David and our future King won the battles against the enemies, enabling us to continue to wage war against our foes.
It is probably the best known story from the life of David. A young, ill-armed, over-matched shepherd boy faces a grizzled, well-armed, braggadocious warrior giant. David vs Goliath. Say that and much of the world knows what you’re talking about. And yet, I wonder if most of us miss the main point of the story.
Looking for a Savior
Read 1 Samuel 17. It is a striking story in so many ways. But what’s the main point? Most answer something like this: “David overcame the giant, and our future King will help us overcome our giants too!” Hey, cool. Let’s go!
While there is room for an application like this in the life of Christians, it doesn’t seem to be the best or most comforting one. Let’s look again.
Rather than putting ourselves in the shoes of David, let’s compare ourselves with the Israelite army. When Goliath appeared each morning, their reaction was fear: “All the Israelites were dismayed and terrified. . . . They all fled from him in great fear” (vv 11,24). We don’t love to admit it, but when it comes to facing a real and deadly foe, this is also our reaction. When Satan comes with his raging and tempting and accusing, we shrink back in fear. We truly need somebody to fight him in our place.
Emboldened to wage war
That was actually the offer that Goliath put on the table (vv. 8-10).
Enter David, from Bethlehem Ephrathah. He didn’t look like much. He was really just a boy—a shepherd. He was mocked by his brothers and wouldn’t wear the armor Saul offered. But he loved the Lord and he loved the Lord’s honor and he loved the Lord’s people, so he went to war in the name of the Lord.
We have such a David too! Enter Jesus, born in Bethlehem Ephrathah. He didn’t look like much. He was mocked by his countrymen for his claims about himself. He set aside the full use of his divine power and glory. He loved the Lord and he loved the Lord’s honor and he loved the Lord’s people, so he went to war in the name of the Lord.
David won the battle with a stone from his sling that struck the giant where it counted. Complete and utter victory. Jesus, our David, has done the same. He waged war in a most unimagined manner. He skillfully kept every law of his Father and laid down his life loaded with our sin. By his sacrificial obedience, death, and triumphant resurrection, he freed us from the power of Satan and the curse and condemnation of sin. Complete and utter victory.
Now back to the rest of Israel’s army. Their reaction? They surged forward with a shout and pursued the frightened Philistine army. Joy, elation, courage, and purpose moved their hearts and hands to join in the battle that had been everything but won for them.
We still do face real enemies in our Christian lives. But we follow Jesus into his victory with joy, courage, and purpose, waging war against our adversaries in his name and strength.
For further thought
- Read 1 John 3:8 and Revelation 12:10-12. Compare these passages to the story of David vs Goliath.
- Luke 4:1-13 will be read soon in many churches. What similarities do you see with the story of David and Goliath?
- Sing the words of “A Mighty Fortress is Our God” (Christian Worship 863) with these accounts in mind. How does this help you in your daily spiritual struggles?
This is the second article in a six-part series on King David and our future King.
Author: Timothy Westendorf
Volume 109, Number 01
Issue: January 2022