“That We Might Have Hope” (Rom. 15:4)
First Samuel Chapter Seventeen
David And Goliath
Everyone is familiar with the Bible account found in 1 Samuel 17. It is the narrative of David and Goliath. We love to hear the words of that great victory. David, a young man, a shepherd, son of Jesse of Bethlehem, goes out to do battle against the Philistine giant and military hero, Goliath, and comes back the winner.
This account has universal appeal in our country with the way it portrays the “small guy” beating out the “big guy.” I remember that it was used by a TV network news-magazine as an introduction for its report on how a small private firm had gone up against some corporate giant and had won. People like to see the underdog come out on top!
That is a catchy theme; but if that is all a person gets out of the David and Goliath account, he is missing the whole point.
“Fear, Love, And Trust . . . “
In his Small Catechism, Martin Luther explains the First Commandment: “You shall have no other gods” with these words: “We should fear, love, and trust in God above all things.” This David and Goliath account is a shining example of how to trust in God above all things.
David was in what many would call a no-win situation. He was not a soldier. He was a shepherd. He had no experience in the battle scene, not to mention in single one-on-one combat.
The soldier he was to fight was a seasoned veteran. He was tall; almost ten feet tall. He was strong; the spear shaft he carried was compared to a weaver’s beam, with a head on it that weighed fifteeen pounds. He struck fear into the hearts of everyone as he came out every day to ridicule the Israelites with his taunts and challenges.
How could David do what he did? How could he defeat this giant? The Scriptures are clear. He trusted in God, saying: “Who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?” (17:16)
Certainly the other soldiers in Saul’s army professed a faith and trust in the living God. But this was a military thing. This was a situation that called for physical strength as well as knowledge in armed combat. This was not a place for “religious” fervor.
And yet godly fervor is exactly what David displayed: “Then David said to the Philistine: “You come to me with a sword, with a spear, and with a javelin. But I come to you in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the LORD will deliver you into my hand. . . .” (17:45-46). And with God at his side, David did defeat Goliath with a shepherd’s defense: a few smooth stones and a sling.
Can God Be Trusted?
How much can YOU trust God–for help, guidance, direction, strength, and so on? “But,” we say, “but . . . there are certain things where God just doesn’t ‘fit.'” — I am having trouble communicating with my spouse. — I am under a lot of stress with my boss, or with deadlines at work. — My employees are not producing as they should. — My children are disobedient.
These things seem to call for professional help–counsellors, teachers, time-planning instructors, labor dispute mediators. God just doesn’t “fit.”
Or does He?
What can we learn from David and Goliath? Can God be trusted for help in everything? Is there really anything we encounter in our Christian lives in which God cannot give us His aid? Does it matter if the situation at hand is military or matrimony, vocation or vacation, family or friends?
This example of David’s confident trust is recorded so that we might have “hope.” We CAN trust God: He is “a very present help in trouble” (Ps. 46:1). We SHOULD trust God: “Cast all your care upon Him for He cares for you” (1 Pet. 5:7).
DO we trust God?
David said: “The LORD, who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, He will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine” (17:37).
God help us make that statement of trust our own! “God HAS delivered me from ________; He WILL deliver me from ________!”
–Pastor Paul Krause