And he took his stick in his hand and chose for himself five smooth stones from the brook, and put them in the shepherd’s bag...
But when David heard these boasts and noticed how afraid the soldiers around him were of this loud-mouthed Philistine, he turned to the soldiers next to him and asked: “What will be done for the man who kills this Philistine, and takes away the reproach from Israel? For who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should taunt the armies of the living God?” [1 Samuel 17:26]
Two simple questions that reveal a great deal about young David’s character. One reveals a characteristic most of us can relate to; the other, one we all hope to aspire to. The first question shows us that David was a mere man before he became a super-hero and giant-slayer. His first inquiry was all about “me.” “What will be done for the man who kills this Philistine?” he asked. Like most of us, he thought first about his own status and personal gain.
The soldiers told him the king had promised to make the one who killed Goliath very rich, and to give him his daughter, and make his father’s house free in Israel (1 Samuel 17:25). Now back in those days, that would have been a pretty compelling incentive package. It was an offer that should have been compelling and achievable to many of the seasoned warriors who not only had battle experience to draw from, but also confidence in their skillful use of weaponry. What these soldiers lacked was the heart of God and a deep knowledge of who the God of Israel was in their personal lives.
But what the other soldiers lacked, David had, and that was all that was needed for him to stand apart.
David’s second question struck a chord with the soldiers and eventually reached the tent of King Saul. “For WHO IS THIS UNCIRCUMCISED PHILISTINE, THAT HE SHOULD TAUNT THE ARMIES OF THE LIVING GOD?” I can imagine that, just from the way he said this, the tone in his voice and the fire in his eyes, that those who heard the question recognized a HOLY BOLDNESS of CONFIDENCE that only comes from spending time with God.
This kid had ATTITUDE with ALTITUDE.
This question spread across the ranks until it reached Saul’s tent. Upon hearing about it, Saul called for this man to come forward. When David arrived, he said to Saul (translated to today’s slang), “Chill out dude, I got this.” “Let no man’s heart fail on account of him; your servant will go and fight with this Philistine.” Then Saul said to David, “You are not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him; for you are but a youth while he has been a warrior from his youth.” [1Samuel 17:32-33]
Proof that Saul had long forgotten how to walk by faith and not by sight. He quickly judged that David was too small, unworthy, and unable. He judged David by his outward appearances and not by the size of his heart.
So David started to sell Saul on his abilities. By some standards, these accomplishments might have seemed trite or at least incomparable to such a task as taking on Goliath. Nonetheless, David had previous accounts to reference. In short, he recited his resume of qualifications.
“The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, He will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.” [1 Samuel 17:37] Importantly, David didn’t boast or take credit for killing either the lion or the bear. Nor did he presume to take credit for being able to kill the mighty Philistine. David attributed all the glory and credit to the Lord, who delivered and would deliver him from the hands of Goliath. David understood that the battles were the Lord’s and that his role in the conflict was to simply be willing to trust God with the outcome.
So Saul finally gave in to David’s argument, which must have lasted more than a question or two. After all, if David failed this assignment, Saul and his entire army would become the servants of the Philistines. I’ve heard some argue that Saul just got tired of listening to David, that he just decided to let him go and give it his best shot, and that Saul had no intention of surrendering to Philistines if David had failed. Regardless of his intentions, Saul decided to let David go forth.
I happen to believe that Saul conceded in his own mind that if David failed, he and his armies would surrender to the Philistines. Why else would Saul offer up his own armor and sword to David? If he intended to fight the Philistines after David failed, wouldn’t he need his armor to lead his soldiers into battle? Either way, Saul offered David his armor, his helmet, and his sword. But David realized he wouldn’t even be able to walk in this garb. He removed Saul’s armor, took up his slingshot, and gathered five smooth stones and placed them in his pouch.
“And he took his stick in his hand and chose for himself five smooth stones from the brook, and put them in the shepherd’s bag, which he had, even in his pouch, and his sling was in his hand; and he approached the Philistine.” [1 Samuel 17:40] David opted not to wear Saul’s armor, but instead relied on God’s favor and protection. He was so confident in who God was and confident in his relationship with God that he didn’t even feel the need to pray up or seek God’s will in advance of making his vow, nor did he pause at the brook to pray over the stones he had chosen, or second-guess himself as he approached the mighty warrior of Gath.
