David & Goliath

A Family Lesson

John McKeel
Sunday Morning Sermon
April 30, 2017

An Amazing Story of a Life Built Around Bold Faith

“Easily the most beloved story in 1, 2 Samuel—indeed, in all the Former Prophets—is the account of David killing Goliath. … But the biblical narrative is not primarily a story about human courage and effort; instead, it is about the awesome power of a life built around bold faith in the Lord.”[1]


1. Israel’s ancient enemies, the Philistines, have encroached on the land of Israel. Two armies, the Israelites and the Philistines, are separated by a dry creek bed and by the Israelites’ fear.

2. David was too young to be part of the Army (Numbers 1:3), but his three older brothers are there. David’s father, Jesse, sends him to take provisions to them.

3. The Philistines have a hero – a single soldier. They want to avoid needless slaughter and instead they are suggesting the battle can be settled by one-on-one combat.

♦ Goliath is 9’9” tall (“six cubits” – a cubit = 18”, “and a span” – ½ cubit).
♦ While most Philistine wore a feathered hat, he wore a helmet.
♦ He wore a chainmail coat that weighed 126 pounds and bronze leggings!
♦ The word “javelin” probably describes a scimitar (Hebrew kîdôn) on his back.
♦ And he carried a spear as big as “a weaver’s beam, and his spear’s head weighed six hundred shekels of iron.”
♦ On top of all that, he had an attendant that carried a full-body shield!


♦ He questioned their resolve.
♦ He explained representative combat (But see 18:30).
♦ He heaped shame on them.


First, he tried to encourage others.

Perhaps for the first time in his life he heard the Lord being ridiculed.

David was an idealist.

But he was also practical.

He chose the weapons God provided: a stick and five stones.

Goliath was guilty of blasphemy and the penalty was stoning (Leviticus 24:16).

The fight was over quickly. Goliath “walked” but David “ran.”

Modern Goliaths

Are there any “Goliaths” threatening your life? Bold faith with the weapons God provides can still conquer giants!


Some Things to Think About

  • David knew God would protect him against Goliath because God had already protected him: ““The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine,” (17:37).
  • Fill-in the blank: “The Lord who delivered David from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear will deliver me from _________________________________ .”

[1] Bergen, R. D. (1996). 1, 2 Samuel (Vol. 7, pp. 186–187). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

Your Golf Clubs Will Thank You

John McKeel

Ray was a nice guy. I couldn’t do what he did. Ray was a bus driver and every day had to deal with bad drivers and irate passengers. He was responsible for people’s safety and he took that responsibility seriously but Ray had a problem. He was the angriest man I ever knew.

Playing golf with Ray was a unique experience. If a shot went foul, Ray’s face would turn red. The veins on his neck would begin to flare. A string of profanity would pour out of his mouth and he would bend his club over his knee and fling it into a tree or the water trap. That would make him even angrier and balls and clubs would soon be pouring out of his bag in every direction.

Perhaps it was therapeutic. All day long from morning till night Ray had to be reserved and polite. He couldn’t indulge in road rage and the bus company frowned on their drivers using firearms or martial arts on brain-dead passengers. So Ray would smile and laugh and hold it in until he couldn’t take it any more. Then pity the poor golf clubs and the people he played with on the weekends. He wasn’t pleasant to be around and his wife finally gave up. Who wants to live with a volcano?

You couldn’t say Ray was happy. Life robbed him of joy and his future prospects didn’t look good. What advice would you give him? Here are some of the things we talked about at the nineteenth hole.

God created us with emotions, including our anger. Jesus wasn’t a Stoic and we shouldn’t be either. However, there is often a world of difference between the anger of Jesus and our explosive outbursts. The anger of Jesus was righteous (justified) and he became angry at injustice. Think of the hard-hearts of the Pharisees (Mark 3:5) or the way the merchants took advantage of the pilgrims in the Temple (John 2)

Second, Paul advises us not to let the sun go down on our anger. That means not saving up slights! When I was a little boy, merchants gave out green stamps that you could save up, paste into books and redeem for items in their catalog (like my first pup tent). Sometimes we’re like that. Something happens that upsets us but it’s not a big enough deal to become truly angry about so we just file it away until we have enough little annoyances to redeem for a good fight.

