1Sam 17. What can I say? David and Goliath. Is there a more famous story than this one? Never a truer word of prophecy was spoken when he told the giant Goliath, “This day will the LORD deliver thee into mine hand; and I will smite thee, and take thine head from thee; and I will give the carcases of the host of the Philistines this day unto the fowls of the air, and to the wild beasts of the earth; that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel.” (v. 46)
Asisa, Europe, Africa, the Americas, even many of those from the Middle East have heard the tale. I’ve also heard many a sermon about this chapter as I’m sure you have. It’s a great picture of our Lord Jesus Christ’s coming fulfillment of Gen 3:15 “And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.”
I recall a poem about Christ’s resurrection from the tomb:
And the rolling of the stone,
Was if as cast by David’s sling
To strike the prince of darkness down
That earth might know its king.
Praise the Lord. So I’ll not reiterate the good lessons you’ve already heard. Rather, I would ask you to consider the wisdom of King Saul manifested in this chapter. Consider for a moment the responsibility laid upon King Saul’s shoulders. The giant Goliath issued this challenge: “If [Israel’s champion] be able to fight with me, and to kill me, then will we be your servants: but if I prevail against him, and kill him, then shall ye be our servants, and serve us.” (v. 9) Thus the stakes were high stakes if Israel’s champion lost. Even if these words were just brado, the demoralizing effect on the losing side would be considerable. (This proved to be true. Observe the Philistines’ reaction to Goliath’s defeat in v. 51) So for forty days King Saul and the armies of Israel listened and endured the shame of Goliath’s blaspheme of the Lord God. Defeat was not just a personal loss; it was the loss for the army and the nation. Now, consider David, a shepherd boy who only happened to be there to deliver victuals and see how his warrior brethren were doing. (v. 17-18) Was he excited about the battle? Sure he was. He was shouting encouragement for Israel on the sidelines. (v. 17) It’s the way of young men. But he didn’t have a horse in this race, did he? He wasn’t risking his life, was he? Spurred on by the idealism of a young man, upon learning of Goliath he was incredulous that no one had risen to the challenge of taking on the giant. (v. 26) Eliab, his older brother and a warrior, as well as other soldiers, were understandably embarrassed and offended by such an apparently immature and open display of disrespect. (27-28) So harsh words were spoken (v. 28, 30) by good men, valiant men, men in a righteous cause, yet humiliated men who had faced an invincible enemy day after day…after day…after day…”morning and evening…[for] forty days.” (v. 16)
Now consider David as he stands before King Saul. King Saul had heard rumor of the words of a champion, David’s words, (v. 31) “…for who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?” (v. 26) and “Let no man’s heart fail because of him; thy servant will go and fight with this Philistine.” (v. 32) But when King Saul sent for the champion and saw who had spoken these words, he made the same judgement you and I would have made. “And Saul said to David, Thou art not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him: for thou art but a youth, and he a man of war from his youth.” (. 33) With all that was at stake would you “send a boy to do a man”s job”? David’s failure would not only be his own, but the host of Israel, and of the entire nation. It’s easy to armchair quarterback this decision, but come on now.
If you didn’t know the end of the story, and the same responsibility was yours, wouldn’t you make the same decision? Lastly, consider yourselves. As you think back over the life of Saul and David so far, as you consider the events of history as they unfolded up to this moment in time, what errors in judgement have been made here in this chapter? Do you think anyone could have taken on Goliath? Could Saul? Eliab? By the way, where’s Jonathan and his armour bearer? Didn’t he say, “there is no restraint to the LORD to save by many or by few.” (1Sam 14:6) Why didn’t he fight Goliath?
Could you fight him? Were the players prepared by God for this moment in time? Does God prepare believers for specific challenges, or does one size fit all? We throw out Phil 4:13 so casually that I think we’ve lost part of the meaning. If this is so, that God prepares His servants for the job, then how does this apply to you? For what moment are you being prepared. Or what moment have you been prepared to encounter for God? Can you know it beforehand? Is there an end to this preparation? What does this chapter teach about the nature of such challenges? Suddenly I am filled with questions ad infinitum…praise the Lord, there is an answer for each one.