What are you afraid of? What do you fear?
It has been said that God will never give us more than we can handle. But that is not true. If it were fear would play a small or non-existent part in our lives. Why fear something we can handle? Instead, what we discover is that we frequently face circumstances and situations that we cannot handle, nor can they be handled with help from our friends and family. These circumstances and situations could rightly be referred to as giants – circumstances and situations – that produce varying levels of fear deep within us as we come face to face with our helplessness to overcome and “kill” them.
We learn that God does give us more than we can handle by bringing us face to face with these giants of fear, not so we can be “killed” by them, but to learn that it is only when we humble ourselves before Him and admit our helplessness to “kill” these giants of fear by our own strength and to confess that it is only by His grace that we are saved will fear fall dead before us.
There is a story in the Bible that describes this killing of fear by God’s grace perfectly. It is a well-known story. In fact, it is so well known that it is easy to overlook many of its details, but it is in the details that we discover the secret of killing fear. It is the story of David and Goliath found in the book of 1 Samuel. Allow me set the scene before we dig into it deeper.
At the time of this story in the history of Israel Saul is king and David, who will later become king, is just a young shepherd boy. Israel is at war with the Philistines and David’s older brothers were in Saul’s army. As these armies faced each other, one encamped on one side of a ravine and the other encamped on the opposite side, a Philistine of enormous size, Goliath by name, a giant man between 9-1/2 to 11 feet tall (think about that for a moment!), walked into the ravine separating the two armies and issued a challenge to the Israelite army…
“He stood and shouted to the ranks of Israel, ‘Why have you come out to draw up for battle? Am I not a Philistine, and are you not servants of Saul? Choose a man for yourselves, and let him come down to me. If he is able to fight with me and kill me, then we will be your servants. But if I prevail against him and kill him, then you shall be our servants and serve us.’ And the Philistine said, ‘I defy the ranks of Israel this day. Give me a man, that we may fight together.’ When Saul and all Israel heard these words of the Philistine, they were dismayed and greatly afraid” (1 Samuel 17:8-11 ESV).
Fear gripped Saul and the Israel warriors. We are told that when Goliath issued this challenge…
“All the men of Israel, when they saw the man, fled from him and were much afraid” (1 Samuel 17:24-25 ESV).
It was during this time of fear among Saul and the Israelite army that David’s father, Jesse, sent David to the war front with provisions for his brothers and to check on their welfare. He is not there very long until Goliath advances toward the Israelite army and issued his challenge again. And David heard it. But his response is very different from the fear paralyzing Saul, his brothers, and the rest of the Israelite army. He said…
“Who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God” (1 Samuel 17:26-27 ESV)?
There was no fear in David. In fact…
“David said to Saul, ‘Let no man’s heart fail because of him. Your servant will go and fight with this Philistine’” (1 Samuel 17:32 ESV).
At first, Saul tried to convince David that he did not stand a chance against the giant. But David recounted to Saul how he had saved the sheep he shepherded from both a bear and a lion by killing them and that he would do the same to Goliath because…
“he has defied the armies of the living God” (1 Samuel 17:36 ESV).
Saul, with few options to choose from, decided to allow David to fight Goliath, probably not expecting him to live through the situation, but he helped him the only way he knew how.
“Then Saul clothed David with his armor. He put a helmet of bronze on his head and clothed him with a coat of mail, and David strapped his sword over his armor. And he tried in vain to go, for he had not tested them. Then David said to Saul, ‘I cannot go with these, for I have not tested them.’ So David put them off. Then he took his staff in his hand and chose five smooth stones from the brook and put them in his shepherd’s pouch. His sling was in his hand, and he approached the Philistine.
“And the Philistine moved forward and came near to David, with his shield-bearer in front of him. And when the Philistine looked and saw David, he disdained him, for he was but a youth, ruddy and handsome in appearance. And the Philistine said to David, ‘Am I a dog, that you come to me with sticks?’ And the Philistine cursed David by his gods. The Philistine said to David, ‘Come to me, and I will give your flesh to the birds of the air and to the beasts of the field.’ Then David said to the Philistine, ‘You come to me with a sword and with a spear and with a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the Lord will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you down and cut off your head. And I will give the dead bodies of the host of the Philistines this day to the birds of the air and to the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel, and that all this assembly may know that the Lord saves not with sword and spear. For the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give you into our hand.’
“When the Philistine arose and came and drew near to meet David, David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet the Philistine. And David put his hand in his bag and took out a stone and slung it and struck the Philistine on his forehead. The stone sank into his forehead, and he fell on his face to the ground.
