Through my ministry, when I’ve been planning and dreaming and dreaming and scheming, I often ask myself, what’s the worst that could happen?
Basically, I’m asking myself “What’s the worst-case scenario?”
Now, some people seem to only gravitate to the worst-case scenario in their lives, and it prevents them from ever accomplishing anything. For them, the worst-case is the probable case and they just aren’t willing to deal with that and that often paralyzes them into inaction.
Sometimes when I’m coaching other pastors, and we are get talking about the dreams they have for their church, and things they’d like to try, they will ask: But what if. . .? And they are going to the Worst-case scenario and they see that as failure.
But it’s not enough to simply identify what the worst-case scenario might be, you really need to prepare to deal with that.
A while back, I was talking to an acquaintance and was waxing eloquently about cruising and suggested that they might enjoy it. They immediately asked the: But what if. . .? Question. Actually, they asked a multitude of them, what if I get seasick, what if I don’t like the food? What if I do like the food and gain weight?
And I said, “worst-case is that you hate it and never cruise again.”
A few months ago, I stumbled on a little book back in the sound booth, I have no idea who left it there, but here it is. It’s called “Worst-Case Scenarios” and it is a miniature version of a best seller with the same title. And as I flipped through it, my first thought was, this is really cool, and my second thought was: this will preach. Which is just the way I’m wired.
So, I ordered the book and it’s really helpful. I now know what to do if: I need to fend off a shark, I need to jump from a moving car, I need to deliver a baby in a taxicab. As a bonus I know how to survive if my parachute fails to open.
For example, on page 88 there are instructions on how to perform a tracheotomy.
You will need: A first aid kit, if available, a razor blade or very sharp knife, a straw or a ball point pen with the inside removed. And presumably someone who needs a tracheotomy.
1. Find the person’s Adam’s apple. (thyroid cartilage)
2. Move your finger about one inch further down the neck until you feel another bulge. The indentation between the two is where the incision will be made.
3. Take the razor blade or knife and make a half inch horizontal incision.
4. Pinch the incision open or place your finger inside the slit to open it.
5. Insert the tube in the incision, roughly one-half to one inch deep.
6. Breathe into the tube with two quick breaths.
7. You will see the chest rise and the person should regain consciousness if you have preformed the procedure correctly.
And it comes with pictures.
Over the next couple of months, we are going to be taking a look at some Worst-case scenarios from the bible.
What do you do if you are thrown into a pit full of angry lions? What do you do if you are swallowed by a whale? What do you do if the ship you are on begins to sink? That could be another cruise ship scenario.
This morning’s worst case scenario comes from the scripture that was read for us earlier.
And it is a familiar story, or at least a familiar concept for most people even if they don’t understand it’s from the Bible.
In the Scripture we read the account of a man named Goliath, and if you think about it a story about Goliath isn’t really complete without talking about David. As in David and Goliath.
1 Samuel 17 tells us the story.
Through most of its history Israel had been ruled by a religious ruler called a judge, that type of rule is called a Theocracy, meaning under God.
Some of our politicians today would like it to be that way again, the difference is that they want to be God.
But then the people rebelled and demanded a king like all the other nations. And so, God appointed Saul. He was a good king, tall handsome and smart, and he ruled the kingdom of Israel well, mostly. but then he began to think, “Hey I’m a good king, I can think for myself.”
And we know what happens when politicians start thinking for themselves don’t we? One thing led to another and another and soon Saul was being outright disobedient to God’s will for his kingdom. And with that disobedience came military defeats and here we are in 1 Samuel 17 where the Israelites are facing the greatest obstacle in their history.
So what do we learn?
1. Identify Your Giant
Let’s start by looking at the Giant. It seems like there was a bit of a standoff here with the Philistines on one mountain and the Jews on the other mountain and when things were just getting warmed up we read in 1 Samuel 17:4 Then Goliath, a Philistine champion from Gath, came out of the Philistine ranks to face the forces of Israel. He was over nine feet tall!
