The young shepherd David had three battles to face when he set out to bring some provisions to his brothers who were part of Saul’s army encamped at Socoh (1 Samuel 17). Only one of those battles involved a Giant; at least, only one of those he fought that day looked like a Giant.
When David set out that day, we can only imagine what was going through his mind. 1 Samuel 16:11 in the Message says that even David’s father Jesse considered him to be “the runt” of the family.
Of no consequence.
Certainly not worth bothering about.
Was there no-one else to bring grain, bread and cheese to the army unit his brothers was with? Clearly not. Little could he have known that this day was to become quite extraordinary.
David might not have been considered special in his own family, but he took the responsibility he had very seriously. He was diligent in his primary calling; looking after the family’s sheep. He also spent lonely days, and possibly lonely nights, practising his song-craft. Writing songs to sing to the sheep. He also repeatedly practised his hand-eye co-ordination with the crudest of weapons allowed him – a slingshot.
Not much of a CV.
Yet his diligence in these three areas were to prove pivotal in his own life, and in the life of his nation.
On this special day, he faced three key obstacles;
One brother, One King, and One Giant.
When David turned up at the camp, bewildered by the taunting of the Giant across the valley, his elder brother Eliab showed his true feelings for David;
“(Eliab)…burned with anger at him and asked, “Why have you come down here? And with whom did you leave those few sheep in the desert? I know how conceited you are and how wicked your heart is; you came down only to watch the battle.”(1 Sam 17:28)
You can hear the drip of utter contempt coming from the lips of Jesse’s firstborn, who had clearly not risen to the challenge of Goliath – “Those few sheep”- mocking David’s only responsibility. It is worth noting that;
“David was up at the crack of dawn and, having arranged for someone to tend his flock, took the food and was on his way just as Jesse had directed him. (1 Sam 17:20 ,The Message)
But we also know that David’s song-crafting had become known to King Saul, who had occasionally sent for the young man when he suffered bouts of depression.
“After that, whenever the bad depression from God tormented Saul, David got out his harp and played. That would calm Saul down, and he would feel better as the moodiness lifted”. (1 Sam 16:23 The Message)
When David understood the challenge of Goliath, he spoke firstly to Saul:
“David said to Saul, “Let no one lose heart on account of this Philistine; your servant will go and fight him.” (1 Sam 17:32)
It was an audacious statement, full of youthful confidence, spoken to the one man who should have been willing to go and fight the Giant
Saul’s response was to trust in what had served him before – his own armour. He was looking for an earthly solution to a spiritual problem. How often are we guilty of the same? To give credit to David, who was well-acquainted with the possibility of Saul’s instantaneous mood swings, he at least tried Saul’s armour on. It was far too big for him, fashioned for the King alone. No wonder his response to Saul was;
“I can’t even move with all this stuff on me. I’m not used to this.” 1 Sam 17:39, The Message)
I wonder how often we try to do God’s work with someone else’s armour? Using apparent “tricks” used effectively by someone else? The Sons of Sceva tried to do this in the New Testament, daring to try to copy the Apostle Paul’s ministry;
“Some itinerant Jewish exorcists who happened to be in town at the time tried their hand at what they assumed to be Paul’s “game.” They pronounced the name of the Master Jesus over victims of evil spirits, saying, “I command you by the Jesus preached by Paul!” 14 The seven sons of a certain Sceva, a Jewish high priest, were trying to do this on a man 15 when the evil spirit talked back: “I know Jesus and I’ve heard of Paul, but who are you?” 16 Then the possessed man went berserk — jumped the exorcists, beat them up, and tore off their clothes. Naked and bloody, they got away as best they could. (Acts 19:13-16, The Message)
You can only do the work God calls you to do with the armour and weapons He has prepared specifically for you.
And so we come to the final battle of that extraordinary day. His family ridiculed him; his King mis-judged him, but this Giant he now faced was big – REALLY big. Did David use the weapons of others? No. He used the only one he had, but was intimately familiar with. The one he had practised with daily, working his way up from target practise to live predators. The one he trusted, because he had spent time with it, crafting the skill which was the only one he needed.
Note well his comments to Goliath:
“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. (1 Sam 17:45)
The name of the Lord Almighty was the only armour David needed. It was powerful, effective, and a complete protection for the so-called “runt”. And the Giant came tumbling down …
- What do you have in your hand?
- What skills do you posses that have been demeaned by others?
- Persevere, for a day might be coming when you will be called on to face battles, maybe with your own family, maybe with kings, or maybe with really big Giants.
- Use this time to prepare, because for every Goliath. God has prepared a stone….