When you think of David and Goliath, what are the common themes that come to mind? What are the things you have been taught that this story teaches us? I’m not sure what comes to your mind, but several themes have been pulled out of this story in my church experience. When I was young David and Goliath was used to teach me that no matter how big my problems are, with God, I can overcome them. As I got older I was told that David chose five stones because he had one for Goliath and four more, one for each of Goliath’s brothers, and that is the kind of boldness and confidence I need to have when I confront my problems.
Pastor Matt Chandler first changed my thinking on this story a few years ago. He taught that our mistake in reading this story is that we read ourselves into the story, where we are David, and whatever problem we are facing is Goliath, and that if we have enough faith God will deliver us from our problems. Nice sentiment, but it’s totally not the point of the story. Chandler suggests that we remove ourselves from the story, because it isn’t about us, and instead look at the text for whom it was written to – Israel – and who it ultimately leads us to – Jesus Christ.
So I guess I’ve been on a crusade since then to take a second look at the Old Testament with this new lens. Thinking on David and Goliath the other day, this simple thought occurred to me. Five stones and a sling is a ridiculous weapon against a giant. Sure David used them to drive away the bears and lions harassing his sheep, but a giant? And I have no doubt that David was skilled with a sling, but a sling against a giant? The ridiculousness of David’s weapon of choice was becoming clearer to me.
But then something else became even clearer: David did not kill Goliath. God killed Goliath. Yes, David slung the stone, but God guided that stone and sank it into Goliath’s forehead. I’ve never done ballistics tests on slings and stones, but I’m not convinced that even on David’s best throw that a stone would have enough velocity to sink into Goliath’s forehead. So what’s my point? The point is that God is the victor in all things. He wins the day, even with ridiculous slings and rocks. Maybe we have exalted David a little too high in this story and forgotten that God won the day, not David. Was David important? Absolutely, but he is a secondary player in the story. Scripture is God’s story, and he is the central figure in everything recorded in its pages.
“You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me.” John 5:39
Take that out to a personal application. David and Goliath isn’t about you. It isn’t even about David. It’s about God being faithful to his people when they were being faithless. It’s about God using the weak and foolish things of this world to accomplish great things for his glory. Feeling weak and foolish? I can’t make any promises, but I do know that God likes to use people who find themselves in that state.
But we also have to be honest. Sometimes Goliath wins. Sometimes Jerusalem gets sacked and the people get taken into captivity. Sometimes you get sold out for 30 silver coins by one of your close friends. Sometimes God doesn’t act the way you hoped he would. How does David and Goliath bring you comfort then?
God always wins.
And if you love him, even your apparent losses will eventually turn to good.
“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28