1 Samuel 17

David was a busy young man. He was working two jobs, splitting time between his duties at home as a shepherd and his service as King Saul’s court musician and armor bearer (v.15). David had apparently been home for more than a month with the sheep (perhaps it was the time of shearing the sheep or the season of birthing) while the Israelite army had been called to battle against the Philistines. When his father sent him to the battle front to take supplies to his brothers, David learned that the battle was at a standstill. He found his brothers, King Saul, and indeed the whole army “dismayed and terrified” (v.11). Why?

The Israelites were accustomed to doing battle as a unit, but the Philistines had proposed another method: each side would choose a “champion” (a word meaning “a man between the two”), and the two warriors would fight in a high-stakes, winner-take-all, one-on-one death match. This kind of representative combat was risky, as it placed the fate of the nation on the hopes of a single man. For forty days the Philistines had presented a champion but Israel had not responded, and for good reason — the champion of the Philistines seemed unbeatable.

Goliath of Gath was a physically and psychologically intimidating warrior. Standing 9′ 9″, he towered over the tallest Israelites. His armor and weaponry were overwhelming in appearance. He was sheathed in metal, a human tank that could smash any opponent. He held a spear with an enormous shaft and a 15-pound iron point, and his bronze javelin (a curved sword, like a scimitar) was slung between his shoulders. Apparently the rules of representative combat allowed for a shield bearer, and Goliath’s protected him with a full-length shield. He must have seemed invincible. This combined with the threats he shouted at the Israelites left them paralyzed.

When David arrived and heard the Philistine mocking the Lord’s army, he was incensed: “Who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?” (v.26). Seeing that none of the soldiers would respond and fight, he immediately volunteered himself to be the “champion”. Saul rejected the offer, saying, “You are not able to fight with him” (v.33). But David would not be put off so easily, arguing that if the Lord had empowered him to defeat wild beasts in defense of his sheep, surely He would enable him to defeat a Philistine in defense of His people (v.34-37). The young man’s logic was simple and his faith and courage were extraordinary. It disarmed the king, who decided to take the greatest gamble of his military career and present David as Israel’s champion.

Refusing the armor of a soldier, David instead chose to fight as a shepherd. Armed only with his shepherd’s staff and a sling, he faced the loud-mouthed giant and declared his intentions: “I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts…the Lord will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you down and cut off your head…that all the earth will know that there is a God in Israel.” With that, he charged Goliath as he loaded his sling. Aiming the stone projectile at his head, David let it fly, trusting God to make it count. The shot was lethal, the giant fell, and true to his word, David removed Goliath’s massive head with his own bronze sword. With their champion dead the Philistines ran for their lives and Israel was victorious.

Whatever you are facing today, remember David’s words in verse 47: “The Lord does not save with sword or spear. The battle is the Lord’s.” Your battles are the Lord’s battles. Like David, you can trust Him and be bold. There is no problem so big, no threat so great, and no enemy so strong that God cannot overcome it. Take courage and run to the battle!

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