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The classic David and Goliath story. Most of us have been taught this story many times growing up. In ancient times, battles were sometimes fought differently. Each army would choose a champion, and the champions would fight. Whoever won the champion fight would be declared winner of the entire battle.
Goliath was a Philistine champion who was ridiculously large, namely 9 feet and 9 inches tall if the institute manual is to be believed. David was an Israelite who was not a champion. In fact, he was the “least” of his father’s household. Goliath continuously calls for an Israelite champion to come and fight him, and the Israelites are a little afraid to go and fight. David steps up to the battle. Goliath mocks him, and David wins by slinging a stone into his forehead. The stone knocks Goliath out, and David cuts off his head.
So like I said…classic story. However, there are a couple things in the story that I never noticed before. Let’s talk about them.
To step up
I have often run into little encouraging messages that utilize the symbolism of David and Goliath. Often these messages profess that we can overcome our trials even when we feel small and the trials feel huge. The story is inspiring when you take it from that perspective. I feel like it’s appropriate to take it from that perspective.
However, I noticed a tiny detail that I find important and can give us a different perspective.
1 Samuel 17:32 And David said to Saul, Let no man’s heart fail because of him; thy servant will go and fight with this Philistine.
David wasn’t walking down the road when he suddenly ran into Goliath and had to fight him. David stepped up to fight Goliath. While the other Israelites quaked in fear, David courageously stepped forward to the fight.
There will be times when our trials resemble Goliath, and we have to utilize the power of the Lord to work through them. However, there are also times when the Lord is asking us to step up against the great enemy of the church. Goliath isn’t just symbolic of trials; he can symbolize so much more. It is becoming increasingly difficult to be a Christian in our day and age. I believe there will come a day when professing to be a Christian will be equivalent to standing up like David. It will not be enough to simply be an Israelite and stand on the sidelines waiting for a champion. We will have to step up and face Goliath, professing the name of Christ.
And look at the phrases we find in this chapter that teach us about how David chose to step up.
v.26 …who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living God?
v.45-46 I come to thee in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel whom thou hast defied. This day will the Lord deliver thee into mine hand; and I will smite thee, and take thine head from thee…
v.48 …when the Philistine arose…David hasted, and ran toward the army to meet the Philistine.
David is running headfirst into this battle. He is ready to stand by his belief in God. That kind of courage and belief doesn’t come in an instant. That is a belief that is built up by previous experiences. And David had those experiences. He fought off a bear and a lion. He wasn’t afraid because he had experienced the power of God beforehand.
We have to build that kind of courage now before Goliath truly comes along. We have to experience our God firsthand so that when Goliath comes, we won’t find ourselves on the sidelines. We will be ready to be David. We won’t feel scared because we’ve done this before. The Lord will not warn you when Goliath will show up other than His constant pleadings for us to draw closer to Him now. Consider this your warning. Goliath will come for all of us as the Second Coming draws nearer, and you have to prepare today if you plan on being ready when he arrives. Bring on the bears and lions so that you can be ready for the Goliaths.
A shepherd and a sling
I want to quote a section from the institute manual.
“Shepherds of David’s time carried a sling and a small leather or woolen wallet or bag in which food or stones could be carried to the place where the sheep grazed…Anciently, slingers, particularly shepherds with time on their hands, developed great accuracy and skill in slinging stones…”
David was not a warrior. It seems that the Lord finds great humor and satisfaction in choosing unqualified people. Goliath had apparently been trained in war since he was a youth, and David was…well…still a youth. David was a shepherd.
And yet, David was precisely what the Lord had needed. Other men had been trained in war, and none of them wanted to step up to fight Goliath. Had Saul sent forth one of his quivering soldiers, they likely would have been cut down even with a sword in their hand. David had a sling, a weapon that could hit Goliath before Goliath could touch David with his gargantuan wingspan.
Another interesting idea is that the Lord allows us to use what we’re good at to build the kingdom of God. An Israelite soldier could have stepped up with a sword and defeated Goliath if he had held the same kind of faith as David. David didn’t pick up a sword. He used a gift he already had. It was a small gift, but the Lord expanded it and saved Israel.
The lesson for us? It doesn’t matter what walk of life we find ourselves in. We can all find ourselves being useful to the Lord. Even our smallest gifts can be magnified by Him to bless and build His kingdom.
The armies followed
1 Samuel 17:51-52 …And when the Philistines saw their champion was dead, they fled. And the men of Israel…arose and shouted and pursued the Philistines…
Whenever I read this part of the story, I picture an excited crowd storming the football field after their team wins. Maybe that’s just because I’m from Texas, and I love football, but there is excitement in this story. We see all the paintings and drawings depicting David with his sling, but imagine what the depictions of the rest of the Israelites would look like. David starts running, and everyone is dead silent, biting their nails, knowing that if this tiny guy loses, they’re all going to be enslaved by Philistines. David releases the stone from the sling. Everyone’s eyes are glued to that stone. Goliath falls, and the Israelites go wild. The Philistines flee because they know they’re in trouble, and the Israelites suddenly find their courage and go chasing after them.
There is excitement, but there is also symbolism here as well. Most of the Israelites were courageous enough to be standing around, but only David was courageous enough to actually volunteer to be the champion. After David won, the Israelites jumped in. There are two lessons here.
You can be an Israelite, and God will be grateful you didn’t desert to the Philistines. Or you can be a David. You can wait on the sidelines when the “time” comes, or you can start preparing and developing a relationship with God today so that when the Philistines show up, you can’t help but feel like David did. You can’t help but feel courageous and incensed that anyone would defy your God.
There is also a lesson for David. You’re not alone. You may have to be the match that ignites the haystack, but that haystack will burn really quick. There will be people behind you; they may need a leader and a victory, but they’re there. By choosing to be a David, you are opening the voices of a thousand Israelites. You are allowing them to find their own faith in God and conquer Goliaths.
I know the Lord can help us conquer. I know He can prepare us to become someone like David if we allow Him to. And when the time comes, we will not be afraid to stand before Goliath. We’ll be willing to run because of our experiences with the Lord. I know that the Lord can utilize each of us, and I know that through the Lord, we can empower an entire army to step forward and protect their families.