If I had to summarize the story of David and Goliath in one word, it would be faith. Giant-slaying, lion-killing faith. Faith that persists in the midst of difficulty. Faith that cannot be stamped out, regardless of the discouragement that it faces. Faith that stops for no one but the Almighty Himself. This was the kind of faith David had in his God.
One Duel to Rule Them All
In 1 Samuel 17, we see the Israelite army in a major battle with the Philistines. The Philistines are crafty and come up with a solution that they think will result in them winning the battle and having dominion over the Israelites without losing a single soldier. How? By way of duel. They send forth their champion to challenge the Israelites. If they lose, they promise to submit to the Israelites. But if they win, the Israelites must submit to their rule. An entire nation’s fate rests on the results of one duel. In 1 Samuel 17:8-10, we read the following:
“Goliath stood and shouted to the ranks of Israel, ‘Why do you come out and line up for battle? Am I not a Philistine, and are you not the servants of Saul? Choose a man and have him come down to me. If he is able to fight and kill me, we will become your subjects; but if I overcome him and kill him, you will become our subjects and serve us.’ Then the Philistine said, ‘This day I defy the armies of Israel! Give me a man and let us fight each other.'” (NIV)
Seems easy enough, right? The Philistines are sending their best man. Why don’t the Israelites simply do the same? I’ll tell you why. The champion of the Philistines is no ordinary man. Listen to this description from 1 Samuel 17:4-7:
No Ordinary Man
“A champion named Goliath, who was from Gath, came out of the Philistine camp. His height was six cubits and a span. He had a bronze helmet on his head and wore a coat of scale armor of bronze weighing five thousand shekels; on his legs he wore bronze greaves, and a bronze javelin was slung on his back. His spear shaft was like a weaver’s rod, and its iron point weighed six hundred shekels. His shield bearer went ahead of him.” (NIV)
Those measurements don’t mean much to us today, because we don’t measure height in cubits or weight in shekels, but let’s do some conversions. Six cubits and a span is roughly equivalent to 9 feet and 9 inches. In other words, Goliath was almost as tall as a basketball hoop. His coat of armor alone weighed somewhere around 125 pounds, which is more than I weigh altogether. This man was massive. And to make things even worse, he had years and years of battle experience. He was no big, clumsy oaf like you often see giants depicted in movies. No, this man was a ferocious warrior, the champion of the entire Philistine army. In fact, he was such an effective fighter that the Philistines were willing to stake everything – even their freedom – on his victory.
It’s no wonder then, that no-one from the Israelite army was eager to volunteer as tribute. We read their reaction to Goliath’s challenge in 1 Samuel 17:11:
“On hearing the Philistine’s words, Saul and all the Israelites were dismayed and terrified.”
Can you really blame them? From a purely human perspective, it would have seemed crazy to volunteer to partake in such a duel. In addition to their own high chance of decapitation, their failure would mean the enslavement and perhaps even torture of their wives and children. But that was their mistake. They factored God out of the equation. In the midst of their fear and anguish, they forgot that they had the God of Angel Armies, the Creator and Sustainer of the entire universe on their side.
God Has a Plan
Thankfully, being the good and gracious God that he is, God had a plan to deliver the Israelites, despite their lack of faith in Him. Enter David into the scene. David was the youngest of eight brothers, sons of a man named Jesse. He was a small, young man, and certainly not what you’d expect of a warrior. And yet, despite his size, age, and lack of experience, he had one vital quality the rest of the soldiers in the Israelite army did not: faith. David trusted His God. You see, although David wasn’t on the front lines of the battlefield with his brothers, he had still had his share of frightening experiences at home, while tending the sheep of his father. On two separate occasions, wild animals (once a bear and the other time a lion) had attempted to prey upon the sheep in his care, and on both occasions, the Lord had delivered the beasts into David’s hand. So when David heard the taunts of Goliath against the Israelite army and their God while visiting his brothers, he didn’t hesitate. Instead of hearing Goliath’s challenge and assuming someone else would volunteer or making a long list of excuses as to why he wasn’t the right person for the job, he saw a need, and he acted.
Did he face discouragement? Was his faith challenged? Most certainly. David’s eldest brother told him to get lost. Saul commanded him not to fight Goliath, telling him he was no match for his size or experience. But David would not be deterred. Listen to his response in verses 34-37 of 1 Samuel 17.
David’s Confidence in His God
“But David said to Saul, ‘Your servant has been keeping his father’s sheep. When a lion or a bear came and carried off a sheep from the flock, I went after it, struck it and rescued the sheep from its mouth. When it turned on me, I seized it by its hair, struck it and killed it. Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, because he has defied the armies of the living God. The Lord who rescued me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will rescue me from the hand of this Philistine.’”
Nothing the king, his brother, or anyone else could say was going to change David’s mind about fighting Goliath. He was more than aware that it would be suicide to challenge the giant in his own strength, but he knew that the victory wasn’t coming from him. It was coming from God. You see, David realized that the battle with Goliath was over before it even started. No one challenges the God of Israel and lives to tell the tale. This wasn’t so much a battle between David and Goliath as it was a battle between God and Goliath. David was confident that God would come out on top. And so he did. 1 Samuel 17:48-50 says the following:
“As the Philistine moved closer to attack him, David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet him. Reaching into his bag and taking out a stone, he slung it and struck the Philistine on the forehead. The stone sank into his forehead, and he fell facedown on the ground. So David triumphed over the Philistine with a sling and a stone; without a sword in his hand he struck down the Philistine and killed him.”
Live It Out
David had the faith to do what no one else in the entire Israelite army (an army which consisted of thousands upon thousands of men) was willing to do: fight Goliath. He went out against a giant with what seemed like impossible odds, but David knew the truth: God would come through, as he always does. Nothing falls out of his realm of control. Do you trust God like David or are you going through life in your own strength like the rest of the Israelites? How far will you go to follow after Him? Will you persist in following Him and obeying His commands, even when others think you’re crazy for it? Evaluate your life, and think of three things God has done in the past year to take care of you. Thank him for his goodness, and trust Him for your future.