|Bible Story: David and Goliath
Based on 1 Samuel 17
Retold by Paul Katula
David was a young man, the fourth son of Jesse from Bethlehem. By looking into his heart, the Lord had chosen David to be the next king, but Saul was still the king at the time of our story. David, who was very compassionate, would often go to the palace and play his harp for Saul, to comfort him, because he was ill.
Saul's armies, including David's three older brothers, Eliah, Abinadab, and Shammah, were off fighting battles against the Philistines. During one of the battles, all the fighting stopped because the Israelites had a problem. That problem was a huge Philistine soldier named Goliath of Gath. This Goliath had challenged the Israelites, and, because he was so large and powerful, none of Saul's soldiers would step up to the task.
Now, Jesse would often send David from home out to the battlefields, so that he could bring food out to his brothers. This also allowed Jesse to keep tabs on how David's brothers were doing in the wars against the Philistines.
One day, David was bringing supplies to his brothers when he heard Goliath. "If any of you want to fight me, I dare you to try," Goliath hollered. "To me, it looks like the God of the Israelites is weak. Just look at all the cowards he has for soldiers. If he were such a great God, then his soldiers would not be afraid to take my challenge."
Goliath then made a deal with Saul's soldiers: "If I win, then you'll all become our slaves, but if your man wins, we'll become yours."
The Wrong Thing to Say
When David heard Goliath insult God, he became very angry. How dare anyone call God weak and his chosen people cowards!
David asked around. He wanted to know more about Goliath and why none of Saul's soldiers would fight the giant Philistine soldier. That's when he found out about the reward King Saul had offered for anyone who could defeat Goliath: Saul had offered riches and his daughter's hand in marriage to anyone who could beat Goliath. That person's family would also be exempt from paying taxes.
David was intrigued. Not only did he have a personal problem with Goliath insulting the God who had chosen him to be the next king, but he also enjoyed the prospect of getting the reward Saul had offered. Therefore, he went to Saul and volunteered to fight Goliath.
Saul basically laughed in his face. "You're just a boy," he said. "This guy is a strong soldier who has been trained by the best men of war. How can you possibly defeat him? I won't allow you to go."
Answering the King's Objections
That answer was unacceptable, as far as David was concerned. "First of all, I have had great experience with fighting," he said. "After all, my flocks of sheep have been attacked by lions and bears, which I have successfully fought off. And second, God is on my side, a little something that this giant doesn't have."
Saul finally agreed. He gave David his armor, but it didn't fit, because David was too small. David threw it back at him and said, "I will go to meet Goliath dressed as a shepherd." He found five smooth stones at the side of a nearby brook and prepared himself for the challenge.
Goliath, the Mighty Trash-Talker
When Goliath saw this young boy who didn't even wear the armor of war, you can only imagine how much he laughed. "What an insult! The Israelites have sent a little boy to fight the great Goliath, premier, super-fantastic soldier of the great Philistine army? Ha!"
David's response was meek and humble. "You might have a great sword and a spear in your possession, but my weapon is a little something called the Name of the Lord God Almighty. He alone is the God of our armies, and he isn't very happy about how you made fun of him by calling him weak and his chosen people cowards.
"If I were you, I'd run away right about now," David warned, confident that the Lord was indeed with him. "Everyone here will soon see that the Lord doesn't save people by the sword or the spear; for the battle belongs to the Lord, and he will give all of you to us today."
David, the One-Shot Wonder
Goliath made the first move, but his big size made him a little slow on his feet. David, on the other hand, darted toward the giant. He put a stone into his sling and flung it at Goliath's head.
Direct hit. The stone put a hole in Goliath's head, and the giant fell to the ground with a thud. David then took the injured giant's sword and cut off Goliath's head.
The other Philistine soldiers ran scared, but the men of Israel and Judah didn't allow them to escape.
Against all odds, the inexperienced shepherd (David) defeated the trained warrior (Goliath). This goes to show you, the Lord overcomes the mighty, the proud, and the strong by using the weak and the defenseless.
This theme of the Lord interceding on behalf of those who are weak and unable to help themselves is present throughout scripture. You may have heard, "The Lord helps those who help themselves." But it doesn't say that anywhere in the Bible, and in fact, most of the stories — like this one — seem to imply exactly the opposite: the Lord helps those who can't help themselves. Here is David, who throws off the king's armor (armor = show-off pride), going up against a giant who taunts members of the opposing army and insults their God.
Does this mean we should all give away our possessions and our money? Does it mean we shouldn't use the talents God gave us properly, or feel proud of who we are? Of course not. And it certainly doesn't mean we should do nothing to take care of ourselves. On the contrary, it means we have to consider all these things in the perspective of a life of faith. We have to give these personal things the right priority in our lives. Armed with nothing but a few stones (Oh, and his faith in God, let's not forget), David defeated Goliath. But Goliath's problem wasn't that he was strong or proud. His problem was that he boasted about himself rather than about what God had done for him. He didn't have any faith.
Perhaps a better way to express that saying is, "God helps those who trust in God, rather than in themselves." If we show off our ego, our intelligence, our appearance, and other qualities that the Lord has given us, and we neglect our love of God and obedience to his commandments, then our lives are out of balance. We are as bad as Goliath, who showed off his spear and his sword and bragged about his great qualifications as a soldier. He laughed at poor David, who, by the way, was just about to slice his head off.
The Lord worked through David to defeat the powerful and mighty, or at least someone who showed off how powerful and mighty he was. Whether or not Goliath was really powerful and mighty, we'll never know, since he's dead, but all indications are that he was just putting on airs. All indications are, from this story, that all power belongs to God, and he will choose to work through those who put their trust in him.
In our own lives, we have to find the proper balance. We must be good caretakers of everything the Lord has given us — intelligence, health, resources, wealth, and so on — but also balance those personal things with our love of God and obedience to his commandments. This is a real challenge for Christians today, just as it was for the Israelites in David's time.