By Javan Rowe
David placed the stone in his sling, righteous anger flowing through his veins. He swung the sling over his head and released a strap, causing the stone to hurl toward the giant. His first attempt was successful, as the rock found its target—Goliath’s forehead. The undefeatable giant was slain.
I realize it’s a faux pas to reveal the ending before the story is laid out. I did this to indicate that we already know how it concludes. We have probably been familiar with this story since childhood. David, who did not know the outcome beforehand, behaved in ways that made it seem like he did.
How could this young man stand up to such a formidable foe with no apparent fear?
The Lord sent the prophet Samuel to the house of Jesse to anoint a new king because God had rejected Saul’s kingship due to disobedience. Samuel met seven of Jesse’s sons before realizing the eighth and youngest was the chosen one. David was anointed in front of his brothers and “from that day on the Spirit of the Lord came powerfully upon David” (1 Samuel 16:13). The filling of the Holy Spirit gave David a widespread reputation that God was with him. Upon hearing of David, Saul brought him into his service to help ward off evil spirits that had begun to afflict him.
At this time, the Philistines were opposing the Israelites. They entered into Judah, set up camp, and brought out their champion, Goliath. This nine-foot-tall giant challenged Israel to select one warrior for battle, with the champion bringing victory to his nation. For 40 days he mocked Israel, terrifying the Israelites.
David, who had been traveling between his father’s sheep and his duties to the king, returned to the Israelite camp with food for his brothers. He heard the mocking shouts of Goliath, saw the Israelites’ fear, and declared, “Let no one lose heart on account of this Philistine; your servant will go and fight him” (1 Samuel 17:32). Though he was initially reprimanded by his oldest brother and doubted by Saul, the king allowed him to go and fight the giant.
David picked up five stones from the stream and drew near to Goliath. He wore no armor. But instead of approaching fearfully and cautiously, David spoke with confidence: “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the Lord will deliver you into my hands . . . and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel” (1 Samuel 17:45, 46). Goliath fell shortly thereafter.
We read the story fully aware of its outcome, while David had no such luxury. He couldn’t know for certain whether the results would be positive or not. The key is that he had an intimate relationship with the one who knew the future. Even though the events could have resulted in his death, David trusted his life to the Lord.
It was a relationship cultivated in the fields where David sat watching over the sheep. I believe he came to know the Lord deeply during those early years, which proved pivotal to his later successes. This intimacy led him to write such words as, “Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me” (Psalm 23:4). Confidence in the Lord’s presence brought him comfort on a number of occasions, including his battle with Goliath.
His close bond with God led him to become protective of the Lord’s honor. He heard Goliath’s mocking and was indignant. He was offended that the Israelites allowed the giant to talk about their God the way he did.
David was dedicated to protecting the Lord’s honor, even upon pain of death. This righteous anger led him to boldly stand in the face of a great threat to his nation.
“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see” (Hebrews 11:1). This definition of faith offered by the writer of Hebrews was lived out by David in a vivid way. The climax of the story lies not in David’s standoff with Goliath, but when he stepped out in faith beforehand with Saul. His faith in God built within him an unnatural confidence amidst the surrounding doubters and fear-mongers.
Seasoned soldiers may have run from Goliath, but young David trusted in God’s strength. He had faith that the Lord would protect him. Even greater than David’s defeat of Goliath—admirable as that was—was the confidence David had in the Lord. David trusted God, even though logic would tell anyone in a similar situation to flee. David did not merely trust in the Lord partially, but with his whole being.
Unable to use the armor the king gave him for protection, he appeared to enter combat woefully unprepared. Though he carried only a crude slingshot, he was more equipped that any of the other soldiers because he was accompanied by the Lord Almighty. He relied on the truth that only God provides real protection.
David recalled the past victories where the Lord had delivered him. He realized it was the Lord’s provision which saved him from various threats he had encountered in the pastures. This understanding allowed him to carry the confidence that God would come through again if he so chose. The giant seemed small to David because God was so large in his life.
Facing Our Giants
Though the story of David and Goliath is great for children, it is more than a simple child’s tale. The takeaway may be greater for adults because life experience makes us more attuned to abounding dangers. The negative of this awareness, though, is that it can lead to fear and doubt, like the Israelites expressed. We concentrate on previous failures that lead to fear, or we dwell on past victories that produce complacency.
What lessons can we extract from David’s story?
Connect with God. The plot leading up to the epic confrontation was at least as important as the battle itself because of the presence of faith. Every day we spend building our relationship with God is a victory, as we cooperate with the Spirit to bolster our faith. It’s in the flow of our storyline that we experience the sanctification that makes us increasingly more like Christ.
David considered his relationship with the Lord to be of prime importance. This made an impression on others, produced a reckless faith, and enabled him to face the giant. We, likewise, must put our relationship with God above all else. We certainly run the risk of becoming ostracized, but we will definitely make an impression on others. They will see our bond with God and will be influenced through our godly attitude resulting from that relationship.
Have faith like a child. Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3). God’s kingdom collided with earthly kingdoms as David took his childlike faith and defended his heavenly King. He knew he was more than an Israelite fighting a Philistine; he was a warrior for God’s kingdom and a child of the King.
In our own story, we can also reenter childhood, in a sense, and obtain that youthful faith we once held dear. We do not have to allow this world to turn our hearts pessimistic. Just as David was filled with the Spirit, God has given us his Holy Spirit to accompany us in our battles, regardless of whether they are physical or spiritual. The Spirit then provides spiritual gifts as weapons. We have the same spiritual tools that Paul called the armor of God (Ephesians 6:13-17). Faith as a child accepts these things as fact, as we confidently enter the fray.
Only after we connect with God in a way that broadens our faith will we have the confidence necessary to stand fearless in the face of our giants. If we view the Lord as large, like David did, then who can possibly stand against us?
Javan Rowe is a freelance writer in Columbus, Ohio.
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