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1 Samuel 17:1-11

When Trials Come

  • Matthew Dodd
  • Sunday Night Messages
  • June 26, 2022

In 1 Samuel 17:1-11,  we study a passage that is familiar to many of us – the epic battle between David and Goliath. But we’re not going to study David’s actual defeat of Goliath. Rather, we’re going to look at the epic battle before the battle to discover some of the enemy’s tactics as well as some critical principles from God’s Word to help us live victoriously When Trials Come.

  • Sermon Notes
  • Scripture

When Trials Come
1 Samuel 17:1-11, 16                                        

June 26, 2022                       


ILLUS – “Who said that?” 

  1. We can all relate to fear.
  2. Whether it’s COVID-19 or some new variant, wars or rumors of war, inflation or recession, inflated fuel prices or empty grocery store shelves, we can all relate to fear.
  3. Whether it’s sharing the Gospel with a non-Christian or standing up for what is true when it’s unpopular to do so, we can all relate to fear.
  4. Or on a more personal level, whether it’s spiders or snakes, never getting married or getting divorced, finding a job or losing your job, failing health or the death of a loved one, the relative who won’t talk to you or an in-law who still hasn’t gone home after their Christmas visit; again, we can all relate to fear.
  5. We might not have the same fears or go through the same trials, but all of us have experienced fear, especially when trials come; when our “What ifs” or “Worst case scenarios” become a reality.
  6. Tonight, we are going to study a passage that is familiar to many, if not all of us – the epic battle between David and Goliath.
  7. But we’re not going to study David’s actual defeat of Goliath.
  8. Rather, we’re going to look at the epic battle before the battle to discover some of the enemy’s tactics as well as some critical principles from God’s Word to help us live victoriously When Trials Come.

1 Samuel 17:1-11, 16


  1. By the time we come to 1 Samuel 17, it’s important to note that Israel’s first king, Saul, had been rejected by God because he had disobeyed God’s command when he failed to completely destroy the Amalekites (1 Samuel 15).
  2. So, God had found someone to replace Saul, a man after His own heart, a young shepherd from Bethlehem by the name of David.
  3. In fact, at this point, the prophet Samuel had already anointed David as king (1 Samuel 16:13), but David did not begin to reign until much later (2 Samuel 2).
  4. God allowed Saul to reign as king to reveal that:
  5. Saul was disqualified and rejected as king.
  6. David was qualified and anointed to be the next king.
  7. In many ways, this trial with the Philistines was God’s way of introducing David to Israel, a divine message that God’s favor was resting upon their next king, David.

Transition – With this context in mind, the first biblical principle to help us live victoriously when trials come is. . .

I.  We Must Stand Our Ground (1-3)            

  • Unfortunately, many Christians give up ground when trials come; perhaps you can relate.
  • But when trials come, that is the time when we must stand our ground.

A.  Satan is always trying to steal ground from us (1)

  1.  Notice where the Philistines set up camp.
  1. The Philistines set up camp in a town called Socoh. (1)
  2. Where was Socoh located? In Judah.
  3. Who gave Socoh to Judah? God.

Joshua 15:20-21, 35, This is the inheritance of the tribe of the sons of Judah according to their families. Now the cities at the extremity of the tribe of the sons of Judah were. . . Socoh and Azekah

  1. When the Philistine set up camp in Socoh they were declaring to Israel that Socoh now belonged to the Philistines.
  2. At first glance one might ask, “Socoh was just a border town. Why did it matter?”
  3. It mattered because strong border towns are essential for the stability of any nation.
  4. If a country is unable to protect its borders, then it won’t be long before its capital is vulnerable as well.

APPL – Spiritually speaking, “stealing ground” from God’s people is a common tactic of the enemy. 

John 10:10a, The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy

  • The enemy will look for vulnerable areas first.
  • Then, little by little, the enemy will take and occupy as much ground as each Christian is willing to give up.
  • The enemy seeks to steal our vision to destroy our hopes and dreams.
  • The enemy also seeks to steal our testimony and destroy our witness.

ILLUS Do nations, companies, or relationships fail overnight?

  • There is a systematic and progressive seizure of territory before anyone or anything fails.
  • If you give Satan an inch, he will seek more.
  • In fact, he won’t stop until he has it all.

APPL – The question is, “How much are we willing to let the enemy take from us?”

Transition – It begins with our thought life. . .

ILLUS – General George Patton’s response to fear.

Proverbs 4:23, Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life.

Philippians 4:8-9, Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

B.  Be a watchman on the wall (2-3)

  1. Verses 2-3 reveal that King Saul and Israel had let their guard down, they had become complacent.
  1. Israel should have fortified her border towns to make the Philistines think twice before picking a fight.
  2. Israel should have stationed assets in her border towns to hold the line until King Saul and his army arrived.
  3. Israel should have stationed watchmen on the wall to sound the alarm at the first sign of a threat.

      2.  But King Saul failed to do so.

      3.  By the time Saul arrived, it was too late; Socoh was occupied by the Philistines.

APPL – Here’s what the enemy is banking on. . .

  • During times of peace, we will let our guard down.
  • During times of ease, we will be lulled into complacency.
  • During times of prosperity, we will fall asleep at our post.
  • Then when the enemy attacks, we will be caught off guard, concede ground, and surrender in defeat.

APPL – We must stay alert and look for the warning signs. Now is the time to take inventory of our lives and ask. . .

  • Have I let my guard down?
  • Have I given up ground?
  • Have I tolerated harmful thoughts, bad attitudes, or destructive habits which are damaging my soul, my testimony, or my relationships?

APPL – If so, then what must you do?

  • First, strengthen yourself in the Lord by spending time with Him in prayer and in His Word each day.
  • We are changed in the presence of a holy God.