Well if nothing else the story of David and Goliath would prove to be a popular illustrative device through the years, you know small vs. large, good vs. evil, conquering the unconquerable odds. But so often we fail to realize that the story of David and Goliath is more than just a story, it’s a fact.
If you are wondering how much over 9 foot he was, it is actually broken down in the earlier translations this way,
1 Samuel 17:4 NKJV And a champion went out from the camp of the Philistines, named Goliath, from Gath, whose height was six cubits and a span.
How big was this guy? He was very big. The Bible tells us that he was six cubits and a span, so, let’s pull up a black board, well actually a green board and figure it out.
Let’s see a cubit was eighteen inches and a span was a half a cubit or nine inches so let’s see eight times six and carry the four is 108 add nine, multiply by 2.54 divide by a hundred and you get 2.9718 metres, and that’s supposed to mean something to us because we’ve been a metric country for over forty years.
So we multiply it by 100 divide by 2.54 and we get 117 inches which we divide by 12 and get 9.75 multiply the .75 by 12 and we get 9 feet 9 inches tall. That’s ginormous.
His coat of armour weighed 125 lbs., and it was just a vest. The bible tells us that his spear was like a weaver’s beam, now I don’t know what a weaver’s beam is, but I do know that the Bible says that the head of the spear weighed fifteen pounds all by its lonesome.
You say, “Preacher you’re bluffing, ain’t nobody could be that big.”
Oh yeah. Robert Wadlow was 8’11” tall and weighed almost five hundred pounds.
Here is a picture of his life size wax statue with one of my favorite preachers.
His shoe size was 37 AA, and you thought you had problems finding shoes that fit. His hand was a foot long, and he had a ten-foot arm span. When he died in 1940 at the age of 22 he was still growing and needed 8000 calories a day to survive, now wouldn’t that be heaven.
So if Robert Wadlow could be 8’11” then surely Goliath could be just ten inches taller. And so, the big guy puts a very reasonable proposition to the Israelites.
At least I thought it was reasonable. In the Bible in 1 Samuel 17:8-9 Goliath stood and shouted a taunt across to the Israelites. “Why are you all coming out to fight?” he called. “I am the Philistine champion, but you are only the servants of Saul. Choose one man to come down here and fight me! If he kills me, then we will be your slaves. But if I kill him, you will be our slaves!
Great idea huh? Think of how many lives would have been saved if through the years each nation had sent out their best man instead of their best men to fight the battles.
Instead when it comes time for war, the men too old to fight send those too young to hold power out to die. Now I know that at first glance the odds don’t seem all that great, what with Goliath being sooo big and everybody else being sooo small.
Don’t forget though that this bunch had a pretty neat history behind them. Noah had built an ark, Moses had parted the Red Sea, Abraham had fathered a child when he was hundred and Joshua had brought down the walls of Jericho.
If anything, you’d think that the odds were stacked pretty much against Goliath. But nobody was ready to put their faith on the line. Nobody believed in God enough to take a risk. Oh sure God could do those things for other people but not for me. And here’s where the rubber meets the road, where our faith either becomes a reality or a fallacy.
We all have giants in our lives. Too often when we think of giants, we cast our eyes fretfully around looking for modern day Goliaths.
But we all have giants in our lives. It was Sam Shoemaker who said, “everybody has a problem, is a problem or lives with a problem.” ain’t that the truth.
What’s your giant? Unemployment? Illness? Family problems, interpersonal relationship, work. Maybe depression, or temptation or something unresolved in your past.
So, we need to start by identifying our giants.
And just as sure as we have giants in our lives, we have a God who can help us kill our giants just like David killed Goliath.
So, what is step two, after we have identified our giant?
2. Identify Yourself. After we read about Goliath we read this statement: 1 Samuel 17:12 Now David was the son of a man named Jesse, an Ephrathite from Bethlehem in the land of Judah. Jesse was an old man at that time, and he had eight sons.