On this day, the Philistines had gathered against Israel for battle. On one side of the valley stood the Philistines; on the other, camped in the valley of Elah, was the army of Israel, Saul, and a ruddy looking kid with a slingshot in his hand.
The mighty Philistine warrior, Goliath of Gath, had been taunting the armies of Israel day and night for forty days. He stood six cubits and a span high; that’s nearly nine feet tall! Now that’s tall even by NBA standards. His helmet was made of bronze with scale-armor weighting 5,000 shekels, or 125 pounds. His neck must have been enormous to hold that much weight on his head. He had bronze leg armor and a bronze javelin slung between his shoulders.
“And the Philistine came forward morning and evening for forty days, and took his stand.” [1 Samuel 17:16]
Like Goliath of Gath, our adversary, Satan, taunts us day and night if we listen to him. Like Goliath, he appears to be bigger than life, indestructible, and heavily reliant on fear tactics; always quick to point out how insurmountable today’s challenges may appear.
Some mornings, as soon as we wake up, fear and doubt find their way into our frontal lobe and start barking disbelief to our still sleepy heads. These thoughts of disbelief are the very speculations and thoughts that we must bring down (daily and sometimes hourly) and gain control over. Like David, we need to speak to our own Goliaths and remind them that we are children of the Most-High God, and that we stand in and upon His name.
“You come to me with a sword, a spear, and a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have taunted.” [1 Samuel 17:45] BY FAITH, David proclaimed just how this day would proceed and how this day would end. He spoke with confidence and boldness before all the armies present that day, regardless of which side of the valley they stood on. He knew not only that the Lord would deliver him, but that he would remove Goliath’s head, even though all he had was a bag full of stones and a slingshot in his hand.
“This day the Lord will deliver you up into my hands, and I will strike you down and remove your head from you. And I will give the dead bodies of the army of the Philistines this day to the birds of the sky and the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel.” [1 Samuel 17:46]
Militarily speaking, there is a good reason why no one wanted to initiate the attack on the other army. Whoever attacked first would lose the advantage of being above the enemy on top of the fortified hill. The attacker would have to charge up the opponent’s hill, and thus be at a significant disadvantage.
But David, not a trained soldier or even schooled in the tactics of warfare, stepped out in Faith and charges the hill. He ran towards his oppressor, demonstrating how he operated in the supernatural realm.
“Then it happened when the Philistine rose and came and drew near to meet David, that David RAN QUICKLY toward the battle line to meet the Philistine.” [1 Samuel 17:48]
David didn’t try to sneak up on his enemy under the cover of darkness, but ran towards his challenger, demonstrating that one should trust God explicitly, that we should attack our challenges head on, confident that God will make a way. As one Bible teacher put it, “We should attack our lack” and trust that God will reward our faithful efforts to press on in spite of the circumstances in our lives that taunt us and try to hold us back.
What I find most interesting about this part of the story is that when David took off running towards Goliath, his SLINGSHOT WASN’T EVEN LOADED! His bullets (the five smooth stones) were still in his pouch when he started his approach. I don’t know about you, but if it were me, I would have had one in the sling already, spinning around my head as fast as possible, and I would have had two more in hand at the ready should the first one miss its mark.
Not David. Prior to this noble day, David was nothing more than a shepherd boy on an errand, who had obviously spent much time conversing with and listening to God.
But on THIS DAY, everything he had learned and experienced, everything that defined what he believed in and was passionate about – was stirred into a Holy Boldness that when acted upon – PRODUCED GIANT-SLAYING RESULTS!
“And David put his hand into his bag and took from it a stone and slung it, and struck the Philistine on his forehead. And the stone sank into his forehead, so that he fell on his face to the ground.” [1 Samuel 17:49]
But this story is far from over. With Goliath down but not dead, David fulfilled his promise and declaration to both armies and proceeded to remove Goliath’s head with his own sword. “Then David ran and stood over the Philistine and took his sword and drew it out of its sheath and killed him, and cut off his head with it. When the Philistines saw that their champion was dead, they fled.” [1 Samuel 17:51]
So I ask you, what’s in your bag? When you reach down deep into your pouch of resources do you find Faith, Trust, Courage, Boldness and God’s Favor within?
[Like what your reading? There’s more where this came from – deeper studies of scriptural stories in my book, Legacies of Valor – Traits of Character: The Noble & The Notable. Support this blog ministry by ordering a copy of Legacies of Valor today]
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