1 Samuel 17:17-37 Less could be More
1 Samuel 17:17-37
One day Jesse said to David, “Take this basket of roasted grain and these ten loaves of bread, and carry them quickly to your brothers. And give these ten cuts of cheese to their captain. See how your brothers are getting along, and bring back a report on how they are doing.” David’s brothers were with Saul and the Israelite army at the valley of Elah, fighting against the Philistines. So David left the sheep with another shepherd and set out early the next morning with the gifts, as Jesse had directed him. He arrived at the camp just as the Israelite army was leaving for the battlefield with shouts and battle cries. Soon the Israelite and Philistine forces stood facing each other, army against army. David left his things with the keeper of supplies and hurried out to the ranks to greet his brothers. As he was talking with them, Goliath, the Philistine champion from Gath, came out from the Philistine ranks. Then David heard him shout his usual taunt to the army of Israel. As soon as the Israelite army saw him, they began to run away in fright. “Have you seen the giant?” the men asked. “He comes out each day to defy Israel. The king has offered a huge reward to anyone who kills him. He will give that man one of his daughters for a wife, and the man’s entire family will be exempted from paying taxes!” David asked the soldiers standing nearby, “What will a man get for killing this Philistine and ending his defiance of Israel? Who is this pagan Philistine anyway, that he is allowed to defy the armies of the living God?” And these men gave David the same reply. They said, “Yes, that is the reward for killing him.”
But when David’s oldest brother, Eliab, heard David talking to the men, he was angry. “What are you doing around here anyway?” he demanded. “What about those few sheep you’re supposed to be taking care of? I know about your pride and deceit. You just want to see the battle!” “What have I done now?” David replied. “I was only asking a question!” He walked over to some others and asked them the same thing and received the same answer. Then David’s question was reported to King Saul, and the king sent for him. “Don’t worry about this Philistine,” David told Saul. “I’ll go fight him!” “Don’t be ridiculous!” Saul replied. “There’s no way you can fight this Philistine and possibly win! You’re only a boy, and he’s been a man of war since his youth.” But David persisted. “I have been taking care of my father’s sheep and goats,” he said. “When a lion or a bear comes to steal a lamb from the flock, I go after it with a club and rescue the lamb from its mouth. If the animal turns on me, I catch it by the jaw and club it to death. I have done this to both lions and bears, and I’ll do it to this pagan Philistine, too, for he has defied the armies of the living God! The Lord who rescued me from the claws of the lion and the bear will rescue me from this Philistine. And Saul said to David, “Go, and may the Lord be with you.”
David seems to have been permanently entrusted with the mundane things of the household. Samuel’s act of anointing David did not alter his role as the servant-son in Jesse’s household. This time, what began as a mundane fact-finding mission to the battlefield ended with the slaughter of the Philistine champion. David’s reaction towards the Philistine’s taunting and demeanor stood in stark contrast with the rest of Israel. Given his “lesser” physique and battle experiences, he convinced Saul to let him represent Israel to faceoff the giant. David opted to be lesser equipped, and yet he turned out to be more than any warrior in Israel. This passage teaches us that divine confidence belongs to a man who is faithful to God’s commands even in the mundane things of life.
Then David heard him shout his usual taunt to the army of Israel – David arrives in time to hear Goliath rehearsing his daily challenge and taunts of intimidation. David’s reaction to the Philistine champion stood in stark contrast with the army of Israel who quaked in their boots. All saw the same thing and heard the same words, but yet with very different responses. David seemed unperturbed by Goliath’s fanfare and proceeded to inquire of the offer that Saul extended to anyone who could kill Goliath.
Who is this pagan Philistine anyway, that he is allowed to defy the armies of the living God? – Besides inquiring about the reward for killing Goliath, David seemed to be trying to sow courage and to lift up the morale of the Israelites that were already in tatters. David sowed doubts concerning the true prowess of the Philistine champion: Who is this pagan Philistine anyway? And that the Philistines are in no position to challenge the armies of God: … that he is allowed to defy the armies of the living God? By repeatedly asking the same questions, and sowing doubts concerning the Philistine, David is trying to raise up morale of the people and cause them to focus on the power of God. Eliab’s attitude toward his little brother showed how little he knew about the implications of David’s earlier anointing.
