Today we consider the well-known account of David and Goliath. This event is recorded for us in I Samuel 17. Though we will study the entire confrontation between this young man of faith and the heathen giant, we will concentrate our attention in the main on I Samuel 17:45-47. These are the words David spoke to Goliath just prior to slaying him. We read there, “Then said David to the Philistine, Thou comest to me with a sword, and with a spear, and with a shield: but I come to thee in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom thou hast defied. 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 carcasses 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. And all this assembly shall know that the Lord saveth not with sword and spear: for the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give you into our hands.”
These were bold words thrown by David into the face of his raging foe, but words that indeed came true. We consider the account before us.
The Philistine enemy was attempting to take from Israel several of the cities that lay upon its border. Their armies were now firmly planted on a mountain facing the Valley of Elah. The armies of Israel had, in turn, quickly hurried to defend their borders. Saul therefore had positioned his armies on another mountain opposite the Philistines on the other side of the Valley of Elah. One army on one mountain and the other on another mountain, with a valley in between. The Philistine army had its champion, the giant Goliath. He was a hulk of a man standing about 10 feet tall. He was frightening in his stature and in his armor. Every morning Goliath would come out of his tent and throw insults and taunts in the face of the Israelite army. He defied Israel. And, worse, he defied the God whom Israel served. It was against this Goliath that the army of Israel was called to stand. But it was before him that Saul and his army cowered in fright. They were weak in their faith. They had forgotten the God whom they served. The result was that they were afraid. They were unable to make a stand against this enemy of God and Israel, the church.
David had come to the camp of Israel in order to visit his brothers and see how they fared. While he was there, Goliath came out and challenged Israel. David heard and waited to see the response of Israel. When he saw these trained soldiers cower and flee to their tents, David was righteously appalled! David then chose to go and fight this uncircumcised Philistine. In faith David chose to make the stand that none of the others dared do. That faith of David stands out in this passage of God’s Word we consider.
I. The Stand of Faith
That David’s faith stands out in this account is obvious. To understand, however, how David’s actions were those of faith and not just the careless actions of some impetuous and foolish youth, we ought to understand what faith is. Faith, first of all, is that power of God’s grace by which he binds the child of God to Himself at the moment of regeneration. At that specific moment God sends forth His Spirit into our hearts. When that Spirit begins His work in us, immediately we who were dead are made alive. This is true because at the moment of our regeneration, God grafts a dead sinner into Jesus Christ. God binds us to Christ. In this way, the life of Christ flows forth into you and me. When this happens, we come to know God and place our confidence in Him. That knowledge and confidence, that faith, David exhibited in his life. Yet, the sticky question is: was David the only child of God in all those armies of Israel? Surely God had other of His people among those armies. Just because Saul was not one of those does not mean that there were no other believers in Israel. Why did not any of these men rise up to the challenge of Goliath, since every child of God has been given by God the gift of faith?
Because, though faith is a gift that comes with salvation, a gift of God in us, such faith also reveals itself in the life of a believer. In other words, faith is not just some stagnant power in us. It is not something that is there but never comes to manifestation in the life of a believer. Faith is not a work of God on us. Faith is a power that God works in and through a believer! Faith becomes active in the heart, thoughts, and desires of a child of God. Faith becomes active in this way: it works within us a conscious knowledge and assurance of God. At times, that knowledge and confidence of faith, however, can be weak. It does not always motivate a believer as it ought. Faith fluctuates. Though no doubt there were believing soldiers in Saul’s army, their faith was weak. Not so with David. The knowledge he had of God lived in his heart. With this knowledge of faith, David was also given by God the confidence of faith—an implicit trust in God. It was not therefore only the knowledge of faith that David exhibited but also the confidence of faith. David exuded confidence. That revealed itself in David’s actions. Saul attempted to fit David with a suit of armor. But David was clumsy in armor since he was not a seasoned warrior. Instead, he chose for his weapons his staff and his slingshot—nothing more. As David walked to meet Goliath, he stopped by a brook and chose five smooth stones to put in his shepherd’s bag. Then he walked to meet Goliath. When Goliath saw someone coming from the camp of Israel to challenge him, he went with his shield bearer to meet David.
