This week we move into I Samuel 17 in which we read one of the most famous of Bible stories. The Philistines have called up their armies to go against Israel. With a valley between them, the two armies positioned themselves on opposite hilltops.
Then a champion came out from the armies of the Philistines named, Goliath, from Gath whose height was six cubits and a span. [about 9 feet tall] He had a bronze helmet on his head and he was clothed with armor which weighed five thousand shekels of bronze…..He stood and shouted to the ranks of Israel and said to them, ‘Why do you come out to draw up in battle array? Am I not the Philistine and you, servants of Saul? Choose a man for yourselves and let him come down to me.’ I Sam. 17:4-5, 8
King Saul along with his army reacted in fear and dismay at the taunting of Goliath. Three of David’s older brothers were soldiers in Saul’s army. Jesse, concerned for his sons, sent David to check on them and take them food. He instructed David to bring him back news of his sons. It happened that as David arrived at the camp, his brothers were on the front lines. Making his way to their position, David saw and heard Goliath taunting the army of Israel. The warrior spirit rose up in him and he asked, ‘Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should taunt the armies of the living God?’ I Sam. 17:26b
David volunteered to fight the giant while his countrymen cowered in fear. What was he thinking? Why did he step forward when the entire army, including the King, were terrified?
A person who fears God has no reason to fear anything else. On the other hand, someone who does not fear God will fear just about anything else. Saul feared the opinions of others; he feared his enemies. He even feared a teenage boy who played the harp!
Now notice: when David’s older brother, Eliab, hears what David says, he rebukes and criticizes him. ‘Why have you come down here?’ he asks. ‘And who is watching the sheep? I know how conceited you are and how wicked your heart is; you came down only to watch the battle.” I Sam. 17:28
David’s response, ‘Now what have I done?’, lets us know that this was not the first time his brothers were at odds with him. Is there anyone who can discourage us more than a family member? Probably not. The attitude of our family towards us carries a lot of weight. Yet David remained undaunted by his brother’s scathing remarks. He knew that God had promised Israel victory over its enemies if they (Israel) called upon His name. David believed those promises because he built his life on the foundation of God’s holy Word.
This event reminds me of Joseph, son of Jacob. His brothers, too, resented him. Yet both Joseph and David had passionate hearts towards God and heard clearly God’s plan for their lives. Despite their relationship with the Most High, both of them were rejected and misunderstood by their family members but they did not let those rejections or criticisms dictate their behavior. Now, there’s a lesson to ponder.
Refusing the king’s bulky armor, David chose five smooth stones form the ground, pulled out his shepherd’s sling and made his way down the hill toward Goliath. You know the rest of the story but here’s what I want us all to remember:
No ‘giant’ that thrusts its way into your life will EVER be a match for a big God with a little stone! This teenager bequeathed to every generation since a most amazing gift and this is it: Measure the size of your challenges against the size of your God and you will never be overcome! That doesn’t mean we won’t have to exert some effort or draw on God’s strength to walk through a valley but it does mean that FAITH can cause a random pebble to strike your enemy like a boulder and level him to the ground.
Problems and difficulties intimidate us if we are uncertain of God’s faithfulness. Our faith must be grounded in HIS faithfulness. Don’t make the mistake of having ‘faith in Faith.’ Have faith in GOD! He is the ever living One, whose Word is true and will never fail.
It’s worth repeating: David spent hours in God’s presence, praising Him, getting to know Him and the fruit of that relationship made him different; not odd, but different. Like Caleb of old, he had ‘a different spirit’. He knew his God and therefore, as Daniel would write years later, he was ‘strong and did exploits.’
And every generation since has been inspired by the shepherd boy with the slingshot.
1. Have you ever experienced criticism about your walk with God? About your faith? Does the criticism influence your behavior or your decisions? To be sure, there is such a thing as constructive criticism, the kind we learn from. What we’re looking at here is different: the criticism that has the potential to demean you, put you down, make you feel rejected. How do you handle it? Are you secure in knowing God’s direction for your life?
2. Any Goliath in your life right now? Will you turn to the living God for His direction on how to overcome or do you try in your own strength?