50 So David triumphed over the Philistine with only a sling and a stone, for he had no sword.
51 Then David ran over and pulled Goliath’s sword from its sheath. David used it to kill him and cut off his head.
1 Samuel 17:50-51 (NLT)
We are back to the story of David again. In the previous chapter we have seen David moving up from being a shepherd boy to become the king’s musician and armor bearer. I don’t know how much he was paid but I am sure it was a very prestigious job. In this article, we shall see how David moved up again to become a legend.
1 Samuel 17 begins by describing a military standoff between Israel and Philistine. Both armies were encamped on hills facing each other with a valley separating them. Both sides were in defensive mode. They were not shooting arrows. This tells us that both camps must be out of arrow range. No one wanted to attack first. Why not? Since there was a valley between them, any side that launch the first offensive must march down the valley and climb up again on the other side to attack. This scenario will put the defenders in a position where they will fight from a higher ground. The defenders would have an unfair advantage over the attackers. Both sides must have known this and refused to be the ones to attack first. Maybe they were hoping the other side would attack first. It was a test of patience.
However, the Philistines had one advantage. They had a giant warrior in their camp. His name was Goliath. They used him to launch psychological warfare on the Israelites. Goliath went out to face the Israelites and challenged them to a one to one combat.
8 Goliath stood and shouted a taunt across to the Israelites. “Why are you all coming out to fight?” he called. “I am the Philistine champion, but you are only the servants of Saul. Choose one man to come down here and fight me!
9 If he kills me, then we will be your slaves. But if I kill him, you will be our slaves!
10 I defy the armies of Israel today! Send me a man who will fight me!”
1 Samuel 17:8-10 (NLT)
One to one combat was common in ancient pre-gunpowder warfare. The main purpose was not to kill the other guy although it was often the result. It was meant to inflict a psychological blow to the other side. Such tactics were common in ancient China. In ancient Chinese warfare, when 2 armies confronted each other, a warrior from one side will challenge the on the side for a one to one combat. If the other side do not respond, it will make the commander look like a coward. The morale will drop. This is the reason why good fighters were in high demand during wars.
So, how would the Israelites respond to the challenge?
11 When Saul and the Israelites heard this, they were terrified and deeply shaken.
1 Samuel 17:11 (NLT)
They lost without a fight. They have lost in the inside due to fear. This is what psychological warfare is all about. It is to make the enemies think they have lost even before they start to fight. The Philistines had successfully used it on Saul and the Israelites.
Let us change the scenes to David. At that time, David was on leave. He was not with the king. David was herding sheep for his father. His 3 eldest brothers were in the army and stationed in the camp that was confronting the Philistines. One day, David’s father wanted him to go to the camp to deliver some bread to his brothers (daddy must have a low opinion on army food) and some cheese to the brothers’ commanding officers (Was this their way to get promoted in the army?)
It had been 40 days where Goliath went out shouting his challenges twice a day to the Israelites. The Israel soldiers could only respond in fear. It so happened that when David reached the camp, Goliath was out shouting out his challenge. To David’s surprise, no one dared to take him on despite the rewards promised by the king. In David’s mind, Goliath was nothing compared to the people of God.
26 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?”
1 Samuel 17:26 (NLT)
Let us see from the perspective of David. In his mind, Goliath was just a pagan Philistine while the Israelite soldiers were the armies of the living God. David had a high opinion on his team and low opinion on the enemy. He had a winning mentality. It was the opposite on everyone else in the army, including his brothers. His brothers even tried to put him down. However, that did not stop David from thinking positive and off
Then he was sent to the king. Upon seeing the king, David offered to fight the Philistine giant.
32 “Don’t worry about this Philistine,” David told Saul. “I’ll go fight him!”
33 “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.”
1 Samuel 17:32-33 (NLT)
Saul’s initial respond was a clear “no”. He was sure that David who was just a boy was no match for a seasoned warrior like Goliath. Surely he did not want his favorite musician to be killed. David replied by citing his past fighting experience.
34 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,
35 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.
36 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!
37 The Lord who rescued me from the claws of the lion and the bear will rescue me from this Philistine!”
Saul finally consented. “All right, go ahead,” he said. “And may the Lord be with you!”
1 Samuel 17:34-37 (NLT)
Looks like taking care of sheep and goat was not an easy job after all. David had fought bears and lions when he was shepherding his sheep. It seems that being shepherding was not be a useless job. That job had trained David to develop his faith and fighting skills. So, if you happen to be in a job that looks like a dead end, do not be despair. God is working behind the scenes to bring prosperity to you and move you to a higher level. There could be something God wants you to learn from this job. Shepherding sheep may not look very glorious but God had used it as a building block for David’s success. No one could have imagined that the skills David learned in fighting bears and lions were used to defeat the giant Goliath.
