Undoubtedly, the account of David and Goliath is one of the most well-known Biblical narratives (1 Samuel 17). It unfolds an encouraging testimony to the rise of the Ephrathite boy named David, and the fall of the giant warrior Goliath, from Gath. The passage gives us the typical antagonist/protagonist good “storyline;” however, David and Goliath is not a mere story, but a true descriptive-historical. Goliath, a nine foot seasoned behemoth-warrior, provokes God’s people, as the Philistines and Israelites prepare for battle across the Valley of Elah (1 Sam. 17:2). It is not my intention to expound on the entire account, so if the reader is not familiar with the passage, feel free to stop now and click here to read/refresh your memory (1 Samuel 17). The face-off between David and Goliath provides great insight into the spiritual aspects of man’s walk with God. With that stated, we’ll focus on four distinct spiritual factors: (1) Man’s view versus God’s view, (2) discerning your current surroundings (3) being yourself, and (4) using the strengths of your adversaries for victory.
1. Man’s View vs. God’s View
There is a distinct contrast within the first book of Samuel presented by the writer. After the prideful deterioration and rejection of King Saul, the LORD chooses David to be the next king of Israel. At the time, David is a young and humble shepherd boy. It is noted that when the prophet Samuel is commended to choose David, the Lord informs the prophet, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature…For the LORD sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart” (1 Sam. 16:7). This is in contrast to David’s oldest brother’s (Eliab) comments. As David appears during the Israeli Philistine stalemate, Eliab states, “Why have you come down? And with whom have you left those few sheep in the wilderness? I know your presumption and the evil of your heart, for you have come down to see the battle”(1 Sam.17:28). In the text, we see an accurate picture of how man views man and how God views man. Eliab is jealous, envious, and insecure; he is likely afraid of Goliath, since he has seen his stature and incredible strength (it should be noted that Goliath’s spear alone, not to mention armor, weighed more than two men combined, approx. 300 pounds), day after day. Eliab cannot help but to think, “Hey look little brother, if I can’t whip him, certainly you can’t either.” Notably, Eliab was present during David’s anointing, assuredly propelling him to sibling envy and jealousy.
The point: man judges mankind through the lens of presuppositions, false judgments, envy, jealously, pride, and appearance. God views mankind at the very core—his heart. What is your heart saying? When you pray, do you ask the Lord to reveal your heart, so that true repentance can shape the man or woman of God, he intends you to be? These are good reflections.
2. Discerning Your Current Surroundings
When David informs Saul that he is going to take down Goliath, David sort of provides the king with a recorded resume. David states, “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 it 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 struck down both lions and bears…” (17:34-36). In relation to that, you may be facing a “bear or lion,” but God is shaping you for a later battle. Discern what is happening in the “now.” Do not be afraid or your current circumstances—if God has called you, God will equip you. David’s “battle” with the lion and bear, may have seemed insignificant or tedious, or fearsome, at the time, but now he realizes why he faced those beasts. Are you facing your beasts today with courage? We all know it is very difficult at times to see the greater picture, so take some time alone with God in prayer; ask for wisdom (James 1:5) and God will provide.
3. Be Yourself
When David was given the “OK” to fight with Goliath, the king attempted to put his armor on David, but it just didn’t fit. Instead, what did David do? “David said to Saul, “I cannot go with these, for I have not tested them.” So David put them off. Then he took his staff in his hand and chose five smooth stones from the brook and put them in his shepherd’s pouch. His sling was in his hand, and he approached the Philistine” (17:39-40). David had not tested the armor, but what was tested, was David’s fortitude, skill, and faith. Do you feel as though your faith is being “tested”? This is a good thing: Peter states, “the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:7). Be yourself. God has only made one you, be it! The trials and temptations you are going through are for you, and they may even help you assist someone else, later in life.
4. Using the Strengths of your Adversaries for Victory
One aspect of the battle account that many people overlook, is where David’s stone hits Goliath. Why did David aim so high? In verse 7, the writer informs us that Goliath had a shield bearer that walked before him. As if Goliath’s height and shear strength are not enough, the battle is two against one. David uses Goliath’s “strength” (his height) to his advantage. Surely, the shield bearer is not nine feet tall as well? David finds a weak link in his adversary. Also, when David strikes the giant down, he utilizes Goliath’s sword to cut his head off, “There was no sword in the hand of David. Then David ran and stood over the Philistine and took his sword and drew it out of its sheath and killed him and cut off his head with it.” (17:50b-51). I wonder how many of us look to the one factor which frightens us about our adversary, and use it to our advantage. What is Satan’s greatest strength against you? Perhaps he focuses on your finances? Give them to the Lord, “For the battle is the LORD’s” (17:47); maybe its cancer? Job loss? Whatever can be named, the battle is God’s, as you were bought with a price (1 Cor. 6:20). Be smart and ask the Lord to reveal to you, what is happening. However, with that stated, God’s timing is not our timing (Isaiah 55:6-9); this means that you need to purposefully set aside time for Him and His Word. When facing a battle, do you look at it confidently as David did, “I come to you in the name of the LORD…” (17:45)? Use the enemy’s strengths to your advantage, do not be afraid. For instance, if the adversary strikes you with disease, use your faith to speak with someone in the doctor’s office. If you lose your job, go volunteer when you can, serving the Lord in community. The point: don’t be afraid, face it.
God is for you and cares for you (1 Peter 5:7). Nothing can separate you from the love of Christ (Rom. 8:38), and God will never leave you nor forsake you (Joshua 1:8); these are promises in God’s Word. He loves you more than you know, and if you’re facing a battle now, I pray that you spend some quality with Him…draw closer to God and He will draw nearer to you (James 4:8). Therefore, when facing your giant of adversity, (1) know God’s view of you, (2) get the bigger picture of your current situation, (3) be the person God intended you to be, and lastly, (4) know your weaknesses and your enemy’s strengths.
Matt Fretwell is married, has three daughters, is an author (Denied Desires; Identity Theft, Sanctificagious, 30:1 Manhood, 30:1 Marriage), pastor of a 112 year old revitalized church planting church (Oak Hall Baptist) in Sandston, Virginia), is the founder of Job 31 Ministries, an advocate board member of Living Bread Ministries, a global comprehensive Church Planting organization, the East Coast Coordinator for New Breed Church Planting, and co-founder of a church planting and revitalization initiative called Planting RVA, in Richmond, Va. Matt also writes for Church Planter Magazine and is pursuing his doctorate in Great Commission Leadership at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. Twitter: @w84harpazo