Third, sometimes I go looking for a trouble. The other day Jan and I were in the mood for a great hamburger. The line was long (just like I expected) and I saw an arrogant, rich man walk right to the front of the line and place his order before the rest of us and especially a little family whose turn it was. They were just about to order when this guy and his painted wife pushed by them. I was furious and was just about to say something when he pulled out his wallet and paid for the little family’s meal. “Thanks Uncle Ralph.” The funny thing is I was disappointed I couldn’t express my righteous indignation! I think I was just looking for a fight. Ouch.

No, the best advice I could give to Ray (and myself) is to learn the power of patient forgiveness. Paul told the Romans, “Do not repay anyone evil for evil…. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord. On the contrary:

‘If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.’

“Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good,” (Romans 12:17-21).

Your golf clubs will thank you.

The Family of God

John McKeel

Young John McKeel
SP4 John McKeel
Berlin, 1973

My senior year of High School, I dropped out of German language classes. “When will I ever need to speak German?” I reasoned. Two years later I was standing on a doorstep in Berlin waiting for someone to answer the doorbell. Like many young soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines, I was afraid I would be stationed far away with no other Christians to worship with. I was in the Army and I was trying to find the Gemeinde Christi (“Church of Christ”).

Of course, I shouldn’t have been afraid. Like many military families have discovered since the days of Cornelius the Centurion in Acts chapter 10, if there isn’t a church, just start one in your home! You don’t need a preacher – we are all priests (1 Peter 2:9). You don’t even need a building. Jesus said, “For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them.” Today there are churches around the world founded by “military missionaries.”

The door opened and I mumbled, “Guten Tag.” (“Good day.”)

A sweet grey-haired lady smiled and answered, “Guten Tag.”

I panicked. Here was a real, live German person standing in front of me. She smiled again and looked at me. I didn’t know what to say. I didn’t know what to do. If only I had finished my High School German classes! Why did I drop out? Why? Why? Why? Suddenly I remembered one of the practice phrases I had learned and without thinking, I blurted out, “Ich kann meine Gummischuhe nicht finden!” (“I can’t find my galoshes.”)

Marianne broke out laughing and replied, “Amerikanische ja?” and with that she invited me in to her home – a home that was used by Christians as a church every Sunday. She brought me tea and cookies and chatted away the afternoon showing me photo albums and laughing infectiously. I didn’t understand a word, but I didn’t need to. We were brother and sister.

Soldiers had started the church when they were stationed in Berlin many years before. They were gone now but the Germans who obeyed the gospel continued to meet and worship and share the good news to this day.

Isn’t that a great thought? We have brothers and sisters we haven’t met yet. We truly are a family: the family of God.

A special thanks to our soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines today – especially those who carry the gospel with them wherever they go!

No Need to Rob a Bank

John McKeel

Ross Rifle CompanyDanny Simpson of Ottawa, Canada made two tragic mistakes in 1990. Desperate for money, Simpson decided to rob a bank. He visited the bank every day for a week to plan his hold up and then the night before, Danny had dinner with his parents. While mom and dad were cleaning up the dishes, he slipped in to his parent’s bedroom and took the 45-caliber pistol from the drawer in the nightstand beside his father’s bed.

The next day, Simpson made off with two bags of cash worth over $6,000 from the bank. When the Mounties reviewed the surveillance tapes, they quickly identified Simpson as a “frequent visitor” and made the arrest. Danny Simpson made two big mistakes. First was robbing a bank and the second was using his father’s pistol. While Simpson stole $6,000 from the bank, his father’s pistol was a very rare 1918 .45-caliber Colt semi-automatic made by the Ross Rifle Company valued at over $100,000! The pistol went to a Canadian museum and Simpson went to jail.

