Imagine a mere youth walking onto the battlefield alone while scores of experienced and outfitted soldiers waited behind to see the outcome. For forty days morning and evening, Goliath, the champion of the Philistines, stood in the space between the armies of Israel and Philistia taunting his opponents. Goliath pleaded for a man who would step forward and accept the challenge to single combat, winner takes all. Yet not a man in Israel, not even King Saul, moved. Two words recorded in 1 Samuel 17:11 describe the mindset of the Israelites: dismayed and afraid.
Enter David, the youngest of his family, sent to the camp to check on the welfare of his brothers. David could not believe his ears as he listened to Goliath’s ravings. He could not believe his eyes as he realized not one man in Israel stepped up to take care of business. David spoke these words to King Saul (1 Samuel 17:32), “Let no man’s heart fail on account of him; your servant will go and fight with this Philistine.”
Saul doubted David’s abilities as a soldier (1 Samuel 17:33), “You are not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him; for you are but a youth while he has been a warrior from his youth.” David related two episodes from his role as shepherd when first a bear and then a lion attacked the sheep. David destroyed both invaders. In David’s estimation Goliath was an invader, nothing more. Don’t mistake David’s view for bravado. He readily credited his success as a shepherd to one Person, the same Person who would go with him into battle with Goliath (1 Samuel 17:37), “The LORD who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, He will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.”
Saul did not have David’s courage because Saul’s faith in God did not reach the heights of David’s. Saul, trembling with fear, prepared to send the young man onto the field against overwhelming odds. The king, perhaps with a guilty conscious, outfitted young David with the royal armor and offered these hollow words (1 Samuel 17:37), “Go, and may the LORD be with you.” Did Saul believe that sentiment, or was it simply something to say?
Goliath expressed disdain for David as a competitor, and promised (1 Samuel 17:44), “Come to me, and I will give your flesh to the birds of the sky and the beasts of the field.” David’s response, found in 1 Samuel 17:45-47, orbited around the Lord, and the shepherd’s words reflected the heartbeat of a confident warrior.
- 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
- All the earth may know there is a God in Israel
- The Lord does not deliver by sword or spear
- The battle is the Lord’s
- He will give you into our hands.
David ran toward the giant and shot first. He launched a stone from his sling with deadly accuracy, pegged the giant between the eyes, and the overgrown champion of the Philistines fell face forward to the ground. David drew Goliath’s sword from the sheath and removed the giant’s head.
The Philistines, in shock over the loss of their champion, fled with Israel in hot pursuit. The invaders were driven from Israel in a big way.
David’s courage originated from his faith, his confidence in God. As life events unfolded and God showed His presence time after time, the shepherd grew to depend on that Divine direction and assistance. David saw Goliath as a threat no larger than other beasts he had faced. David had no guarantee of the battle’s outcome, but unlike the other men of Israel he jumped in to change the status quo. A decisive first shot is often the best solution.
Timidity, dismay, worry, fear, and a host of debilitating emotions can stop forward progress. What’s needed is a reminder of God’s faithfulness coupled with the courage to leave the comfort zone and charge into the battle. The time arrives when talking about the issue must end, and actions must be taken.
What giant plagues my life today? A health issue? A family struggle? Financial strain? Uncertainty over the job? Fear over the future? A need for certainty, the sense that I must know the outcome before I can act?
Are any of those giants bigger than the ones God already conquered for me? Is my faith in Him strong enough to give me courage?