1 Samuel 17: 41-51 (Ephesians 6:10-13)
Dr. David R. Denny
November 13, 2016
I was on my stomach this summer crawling through my garden. I was on a mission to pull weeds and I was determined to track each blade of crabgrass, every nefarious dandelion and bindweed and chickweed that I could find. Don’t you just love gardening? What could be better than crawling around in your garden on a pretty spring morning getting dirty and having a ball? Well as I was going about my weeding, I spotted something amazing that illuminated my sermon title for this morning–Mission Impossible”. I saw something impossible right in front of me. So, what did I see? I saw an ant carrying a huge leaf in his jaw.
Now just in case you missed this lesson in Science class, let me remind you of a few ant facts: Ants weigh about 1-5 milligrams. Doesn’t sound like much but the combined weight of all the ants on Earth is greater than that of all the people! Now here is the kicker. Ants can carry loads up to 20 times larger than themselves.
Now this part of the sermon requires a little math so I don’t want you to panic or anything. Just multiply your weight by 20. Now this would be a good time to cheat on your weight if you want to. I weigh about 220 so times 20 would be about 4,400 pounds. To put it another way, this would be like a 150-pound person carrying around a compact car! And an ant’s neck joint can withstand a pressure that is 5,000 times that of his weight.
And so when I stopped pulling weeds long enough to admire the little ant carrying this huge leaf I realized that the impossible often happens in daily life.
Our lives are often dotted with Mission Impossible moments.
- Sarah laughed uncontrollably in God’s face when He said that she would have a child at age 90. Mission Impossible. But she did have a child–Isaac.
- The Red Sea was a Mission Impossible Moment for Moses. But as the Egyptian chariots came charging across the desert, he stretched out his staff and split the sea.
And in our text today we see a young shepherd boy faced with something so improbable, so unlikely that had this event occurred today the Las Vegas bookies would have downgraded him to a thousand to one odds of killing Goliath and another Mission Impossible flits across the pages of Scripture.
As we look briefly at David’s story of courage and faith, I want you to look within yourself and ask yourself this question—what impossible challenge am I facing in my life right now? Have I lost my job? Is my marriage in trouble? Is my health failing? Have I got a huge test to take that might determine my future? Is there a big interview looming next week that might make or break my future?
And what about our church? Are there impossible goals we might want to set here? If an ant can do the impossible, can we with God’s help see our church grow? Impossible obstacles in your life and in our church can be overcome with absolute faith in God.
Goliath was huge. He was a human wrecking ball. He was simply undefeatable. (READ 17:4)—The Scripture says Goliath was 6 cubits and a span. A cubit was the tip of middle finger to elbow (1 1/2 feet) and a SPAN was thumb to little finger (9 inches)–we can get Goliath to 9 – 10 feet.
***Now just a quick textual note here. If you ever get to Israel and happen to stroll over to the location of the Dead Sea caves –13 miles East of Jerusalem–where the ancient Dead Sea scrolls were found make sure you look up at cave four. (MSS were found in 11 caves) It is the easiest cave to see from a distance and it is the cave where most of the scrolls were found. In this cave 4 the oldest Hebrew manuscripts for Samuel was found and in one it says that Goliath was 4 cubits. But the other manuscripts say 6 cubits and a span. Here is what happened. (Now you’ll have to step into my Hebrew class at the NOBTS)– The Hebrew number for 4 (4 cubits) is this: (MAKE HAND MOTION) The Hebrew number for 6 (6 cubits) is this——And so eventually 6 cubits became the standard translation which is 9 feet.
The tallest man in recorded modern history was Robert Wadlow who at age 22 was 8’ 11.1 inches. His father standing next to him barely reaches his waist.
Goliath was huge. 10 feet tall and all man and all muscle. He wore a scale armor that weighed 150 lbs. He had a huge bronze helmet and heavy bronze shin guard. Altogether his entire panoply of armor weighed in at 272 pounds. Plutarch tells us that the ordinary Greek soldier carried about 60 pounds.
Every morning and every evening Goliath came out into the valley of Elah and
shouted across to the Israelites to send him a challenger. He shouted this intimidating challenge for forty days straight. And for forty days straight no one dared to answer. The entire Israelite army quivered in fear and refused to see any possibility of success.
