I would like to take you to the
cross-roads where God’s story of faithfulness interests with your story, my
story, and the story of David, the young shepherd who took down a giant named
Take a look at the book of first Samuel chapter 17. Here we will find ourselves in a
story that is well known to many of us. However, by the end of this post I
hope to challenge your ideas of what it means to be courageous, to be a
shepherd, and to trust in God.
I want you to see how God
has used you in the past to accomplish his will! You have been the instrument
of God’s power in the world and his agent of grace to others. In our weariness,
it is easy to forget how God has used you to fight his battles; to accomplish
his purpose. You have many victories in your past and these past victories must
affect how we fight today’s battles.
look most closely at I Samuel 17:32-37 and learn from David’s response when he
was questioned by King Saul regarding is ability to go up against the Giant.
But before we do that allow me to set these verses in context by telling you the
story of how David came to stand before Saul.
Now at this time
the Philistines came out to fight against Saul and the men of Israel. They took up positions on the top of a
mountain. The men of Israel took up positions on top of another mountain and
there was a valley between them.
From the Philistine camp,
came their champion a giant called Goliath of Gath. He was a man of enormous
size, almost 10 feet in height.He
wore armor of bronze and fought with a spear, sword, and javelin. For 40 days the
giant came out and shouted to the army of Israel “Choose a man for yourselves and let him come down to me. If he can
fight with me and kill me, then we will be your servants. But if I kill him,
then you shall be our servants and serve us. This day I defy the army of Israel. Give me a man, that we may fight
against one another.”
When Saul and all
of Israel heard the giant’s words they were greatly afraid.
But back in Bethlehem, there
was an old man named Jesse who had 8 sons. His 3 oldest sons had followed Saul
off to war. His youngest son was named David. He was the Shepheard of his
father’s flocks. Sometime after the older sons had gone to war, Jesse told David to go and take this bread and cheese
to your brothers and see if they are well.
So, David rose
early, left the sheep with a keeper, took the food, and went off to find his
brothers. When he came to the camp the men were just heading out to the battle
lines. David found his brothers, and as he was talking with them, behold from
the ranks of the enemy came the giant challenging the armies of the living God
and all the men of Israel were afraid.
When David heard
the words of the giant he said “What shall
be done for the man who kills the Philistine and removes this shame from
Israel? Who is this uncircumcised Philistine, who thinks that he can defy the
army of the living God.” But David’s older brother became angry with David
and said “Why have you come here? And
who is watching is watching your few sheep? I know the evil that you have in
your heart. You have only come to see the fighting.” But David said “What have I done. I was only talking.”
When Saul heard what David had said, he had David brought to him. Now David
stood before Saul and said “Do not fear
this giant. I will go out and fight him.” But Saul said to David. “You cannot fight this Philistine, you are
too young and this man has been a warrior from his youth.” But David said to Saul, “Your servant used to keep sheep for his father. And when a lion, or a
bear came and took a lamb from the flock, I went after it, attacked the beast,
and delivered the lamb out of its mouth. And if the animal arose against me, I
caught it by his beard and killed it. 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.” 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!” Then Saul gave David with his armor.
in the world do you go from the king refusing to let you fight to having the
king’s blessing and personal armor? Let’s take a closer look at what David said in verse
David said to Saul, “Let no one lose heart on account of this
Philistine; your servant will go and fight him.”
First, David was courageous when everyone else was afraid.
Everyone one was afraid of Goliath, everyone except the
Shepheard. David was the only one willing to God against the giant. David stood
alone when he stood against the Goliath. The regular troops were unwilling to
take the risk of losing and condemning the nation of Israel to slavery. I am
not even sure if that factored into David’s thinking. David understood that
work of God in his life. When David talked to Saul he makes no mention of risk.
It is possible that David saw no risk. David had seen the power of God in his
life and he know that with God the giant did not stand a chance.
David knew that he was the
man to fight the giant. He had been prepared by God to win this fight. The
action that David took was the response that God had built into David. David
could not stand there and listen to his God endure insults. You can hear the
confusion in his voice. Why is no one else acting? David knew that the giant
must be confront and he had no problem being the one to do it. It was the only
thing that made sense to David. He did not tell his brothers you should really
be out there fighting. He did not say to Saul, “What is your deal? You’re the
one with all this nice armor. Why aren’t you out there trying to kill the
giant?” You see shepherds don’t do that.
