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We can all look back on our lives and point to examples of challenging situations, knowing that what we’re about to face may be a new and difficult circumstance. It may be different and unsettling, but this is not beyond the realm of our capability because we’ve done it before. We have faced obstacles before and persevered.

David and Goliath.

When we hear those names, the imagery that comes to mind is the underdog. Someone weak overcoming something powerful. Even when the odds are against you, you can come out victorious. Maybe we even spiritualize it and say, “With God’s power, we can accomplish anything. With God on our side, we can overcome giants.”

When we look at this scripture and see it simply as overcoming something challenging, that’s a limited use of the text. It has everything to do with God, seeing how big He is, our perspective of God, and how we live that out.

1 Samuel 17
1 Now the Philistines gathered their forces for war and assembled at Sokoh in Judah. They pitched camp at Ephes Dammim, between Sokoh and Azekah. 2 Saul and the Israelites assembled and camped in the Valley of Elah and drew up their battle line to meet the Philistines. 3 The Philistines occupied one hill and the Israelites another, with the valley between them. 4 A champion named Goliath, who was from Gath, came out of the Philistine camp. His height was six cubits and a span.[a] (That’s about 9ft, 9in) 5 He had a bronze helmet on his head and wore a coat of scale armor of bronze weighing five thousand shekels[b]; (125 lbs) 6 on his legs he wore bronze greaves, and a bronze javelin was slung on his back. 7 His spear shaft was like a weaver’s rod, and its iron point weighed six hundred shekels. (15 lbs) His shield bearer went ahead of him. 8 Goliath stood and shouted to the ranks of Israel, “Why do you come out and line up for battle? Am I not a Philistine, and are you not the servants of Saul? Choose a man and have him come down to me. 9 If he is able to fight and kill me, we will become your subjects; but if I overcome him and kill him, you will become our subjects and serve us.” 10 Then the Philistine said, “This day I defy the armies of Israel! Give me a man and let us fight each other.” 11 On hearing the Philistine’s words, Saul and all the Israelites were dismayed and terrified.

Goliah’s Tale of the Tape:

  • 9’9”
  • Armor is 125lbs
  • Tip of spear is 15lbs

Goliah is shouting at the Israelites, mocking them, and challenging them to a fight. He says, “If I win, you become our servants, but if you win, we become your servants.” And Goliah didn’t do this for 1 or 2 days. It went on for 40 days, and no one stepped forward. But someone else comes into camp.

David’s Tale of the Tape:

  • Youngest of 7 boys
  • Shepherd
  • Messenger boy

David comes to camp and hears Goliath’s words and accusations. He decides to go to Saul, and this happens.

1 Samuel 17
32 David said to Saul, “Let no one lose heart on account of this Philistine; your servant will go and fight him.” 33 Saul replied, “You are not able to go out against this Philistine and fight him; you are only a young man, and he has been a warrior from his youth.” 34 But David said to Saul, “Your servant has been keeping his father’s sheep. When a lion or a bear came and carried off a sheep from the flock, 35 I went after it, struck it and rescued the sheep from its mouth. When it turned on me, I seized it by its hair, struck it and killed it. 36 Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, because he has defied the armies of the living God. 37 The Lord who rescued me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will rescue me from the hand of this Philistine.” Saul said to David, “Go, and the Lord be with you.”

Something we see in this text is that we live what we believe.

Think about voting in an election. You have a core truth that you adhere to, and then the way you show that you believe that is by casting your vote toward the candidate that most closely aligns with that belief. We live what we believe.

David believes that he can beat this giant. It’s not because he’s an amazing fighter, has blind faith, or believes in underdog stories. It’s because he knows who fought his previous battle. He’s rooting his confidence in God’s precedent.

What David does and what we need to do to embrace a bigger reality of God is to look back to look forward.

There are times in our lives when the obstacles and challenges before us are overwhelming, leading us to question how we handle them. Those circumstances, like Goliath, can produce fear, dismay, and terror. And in that moment, there’s a temptation to use God but not choose God.

We are hoping for a solution to fix our situation. When we do that, God becomes relegated to a problem solver and not the Creator of the World. We’ve lost the sense of awe and wonder because God isn’t just needed to be the solver of our issues.

What does it look like to choose God vs use God?

  1. Using God – “God, I need you to send some extra money this month, or I won’t make it.”
  2. Choosing God – “God, I remember a few months ago when you gave me my daily bread, just what I needed for that day. Thank you for being a God who provides.”

When we decide that we’re going to engage in wonder, seeing God as Holy and Big over our circumstances and entirely above, it brings a peace that can’t be found if all we’re looking to God for is a resolution. Using God starts with the problem and ends with God delivering a solution. But choosing God is about starting and ending with a proper perspective.

So, how do we choose God and not just use Him?

We look back.

Consistency – David is looking back at God’s consistency in rescuing him. He reviews moments of his life and says, “There is a pattern of consistency in the person of God.” And what that consistency provides is the basis for trust.

Think about our own relationships. The reason we trust people in our lives is because there’s a pattern of behavior that proves people to be safe, to have our best interests in mind, and to move forward together. And a relationship with God is no different.

God’s invitation for us regarding AWE is connected to his consistency: Do you recall how I moved? Can you look back and see what I did? Can you recognize my presence with you then?

Character – When we look back at God’s character, we see who He is. God is a rescuer. He’s done it in the past, and based on consistency, He will do it again. That’s who He is.

Psalm 46
1 God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.
2 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
3 though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.
4 There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells.
5 God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day.
6 Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall; he lifts his voice, the earth melts.
7 The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.
8 Come and see what the Lord has done, the desolations he has brought on the earth.
9 He makes wars cease to the ends of the earth. He breaks the bow and shatters the spear; he burns the shields with fire.
10 He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”
11 The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.

God is a refuge. He’s a fortress. He’s exalted. He’s present. When we look back on what God has done in our lives, it also reveals more about who He is. When we look back at God’s consistency and His actions in our lives, it should also force us to look back and see His character.

He’s loving. He’s just. He’s awesome and holy. He’s able. He’s a big God, and not only is He present, but He is on display, inviting us to know and love more about Him. And this also helps us build trust with God because you can’t trust someone on their actions. We look back and see God’s consistency, but that consistency allows us also to see His character.

Cross – The last thing to look back on to behold a powerful but near God and to engage in awe is to look back at the Cross. God’s nearness has no real significance or power unless it’s connected to His bigness. God can be big and powerful while being near us in our brokenness through the Cross.

When Jesus died on the Cross, we see a God who can do something coupled with a God who did do something. We look back and see God’s consistency, His actions, and His goodness in our lives. We look back and see His character, His love, and His person on display. And when we look back to the Cross, we see His love and nearness combined with the power to conquer sin and the grave. A God who emptied Himself so that we can be close to Him.

David does fight Goliath and defeats the Philistine army, confident in His God because David looked back and set out again and again.

Our spiritual journey is not a destination as much as it is a process of looking back to set out so we can look back and move forward. When we look back and see God, we can take one step forward into the unknown. And once we pass through that, we look back on that moment to take the next step.

And this happens over and over again. This is how we live in awe, how we practice this in our lives. We look back so we can set out. Our God does not leave us to navigate this world alone. Still he invites us to see His presence, consistency, and character as we look back so that we can look forward in hope and assurances that we have a big, powerful, almighty, ever-present God.

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