The story of David starts in the Old Testament book of 1 Samuel, at a time when Israel is under the rule of her first king. Things don’t go so well for King Saul, and after disobeying God, the prophet Samuel is sent to the house of Jesse to anoint his youngest son David to eventually take Saul’s place as king. From the day of the anointing, the Spirit of the LORD is upon David.
This is also during a time when the Israelites are at war with their neighbors, the Philistines. Three of David’s brothers are soldiers in King Saul’s army, but David is still a young man, so he tends to the family sheep in Bethlehem. When our story opens, the two armies have situated themselves on opposite hills above the Valley of Elah, and the Philistines have started an intimidation campaign. One of their champion warriors is an ill-tempered brute named Goliath. At over nine feet tall and clad in bronze armor, he is the very picture of a barbarian.
Day after day Goliath breaks ranks, shouting at the Israelites and demanding that they send him an opponent. Needless to say, there are no volunteers. After forty days of clamoring insults, the Israelites’ nerves are frayed, both on the battle line and on the home front. Jesse is worried about his sons, so he calls David in from the fields, telling him to take food up to his brothers on the front line, and bring back word that they are okay.
Early the next morning, David packs up provisions and sets out for the camp, arriving just as the soldiers are going back out to face their opponents. David runs to the battle line to find his brothers, just in time to hear Goliath’s customary morning greeting. After watching the Israelite soldiers run from Goliath in fear, David is incredulous and makes a bold statement to King Saul.
David said to Saul, “Let no one lose heart on account of this Philistine; your servant will go and fight him.” Saul replied, “You are not able to go out against this Philistine and fight him; you are only a young man, and he has been a warrior from his youth.”
But David said to Saul, “Your servant has been keeping his father’s sheep. When a lion or a bear came and carried off a sheep from the flock, I went after it, struck it and rescued the sheep from its mouth. When it turned on me, I seized it by its hair, struck it and killed it. The Lord who rescued me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will rescue me from the hand of this Philistine.”
Saul said to David, “Go, and the Lord be with you.” 1 Samuel 17:32-35, 37, NIV
After refusing Saul’s armor and sword, David chooses his own weapons.
Then he took his staff in his hand, chose five smooth stones from the stream, put them in the pouch of his shepherd’s bag and, with his sling in his hand, approached the Philistine. 1 Samuel 17:40, NIV
David is more accustomed to the sheep pasture than to the battle field. He is not trained for war, but he is taking on a seasoned warrior. Understandably, Goliath finds the situation rather insulting.
He looked David over and saw that he was little more than a boy, glowing with health and handsome, and he despised him. He said to David, “Am I a dog, that you come at me with sticks?” And the Philistine cursed David by his gods. “Come here,” he said, “and I’ll give your flesh to the birds and the wild animals!” 1 Samuel 17:42-44, NIV
Goliath is confident that he can make a quick example of David, instilling even more fear into the watching Israelite army. But his confidence is based in his own strength, whereas David’s confidence is in the living God of Israel.
David said to the Philistine, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied.
All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves; for the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give all of you into our hands.” 1 Samuel 17:45, 47, NIV
At this declaration, David runs head-on toward the battle line to meet Goliath. Reaching into his bag, he selects one stone, puts it into the sling and hurls it forward. The stone smacks the giant in the forehead and he topples over like a cut tree. David then uses Goliath’s own sword to finish the job.
Once the Philistines witness the fall of their champion, they scatter like rabbits and the Israelites go after them. Just as David had promised, God delivered the Philistines into the hand of the Israelites that day.
In the face of impossible circumstances, God can use the smallest and the weakest to accomplish the greatest. David could have looked to his own ability and been afraid like his brothers. Instead he looked to God’s ability and found the confidence to do the impossible.
Oh, and the four remaining stones in David’s bag—it turns out that Goliath had four brothers…
David’s story was one of intimidation, but God’s provision was one of courage.
If you’ve missed any part of this series, you can find all of the posts in the side bar category 31 Days of God’s Provision.
On the journey toward Home,