Lessons for life learned through David’s battle with Goliath
Written February 3, 2014
David and Goliath, found in 1 Samuel 17, is one of the most well known events recorded in the Bible. It is told to us as children, preached about in sermons, portrayed in videos, and sung about in song. It is an event rich in so many themes and lessons it is easy to understand why this battle has spawned so many sermons, stories, and media adaptations. It is a struggle between good and evil, it is a picture of faith in God’s power to overcome any obstacle, and so much more.
In these next few pages I would like to offer some devotional thoughts from the Biblical account of David and Goliath. My goal is to offer us some spiritual food to aid us in our daily Christian walk and perhaps help us to see the encounter David had so long ago with the giant Goliath in a new light.
May God bless you richly in your reading and may your spirit be enlightened and enriched through God’s Holy Word as we journey through the Bible together.
Beware the invasion of the enemy
1 Samuel 17:1-2
(1)Now the Philistines gathered their armies for battle. And they were gathered at Socoh, which belongs to Judah…
Who are your greatest enemies? Most likely they are not persons of flesh and blood but rather habits, thoughts, and dispositions that rip you away from God. For many it is anger that causes them to lash out at others in harmful ways. For others it is the specter of doubt that causes unbelief. For others still it is the lust of the eyes, fear, anxiety, greed, and many other enemies that they battle.
The fact of the matter is this, whatever enemy you face in your life that enemy is always looking for a little more ground to conquer and claim in your life. The Philistines gathered at Socoh, a city not terribly far from their home town but one that belong to Judah, simply put they were expanding their territory.
As you look at your own life you might see this too. That desire to lie and cheat at work or school is reasserting itself trying to claim territory in your life that has been claimed for the glory of Christ. That desire to gossip or slander is trying to make inroads into your lips. The question is what shall we do?
The solution is clear, just as Saul took the men of Israel out to fight the Philistines so we too must go forth and attack our enemy before he gains a foothold in our lives. Let me ask when is the last time you fought against sin in your life. Sadly the majority of us never take an active stance against a sinful habit, thought process, or active sin in our life.
Rather than trying to gain victory over it we treat it like a stray cat that wanders into our yard. We tolerate it, we get use to it, then we end up feeding it, then it becomes the family pet that has rule over the whole house. Sin is the very same, if we do not ride out and meet the enemy on the battlefield of our life to expel it, it will eventually overrun us. The enemy is constantly looking for new territory and new ground.
So what do we do? I would remind you that if you are a Christian who has given your life to Jesus Christ and asked Him to be your Lord and Savior you have a power far greater than any sin or specter of doubt and fear living inside of you. Much of the victory is surrendering your life to His control and allowing Him to live through you. Let me offer some practical steps to help you in this process
First, pray consistently. Find a time where you can pray to God and really pour out your heart to Him, and do it each day. Tell God your struggles, what you are facing, how you have failed, how you need forgiveness, and tell God what you are thankful for and ask Him for help in the day to come. Remember He is your heavenly Father who loves you and cherishes you.
Second, pursue Godly wisdom and knowledge. One of the best things to defeat the enemy we face is to fill our hearts and minds with the truth of God’s Word. The Psalms, Proverbs, the book of James and the Gospel of John are wonderful places to start reading God’s Word and learning more about Him. If you do not have a daily devotional get one from either the bookstore or the internet and use it each day to grow in the knowledge of the Word.
Third, get a prayer partner. Someone you trust and can be honest with about your struggles. This would probably be someone that you know through work, school, or church that has a good Christian life but you don’t have an active and close friendship with. This is someone who understands the idea of accountability and the value of keeping things confidence. This is the person that you want to ask you the tough questions about what you struggle with, like did you gossip about anyone last week or did you speak to anyone in anger last week. This is the person that you have to answer truthfully to and that will keep you accountable for your actions.
Dear Lord, I confess that I have neglected the enemy that has begun to invade my life. I know my life is meant for your glory and I surrender once again to Your control. I pray that you would help me to pursue victory over the enemies of my life for Your honor and glory. Amen
The enemy always has its champions
1 Samuel 17:3-11
(4)And there came out from the camp of the Philistines a champion named Goliath of Gath…
What a sight Goliath must have been! This gargantuan man from Gath with armor and weaponry more kin to a Sherman tank than a regular soldier. The Philistines must have been pretty proud of their champion, not to mention that he had a lot of brothers too to boot. They probably thought very well of themselves as Goliath blasphemed the God of Israel and insulted all those camped against them. He had a message the god of Philistine’s was better, stronger, and that Israel was nothing in comparison.
What we must remember is that Goliath is not unique in history when it comes to the enemy’s champions. Since the beginning of time the devil has had those that he has paraded around to intimidate and scare believer’s in order to shake the foundations of their faith. They are present in the world today promoting sin, heresies, and false gods. The message is basically the same, ‘our way of life, way of thinking, our way of doing things, and our way of believing is so much better than yours.’ All the while mocking Christianity.
