Facing Your Giants

by Max Lucado, 2006, 2020

He delves into David’s life from beginning to end as told in 1 Samuel, 2 Samuel, and 1 Chronicles (various passages in each), showing that when David trusted in God, walked with God, prayed to and consulted God, good things happened, even miraculous things. But, when David forgot God, bad things happened. The Study Guide looks like a really good one – good questions for small groups to discuss.

Here are some quotes:

“A man after God’s own heart? That God saw him as such gives hope to us all. David’s life has little to offer the unstained saint.”

“We need David’s story. Giants lurk in our neighborhoods. Rejection. Failure, Revenge. Remorse.”

“Read 1 Samuel 17 and list the observations David made regarding Goliath.

‘I find only two….

‘God-thoughts outnumber Goliath thoughts nine to two. How does this ratio compare with yours? Do you ponder God’s grace four times as much as you ponder your guilt? Is your list of blessings four times as long as your list of complaints? Is your mental file of hope four times as thick as your mental file of Dread? Are you four times as likely to describe the strength of God as you are the demands of your day?”

“Focus on giants–you stumble.

Focus on God–your giants tumble.”

“Wander freely and daily through the gallery of God’s goodness. Catalog his kindnesses. Everything from sunsets to salvation–look at what you have. Your Saul took much, but Christ gave you more! Let Jesus be the friend you need. Talk to him. Spare no detail. Disclose your fear and describe your dread.”

“Pursue the spirit of the law more than its letter.”

“Jesus calls the church to lean in the direction of compassion.”

“You’ll never know that Jesus is all you need until Jesus is all you have Are you in the wilderness? Find refuge in God’s presence. Find comfort in his people.”

David did not kill Saul when he had chances. “Vengeance fixes your attention at life’s ugliest moments.”

This is the line that tainted my whole picture of the book (describing Abigail coming to appease David and his warriors):

“(Picture a neck-snapping blonde showing up at boot camp with a truck full of burgers and ice cream.)”

But he describes her selflessness beautifully on the next page:

“Meekness saved the day that day. Abigail’s gentleness reversed a river of anger. Humility has such power. Apologies can disarm arguments. Contrition can defuse rage. Olive branches do more good than battle-axes ever will. “Soft speech can crush strong opposition” (Prov. 25:15 NLT).

“Abigail teaches so much. The contagious power of kindness. The strength of a gentle heart. Her greatest lesson, however, is to take our eyes from her beauty and set them on someone else’s. She lifts our thoughts from a rural trail to a Jerusalem cross. Abigail never knew Jesus. She lived a thousand years before his sacrifice. Nevertheless, her story prefigures his life.

“Abigail placed herself between David and Nabal. Jesus placed himself between God and us….”

“He failed to pray. Do the opposite: be quick to pray. Stop talking to yourself. Talk to Christ…”

“It’s okay to rest. Jesus fights when you cannot.” (In describing how David allowed some of the soldiers to rest at Brook Besor.)

“Are you weary? Catch your breath. Are you strong? Reserve passing judgment on the tired.”

In the chapter, Unspeakable Grief, he talks about David mourning and weeping over the deaths of Saul and Jonathan. When death takes a loved one, we are to weep. Jesus wept, even knowing He was going to raise Lazarus from the dead! “Tears are the material out of which heaven weaves its brightest rainbow.–F.B. Meyer”

“When you stand in the cemetery and stare down at the soft, freshly turned earth and promise, I’ll see you soon, you speak truth. Reunion is a splinter of an eternal moment away.”

“You have a Bible? Read it.”

“Don’t make a decision, whether large or small, without sitting before God with open Bible, open heart, open ears, imitating the prayer of Samuel: “Your servant is listening” (1 Sam. 3:10 NLT).”

You have a family of faith? Consult it.

You have a heart for God? Heed it.

“Christ nudges the Christ-possessed heart.”

“Don’t disguise your sin as a leading of God. He will not lead you to lie, cheat or hurt.”

“Two types of thoughts continually vie for your attention….One proclaims God’s strengths; the other lists your failures…you select the voice you hear.”

David and Bathsheba: “This must be why God hates arrogance. He hates to see his children fall. He hates to see his Davids seduce and his Bathshebas be victimized. God hates what pride does to his children. He doesn’t dislike arrogance. He hates it.”

Pursue humility. Humility doesn’t mean you think less of yourself but that you think of yourself less.”

When discussing David’s lack of concern for his family:

“Your home is your giant-size privilege, your towering priority.”

“On your wedding day, God loaned you his work of art: an intricately crafted, precisely formed masterpiece.”

“Children spell love with four letters: T-I-M-E. Not just quality time, but hang time, downtime, anytime, all the time.”

In the chapter, Dashed Hopes, he recounts this story:

Willem wanted to preach. By the age of twenty-five, he’d experienced enough life to know he was made for the ministry. He sold art, taught language, traded in books; he could make a living, but it wasn’t a life. His life was in the church. His passion was with the people.

So his passion took him to the coalfields of southern Belgium. There, in the spring of 1879, this Dutchman began to minister to the simple, hardworking miners of Borinage. Within weeks his passion was tested. A mining disaster injured scores of villagers. Willem nursed the wounded and fed the hungry; even scraping the slag heaps to give his people fuel. After the rubble was cleared and the dead were buried, the young preacher had earned a place in their hearts The tiny church overflowed with people hungry for his simple messages of love. Young Willem was doing what he’d always dreamed of doing.

But. . .

One day his superior came to visit. Willem’s lifestyle shocked him. The young preacher wore an old soldier’s coat. His trousers were cut from sacking, and he lived in a simple hut. Willem had given his salary to the people. The church official was unimpressed. “You look more pitiful than the people you came to teach,” he said. Willem asked if Jesus wouldn’t have done the same. The older man would have none of it. This was not the proper appearance for a minister. He dismissed Willem from the ministry.

The young man was devastated.

He only wanted to build a church. He only wanted to honor God. Why wouldn’t God let him do this work?

I had intended. . .

I had made preparations. . .

But God. . .

What do you do with the “but God” moments in life? When God interrupts your good plans, how do you respond?…

David faced the behemoth of disappointment with “yet God.” David trusted.

So did Willem. Initially, he was hurt and angry. He lingered in the small village, not knowing where to turn. But one afternoon he noticed an old miner bending beneath an enormous weight of coal. Caught by the poignancy of the moment, Willem began to sketch the weary figure. His first attempt was crude, but then he tried again. He didn’t know it, but at that very moment, Willem discovered his true calling.

Not the robe of clergy, but the frock of an artist.

Not the pulpit of a pastor, but the palette of a painter.

Not the ministry of words, but of images. The young man the leader would not accept became an artist the world could not resist: Vincent Willem van Gogh.