So, we are told that David was the son of Jesse, that he was born in Bethlehem, which of course you remember as being the birthplace of Jesus. We know that he was the youngest of eight sons, but we don’t know for sure how old he was although he would have had to have been younger than twenty or he would have been in the army.
And while that was who he was, to understand the story you really need to see who he became.
He became the second and undoubtedly greatest King of Israel and lived about three thousand years ago. He is mentioned 1092 times in the Bible and his exploits read like something off the fiction shelf at your local library. A little something for everybody in that story, sex, violence, mayhem and treachery. He captured Jerusalem and brought the ark of the covenant there, you probably remember the Ark best from the first Indiana Jones movie.
David turned Israel into a major military power and put it on the map. He was the author of the majority of the poetry in the Bible and was the architect of Solomon’s temple. Jesus Christ was referred to as the Son of David 19 times in the Gospels. But what does everybody know David for? Right, for how he killed the giant. Everybody knows how the little fellow did the big dude in.
It’s kind of an interesting twist of history that most dictionaries don’t mention David, but they all seem to have Goliath and he was the loser.
At this point in his life David was serving the King as his personal musician as well as working for his father tending the family’s flock of sheep. It was while he was working at home that his dad sent him to the front with a care package for his big brothers. It was when he arrived that he discovered this monster taunting the Jewish army.
But understand that David wasn’t just a part time musician with a side hustle of watching sheep. If we go back to chapter 16 we discover that after Saul’s disobedience, David is anointed by God’s prophet, Samuel, to become the future king.
1 Samuel 16:13 So as David stood there among his brothers, Samuel took the flask of olive oil he had brought and anointed David with the oil. And the Spirit of the LORD came powerfully upon David from that day on. Then Samuel returned to Ramah.
David had no doubt about who he was and what he had to do.
As Christ followers, we need to have the assurance of who we are. John reminds us in John 1:12 But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God.
We are children of God, the creator of all things, master of the universe. Gal
3. Identify Your Strengths
David knew that nothing less than total success would be acceptable. He knew that if he only wounded Goliath it would just make him mad, and there is nothing worse than a mad giant.
And so, he says in 1 Samuel 17:34-36 But David persisted. “I have been taking care of my father’s sheep and goats,” he said. “When a lion or a bear comes to steal a lamb from the flock, I go after it with a club and rescue the lamb from its mouth. If the animal turns on me, I catch it by the jaw and club it to death. I have done this to both lions and bears, and I’ll do it to this pagan Philistine, too, for he has defied the armies of the living God!
His goal was clear, his vision was certain, no ifs no ands no buts, he was going to kill the big fella. He wasn’t afraid to commit himself to a line of action. It’s been said that sometimes we are so afraid of getting out on a limb because of our faith that we won’t even climb the tree. Well David was up the tree and out on the limb and he didn’t care.
Too often we don’t set goals in our personal and spiritual lives because we are afraid of how it will look if we don’t succeed. And then we don’t succeed anyways because there is no accountability.
If you are going to get anywhere in your life, you’d better know the direction you want to go before you head out, because if you don’t know where you are going how will you know when you arrive?
David’s goal may have sounded a little extravagant, but he knew that it was all or nothing. It’s amazing that when you aim at nothing nine times out of ten that’s what you hit, nothing.
Maybe it’s time to stop talking in generalities and find the giant.
Realize as well that every problem that you encounter isn’t necessarily a giant. If your car won’t start or you’re involved in a minor fender bender that may not be a giant. If you have the flue or a toothache that may not be a giant. If you think your boss is a jerk and your pay cheque isn’t big enough it still may not be a giant.
Or as Mark Twain said “A reasonable amount o’ fleas is good fer a dog—keeps him from broodin’ over bein’ a dog, mebbe.”
You might think that you can’t do it by yourself, and you are probably right, but then again you don’t have to. David never expected that he could do Goliath in all by his lonesome. If we keep reading in 1 Samuel 17:37listen to what David says 1 Samuel 17:37 The Lord who saved me from the claws of the lion and the bear will save me from this Philistine!”
