“David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet the Philistine.”
I Samuel 17:48
You probably learned the story of David and Goliath as a kid, just as I did: “Young lad defeats giant with slingshot.” It has become a metaphor in all walks of life for the little guy overcoming an overwhelming adversary.
Have you ever had a David moment when you had to face a giant foe? It could be a serious problem at work with a giant company wanting to swallow up or dictate what your small group is doing.
It could be any of the global challenges we face today: pornography, sex and drug trafficking, poverty, famine and drought, not to mention terrorism and religious or political fanaticism. These are just a few of the Goliaths out there.
But sometimes we have inner Goliaths: a feeling of shame and self-worthlessness, emotional trauma and drama, addictions, abusive relationships, or debilitating disease. There are too many to name them all.
Whatever challenge we’re facing, whether global or on a personal level, I think there’s a lot to be learned from how David dealt with the original Goliath. It wasn’t just that he used a sling shot. There was so much more going on. It was about his mindset, his complete confidence in God.
I’ve learned some important lessons that have helped me face my Goliaths, which I’ll get to in just a minute.
David was not just rushing out with a bunch of youthful bravado. To really understand what motivated him we need the backstory.
Not too long before his encounter with Goliath, the prophet Samuel had come to David’s home in Bethlehem and secretly anointed him as the new king to replace Saul. As a result of this experience, “the Spirit of the Lord rushed upon David from that day forward.” (I Samuel 16:13 ESV)
Try to imagine how David must have felt at that moment. He knew he had been chosen by God to be king, lead the people, and establish the standard of God’s law in the land. But it wasn’t just the human act of Samuel pouring oil on his head. The Spirit of God “rushed” upon him; it came forcefully.
More than human power needed to defeat Goliath
However good a man David had been up to this point, he was now endowed with more than human goodness–there was a divine influence on him now.
David had three older brothers in King Saul’s army fighting the Philistines. Their father, Jesse, send David to take them provisions. When David arrived, the troops were in consternation because Goliath, a nine foot tall warrior, had been taunting the Israelite army.
For forty days Goliath had proposed, that instead of the armies fighting, they send just one Israelite to fight him. One on one. The country of whoever lost would become servants of the country of the winner.
Simple enough. But no one in Saul’s army had volunteered to fight Goliath, even though the king had promised riches and the hand of his daughter in marriage to the one who defeated him.
David was incensed that Goliath had defied the army of Israel. It was a direct affront to God, the God who had recently chosen him for the highest position and honor imaginable. When he heard Goliath’s vain boasting, David retorted with disdain, “Who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?” (I Samuel 17:26 ESV)
Tell it! Who does this scumbag think he is?
This is not just patriotic pride flaring. It’s a case of true and righteous indignation on David’s part as God’s representative. He can’t believe no one has gone out to challenge this guy and defend God’s honor.
David is fearless
Word spreads of his reaction and King Saul sends for him. Without hesitation, fear, or ceremony, David volunteers to fight the giant. Just as Samuel looked at the outward appearance of David’s brothers and thought the older, stronger ones should be anointed king, Saul looks at David’s youth and inexperience as a complete disadvantage.
But David knows God is with him and gives two examples of victory: killing a lion and a bear with his sling and a stone. His trust is completely in God: “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.” (I Samuel 17:37 ESV)
Saul acquiesces and tries to give David armor to wear. But it doesn’t fit right and David has never fought with armor before and decides instead to use the weapons he is familiar with. He finds five smooth stones in a nearby brook.
Armed with his shepherd’s staff, his sling, and the five stones he went to meet Goliath.
Now it’s Goliath’s turn to be incensed that such a scrawny little excuse of a soldier has come to fight him. He hurls his traditional insults.
But David is armed with more than the armor of every soldier in Saul’s entire army. He comes “in the name of Lord of Hosts, the God of the armies of Israel.” (v. 45)
Then David runs. He runs to meet Goliath. Fearless. Supremely confident that God will give him the victory.
And it’s all over pretty fast. Goliath never really knew what hit him. He’s down and out. David uses the giant’s own sword to cut off his head and remove all doubt of who the victor is.
So how can we take the lessons in this story to use when we have a Goliath to fight?
Lessons from David and Goliath
Here are my takeaways:David was anointed with the Spirit of the Lord. Are you trying to meet your challenges on your own or is the Spirit of God with you, impelling you to action?
David knew he was chosen by God. This inner knowledge, or mindset, was a powerful motivation and inspiration. Are you just pursuing your own desires or are you submitting to God’s call for your life?
David was righteously indignant over Goliath’s defiance of God. To react with only human indignation almost guarantees defeat. Are you humanly or spiritually riled up when your Goliaths taunt you?
David goes right to King Saul and boldly states he will fight the Philistine. Are you as quick and fearless to declare your intentions to confront a problem?
David is confident of victory. Are you, even when the odds are stacked against you? David knew God had helped him in protecting his sheep from the lion and the bear. He saw no difference in God’s ability to help him in this situation. What victories have you won with God’s help in the past? If He delivered you then, He will deliver you now.
David did not wear Saul’s armor. He hadn’t used it before. He couldn’t even move in it. It would have been his defeat. To Saul’s amazement, David took it off. When someone offers you advice or tactics on how to solve a problem based on what worked for them, it may not be right for you. Have the courage to decline the offer, even if it’s from some important king-ish person of influence: your parents, your boss, your minister or priest. Be authentic to who you are and what you can do.
David used what had worked for him in the past: a sling and stones. He took five smooth stones from the brook. These were his tried and true, well worn, well tested weapons. What works for you? What are your five smooth stones and sling shot that have worked for you in the past? Use them again.
David is not intimidated by the size, strength, or weapons of Goliath, nor his insults directed at God and Israel. When you are taunted, made fun of, or persecuted for trusting in God, you have an inner strength that cannot be intimidated, just as David was not.
David boldly declared that he came to Goliath, not in his own power, but in the name of the Lord. He affirmed that God would deliver Goliath into his hands. When you face a challenge, speak boldly. Face it head-on “in the name of the Lord.”
David ran to meet Goliath. He was not afraid. He knew God was with him. Go forth fearlessly to meet your Goliath. Don’t ignore it, run away from it, turn your back on it, or even try to sneak up on it. Face it with courage and trust in God.
David had five stones, but only used one. That’s all it took. You may have more than one way to solve a problem, but you may only need one simple, humble prayer of trust in God to slay your giant.
David used Goliath’s own sword to cut off his head. He showed no mercy to the enemy. That doesn’t mean you’re going to cut off your boss’s head. It means you will decapitate the hatred or jealousy or whatever the evil thoughts are causing the problem.
This story of David defeating Goliath is an object lesson for how we can face our challenges, big or small. The most important factor in all this is the earnest inclination of David’s heart toward God.
My deep, sincere desire is for my heart to be more and more inclined toward God in all I do. And this is my prayer for you as well.
Run to meet your Goliaths. God is with you. He gives you courage and strength. He impels you to victory.
I’d love to hear how God has helped you face and defeat your giants.
Blessing to you,