The battle of David and Goliath (1 Samuel 17:1-58) is a popular Bible story. For some, it is a classic “underdog wins” scenario. On the surface, it’s a story about beating the odds, a victory for the little guy. But of course, as Christians, we know it is much more. Goliath never stood a chance.
Faith and trust in God is what brought victory to David. When Saul told him it was silly to think the small and young shepherd could fight Goliath, David explained how he fought off wild animals in the fields. “The Lord that delivered me out of the paw of the lion and out of the paw of the bear… will deliver me out of the hand of this Philistine.” (1 Samuel 17:37 KJV).
David gave God credit for his previous victories and was already giving credit to God for the victory to come against Goliath. But even David could not foresee how easily the victory would be realized. The Bible tells us he went out to face Goliath with five smooth stones. He did not know that one would be enough. The first shot knocked Goliath out, allowing David to kill him and cut his head off with Goliath’s own sword. Victory was swift and easy and the Israeli troops rallied and won a great victory against the Philistine army.
What if it wasn’t that easy? What if David fired off all five stones and Goliath was still fighting? If the battle became one of wits and endurance, would it have been as great a victory? Had David returned to the Israeli lines with Goliath’s head in one hand and a bloody stump where his other hand should have been, would the troops have rallied? What if he only wounded Goliath enough to allow the other Israelis to finish him off?
Well, we’ll never know for sure because God was in no mood to fool around with the giant that day. David didn’t know if he would need five stones, fifty stones, or a stealth bomber jet to bring down Goliath; but he did know that Goliath was going down.
It did not matter that David was among the smallest men on the battlefield because he was not providing the strength or skill or smarts needed to gain victory. This was God’s battle. David put it completely in God’s hands. He never said, “I will defeat the Philistine.” Instead he told Saul, “God will deliver me from his hand” and then declared to Goliath that “God will hand you over to me.” However it happened, it was going to be a glorious victory.
And there is the true lesson of David and Goliath. It’s not that we can do anything if we are faithful. It’s that God will do anything for us if we trust Him enough to ask Him and declare it.
When we are faced with Goliath’s of this day and age, we need to declare that God will deliver us from their grasp. We can give up trying to win by ourselves. Bring the tools God gave us and trust that God will use them through us to beat back the things that tower over our lives. God’s hand was on that smooth stone as it sank deep into Goliath’s skull. We have to believe that God’s hand will be on whatever item we need to fight our battles.
I know someone who was diagnosed with cancer a few years back. Her doctor was lining up consultants and planning more tests to determine the appropriate treatment. Meanwhile, my friend prayed with others from her church. She declared that God would help her win the upcoming battle against her illness. Long story short, the subsequent tests showed the cancer had disappeared.
For many of us, it won’t be that easy. My brother-in-law has gone through six rounds of chemotherapy and radiation and now sports a colostomy as part of his own battle against cancer. When he was diagnosed, he was told that even with aggressive treatment, he should expect to die sometime in 2011. This past year, his tumor markers have declined each month. He feels great. Is either victory any less of a miracle than the other? I don’t think so.
Sometimes our personal Goliath may seem silly or inconsequential to others. I have had a few Goliaths in my life. The weirdest one may have been my abject fear of flying. It sounds like a petty nuisance to some people. But the fact is that this problem cost me at least one promotion and several other work opportunities. When I cancelled a speaking engagement at the last minute because I couldn't get myself to board a small plane, I almost got fired.
Part of my Guatemala miracle is that I even got on the plane. When I learned we had to make a connection in Miami, I warned the group that if the first leg was turbulent, I may be bailing out and driving home from Florida. I even checked into cruise and bus options from Guatemala in case I couldn't get myself on the return flight!
But, God was with me. Both flights were the smoothest I had ever experienced. I actually watched out the window during the landing instead of going into my traditional eyes-closed-tight, white-knuckle grasp on the armrests position.
I still pray harder on an airplane than anywhere else, but I fly regularly now without fear. I trust that God is using that plane to bring me to my next engagement.
Millions of David-and-Goliath battles are playing out around us every day. From overcoming simple fears to surviving natural disasters to defending our faith in non-Christian lands, millions of us need God out front to deliver us.
Maybe our Goliath is an addiction, an oppressive government, a mental or physical handicap, or a prejudice. The questions we need to ask ourselves in these situations are the same. Are we going to mull around “dismayed and terrified” like Saul’s soldiers? Or are we going to forge ahead with the tools we have like David?
I pray that I will be like David more days than not. I pray that you and many others will also find David’s faith and trust God to slay their Goliaths. And I pray that the result on our dismayed and terrified brothers will be the same. May all of us emerge victorious with God.