While living in the Africa I
learned something about shepherds. Shepheard are the most hellacious fighters
on the planet. And I have often been within earshot of their battles. In
northern Uganda, I lived with a warrior people named the Karamojong. The
Karamojong fought with anyone over cattle. I knew a soldier once that had been
in many battles against the Karamojong. I asked him what it was like to fight
these Shepherds. He said “shepherds are deadly because they do not fight like soldiers.
We soldiers set undercover while the shepherds attack at night. We were many
they were few but they would run through the darkness at a dead sprint holding
only a spear and a rifle. As they ran they would throw the spear into the
ground then quickly settle the rifle on the butt of spear and fire one round,
barely breaking their stride. We would see the shepherd’s muzzle flash, but by
the time we had turned our guns on him he was shooting us from behind.”
Shepherds fight to protect
their livestock and shepherds fight to remove shame from their tribe or
village. David’s reaction to Goliath makes since to a shepherd. But David was
not your average shepherd. If you remember the story before this story, in I
Samuel 16 verse 13 when Samuel anoints David the Scripture says that “…the Spirit of the Lord rushed
upon David from that day forward.” David was a shepherd with the power
of God upon his life.
Testaments teaches that every Christians has the Spirit of God upon there their
life (I Corinthians 2:11-14). The
prophet Joel’s words were fulfilled in Acts chapter 2. The
power of God in our lives is activated as we do what we are called to do.
David, as a young man, was called to protect his father’s sheep. He protected
his father’s sheep in the power of the Spirit of God. You may be called to parent,
lead a business, work a job, minister full-time, or any other role that God in
his sovereignty has placed you in. If you are in Christ you have his Spirit in
your life. With the Spirit of God in our lives we are not like we were before
we came to Christ. We are different. Sadly, many believers are far to simpler
to non-Christians. Few things differentiate us from the culture. David was not
like the other shepherds. David was not even like his brothers.
There will be times in our
lives when we will have to stand up for God and we may be the only ones willing
to take that stand. Throughout the history of the church there are many stories
of one person standing down an army of opposition. When those who should have
already been in the fight are too afraid to make a move you are impressed by
the Spirit to take action. Please don’t doubt the power of God in your life
when these times come. You may find yourself standing against your friends or
family, but with God, you are always the greater force.
You may find yourself
standing alone but know that you are not truly alone. You have the Spirit in
you and likely you will find that there are others ready to charge once strike
the first blow. Sadly, even the King was frightened by the giant. I am sure
that he felt like he had the most to lose. As King he and his family would lose
everything is he made a wrong move. Remember this was not a single event.
Goliath did not come out to defy the army of Israel once. By the time David had
arrived, Goliath was on day 40. The men of Israel were paralyzed with fear and
Saul was no better. They had the means, the men, and the weapons, but what they
did not have was courage. The men of Israel had lost heart. For some of you,
you may find that you are not the strongest, wealthiest, or the best educated,
but you have not lost your heart. I have often been encouraged by a younger brother
or sister who did not overthink the situation but were ready to act on the
truth of the Word of God in the power of the Holy Spirit.
Often the person God uses is
not considered by others to be the best equipped for the job. The soldiers in
Saul’s ranks were armed for battle with only commons weapons. I imagine that to
the soldiers David seems extremely underdressed for the occasion. Saul, too,
considered David to be unarmed for battle.
But David was armed for
battle when entered Saul’s tent and he
was armed with far more than a stick and sling. He had much more, he had
Let’s look again at verse 33.
And Saul said to
David, “You are not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him, for you are but a youth, and he has been a man of war from his youth.” 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 the lamb out of his mouth. And if he arose against
me, I caught him by his beard and struck him and killed him. Your servant has killed
both lions and bears, and this uncircumcised Philistine shall be like one of
them, for he has defied the armies of the living God.”
courage was based on experience.
the challenge to fight Goliath because he knows that he will win. David was not
driven by blind rage; he was driven by what he had already done. His past
experiences had thoroughly prepared him to fight and kill the giant. He had
seen the power of God in his own life. When challenged by Saul David told Saul
first arrived in Chad I knew that it was going to be difficult. But I also knew
that we would make it, not because I hoped that God would do something in the
future, but because I had seen God work in my life in the past. In those dark
days, I was both Saul and David. I questioned myself and I responded to these
questions with stories from my own journey in service to Christ. I told myself
stories of my life during South Sudan’s Civil war and being trapped by conflict
and how God used our presence to proclaim his Gospel to the Dinka of Bar
El-Gezal. I told stories of being dropped in the jungle for months at a time
with one strategy, win people to Jesus. I told myself stories of challenging
years of marriages, of sickness, of difficult pregnancies, and of souls saved
out of absolute hopelessness.