However, when Goliath saw David, a young man in nothing more than shepherd’s clothing—a young man fair and ruddy—that is, having a young healthy looking skin—he disdained or belittled David. “Am I a dog that you come to me with staves? Come to me, and I will give your flesh to the birds and beasts!”
David’s response was not one of fear but of faith in God. “You come to me with a sword, spear, and shield. I come to you in the name of the Jehovah of hosts! This day Jehovah shall deliver you into my hand!” David knew God! He did not simply know some facts about God, but he knew God as his God and the God of Israel! Goliath had not defied Israel. Goliath had defied Jehovah whom David served. David knew that this God whom Israel served was the only God. God ruled over all. He ruled the nation of Israel, but God ruled over the Philistines too. He was the Lord of hosts, the One who controlled the outcome of every battle! David knew therefore that this battle was not up for grabs, so to speak. The battle was Jehovah’s.
And more. David knew that Jehovah was the God of Israel. God had chosen Israel for His people. God had placed His name there. This was His covenant people whom He loved. Out of all the peoples of the earth, God dwelt in Israel! David knew that, and he believed that. Moreover, David knew that God was the God of his salvation! God saves! God saves not by sword or spear. God saves His people by faith! By faith we are united to our Lord Jesus Christ. And it is Christ that saves. He is the Captain of our salvation! Oh, it is true that David was not thinking in particular of Christ here, when he spoke of the fact that God saves. But, nevertheless, that was the ultimate end of David’s faith. God was the God of Israel and saved Israel because Israel carried in her bosom the Christ, the Messiah. With that knowledge and confidence, David now walked forward to meet his foe. That took faith!
Look at the odds from a human point of view. Goliath was twice the size of David. He had weapons against which no man could stand. He had armor. Besides, Goliath was a seasoned warrior. David was a young man who had never fought against men before. David had no weapons. I mean, if David might have had a long-range rifle with a scope, then I suppose Goliath would not have been a threat. But David had to face this giant Goliath in hand to hand combat! A slingshot would do little against helmet and armor. What was a little stone, after all? But David had confidence. “I come to you today in the name of Jehovah of hosts! All you have is a sword and a spear! This day Jehovah will deliver you into my hand. You do not stand a chance, Goliath! I will take your head off your shoulders today!” I mean, that was real trust in God.
Humanly speaking, David did not know the outcome of his fight with Goliath. I mean, who would know what was going to happen? But David believed in God. Clinging to God, David was not afraid to face these insurmountable human odds. All this revealed itself in the words that David now spoke to Goliath. He did not cringe and run and hide. This young man in faith went to meet this strong foe to fight him. Now, these actions of David are exemplary for you and me of what constitutes faith. When God unites us to Christ, then the result is a knowledge and confidence in God and in His Son that can overcome insurmountable odds in our lives—the greatest of hurt and pain, the most problematic of difficulties. Faith trusts that God uses everything that may befall us in this life for our good.
The faith of the armies of Israel had waned! They were led by a king in whom there was no faith, after all. These armies saw the power and the might of the wicked world they faced, and instead of going forth in faith, they fled. They might have known God. But that knowledge of God was not enough for them to keep a single eye focused on Him. Who could possibly stand against this mountain of a man? They looked at how powerful their enemy was. They looked at that enemy through human eyes. Their trust in God wavered! David’s did not!
Ah, to have the faith of David in these days in which we live! To have the boldness to confront those who hate God and the church of Jesus Christ! You know, we live in a society that tolerates our serving God, even though many in society and in government frown on us for doing so. But the day comes when that will no longer be true. The enemies of the church in this world are becoming more and more vocal. Not only do they pass a sideways glance at the truths of Scripture that the faithful church seeks to maintain, but more and more the Christian values of those who believe are attacked. The sanctity of marriage between a man and his wife is challenged. Uncontrolled anger is expressed toward those who condemn the killing of unborn babies. Those who oppose the sexual lifestyle on the basis of Scripture are labeled. There comes a day when the spiritual enemies of the church and of God’s people—enemies who show overwhelming strength—will openly attack the church in order to destroy her. The challenge of the wicked is already being placed before believers today. We need to live in the knowledge and confidence of faith to make a bold stand against those who openly defy God and His people.
