war: one man against another with winner take all.

Can you imagine if our political leaders went to war instead of sending thousands of people to do the fighting?  It might change the way we vote.  I think I’d vote for Chuck Norris!

So this giant stood taunting the Israeli army to send a challenger, of course, Goliath was certain that the odds were stacked in his favor.

Now think a moment … if the biggest guy on their team sent out a challenge … who would you send from your team?   Yep, the biggest guy on your team!

First Samuel 9:2 states that King Saul was head and shoulders taller than any other Israelites.  A little research into average heights for the time gives us and estimate that Saul was probably six-three to six-six.  If you were going to match the tallest against the tallest … he would have been the choice to take on Goliath.  

More over, Saul had the most to lose … his kingdom.  And the most to gain … a nation of Philistine slaves at his command.  Yep!  Saul was the logical choice.  However, When Saul and all Israel heard these words of the Philistine, they were dismayed and greatly afraid.  Not just scared, but greatly afraid.  They had the trembling shakes, pee down their legs fear.  That kind of fear that creates a release of chemicals into your body that says, “Fight, Flight, or Freeze.”  It appears that Saul decided that it was better to fight the entire Philistine army than to stand mano a mano with Goliath. 

Saul’s giant was too big.

David came out to the battle line to bring lunch for his brothers.  He was the kid of the family, left at home to guard the sheep while his bigger, older brothers went to war.  Well actually no fighting had taken place because day after day Goliath would stand there and trash talk.

David hears the giant and thinks, “Oh this is gonna be good.  Who on our team is going to answer the challenge?”  Nobody.  Not even with the prize being the daughter of the king.  Nobody.

David, full of that fearlessness that teenagers have, boasts that he could take down this uncircumcised Philistine.  Word gets back to Saul that someone has been bragging that they’d fight the giant.  So, Saul sends for David.  But when Saul sees David, he dismisses him outright as too young and too small.

Now, I dearly love the conversation between David and Saul:  David said to Saul, "Let no one's heart fail because of him; your servant will go and fight with this Philistine."  Can’t you just picture that in your mind?  David the kid, maybe still a teenager, strutting up to six-foot-something, Saul, King of all Israel, with all the brash fearlessness of youth.  He looked Saul up and down and said, “Don’t have a heart attack, Dude.”  Then tapping himself on the chest with his thumb says, “I’ll take care of your little problem for you.”

Saul said to David, “What’s the matter with you, Boy?  This monster has trained in the art and science of war since he was younger than you!  You have a death wish or something?”

David replied, “Dude, I’ve grabbed a lamb out of the mouth or a lion and then grabbed it by the main and beat it to death.  I’ve done the same with bears that attacked my flock.  God protected me then and he’ll protect me against this uncircumcised Philistne who has challenged the Living God of Israel.”

Saul said, “Okay, Kid, it’s your funeral.  But, here, take my armor and my sword.”

Have you ever seen a little kid dressed up in their daddy’s clothing?  The arms of the shirt dragging on the floor as he shuffles along in man-sized shoes and Daddy’s hat falling over his face?

That’s what David must have looked like in Saul’s armor and dragging his sword along the ground.  He shucks off the armor and dropps the weapons saying, “I can’t even move in this stuff.  I’ve got my shepherding stick and my sling.  That and God is all I need.”

The scriptures say that David ran to the battlefield.  There was no hesitation on his part.  He was sure that the victory was God’s and all David had to do was his little part.  So, while Goliath was trash talking, David declared that the Lord was gong to win this battle in an impossible way so that everyone on both sides would know that God was in control.

I saw a Youtube video of a martial arts expert verses a United States Marine.  Before the fight, the martial artist was doing back flips and high jumping kicks and all kinds of impressive moves to show the spectators and his opponent his skill.  The fight starts and the martial artist does a series of handsprings and somersaults as he attacks the marine, who just stood there.  Once the karate master was close enough, the marine hit him with one solid blow that knocked him unconscious.

That was much like the “fight” between Goliath and David.  Goliath had spent several days talking up the fight.  But David just rushed headlong into it and with one stone from his sling ended it.

David’s giant was miniscule compared to the size of David’s God.

How big is your giant?
What?  You’ve never faced a giant?
I have many times.

I remember as a young father facing a giant.  I was going to college and working full time.  I had a brand new baby boy at home that I wanted to spend more time with.  

I woke from sleep to a horrible, high pitched wheezing  sound.  It was my son struggling to breath.  

I went to his bassinet at saw that when he tried to inhale, his little chest caved in and turned concave.  I grabbed him and rushed him to the emergency room.  Within minutes they had him in an oxygen tent.  His mother and I sat beside him all through the night.  I would sneak my hand under the tent just so that I could touch him.  

I was so afraid of that giant called death that night.  I prayed and argued and bargained with God all night.  I gained a real appreciation of the Old Testament passage where Jacob wrestled with the Angel of the Lord all night.  So have I.  

Jacob came away changed … he was even renamed Israel.  I was also changed that night.  I learned that there is peace in times of tragedy by turning it all over to God.  Amen.

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