I’m still slowly making my way through the Bible, from page one to the end, one chapter at a time. It’s been a slow trek, and I’m very glad that I listened when God told me not to put myself on a timeline as I began this journey. If I had done that, I would have set myself up for failure but I’m learning that God doesn’t want me to fail. God wants me to succeed at everything I do. This is something I’ve known intellectually for most of my life, but didn’t even come close to actually believing. For the first time ever, this truth has begun to settle into my heart, and you have no idea how huge this is for me.
Equally huge is the realization (gained slowly, verse by verse, prayer by prayer) that God will never, never, EVER tell me bad things about myself. He will never whisper doubt into my mind. He will never remind me of past failures. He will never point out my weaknesses. He knows them, but He prefers to focus on the positive.
When those thoughts come, they come from another source entirely – from the father of all lies. From he who cannot speak the truth. So when I have a negative thought about myself, when I doubt myself, I can be assured of two things: (1) it is coming from the enemy; and, (2) because it is coming from the enemy it is unquestionably a lie. It cannot be anything else. It may sound like the truth because it’s feeding my own fears which, sadly, are all rooted in pride, but it is not truth.
You may wonder what this has to do with David and Goliath. Actually, it has everything to do with it.
I’ve heard this particular Bible story more times than I can count but this was the first time I’d read it for myself—not just a few select verses but the entire story. All my life, whenever I’ve heard the story of David and Goliath, the focus has always been on faith. David had incredible faith in the LORD. He trusted the LORD. He decided, based on his faith, that he could go up against Goliath and win, even though he was just a shepherd boy, even though older men, wiser men, more experienced men, men with military experience, not only warned him against it, but had themselves faltered for 40 days and nights under the threat of Goliath’s mighty strength.
So here comes David, the shepherd boy. He talked to his oldest brother, who spoke doubt and fear to him and reminded him of his weaknesses: Why camest thou down hither? and with whom has thou left those few sheep in the wilderness? I know thy pride, and the naughtiness of thine heart; for thou art come down that thou might see the battle.
When David couldn’t convince his brother that he should do what God told him to do, he turned to someone else, and then to someone else. God was speaking courage into David’s heart. The enemy was using people to speak fear and doubt.
Meanwhile, Saul heard about David and he sent for the young man and here’s where I found my favorite part of this story. Like everyone else, Saul spoke doubt to David: Thou art not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him: for thou art but a youth, and he a man of war from his youth. (1 Samuel 17:28)
All of these people were well-intentioned. Logically, in the eyes of the world, David shouldn’t have been able to go up against Goliath and come out alive. It was a suicide mission. Those who loved him, those who had earthy authority over him, felt the need to protect him. That didn’t make them bad people, but it’s good to remember that we may be the only ones who hear the call God places on our lives. Those around us may not have the privilege of knowing what God is asking us to do.
David knew something else they didn’t:
1 Samuel 17: 34-36
34 And David said unto Saul, Thy servant kept his father’s sheep, and there came a lion, and a bear, and took a lamb out of the flock:
35 And I went out after him, and smote him, and delivered it out of his mouth: and when he arose against me, I caught him by his beard, and smote him, and slew him.
36 Thy servant slew both the lion and the bear: and this uncircumcised Philistine shall be as one of them, seeing he hath defied the armies of the living God.
I love this! I love knowing that before God asked David to stand up to Goliath and kill him, He prepared David by first sending a bear and then a lion. I love knowing that David’s great faith was underscored by the knowledge, based on experience, that he could prevail in impossible situations with God’s help.
Most of all, I love knowing that God will never ask me, or any of us, to step up and slay a giant without first sending a bear and a lion to prepare us for what lies ahead. If I can remember that when the bear and the lion come knocking on my door, it may help me view them less like punishments and more like opportunities. It’s not going to make them any less a bear or a lion, but it may help me refrain from flinging myself to the ground and wondering “why me?” when they show up.
When the time comes that I am called upon to face the big, ugly, frightening giant, I love knowing that if I can just get past the fear and self-doubt, I’ll find the bear and the lion somewhere in my past. Finding them may help me ignore those who, relying on the wisdom of the world, try to protect me from what seems like certain failure, and to listen instead to that still, small voice that’s telling me that I can do whatever it is with Christ.
For me, knowing that God prepared David for what was to come doesn’t diminish David’s faith one bit. Even though David had prevailed against a bear and a lion, he knew he hadn’t beaten those beasts with his own power. God had shown him that He would stay at his side any time He called on David to step up—as long as David relied on Him, called on Him, and believed in Him.
I love knowing that God didn’t include this story in the Bible only for its entertainment value. In this story is the assurance that God will do the same thing for all of us if we just call on Him, believe in Him, and remember that the battle is His, not ours. (1 Samuel 17:47)
Does it get any better than that?