In 1 Samuel 17, David was launched into a place in Israelite history when he killed the fearsome Philistine giant, Goliath, with a bit of leather and a rock – and a faith as great as his arsenal was small.
According to David’s own words, his faith developed in part while he served as a shepherd. During those solitary hours in the wilderness, he not only drew close to the Lord through his psalm-writing, but through his valiant efforts spent protecting his family’s sheep from their natural enemies.
And David said unto Saul, Thy servant kept his father’s sheep, and there came a lion, and a bear, and took a lamb out of the flock: And I went out after him, and smote him, and delivered it out of his mouth: and when he arose against me, I caught him by his beard, and smote him, and slew him. Thy servant slew both the lion and the bear: and this uncircumcised Philistine shall be as one of them, seeing he hath defied the armies of the living God. – I Samuel 17:34-36
Perhaps an armored giant seemed a rather staid opponent, after fighting a lion and a bear with his bare hands.
I wonder, too, if David was inspired by the indomitable Caleb, who, at age eighty-five, had defeated an entire group of Anakims, the tall and mighty ancestors of Goliath and his ilk (Joshua 11 and 14). Said Caleb,
If so be the Lord will be with me, then I shall be able to drive them out, as the Lord said. – Joshua 14:12b
Generations later, David’s words had a familiar ring:
The Lord that delivered me out of the paw of the lion, and out of the paw of the bear, he will deliver me out of the hand of this Philistine. – I Samuel 17:37b
Throughout the years of David’s reign, Goliath’s family’s desire for vengeance simmered. How must they have felt when Achish, king of Gath (Goliath’s hometown), harbored David for a time?
Ishbibenob, Goliath’s son, “being girded with a new sword, thought to have slain David” (2 Samuel 21:16). But Abishai, one of David’s mighty men, dispatched him.
And on it went.
Several other men, all of whom seemed to be David’s friends or family members, cut down Goliath’s male relatives one by one. The last to be mentioned was a twelve-fingered and twelve-toed son of Goliath, who was slain by David’s nephew – a young man who happened to be named Jonathan, perhaps in honor of the slain prince who had been David’s dearest friend.
Though valiant in their own right, these warriors must have been greatly inspired and encouraged by David’s successes, both on the battlefield and in his relationship with God. David’s unwavering faith allowed him to take on challenges that seemed unattainable to others.
He had the ability to let go of any concerns he might have had about the end results, instead trusting God to take care of all that.
What an encouragement to let go of whatever holds us back in our Christian lives, and trust God for the results!
What holds you back? Are you overly concerned about others’ opinions? Are you afraid to fail? Does this story encourage you to slay your giants? Feel free to share your thoughts and feelings in the comments.