The most well-known, most-refered-to story of the Bible is where we find ourselves today: David and Goliath. And what a story it is! No one from the army of Israel could defeat Goliath, due to a lack of courage and faith in God. It was a crossroads for the nation, and the situation seemed dismal at best. What would God do? What only He can do: defeat the “impossible” in the most humble way. He would use a little shepherd boy to conquer the unconquerable foe. Teeny-tiny David would overcome the giant Goliath.
There are two questions we need to tackle as we approach this famous story. One: why was Israel in this situation in the first place? Two: how is this narrative best applied to our lives? There is an article by Jon Bloom that really puts this in perspective, and I encourage you to read the whole thing. But here are some snapshots that answer both questions.
First, regarding why this situation was even a reality, Bloom says,
“Before looking at where David’s courage came from, we need to ask why Saul and his soldiers lacked it, at least at this moment. On the surface, the answer seems manifestly obvious. The Philistine champion was about nine-feet tall and incredibly strong (1 Samuel 17:4–7). He was a highly trained, experienced massacre machine who had sent many opponents to meet their Maker (1 Samuel 17:33). Physically, every man in the Hebrew camp was outclassed. Fighting Goliath looked like suicide, plain and simple… the men lacked courage to face Goliath because at this moment the men lacked faith. At this moment, for whatever reason, despite all the stories and past experiences, Goliath looked bigger than God. Each man believed that if he went out against this humungous human, he would be on his own and end up as bird food (1 Samuel 17:44).”
Second, how do we apply this story? Most of us have heard a moralistic approach where we are told to rise up and have courage like David against the “Goliaths” we face. Is that completely wrong? No. But there is a better way of applying it:
“Many think David’s defeat of Goliath is a story of personal courage in the face of overwhelming odds. They see David as the archetypal underdog, an Old Testament Rocky Balboa, standing up to an arrogant, powerful blowhard. They see him as a self-confident, independent young man who was brave enough to fight for what was right and rely on his own strength and skills, rather than conform to conventional tactics. The popular moral of the story is this: Get out there and face down your giant because the heroically courageous come out on top. But that is not at all what this story is about. It’s true that David was courageous, and courage is an essential, glorious virtue. But when he faced Goliath, David’s courage was a derivative virtue. It was being empowered by something else.”
Faith. That’s the answer. Have bold faith in an overwhelmingly powerful God. That’s the best application of David & Goliath. And yes, have courage in whatever you face, because you are never alone. And maybe most importantly, never forget that there would be a much better David (Jesus) who would one day defeat a much greater Goliath (sin & death).
What did God teach you today? And how can we pray for you this week?
By: Todd Thomas