“So David prevailed over the Philistine with a sling and with a stone, and struck the Philistine and killed him. There was no sword in the hand of David. Then David ran and stood over the Philistine and took his sword and drew it out of its sheath and killed him and cut off his head with it” (1 Samuel 17:38-51 ESV).
When David confronted Goliath he was fearless. This stands in stark contrast to the warriors in Saul’s army.
When David confronted Goliath he was fearless. This stands in stark contrast to the warriors in Saul’s army. Obviously, David had learned how to kill his fear, but the solder’s had not. How was David able to do that, but not the soldiers? We are going to answer those questions in just a few minutes. But in order to do that we have to figure out where fear comes from.
We will begin our search in Genesis 3:8-10…
“They (Adam and Eve) heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. Then the Lord God called to the man, and said to him, ‘Where are you?’ He said, ‘I heard the sound of You in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid myself’” (Genesis 3:8-10 NASU).
No doubt God had walked in the garden before this and Adam and Eve welcomed Him; they did not hide. They did not fear His presence. They were not afraid. But this time they were afraid to be in God’s presence. There was fear. Why? Because they had disobeyed Him and knew they were naked. The innocence that had clothed them before their disobedience was gone.
You may be thinking: “What in the world does Adam and Eve and being naked have to do with David and Goliath and killing or fears.” But I think it will become clear to you shortly.
Notice the very first thing Adam and Eve did after they had sinned and their innocence was gone.
“And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths (Genesis 3:7 ESV).
They clothed themselves. They used what they could to hide their nakedness from each other. And it seemed to work. We do not read about them being ashamed or afraid to be in each other’s presence after they clothed themselves with fig leaves. They had successfully killed the fear their nakedness caused them to experience after disobeying God. But their fear soon returned when God came into their presence. They learned that the clothing they had made to hide their nakedness/shame from each other, the fig leaves, did not hide their nakedness/shame from God. That is when God, after having told Adam and Eve and the Serpent what the consequences of their sin were going to be, provided them more adequate clothing than fig leaves. What was that clothing?
“And the Lord God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them” (Genesis 3:21 ESV).
Do you see what happened? Adam and Eve tried to fix their brokenness and kill the fear welling up inside of them by fixing the problem themselves. And they thought they had. The fig leaves hid their nakedness/shame from each other, but when they heard the sound of the Lord God coming near them the fear of the their sin, their brokenness, their shame, and their nakedness being discovered rushed back upon them – and they hid.
Why? Because the fig leaves represent good works. Man believes if he just does enough good things, says just the right things, or gives enough money to charity the bad things we have thought or said or done will never come back to haunt us and will lose their power to influence our lives from fear. But it does not work. We feel good for a while as long as our fig leaves – our masks – are in place, but Goliath soon appears. And he comes toward us and says: “You call yourself a Christian, a child of God? Who are you kidding? Look at you. You’re pathetic. You’re a liar; you’re a hypocrite. You’re no child of God. He doesn’t love you and I can prove it. Come fight me. If you’re a Christian come fight me.”
And what happens when the giants in our lives challenge us? All too often we react in the way that the men in Saul’s army…
“All the men of Israel, when they saw the man, fled from him and were much afraid” (1 Samuel 17:24 ESV).
Why do we run? We faithfully put on the armor of good deeds each day and our fears are hidden from the eyes of those around us. But then something happens, a giant comes along – we get sick, one of our children gets sick, our spouse picks up and leaves, we lose our job, our past is exposed, our hidden sins are exposed – and fear rises up before us. We discover clothing ourselves in fig leaves – good deeds – which is the armor the world uses to overcome fear (Saul’s armor) is only effective when life is going good. But the moment something beyond our control comes into our lives we discover we had not killed fear at all, just hidden it. And we begin to lose hope and depression sets in.
But what I want you to hear this morning is that we can the kill the fear within us.
The secret to killing fear is putting on the right clothing.
The secret to killing fear is putting on the right clothing. No, I am not talking about going out and buying a 3-piece suit or an expensive dress.
What clothing did David put on to kill the giant while all the warriors ran in fear of him?
“Then he (David) took his staff in his hand and chose five smooth stones from the brook and put them in his shepherd’s pouch. His sling was in his hand, and he approached the Philistine”(1 Samuel 17:40 ESV).
David’s “armor” consisted of a staff, 5 rocks, a pouch to put the rocks in, and a slingshot. From a human standpoint David’s weapons were totally inadequate to defeat the giant before him who was clothed in a helmet, a coat of mail that covered his body, shin guards, a sword, a spear, and a javelin. And that does not even take into account the fact that Goliath was between 9-1/2 and 11 feet tall. He could have easily tore David apart with his bare hands.
