It’s one of the most famous stories in the Bible, a story most of us heard as children. We could relate to those who feared a giant because everyone seemed nine-foot tall to us. Even now as adults, we might feel small in the face of our challengers. Most today use the story of David and Goliath as a proverbial lesson of the triumph of the underdog.
But the story is much more than that. Like the rest of Samuel it is a story of listening to God or rejecting him, of faith versus fear. Goliath defies the God of Israel, but the army of Israel along with King Saul are “dismayed and terrified” by his defiant words (1 Samuel 17:11). David comes on the scene, too young to join the army and unskilled in battle. All David has is faith in the God who has been his deliverer. “The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine” (1 Samuel 17:37). Saul, who does not trust God enough to fight Goliath himself is willing for David to fight, saying, “Go and the Lord be with you.”
Goliath sees David coming and despises him, thinking him an unworthy opponent—a young unproven warrior with no weapon but a sling. But David brings out the big weapon: 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. This day the Lord will hand you over to me, and I’ll strike you down and cut off your head. Today I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds of the air and the beasts of the earth, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel. 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).
And that is exactly what happens.
To whom are we listening? To the Goliaths inside and outside of us? To those loud voices of temptation, selfishness, greed, and hatred? Or, like David, are our hearts and ears tuned to the voice of the One who promises us victory in battle?
God our Warrior, may we fight evil in the power of your Holy Name.
DR. GARY HOLLOWAY
Gary Holloway is Executive Director of the World Convention. Holding degrees from Freed-Hardeman, Harding, The University of Texas, and Emory University, he has written or edited thirty books, including (with Douglas Foster) Renewing God’s World: A Concise Global History of the Stone-Campbell Movement from ACU Press. He is married to Deb Rogers Holloway.