Many of these champions can be intimidating. At a nearby college there is one of the world’s foremost Atheists who publishes books promoting the idea that there is no God as well as frequently debating the topic. There are celebrities aplenty that try and advance New Age philosophy while bashing so much of what Christian’s believe.
Should we be as Saul and the armies of Israel? In verse 11 it is recorded that they were ‘dismayed and greatly afraid.’ Certainly not! We quickly forget how quickly the giants that stood against God fell! When Pharaoh stood against God and His people God smote him with plagues and eventually decimated his army by causing the Red Sea to collapse in on them. The mightiest man in the world at that time was utterly defeated. When Nebuchadnezzar was upon his throne after sacking Jerusalem and conquering a huge portion of the world, God brought him low and made him eat grass like a cow. God again brought a giant down.
Giants come and multiply but let us not forget that God is God alone and it is He that reigns eternally. He is Majesty, Lord of all, King of kings and Lord of lords. In this life do not be afraid of giants that come paraded by the enemy to tell of the greatness of sin. Remember the One seated on the throne, hold firm to the faith you have and remember that God Himself has promised to make all His enemies into His footstool.
David, I believe, had it right in this passage in not fearing the giant. Not because of confidence in himself, but rather having confidence in God. That leads to a very simple question, how is your confidence in God? Are you focused on the giants of this life, and overcome with fear and think God is outmatched and will be overpowered? Or are you looking unto your King and Savior remembering Who He is and that at the name of Jesus every knee, giants included, will bow and confess Him as Lord to the glory of the Father.
Let us do as the author of Hebrews urge, to look to Jesus the author and perfecter of our faith, not to the giants of this life with their armor and shiny swords, but to our Savior and King.
Dear Jesus, I confess that so often I gaze upon the giants that are paraded so frequently in this world and rather than remembering your power, I forget you. Forgive me for the sin of doubt that I allow to creep in and help me to keep my eyes fixed upon You and help me to know the power You alone possess. Amen.
Doing great things for God usually comes when we are doing the mundane things of life
1 Samuel 17:12-20
(17)And Jesse said to David his son, “Take for your brothers an ephah of this parched grain, and these ten loaves, and carry them quickly to the camp to your brothers.
When you think about it David probably had some rough points in his childhood. Being the youngest of 8 boys he was stuck with some of the least desirable tasks and wasn’t that highly thought of because of his age and placement in the family.
Here he is with a very mundane task. He is a messenger and delivery boy for his dad. His brothers, older and able to fight for their country, had gone off to war and he was going to deliver them some food and bring word back about how the battle was going.
This wasn’t a difficult task, nor was it very dangerous by comparison to others things happening on the battlefield. Go there, drop off the food, see how his brothers were doing and bring back a token, probably a note or something like that that would have assured Jesse that his boys had received the food and were okay. A very simple task but what an opportunity that was presented to David in that very simple of tasks. He had a chance to be used by God to win a great victory for Israel and avoid a very bloody battle with the Philistines that would most likely have cost many Israelites their lives.
Opportunities to do great things usually present themselves in the most ordinary of situations. What made the difference was that David had a heart that wished to please God and his eyes were open to an opportunity to serve Him. While all the armies of Israel were scared of a huge giant, David saw an opportunity for God to win a great victory.
The same can be true of us. Remember that everyday is a day that God can do something great. God could place in front of you today that person who needs to hear the Gospel, or that person who needs counseling or a word of encouragement. Today could be the day you take the time to listen to someone vent about their problems and give them the opportunity to share their feelings and God uses that to help change their life. It could be today you have the opportunity to share a Bible verse that you have memorized or read and it changes the outlook of someone entirely. The fact is we don’t know what type of day it will be. However, we do what kind of day it could be because we know the God that we serve.
So are you expecting God to do something great today? Where are your eyes looking? Let me encourage you to be on the lookout for chances, people, and opportunities to bring God the glory He deserves.
Dear God open my eyes today to help me see the opportunities that you put in my path today. Please give me the wisdom that I need to act upon the chances that I might bring glory and honor to You as I minister in Your name. Amen
1 Samuel 17:21-37
Confidence in God is a Great Thing
(37)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.”
If given a choice between actually watching David and Goliath fight and being in the tent hearing David talk to King Saul about going against Goliath I must say the more I think about it the more I would choose the conversation.
Can you image what David’s face looked like telling the king of Israel that God was going to deliver him from the hand of this giant that had intimidated the army of Israel for 40 days? What amazing confidence and zeal for God David must have been displaying at that moment!
What was amazing is this. David probably could have sweet talked Saul into letting him go down just based on his skills alone. David had killed many wild beasts and was willing and brave and actually wanted to go down. This was something that not even king Saul had wished to do even though he stood head and shoulders above all the men of Israel. Though David did tell of his skills he adamantly said it was God who would give the victory in this matter.