But David boldly faced that which the rest feared, confident he would be victorious. In fact, we are told that David ran toward the giant. Why?
“Then David said to the Philistine, ‘You come to me with a sword and with a spear and with a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied’” (1 Samuel 17:45 ESV).
David clothed himself in the name of the Lord. He faced his fears in the power and might of the Lord. He did not rely on manmade armor to protect him or manmade weapons to fight with. David knew that he would not be able to defeat Goliath if he relied on his own strength. He knew Goliath was capable of snapping him in two like a twig. But he did not face this giant – this fear – in his own strength. He knew it was only by God’s grace that he would be able to slay the giant. And it is by God’s grace that we slay our own giants – those fears in our lives that mock us and taunt us, threatening to kill us spiritually, emotionally, and sometimes even physically.
How do I know that? Because the Bible tells me so.
Ephesians 2:8-9 says…
“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Ephesians 2-8-9 ESV).
Paul go on to tell us in Ephesians 6…
“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:10-12 NASU).
Now, notice what David used to strike Goliath down so he could be killed – a smooth stone. Remember, as David ran toward Goliath he took one of the five smooth stones he had picked up from a brook from his pouch, put it into his slingshot, swung it around his head, and let it fly. It struck Goliath in the forehead, knocking him the ground. David ran up to Goliath, took Goliath’s own sword and cut his head off.
What has that got to do with grace and spiritual warfare – killing fear?
Goliath is described as being 6 cubits tall. Six, in the Bible represents sin and Satan. Thus, Goliath represents the demonic forces that attack us and the fears that result from this spiritual warfare. Five is the number for grace. Remember, it is by grace we are saved. David picked up 5 smooth stones from a brook and used one of them to bring Goliath down. This represents us accepting the fact that we cannot kill the fears that come against us by sheer willpower or by trying to be a good little boys and girls. Willpower, while helpful, has limits and our goodness outside of Christ is corrupted by sin. We have to accept the grace of God that He offers to us through the acceptance of Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior if we are to kill our fears.
It is also important to note David picked up the stones from a brook and that they had been worn smooth by the running water. These were not pieces of rock with rough edges and sharp points. The running water represents the cleansing and purifying power of the Holy Spirit. When you accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior of your life the Holy Spirit comes into your heart and begins to overcome, slowly but surely, like running over a stone, the evil, the fears – the Goliaths, the giansts – that live there. He begins to “smooth” out your life.
It is also significant that David was able to bring Goliath down with only one stone. He did not have to use all five stones or even two stones. He used one. Now, remember, the number 5 represents grace. In other words David did not “use up” all the grace he had. He had four smooth stones left. What this teaches us is that God gives us an abundance of grace to kill whatever giants – fears – that come into our lives. And this is exactly what the Bible tells us.
“And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work” (2 Corinthians 9:8 ESV).
This tells us God has given us all the grace we need to kill our fears and then some.
Notice also where David struck Goliath with the stone – in the forehead. The forehead represents how we think – what we believe. Satan would have us believe lies. God’s grace is given to kill the lies we have believed and replace the lies with the truth.
Thus, Jesus tells us…
“If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free” (John 8:31-32 NASU).
If we believe God’s Word – the Truth – and continue to believe it, we will kill, by God’s grace, the fears that want to kill us. Our fears live when we believe lies. Our fears are killed when we believe the truth.
And what is the Truth?
Think for a moment. What did God do for Adam and Eve after they had sinned and began living in fear?
“And the Lord God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them” (Genesis 3:21 ESV).
He made them garments of skin. But garments of skin could only be provided for them if a death – a sacrifice – took place. God had to slay an innocence animal, which prefigured Jesus’ sacrifice upon the Cross, in order for Adam and Eve to continue to have a relationship with Him.
And this is exactly what God does for us. We cloth ourselves with good deeds – fig leaves – and our fears live on. But God offers us the opportunity to “cloth” ourselves with Jesus Christ, giving us the power – the grace – to kill our fears.
“The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires” (Romans 13:12-14 ESV).
Jesus sacrificed Himself upon the cross that we might have the opportunity to “cloth” ourselves with Him. Paul tells us…
“In Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ” (Galatians 3:26-27 ESV).
And Jesus told us…
“If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:31-32 ESV).
Killing fear begins with accepting Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior because when we do that God’s grace floods our beings with the Truth and we can face our giants – our fears – knowing it is God who fights for us. All we need do is trust and obey.