As Christians we might desire the gifts someone else has: their respect, ability to teach, or sing, but God has given each one of us unique abilities (Romans 12:6-8) that make us special. What’s your gift?

Christmas Trees & Easter Eggs

John McKeel

Christmas celebrates the birth of Jesus and Easter commemorates the season of his death, burial and resurrection, but are they based on fact? No serious scholar doubts Jesus of Nazareth had a birthday and a day on which he died but how certain are we of those exact dates?

Frankly, Christmas Day was chosen on the basis of convenience. Of course there is no doubt Jesus was born, but the exact date is completely lost in antiquity. In fact, the Bible says Jesus was born while Herod the Great reigned but Herod died in 4 B.C.! It’s more than likely that Jesus was born around 6 B.C. but, as for the day or the month, that’s anyone’s guess. The earliest Christians didn’t celebrate Christmas and, much later, when some of them wanted to create a holiday to celebrate his birth, they chose an existing pagan holiday and “sanctified” it with new meaning.

On the other hand, while “Easter” with its bunnies and eggs was also a pagan holiday, the timing is pure coincidence. The events surrounding the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus were linked to the Jewish feast, Passover, and have been celebrated every Sunday from the very beginning of Christianity.

Passover celebrates the liberation of the Jewish people from Egyptian slavery (Exodus chapter 12). On the night of the 10th plague, the Israelites sacrificed a lamb and painted its blood on the doorposts of their houses. The “death angel” passed-over their homes when he saw the blood sparing those within. Blood represents life and it took the sacrifice of an innocent life to set them free. Likewise, the historical Jesus died on the eve of an historical Passover giving his life to set us free.

Since Passover is a lunar holiday, the date on our calendar varies from year to year. Likewise Christians have been divided about whether to celebrate the anniversary on the actual date of the event (which would fall on different days of the week every year) or to always link it to the actual day, Sunday. Here, in the West, it is traditionally celebrated on “Resurrection Sunday” and while we honor the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus every week (as Christians have from the beginning) it is especially heart-warming to celebrate Resurrection Sunday knowing it is firmly based in historical fact.

No Streakers in Church (please)

John McKeel

The Apostle Paul tells us to “put on the whole armor of God” in Ephesians 6:13-17. Then he goes on to list what that includes: the pants of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the boots of the gospel of peace, the shield of righteousness, the sword of the Spirit and the helmet of salvation.

A radio preacher once declared he didn’t want any “streakers” running around in his congregation. He explained those are the ones who are only wearing “the helmet of salvation.” He wanted everyone fully clothed in the whole armor of God.

I wonder if we have any streakers — people who have been baptized but never truly developed a relationship with God? To change metaphors, they haven’t put down spiritual roots. It’s a shame how many people have never learned how to pray, meditate, fast or study. Perhaps now they are too embarrassed to ask anyone to teach them.

I can identify with those folks. I vividly remember obeying the gospel but as I came out of the baptistery I wondered, “What do I do next?” The simple answers were “live the Christian life” and “spread the Good News” but no one really showed me how or what that means.

The “Spiritual Disciplines” are all about growing deeper in our relationship with God. They begin with the “inner disciplines” – learning how to pray, fast, meditate and study and then they manifest themselves in the “outward disciplines” – simplicity, service, submission and solitude. Finally, there are also the “corporate disciplines” – the activities of relationship – worship, confession and celebration. But to really grow spiritually you will want to be a part of a small group. In the company of the committed, you’ll learn how. Join a few other Christians to share stories, laugh, cry, pray and learn in an informal setting on Wednesday nights. We share a meal at 6:15 and then study at 7:00. You’ll not only learn how to put on the whole armor of God but you’ll make wonderful new friends who really care about each other.