Every week, I meet with a group of men through Bible Study Fellowship to review and discuss a Bible lesson. This week, we were looking at the early life of David, the teenager who would become king of Israel.
One section of his early life stood out in our discussion, and it pertained to 1 Samuel 17:33-58.
We pick up the story shortly after the prophet Samuel had elevated David above his brothers and anointed him to eventually become king. Upon being anointed, the Bible says the Holy Spirit came upon David in power.
Skip ahead a few verses and we get to the well-known story of David and Goliath, who was a huge Philistine warrior tormenting the army of Israel and daring them to step forward to defeat him. Because of his boasting, the entire army – and King Saul himself – cowered in fear. They were unwilling and unable to defeat the giant man.
Young David, full of youthful confidence and the Holy Spirit, arrived on the scene during a break from tending sheep. He approached the situation differently.
“Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living God?” David asked the nearby soldiers.
David’s own brothers, who themselves could not muster up enough courage to go to battle against Goliath, chastised their young brother. They labeled David as “conceited” and “wicked” before dismissing him simply as a spectator of men who were about to fight.
Even King Saul chimed in to disparage David as being a “boy.” After all, what could a young person ever know or do, right?
But, David reminded Saul that, as a shepherd, he had taken on and killed a bear and a lion in the wild. Surely, he boasted, this giant would fall like those dangerous animals.
After David received permission to try to engage Goliath, he was told to follow “conventional wisdom” which said he needed a full coat of armor and a bronze helmet for protection, as well as a big sword to fight the giant. Yet, when he put on all the recommended gear, he couldn’t even walk.
“Nonsense,” David basically exclaimed. “I cannot go in these because I am not used to them.”
So, he picked up his shepherd’s staff and grabbed a small bag of rocks and took off against his enemy. Those are likely the weapons he used to fend off the bear and lion from making a meal of his flock of sheep.
It must have been quite a sight to see, a boy with a stick and few rocks coming to engage the nine-foot-tall giant who wielded a 600-pound spear. Even Goliath mocked him by saying, “Am I a dog that you come at me with sticks?”
Undaunted, David reminded his foe of the balance of power. Goliath had armor, a sword, spear and javelin. David had God fighting on his side. He said as much when he pronounced that David would defeat Goliath and feed his carcass to the birds just so the entire world would know there is a God in Israel.
Talk about motivation! He wanted victory so God would be honored and known throughout the land.
“It is not by the sword or spear that the Lord saves; for the battle is the Lord’s,” David shouted in reply.
As Goliath advanced toward David, the Bible says David “ran quickly toward the battle line to meet him.” He took one stone out of his bag, threw it and hit the giant square in his forehead – killing him instantly.
Just to make sure the enemy was dead, David chopped off Goliath’s head with the giant’s own sword.
Lessons in David’s approach
It is a wonderful story that has fascinated people for centuries. All of us love David and Goliath stories of ordinary people overcoming significant obstacles.
However, there are some important lessons here as they pertain to any battles we face, be it a stubborn sin problem, an illness, massive debt, childhood trauma or an unhealthy relationship. They are:
- David RAN confidently TOWARD the giant.
He didn’t hesitate. He didn’t walk or crawl. He didn’t ask for more advice. He didn’t plan a surprise attack. He ventured forward in confidence.
- David didn’t devise a Plan A, Plan B and Plan C.
David had God’s plan, and he knew it was enough. He knew all he had to do was take a step forward, and God could guide his direction. He’d get instructions along the way.
Why does God prefer to do it this way? In order that Satan can’t catch on to what is about to happen and step in to mess up everything.
- David spoke no negative words.
He didn’t dwell on self-defeating words, such as:
- “I am ‘just a’ boy, but will give it my best attempt.” He had already been anointed king, so he knew he was a man in God’s eyes.
- “’If only’ I could defeat this guy.” David knew he could – and would.
- “’They say’ it can’t be done because of my limitations.” “They” are idiots and cowards. David knew he had defeated big, pressing problems in the past, but with God’s help. He knew he could and would do it again.
- “Nobody believes in me.” God did, and as far as David was concerned, that was more than enough.
- David used available tools and knowledge.
There is nothing wrong with education. We need as much as we can get. But, there comes a point when we already know enough to know what we need to do and how to do it. One of my all-time favorite Bible verses is 2 Peter 1:3-4, which says:
“His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.”
David had everything he needed to defeat this giant standing in his way. He used the tools he was already familiar with and comfortable using. He didn’t need another college degree, seminar or pep talk.
Rather that dwell on the situation and remain paralyzed by fear, like the others, David opted to “participate” in God’s glory by taking action.
He went into battle for God’s glory, not his own. Don’t get me wrong, he knew there would be a sizeable reward for overcoming this giant. However, the true motivation in his heart for doing so was so that everyone could see what God had done through David.
- His prior pain became David’s greatest asset.
I am sure taking on a bear and a lion with nothing but a shepherd’s staff was not David’s idea of a good time. He recalled how God had delivered him from certain several times in the past, which gave him confidence to trust God to come through again.
How many times do we allow ourselves to be paralyzed by fear, doubt, unbelief, overwhelming odds, inexperience, age and other shackles we put on ourselves?
Regardless of the giant you are facing, if you have already put your faith in Christ, you can defeat it with what you already know and what you already possess.
So, run quickly toward the battle. You’ll get divine instructions on the way. Before you know it, you will have defeated your giant and can relish in the reward for defeating the problem.