Goliath was not David’s first
fight. David had been in many fights. And so have you. Many of you fought
battles as kids through difficult childhoods and God sustained you. Some of you
have been through serious illnesses, personally or in your family and God
brought you through it. A few of you have lived under threats of death and
suffered attacks for following Christ and God has protected you. I want you to
open your eyes to see how God has kept you for himself in big and small ways.
God has lifted you up time and time again. It doesn’t always feel like it, but
the Christian lives with constant access to the greatest power in the universe.
We can trust God to show his power and even trust him for the results. God does
not always work in the ways I would like him too. But I trust him to work in
his ways, which are much higher than mine.
The amazing thing about
David’s story is that he struck down the lion, but knew it was God who kept him
from being struck down by the lion. Some of us, if we were David, would be
telling this story in a much different way. We would be questioning why God
even let lions and bears near our sheep. We might even blame God for the attack
and attempted theft of the lamb. But David saw himself as God’s agent of
protection. He did not wait for God to strike the lion with lighting. David
stuck the lion himself knowing the power of God in his life.
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!”
courage was based on faith in God not faith in himself.
that the Lord had delivered him from the lion and the bear and that he would be
delivered from the giant. His confidence was not blind faith but faith based on
lived experience of God’s presence in his life. David was not so impressed with
his own abilities to fight and win as with who he knew God to be. David’s
courage was based on this theology. He knew God. Not only did he know God and
believe God but he took him at his word and lived a life as a shepherd that
proved the power of God in David’s life with every encounter with every lion or
bear. David was living in God’s power and had survived to his young age only
because of the work of God in his life. David knew God, he knew how God had
used him in the past, and he knew how God wanted to use him that day in combat
against the giant.
David did not offer Saul
empty promises or an easy way out, if his idea didn’t work as planned. He
offered action. He knew what needed to be done and he knew that he was the one
to do it. I do not see David’s killing of Goliath as a miracle in itself; as if
David was this weakling little boy and God performed a miracle in guiding the
stone that killed Goliath. This is not a story of what God did not spite of
David’s weaknesses, it is a story of what God did through David’s strengths.
This is a story about what happens when some big slow giant messes with the
wrong delivery boy empowered by the Spirit God, who also happens to kill lions
and bears on the side. But I am getting
ahead of myself.
Now let me
summarize the rest of the chapter.
David put on Saul’s armor but
it was useless to a shepherd. He could not fight in a way that was consistent
with who he was. So, David took up his staff and 5 smooth stones and his sling
and went out to fight the giant. The giant moved towards David and saw that he
was only a boy. Goliath said to David “Am I a dog that you come at me with
sticks?” The giant then cursed David by the Philistine gods and said: “Come here
and I will feed your flesh to the birds of the air and to the wild beast.”
David then said to the giant “You come at me with sword, spear, and javelin,
but I come at you in the name of the Yahweh, the God of the armies of Israel,
whom you have insulted. Today the Lord will give you unto my hands and I will
strike you down and cut off your head. I will feed the flesh of your army to
the birds of the air and to the wild beast and all will know that there is a
God in Israel and all here will know that the Lord saves not with sword and
spear. This battle is the Lord’s and he will give you into my hands.
The giant arose
and moved toward David and David rushed towards the giant. David took out a
stone and with his sling struck the giant. The stone sank into the forehead of
the giant and Goliath fell to the ground. David killed Goliath with a stone, he
had no sword. He ran up to the body of Goliath, took the giant’s own sword, and
cut off his head. When the Philistine army saw that their champion was dead,
they tried to escape but the men of Israel and Judah chased them up to Gath and
the bodies of the Philistines fell along the way.
I am not sure if this fight was even close to fair. David
was quick. Goliath was likely slow. Goliath’s heavy spear was a thrusting spear
designed to break through armor and crush bone. David was a projectile fighter.
He wasn’t going to get anywhere near Goliath’s close-range weapons. David
fought in God’s power and God gave the result. But David was well prepared for
this fight. He did not know it but God had been preparing David to kill this
giant and secure victory for the armies of the Lord.
How has God worked in your life? You have the Spirit of God
in your life but are you willing to go to battle and let God show his power in
you. Are you like the older brothers, content to stand in the battle lines day
after day living in fear? David was not perfect. He had many flaws and made
many mistakes, but he knew where his power came from and what he needed to do
when God called him to act.