Ephesians 6:10, Finally, be strong in the Lord, and in the strength of His might.

  • Second, from this day forward, sanctify Christ as Lord of your heart and pursue holiness.
  • A holy life is a satisfying life.

Romans 13:14, But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts.

Transition – This brings us to the second principle when trials come. . .

II.  Our God is Greater than Our Greatest Trial (4-11, 16)    

A.  Our God is never afraid of any trial (4-7)

  1. The enemy of our souls will also try to intimidate God’s people.
  2. The Philistines sent out Goliath, their warrior champion. (4)
  1. Goliath was 9’9’’ tall.
  2. He wore 125 lbs. of the best armor.
  3. He was equipped with impressive weapons:
  • A bronze javelin,
  • A spear with a shaft that was the length of a weaver’s beam,
  • A spearhead that weighed 15 lbs.

      d.  Goliath was a champion, undefeated in hand-to-hand battles to the death.

    3.  The Philistines were sending a threat to King Saul and Israel.

  1. “You can’t win.”
  2. “Surrender is your only option.”

ILLUS – The intimidation tactics of two former employers.

APPL – But giants never intimidate God.

  • God is not afraid our enemy’s threats.
  • Nor is God overwhelmed by overwhelming odds.
  • In fact, God laughs and gets the last word.     

Psalm 2:1-2, 4, Why are the nations in an uproar, and the peoples devising a vain thing? The kings of the earth take their stand, and the rulers take counsel together against the Lord and against His Anointed. . . He who sits in the heavens laughs, the Lord scoffs at them.

APPL – This means that when trials come, we don’t have to be afraid.

  • If God is not afraid, why should we be afraid?
  • The odds are never against us if God is for us.

Romans 8:31, 37, If God is for us, who is against us? But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us.

B.  We must remember Who we serve (8-11, 16)

  1. Notice another tactic of Satan; I call it the “Identity Swap” tactic.
  1. “You are servants of Saul.” (8)
  2. Was that completely true? No.

      2.  But David knew the truth and reminded the army of Israel that they belonged to the Lord.

1 Samuel 17:26, Then David spoke to the men who were standing by him, saying, “What will be done for the man who kills this Philistine, and takes away the reproach from Israel? For who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should taunt the armies of the living God?

  1. Also notice that the enemy wants us to fight battles on his terms, his way, and with his weapons. (9-10)
  2. But Paul tells us how to fight battles God’s way; by exposing the enemy’s lies with the truth.

2 Corinthians 10:3-5, For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.

APPL – Unfortunately, fear is contagious.

  1. Saul was afraid, and Israel followed his lead. (11)
  2. So, Goliath taunted the armies of Israel day and night for 40 days. (16)

APPL – Are you going through a similar trial?

  • Day and night, the enemy has been wearing you down with fear.
  • You feel like hope is fading and you’re beginning to wonder if it will ever change.
  • When you feel that way, please remember who you are in Christ and what it means to belong to Him.

John 16:33, These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.

APPL – Look at how David’s words impacted the soldiers of Israel.

1 Samuel 17:31, When the words which David spoke were heard, they told them to Saul, and he sent for him.

  • David’s words about Goliath made their way to King Saul.
  • Why would the words of a shepherd boy make it to the ears of Israel’s King?
  • Because David’s words were the first words of faith spoken in Israel’s camp in 40 days.
  • Fear is contagious, but so is faith.
  • Faith is contagious!


APPL – I believe the Lord wants us to hear a word that will encourage our faith today as well.

Isaiah 43:1-3, Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are Mine! When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they will not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched, nor will the flame burn you. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. 

  • God is asking you to trust Him. He is not afraid of your tomorrows. He will be with you.
  • God is asking you to give your trials to Him. He is not overwhelmed, so you don’t have to be overwhelmed.
  • God also knows any costly ground you have lost over the years. He wants to restore you and bless you.
  • Will you give it all to the Lord?
  • Will you let God fight for you?
  • Again, David’s words are an example and a comfort to us all when he said to Goliath. . .

1 Samuel 17:45-47, “You come to me with a sword, a spear, and 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 taunted. This day the Lord will deliver you up into my hands. . . that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel,

 and that all this assembly may know that the Lord does not deliver by sword or by spear; for the battle is the Lord’s”

  • Amen! The battle belongs to the Lord!

1 Samuel 17:1-11  NASB

Now the Philistines gathered their armies for battle; and they were gathered at Socoh which belongs to Judah, and they camped between Socoh and Azekah, in Ephes-dammim. 2 Saul and the men of Israel were gathered and camped in the valley of Elah, and drew up in battle array to encounter the Philistines. 3 The Philistines stood on the mountain on one side while Israel stood on the mountain on the other side, with the valley between them. 4 Then a champion came out from the armies of the Philistines named Goliath, from Gath, whose height was six [a]cubits and a span. 5 He had a bronze helmet on his head, and he was clothed with scale-armor [b]which weighed five thousand shekels of bronze. 6 He also had bronze [c]greaves on his legs and a bronze javelin slung between his shoulders. 7 The shaft of his spear was like a weaver’s beam, and the head of his spear weighed six hundred shekels of iron; his shield-carrier also walked before him. 8 He stood and shouted to the ranks of Israel and said to them, “Why do you come out to draw up in battle array? Am I not the Philistine and you servants of Saul? Choose a man for yourselves and let him come down to me. 9 If he is able to fight with me and [d]kill me, then we will become your servants; but if I prevail against him and [e]kill him, then you shall become our servants and serve us.” 10 Again the Philistine said, “I defy the ranks of Israel this day; give me a man that we may fight together.” 11 When Saul and all Israel heard these words of the Philistine, they were dismayed and greatly afraid.

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