Basically, David was saying, “Goliath might be big, but God is bigger”
Goliath mocked David for who he was, he was only a boy, and who he wasn’t, he wasn’t a warrior.
David responded by reminding the giant who God was, we read in 1 Samuel 17:45-47 David replied to the Philistine, “You come to me with sword, spear, and javelin, but I come to you in the name of the LORD of Heaven’s Armies—the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. Today the LORD will conquer you, and I will kill you and cut off your head. And then I will give the dead bodies of your men to the birds and wild animals, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel! And everyone assembled here will know that the LORD rescues his people, but not with sword and spear. This is the LORD’s battle, and he will give you to us!”
David didn’t deny that he was small, or that he was young, instead he talked about how great his God was.
When we feel like we can’t do it or we are told we can’t do it, we need to be reminded of John’s words to the church in 1 John 4:4 But you belong to God, my dear children. You have already won a victory over those people, because the Spirit who lives in you is greater than the spirit who lives in the world.
And the result of the Spirit living in us is spelled out in Acts 1:8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. . . “
Whatever or whoever the giant is that you are facing, you don’t have to face him alone.
4. Take the Necessary Action David trusted God. David claimed God’s promises. But David did everything he could do as well. He didn’t just stand there and yell, “God’s gonna get you.”
Let’s go back to the story, 1 Samuel 17:48-49 As Goliath moved closer to attack, David quickly ran out to meet him. Reaching into his shepherd’s bag and taking out a stone, he hurled it with his sling and hit the Philistine in the forehead. The stone sank in, and Goliath stumbled and fell face down on the ground.
One of the most important steps in overcoming the giants in our life is coming face to face with the fact that it is up to you. We live in a society that has mastered the fine art of blaming others. If it’s not your parents’ fault and it’s not society’s fault, then it must be God’s fault.
And if it is somebody else’s fault than somebody else ought to fix it. The problem is that we go through life proclaiming that we are “Adult Children of Alcoholics” or “Adult Children of Abusive Parents” or “Adult survivors of Abuse”. My parents were great, the problem is I didn’t get a support group, there is no group for “Adult Children of Normal Parents”.
We were the wrong colour, or the wrong gender or the wrong religion or our hair was too red, or we were too fat and we didn’t get the breaks that others got and would somebody please do something about that giant that’s breathing down my neck.
Hey the giant wasn’t David’s responsibility he was just a shepherd who was moonlighting as a delivery boy. It wasn’t David’s fault that Goliath was there, but I wonder how the course of history would have been different for Israel if David hadn’t done what David did.
What do you have to do to defeat your giant? I don’t know. But I do know that God expects us to do our part so He can do his part.
Goliath wasn’t the only giant to besiege David, nor was he the toughest, he was simply the most famous one.
How big are the giants in your life? They may not look very big to others but to you they are enormous. After all little problems are what other people have, kind of like minor surgery. Are your problems bigger than you can handle? Are they bigger than God can handle?
When I talk to people who are facing giants I try not to say “I know what you’re going through” cause in all likely hood I don’t.
But after close to forty years of pastoral ministry, I started when I was five, I have seen a bunch of giants trying to whoop on my friends. And some go through it and some grow through. It makes some bitter and it makes some better and the choice is up to the individual.
I don’t know what you are going through, haven’t got a clue, wouldn’t know your giant if I fell over him in the dark. But I do know this, you are going to have to stand up, look that sucker in the eye and tell yourself, “if it’s to be, it’s up to me.” Don’t wait for a David to come along my friend because you are “David”!
Now having said that I can’t kill your giants for you let me categorically state that I am willing to be there with you. I’ll hold your hand, I’ll pick you up, I’ll let you lean on me, I’ll buy you coffee, but you are going to have to kill him by yourself.
What do you think? Think you can whip that Giant with God’s help?