In fact, that stand is not just a future reality. We must already now make a stand! Do we have Davids among us? David is our example today—not the armies of Israel. David! We must dare to stand against the Goliaths of this world! We must go forth in faith conquering and to conquer. I know how frightening the world is, I know how powerful the temptations are that they cast at us! But we live in the faith of David, consciously standing unmoved by those who attack our faith.
But that takes knowledge, first of all. Do you know God? Do you know what God’s Word teaches us? We cannot stand if we are not equipped with the Word of God. With no knowledge of the Bible and what it teaches us, we will cower as did the armies of Israel. At the same time, this knowledge we have of God and Jesus Christ must dwell in our hearts as the motivating force of our lives. Is that knowledge yours? Is the knowledge yours that this God is our God, the God of His people who has chosen us and who dwells with us? Is it a knowledge that is drawn to the work of Christ on the cross, a knowledge by which we know Christ and the salvation that He has earned for us? Do we know that if God is for us for Christ’s sake then nothing can be against us? Do we believe that?
Then we must be confident too! Confident that the battle against sin and Satan is ours! No—it is the Lord’s! Christ has conquered sin and Satan for His people. This wicked world and its unbelief cannot prevail against us! The victory was already won for us at the cross of Christ. Though we may not see the end of the particular battle we must fight in our lives, we do know that the battle is the Lord’s! That means we can be assured of victory after victory! Now, we must yet consider the victory David received through God.
II. The Victory Through God
You know, it is amazing how God works in the life of His children. God worked faith in David’s heart. God strengthened that faith in His child. I mean, obviously, even this boldness of David’s faith was not something that he came by naturally. God had to work it in him. But when God performs such a work in us, it also bears fruit. Faith that does not result in good works is not true faith. True faith unites us to Christ so that Christ’s life becomes ours. That life of Christ in us produces fruits in us. So the child of God, through the grace of God who works in him the will to do of God’s good pleasure, brings forth good works—at times valiant works.
The same was true of David. In boldness David goes forth to battle against Goliath. This giant of a man ran toward David in all the ferociousness and wrath of a warrior. David’s challenge had angered him enough that he was out to kill. But David did not turn and run. David did not hesitate and waver. He did not remain standing until Goliath came to him. David in faith ran toward Goliath. As he ran toward this giant he reached into his script and pulled out one of the smooth stones. While looking steadfastly on his enemy without missing a step, David put the stone in his slingshot. While running David lifted the slingshot above his head and began to make it whirl.
Then David let that stone fly! No doubt David was skilled with a slingshot. But to hit the giant exactly where that stone went was next to impossible. The helmets that the Philistine used for battle had a little piece of metal that covered almost entirely one’s forehead. There had to be only the smallest of an area that was exposed—and it was to that part of Goliath’s head that God led that stone. Do not forget that. The battle was the Lord’s—not David’s! God directed that stone to hit Goliath in the forehead. The stone sunk into the brow of Goliath, no doubt hitting, perhaps even cracking, his skull. The impact was enough to knock this giant of a man to his knees and then to his face. Just what damage that stone did the Bible does not reveal, but it certainly was enough to knock the senses out of this man.
While Goliath lay upon the earth, David continued to run toward him. David then picked up Goliath’s sword and lifted it above his head and brought it down on the neck of this Philistine, severing his head from his shoulders. The giant was dead. A shepherd boy with a sling and stone had killed him. The victory of faith was his! Israel then followed this young man and won the victory over the army of the Philistines! David was given the victory through that God in whom he believed!
We must believe that to be true of God’s people today too. The victory is ours! We need not doubt or fear in our battle with this unbelieving world. We need not quail—the victory is ours in our Lord Jesus Christ. Is this not what Paul writes in I Corinthians 15:57, 58: “But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.” Notice the admonition Paul gives us there in verse 58: “be steadfast, unmoveable.” That is the Word of God to every believing Christian today. First of all, do not join the world in its unbelief. Second, do not lay down your weapons and surrender to the wicked. Third, do not cower before them when they slander and even abuse you. But fourth, make a stand! Be steadfast and unmoveable in that stand. God will give us the victory—we can be assured of that! Believe! The victory is ours!