Peter Misselbrook's Blog
Apr 29 2019 - 1 Samuel 17:1-37 – David prepares to face Goliath

The Israelites were at war with the Philistines and their battle lines were assembled facing each other across a valley. The Philistines had a giant of a man who continually challenged the Israelite army. Goliath was 9 feet 9 inches tall (3 metres) and carried 125 pounds of bronze armour and a spear with a 15 pound iron point on it; he must have made a fearsome sight. Daily he confronted the Israelite army and challenged a single Israelite to step forward and fight him. Such a contest would determine the outcome of the war.

Not surprisingly, no Israelite came forward to fight him, even though King Saul had promised riches and his daughter as a bride to anyone who could defeat Goliath. Most notably, Saul himself seemed far from keen to lead his people in battle. Like the kings of the nations around him, he raised taxes from his people so that he could pay others to fight his battles for him.

David had been sent to take food to his brothers who formed part of Saul's army. When he saw Goliath come forward with his daily challenge he volunteered to go out against him. Looking at David, Saul was initially dismissive; how could a young lad like him take on this giant of a man? But David replied, "Your servant has been keeping his father’s sheep. When a lion or a bear came and carried off a sheep from the flock, I went after it, struck it and rescued the sheep from its mouth. When it turned on me, I seized it by its hair, struck it and killed it. Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, because he has defied the armies of the living God. The LORD who rescued me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will rescue me from the hand of this Philistine" (1 Samuel 17:34-37).

David viewed the situation from a very different perspective from the rest of Israel – it's a replay of the story of the spies who were sent to look at the land of Canaan which God had promised to give to his people. The vast number of the Israelites saw only a giant of a man with a reputation for crushing all who opposed him. David saw an "uncircumcised Philistine", one who did not bear the mark of God's covenant promise. In David's eyes he is a man who has defied God and therefore one whom the Lord will defeat at David's hand. With the Lord's help David had delivered sheep from the jaw of a lion and the paw of a bear; now the Lord will use him to deliver the flock of God's people from this giant. David will be a shepherd to God's people, Israel.

The threats against God's people and the obstacles that seem to be placed against the work of the kingdom may appear to be of huge proportions but none can withstand the power of God. Through his death and resurrection, Jesus has defeated all the powers that stand opposed to God and has made us more than conquerors. That should not lead to triumphalism, for Christ has conquered not through a dazzling display of power but by means of the cross; so it is through sacrifice and suffering that the kingdom is extended.

There are many 'giants' in our day who defy the living God and mock his people. Many mock the Scriptures, deny the person and work of Christ and pour pitying scorn on followers of the crucified Galilean. But we need not fear these giants, for Christ our champion has done battle on our behalf against our most fearsome foe. He has crushed Satan's head and is now at work by his Spirit plundering Satan's kingdom. We need the help of God's Spirit to see things as they truly are and to be bold but gracious in our opposition to those who defy the living God.

Mighty God, thank you that the Lord Jesus, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Lamb who was slain, has conquered all the powers of darkness. Thank you that we share in his victory. Help us by your Spirit to be bold in the battle you call us to fight against all that opposes you and your saving purposes. Help us first to bring every thought of our own hearts into subjection to the Lord Jesus Christ.

Peter Misselbrook