David, though skilled, had great confidence in God to give him the victory. What a lesson for us to learn. In the midst of all the do it yourself things on the internet, all the college courses we can take, and all the self help books we can read we need to remember that it is only by God’s strength, power, and blessing that we are able to do anything in this life.
Who do you rely upon today? Are you confident in your own strength? Maybe you are confident in your intelligence or maybe it is in your wealth or property you have. Goliath had a huge shield that he trusted in that was probably the sturdiest on the battlefield. He had a coat of armor that would be able to withstand countless attacks. He had a spear and sword that had brought fear into the hearts of the armies of Israel and had most likely slain countless foes. Goliath was also a warrior from his youth so he was knowledgeable about the things of war and battle. All these things Goliath had confidence in yet at the end of the battle it was Goliath that lay dead and beheaded.
The things of this world are but passing things that can fail us, but God never will. Today are you trying to live your life on your own strength? Are you trying to face a giant in your life with no confidence in God? May I remind you that the God who gave victory to David is the same God who loves you and wishes to help you in your daily struggles.
Dear Father, I give thanks to you for blessing me with the skills and possessions that I have for I know that all blessings flow from Your hand. Help me to honor you with all I have by placing my trust in you for every victory in life and every venture that is undertaken. Let me not put confidence in my flesh or in the things of this world but let me rest solely upon You. Amen
1 Samuel 17:38-49
God Provides Victory
(46)This day the Lord will deliver you into my hand…
We know that at this time David is not that old, he was too young to go and fight in the army, but old enough to tend his father’s sheep and fight off some pretty ferocious predators. That being said we know David was not a full grown man by any stretch of the imagination.
Imagine then what a sight it must have been to see David, a still growing youth, putting on the armor of the king who stood head and shoulders above all the men of Israel. I wonder if David could actually move in that armor, let alone swing a sword.
Saul displays a typical attitude of many Christians today. That in order to gain victory over something, or in order to accomplish something great for God we need special training, materials, and supplies.
The fact of the matter is we don’t. While special seminars and materials are wonderful and helpful it is God who ultimately gives the victory in all things. David was right in casting off the armor and weapons of Saul and picking up the weapons he knew. These were the tools that he had used and he knew that God could work through them just as well as Saul’s sword and armor.
Are you guilty of saying “if only I had this or that I could really do something for God.” Did it ever occur to you that all you truly need is God and if He is with you and you are truly doing His will then there is no force in this world that can stop you. Jesus did not need a Sam’s Club and a catering truck to feed the 5,000, nor did he need a top of the line medical facility to make the blind man see, nor did he need Chemistry Lab to turn water into wine. He used very simple things to show His power. What did he use to show His power? A happy meal (5 loaves, 2 fish and prize inside), some mud made with his own spit, and a bunch of jugs filled with water.
Friends let me encourage you, don’t focus on all the things you don’t know and focus on what you do know and use that for the glory of God. Keep learning, keep growing as a Christian, and keep expanding your knowledge and wisdom in how you can be used in ministry but don’t ever think you are too under-educated, underfunded, or inadequate to do great things for God because it is God that gives the victory.
Dear Lord, I confess I look more on what I do not have than what you have blessed me with and I have believed the lie that you can’t use me because of what I lack. I confess now that You are all I need and You can use Me. I pray that You would help me in the days ahead and use me for Your honor and Glory in some way. Amen.
1 Samuel 17:50-58
Just Because a Great Victory is Won Does Not Mean the Battle is Over
(52)And the men of Israel and Judah rose with a shout and pursued the Philistines as far as Gath…
Interestingly the fight between David and Goliath was only the beginning of the battle fought that day. Let us not forget that immediately after Goliath fell and David cut off his head that all the men of Israel sprang up and pursued the Philistines back to Goliath’s home town. All along the way they wounded and killed the Philistines and when they came back they were able to plunder the enemies camp. It was a very full day.
Let us not forget that the battles of the Christian life are never over this side of heaven. We may win a great battle over temptation or some sin in our life one day but we cannot rest on our laurels and think that all battles are over.
In fact one of our most vulnerable times in life is right after we win a victory because we must decide what to do next. Rather than pursue further victories we sit back and bask in the field of victory only to be attacked again when our guard is down.
Let me illustrate this in a practical sense. If you have a goal of reading the entire Bible, when you finish don’t look at your Bible and say well I’ve read it through I don’t need to open it any more. If you have the goal of witnessing to a person every week for a month and you accomplish the goal, don’t stop witnessing!
Allow the victories that God grants you in your life, whether they be big or small, to push you forth to even greater victories for the Glory of God. David, while on the battlefield in the Valley of Elah only slew one man. However, he and the armies of Israel slew many after the battle and plundered the enemy camp. One victory led to another.
Almighty God, help me to remember that the battles in this life are many and that I am never called to let a victory that I have won take me from battle that wages on in this world. Let me rejoice in the victories given but also let me be ever diligent, looking for the challenges and opportunities that await to bring you glory and honor. Amen