Now my observations in modern life place a large number of us in this valley of fear and paralysis. We see an obstacle before us in our lives but we can’t face it, or answer it or overcome it.
- Why are the bars filled each night? It is an escape from the burdens of life, from obstacles people can’t deal with.
- Why are we as a country consuming tons of drugs each year?
- Why do over 20 million Americans suffer from depression?
- I think most of us hit walls along our journey and we see no way over or around and we give up.
The entire army of Saul was locked in fright as they stared down upon this giant shouting curses at them.
- Oh, where is the angel Gabriel when you need him. Don’t you remember what Gabriel to said to Mary as she trembled before an impossible challenge? He reached out to her, raised her face, gently looked into her eyes and said these immortal words; WITH GOD, NOTHING IS IMPOSSIBLE (Luke 1:37) Nothing! Nothing! No manuscript confusion here. No number 4/6 doubts here. Simple and straightforward. Straight from the lips of an angel who came straight from the throne of God—WITH GOD NOTHING IS IMPOSSIBLE.
Oh, if only Gabriel had fluttered down to the valley of Elah and touched the hearts of the quivering soldiers. I want each of you here this morning, whoever is at a mission impossible point, to hear the echo of Gabriel’s word. With God, nothing is impossible. God can and will help you through your problems. He hears. He understands. He is here for you.
I admire David so much. He heard the giant cursing and bellowing in the valley. He was instantly repulsed. The soldiers ushered him to Saul. “Here is a challenger,” they said. Saul, tall in his own right, looked down upon the little wisp of a kid, thin tanned arms, flowing hair, easy smile, determined eyes. “Are you sure? He asked.” “Yes, I’m sure. God helped me slay a lion and a bear. What’s the difference?”
Saul loads him down with his heavy armor but David tosses it aside. “It is untested,” he says. And then David goes to the brook, selects five smooth stones, gathers up his sling and heads off to do battle with an impossible challenge.
We have to pause here and study David’s example. Facing an impossible challenge, he doesn’t panic or retreat. He remembers the victories God gave him in the past. He remembers and he draws confidence from them. You can do the same thing. Surely you too have some victory in your past. Maybe with God’s help, a relationship was repaired, or a deadline met or a job found or an addiction resolved. David remembered his past victories. They invigorated his faith in God. He did it in the past. He can do it now.
Now I want you to notice that David selected his weaponry with great care. He walked purposefully toward the small brook Elah. You can still see it today. It is about 10 feet wide and still filled with small stones. David selected 5. Each carefully examined. Some tossed back into the brook. The best five, the smoothest ones with the right weight and dimensions were carefully tucked into his pouch.
We too are taught by the Apostle Paul to select our weapons carefully. Victory can only be assured as you march against your impossible mission if you gather the right weapons. That list is documented in Ephesians 6 beginning with verse 10. Let’s gather some and tuck them into our shepherd’s pouch.
- Gird up your loins with TRUTH
- the Breastplate of RIGHTEOUSNESS
- THE GOSPEL OF PEACE
- the shield of FAITH
- The helmet of SALVATION
- SWORD OF THE SPIRIT
David, with his pouch filled with the hand-selected stones, raced toward the giant, whirled his sling round and round and flung the first stone right between the eyes. Goliath fell with a thud and the impossible was accomplished!
Well, history is replete with mission impossible stories. Hannibal shocked the Roman world as he prodded his African elephants over the Pyrenees and down the Alps entering the heart of Roman territory with a vengeance.
Alexander the Great conquered the world by age 33.
But nothing was greater than this victory by the humble shepherd over the mighty Goliath.
And your victory against some impossible obstacle in your life can be achieved as well. and many victories I predict are on the horizon for Drummondtown if we will just take heart, join hands with David the Shepherd boy and Gabriel the angel and believe in the impossible.
- Just hear the voice of Gabriel—WITH GOD NOTHING IS IMPOSSIBLE.
- Remember thoughtfully the victories God has given you in the past.
- Then select your weapons carefully and launch out to conquer the giant.