I’m going to be spending the next few weeks going through a series titled PROFILES IN COURAGE. I introduced this topic last year in 2020 and these blogs were interspersed throughout the year. My heart has been drawn to stories and Bible characters that influence and encourage us through the times we are living in. In Ecclesiastes 1:9, Solomon states “What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.” Certainly there is nothing new under the sun and what we experience now is similar to what has happened to others before us.
Spending a full month on these individuals, it seems appropriate to start with David. We just ended a series on the Psalms. We know David wrote many of the Psalms and as we discussed, those passages reflect much of what he went through in his life. The story of David that most people are familiar with is of course, David and Goliath. The passage we are digging into comes from 1 Samuel 17, which recounts the entire buildup and aftermath of David’s battle with the giant.
And David said, “The LORD who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.” And Saul said to David, “Go, and the LORD be with you!” (1 Samuel 17:37)
Today I am once again pulling some themes out of this chapter and this is much like a Bible study or devotional. Beyond these thoughts, there is much more that could be stated (there are 58 verses total). But we see the courage David showed in this moment goes on to mark the rest of his life: in his years leading up to becoming king (and on the run from Saul) and his years of reign over Israel. Goliath was a watershed moment for David. But he didn’t start there. Behind the scenes, he trained and fought in preparation not knowing one day his skills would be put to the test for the purpose of Israel’s deliverance. More on that to come. For now, let’s dive in!
1. David was offended that Goliath defied the name of the Lord
And David said to the men who stood by him, “What shall 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 defy the armies of the living God?” 1 Samuel 17:26
At this point in David’s life, a few things have already happened. First, he was anointed by Samuel to become king (1 Samuel 16:1-13) and “the Spirit of the LORD rushed upon [him] from that day forward” (vs. 13). He was also brought to serve in Saul’s court; to play music for King Saul because he [Saul] was tormented by a harmful spirit (1 Samuel 16:14-23). Finally, David is still working in the family business. He goes back and forth from tending his father’s sheep in Bethlehem to the battlefield where his brothers were encamped. Here is where David first learns about Goliath. This giant of the Philistine army has been striking fear into the hearts of Saul and the Israelite troops. Goliath daily taunts the army of the Lord.
David immediately recognizes the problem and asks what will be done on behalf of the Lord’s name. He is offended because Goliath is rebuking what God has set apart. By extension, he is attempting to tarnish the very nature of God. There is a righteous anger that I believe is appropriate at times when it comes to the holiness of God. We, like David, must be willing to stand up for and defend the name of the Lord. Is it because God is weak and He needs us to come to His aid? Certainly not. But the character of the Lord is nothing to be defamed or messed with. If we are in Christ, we bear His name. When He is put down, we are as well. David saw Goliath as a nothing more than a tool the enemy would use to usher in defeat. He didn’t stand for it. Neither should we.
2. David’s past victories prepared him for Goliath
But David said to Saul, “Your servant used to keep sheep for his father. And when there came a lion, or a bear, and took a lamb from the flock, I went after him and struck him and delivered it out of his mouth. And if he arose against me, I caught him by his beard and struck him and killed him. 1 Samuel 17:34,35
I often look at David throughout this story and think, “How did this young man become so fearless? What made him able to stand up to Goliath?” As alluded to in the introduction, David had already fought significant foes in his young life. He was a caretaker of his father’s sheep. He had seen lions and bears try to pick off the flock and David would go after them to retrieve the lamb. And if the animal fought back? Well, David would grab him by the scruff and beat him and kill him. Wow. David is fearless and is already a warrior even before he steps foot on the battlefield with Goliath.
Your servant has struck down both lions and bears, and this uncircumcised Philistine shall be like one of them, for he has defied the armies of the living God. 1 Samuel 17:36 David’s resume has brought him to this position. And it’s hard for Saul to dismiss it because David has proven himself worthy. Beyond that, he has absolute confidence in the Lord. It’s this same confidence and boldness we need as we approach the “Goliath’s” in our lives. The battles we have already fought prepare us for bigger foes. At the end of the day, even if the enemy seems strong, the Lord is stronger. We have to rely upon what God has already instilled within us through prior victories. We have to say, “God has won the fight before, He’ll do it again.” That was David’s confidence and he had a holy boldness that God would make Goliath fall just like every other foe he’s beaten before.
3. David looked not at the size of the giant but at the size of his God
Then David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with a sword and with a spear and with 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 defied. This day the Lord will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you down and cut off your head. And I will give the dead bodies of the host of the Philistines this day to the birds of the air and to the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel, and that all this assembly may know that the Lord saves not with sword and spear. For the battle is the Lord's, and he will give you into our hand.” 1 Samuel 17:45-47
We know how the story ends. David goes out to meet Goliath, not with a set of armor and sword but with five smooth stones and a sling. Unbelievably he takes down the giant with one stone…smack dab to the forehead. But before that, David had some choice words for Goliath (verses 45-47 above). David tells him he will be defeated. He explains that it will be the Lord that does it. And because of the victory, all will know of the Lord. His name will be defied no longer.
I know this last point sounds a bit cliche but it is true. David looked past the size of the giant. He didn’t size up Goliath at all. No, he looked at the size of his God and knew that His God was bigger. What about us? When we face problems are we quick to discount and doubt the fact that God can move? Can He still heal? Can He still deliver? Is He big enough to handle a financial problem or a relational problem? Yes, yes and yes! Too often we focus on the giant and not enough on the Conqueror of giants. Too often we forget that God’s word has the final say, giant or not. Goliath was all talk. David was more than talk. He took action. And he acted upon the truth and the promise that the God of Israel was bigger than some overgrown, uncircumcised Philistine.
As we examine David and Goliath and bring it in our modern-day context, what are some final thoughts we should take away? For me, it’s the belief that I cannot stop trusting God as the victor in my life. I need to continue relying upon Him and truly seeing Him as the same God who moved on David’s behalf. I believe David had an unshakable confidence. God honored that. David wasn’t there to steal the victory for himself or make his own name great. His concern was chiefly for the name of His Lord. His heart was moved to fight and see that name honored. I must be moved as well when the world attacks my Savior. I cannot back down from the fight.
If you’ve followed this blog for awhile, you know the title AS BOLD AS LIONS is a theme that runs throughout much of what is talked about. I think the essence of these PROFILES IN COURAGE stories is that each one brings out this character of boldness. And what causes you or I to be bold allows someone else to do the same as they see these attributes displayed. It might not be a David and Goliath-type scenario. It might just be rising to defend a brother or sister who is being attacked. The Lord stirs courage and I believe He gives us the ability to do and say what is needed in the moment. I hope revisiting this well-known passage today has instilled in you that courage once again. Let’s keep going. Let’s keep fighting. God will have the victory!
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Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. Ephesians 5:15-17