I’ll go fight him! – David’s behavior caused quite a stir in the Israelite camp and Saul having heard of a possible contender from the people summoned David. David’s words to Saul were reassuring: Don’t worry … I’ll go fight him! Saul’s reply summed up his total lack of faith in God and he projected his unbelief onto David by running him down: “Don’t be ridiculous! … There’s no way you can fight this Philistine and possibly win.”
The Lord who rescued me from the claws of the lion and the bear will rescue me from this Philistine – Saul justified his dim view of David by making comparisons concerning his physique: You’re only a boy, and he’s been a man; his experience and mettle in the battlefield: he’s been a man of war since his youth. David’s confidence was remarkable for he remained unfazed despite the comments of the king of Israel. He persisted and recounted in explicit terms his acts of valor in protecting his sheep against lions and bears; his resolve and courage to take on Goliath was not lunatical or out character. Perhaps, the greatest contributing factor to David’s bravery was in his next statement: The Lord who rescued me from the claws of the lion and the bear will rescue me from this Philistine.
- Divine confidence is given to the righteous man who is faithful even in the mundane things of life. The righteous man is disciplined in his lifestyle; he consistently depends on God and walks in His commands even in the mundane. Hence, he is not easily disturbed by the words of another, as his heart is firmly founded on the truth and the finality of God’s word. Despite the dispiriting words of Eliab and Saul, hope and confidence continued to radiate from his soul. Undaunted, David persisted in sowing seeds of hope and God’s overwhelming love and protection over Israel. It is human nature to seek out methods and resources to overcome his trepidations in times of trouble. However, divine confidence comes not from natural resources or human wisdom; for it is imparted only to those who walk faithfully in the mundane.
- People may judge you by looking at your past, but God perceives you by looking at your calling. The people closest to you can be your greatest encourager or your wettest blanket. Hence, it is important to carefully discern what you hear according to the guidance of the Spirit. People tend to speak from their biasness especially to those who are close to them without careful consideration. In many instances, they can be way off by a mile. Jesus’ brothers did not believe in Him and His calling (see John 7:5); Joseph’s brothers despised him; David’s entire family didn’t think that he would amount to anything. Therefore, Jesus teaches that we must rise up to our calling and not be hindered by people, even by those who supposedly know us well,
If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple. Luke 14:26
Therefore, we must seek to understand God’s calling for our lives in greater clarity. Those who knew their divine call must constantly remind themselves of God’s faithful presence that will bring them through difficulties one hurdle at a time.
- Our past successes are not trophies but stepping-stones to fulfill our calling. Our past successes give us greater understanding of our potential and God’s faithful presence. On the other hand, our past failures make us wiser and increase our ability to discern. Therefore, we must never be proud and complacent in the light of our successes but to depend on God to do greater works. At the same time, never to commit the same mistake and fall into the same hole twice. David has no experience as a soldier, let alone facing off a Philistine champion in full battle order. His past victories over lions and bears are not ego trophies, for they are stepping-stones to give him a better understanding of God’s faithfulness and his potential for greater things.
- Are you trying to increase in authority and power, but yet you find yourself slacking and lacking in motivation? Perhaps, you should discipline yourself in the basic habits like regular exercise, eating patterns and refrain from procrastinating on things you dislike. Be determined to do the things that God has instructed. You will find yourself increasing in authority and power in your work, ministry and family.
- Do you constantly talk down to yourself because you did not believe that you are made for greater things? We must endeavor to see ourselves as God sees us and cultivate a spiritual mindset and identity. We do that by speaking positively and affirming ourselves through the promises of God’s word. Begin the day by looking into the mirror and say to yourself: I am blessed with all blessings in the universe (see Ephesians 1:3); I am called and predestined for great things (see Ephesians 1:5); I am forever forgiven, and I stand perfect and righteous before God (see Ephesians 1:7).
Dear Lord, thank you for calling me and appointing me for great things. I desire to increase in authority and wisdom so that I may establish God’s kingdom on earth and fulfill my calling. I discipline myself to live a healthy lifestyle, and I will not procrastinate on the things that God has entrusted to me. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.