This is to be the first in a series of several lessons detailing the Biblical story of David and Goliath. The story itself contains one of history’s most commonly retold narratives. It is the embodiment of good versus evil; big versus small; and head versus rock wall. We’ve all seen a game on a field somewhere that contained elements of this story; we’ve all witnessed elections or fights or competitions off the court that easily pitted the right versus the wrong side of an idea; and we’ve all heard someone talk about conquering their Goliath whether they used his name or not.
It seems clear to me that a simple, often overused word does this story justice. It is legendary. While that word gets thrown around often in undeserving fashion, this time you can rest assured, it’s appropriate and anything but an embellishment.
Our study of this story must begin with the particulars, the characters, and the setting before we even consider it’s lasting implications. I truly believe the characters of this story line up nicely with our modern society. The story has a cowardly leader (King Saul) unwilling to fight or trust in a higher power when confronted with an impossible task. It has a storybook villain (Goliath), a brute who’s read the newspaper clippings about his achievements and grown cocky, lazy, and indifferent to the suffering he causes. It has soldiers on both sides blindly following misguided personalities down a rabbit hole of arrogance, fear, and death. And then, when it seems there are no redeeming people to praise, we find our hero, literally plucked off the family farm. In the teenage David of this story, we find someone who is innocent, inspired, ready to die for what’s right, and eager to please the one in whom he trusts.
Those characters leap off the pages of Scripture because we’ve seen them so often in other aspects of our life. Whether it’s sports, movies, or even literature, we’ve all seen a David and Goliath square off against one another. The imagery of this tale is almost poetic. We see the hero, pure and able running head-first into battle seemingly naive to the costs associated with his actions. We see the villain charging in return, easily insulted by the presence of someone he deems unworthy. And we see the crowd watching with bated breath for the outcome they all assume will fall upon the overmatched boy.
If we look closely, we will then see God, sitting on His throne, playing the game of life with an unfair advantage. He knew better than anyone what was about to unfold. He knew the hearts of David, Goliath, and even the soldiers observing from a distance. He knew the boy running bravely into battle and he knew the arrogant soldier running to his death. He knew the outcome, the upset, and the lasting impact before the stone landed squarely into the forehead of the cocky villain. He knew because He is God.
While it might seem hyperbolic to say God had the victory in hand before they stepped on the field of battle, it’s true. He had David’s back when no one else would stand with the young boy and David had God’s back when no one else was willing to defend His good name. God set the stage and moved the pieces into place. His Will was the force driving these events.
He gave King Saul and his merry band of cowards opportunity after opportunity to face the Philistine in battle but all of them turned yellow with frightening consistency. He gave Goliath countless opportunities to repent. Each and every passing day represented an opportunity for Goliath to admit his arrogance and blasphemy was wrong but fools rarely listen to God when they have a microphone and an audience. He gave the world an opportunity to see the visual representation of a truth we far too often overthink:
If God is for us, who can be against us?
Romans 8:31 | NKJV
This story is more than the anointing of a new hero. This story is the embodiment of God’s wisdom and works in our world. God knew we needed a hero like David so He sought him out. God knew on that day, that generation after generation of His children would turn to this story as they faced obstacles in their lives. God knew more Goliaths would rise, more Davids would fight, and more victories could and would be won. God knew. He is the character in this story we overlook to our own detriment. He won that day. Sure, David threw the stone, killed the giant, and inspired a nation, but God shaped David into a “man after His heart.” That man grew and eventually killed a giant and by doing so, set the stage for humanity’s fight against the Devil, sin, and temptation.
God beat Goliath because Goliath stood in His way. While we rightfully celebrate David, in the end, we must never forget that God was the one who deserved the glory on that day and God is the one who still deserves our utmost praise today.
David was an underdog in the eyes of everyone but the ones that mattered – on that day, God saw him as a warrior, both victorious and inspiring before mankind did because “the Lord does not see as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (i.e. 1 Samuel 16:7).
The heart of an underdog is the stuff God used that day to defeat a giant and it’s still the stuff He uses today!
Scripture taken from New King James Version. Copyright (c) 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Originally published on December 30, 2016. Written by Neal Mathis.