Likewise, God can be using the lessons and experience you gained in this seemingly dead end job as a building block for your future prosperity. So, the best way to live your life now is to do your job faithfully and learn everything that needs to be learned. You may not be able see how it works but you have to trust God if you are really serious on receiving your prosperity. Think about this, it worked for David.
At last Saul allowed David to fight. Maybe it could be due to the fact that he had no other choice. None of his soldiers dared to take on the giant despite the huge reward he promised. In his attempt to help, the king had graciously lent David his armor and weapons.
38 Then Saul gave David his own armor—a bronze helmet and a coat of mail.
39 David put it on, strapped the sword over it, and took a step or two to see what it was like, for he had never worn such things before.
“I can’t go in these,” he protested to Saul. “I’m not used to them.” So David took them off again.
1 Samuel 17:38-439 (NLT)
The intention might be good but the result was bad. The armor was simply too heavy for a boy like David. He could not even move in them. How was he supposed to fight in those outfit? So, he took them off. This tells us that just because something is good in itself, it does not mean that it is good for everyone. King Saul had a good helmet, coat of mail and sword but they were bad for a boy like David.
The lesson for us here is, do not be hasty in buying things just because the salesman says it is good. You have to ask the question, “Is this good for me?” A Mercedes car is definitely good. However, if buying it causes you to be laden with a burden of debt, which you cannot bear, it become bad. Many had fallen into debt because they bought things without asking this question.
So, David went out to pick his own weapons.
40 He picked up five smooth stones from a stream and put them into his shepherd’s bag. Then, armed only with his shepherd’s staff and sling, he started across the valley to fight the Philistine.
1 Samuel 17:40 (NLT)
He used the weapons he knew, staff and sling. He did not need extra weapons from the king. He already had everything he needed. The same goes for us, Christians. Success and prosperity are not somewhere out there, where we have to strive and toil for them. There are inside us. The moment you believed in Jesus, you have been sealed with the Holy Spirit. He is the source of all success and prosperity. All we need to do is to use faith to bring them out. This is exactly what David did. I am going to show you that David had already beaten Goliath from the inside before he did it outwardly.
When David first walked out to face Goliath, he was subjected to mockery by his enemy
41 Goliath walked out toward David with his shield bearer ahead of him,
42 sneering in contempt at this ruddy-faced boy.
43 “Am I a dog,” he roared at David, “that you come at me with a stick?” And he cursed David by the names of his gods.
44 “Come over here, and I’ll give your flesh to the birds and wild animals!” Goliath yelled.
1 Samuel 17:41-44 (NLT)
Let us read on how David replied.
45 David replied to the Philistine, “You come to me with sword, spear, and javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies—the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied.
46 Today the Lord will conquer you, and I will kill you and cut off your head. And then I will give the dead bodies of your men to the birds and wild animals, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel!
47 And everyone assembled here will know that the Lord rescues his people, but not with sword and spear. This is the Lord’s battle, and he will give you to us!”
1 Samuel 17:45-47 (NLT)
David’s words above tell us that he had already won from the inside. In David’s mind, weapons were not a factor in winning battles. It was the name of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies—the God of the armies of Israel that make the difference on who is winning and losing. Since Goliath defied the name of the Lord, he was destined to lose. In contrast, since David came in the name of the Lord he was destined to in. David believed God would give him the victory.
In Verse 46, David made a confession that he would cut off Goliath’s head. How was he going to do that? He did even have a dagger with him. All he had were a staff, a sling and some stones. I don’t think he knew either. He just confessed and believed. Here is the result of his confession.
48 As Goliath moved closer to attack, David quickly ran out to meet him.
49 Reaching into his shepherd’s bag and taking out a stone, he hurled it with his sling and hit the Philistine in the forehead. The stone sank in, and Goliath stumbled and fell face down on the ground.
50 So David triumphed over the Philistine with only a sling and a stone, for he had no sword. 51 Then David ran over and pulled Goliath’s sword from its sheath. David used it to kill him and cut off his head.
1 Samuel 17:48-50 (NLT)
The impossible had happened. David who was only a boy, armed with a staff, a sling and some stones had managed to cut off the head of a fully armed giant warrior. The Philistines were shocked. The Israelites seized the moment and attacked. They won.
Let us stop here and review the lessons we can learn from this story. The story of David and Goliath teaches us that our God is fully capable in achieving the impossible. You may be in an impossible situation right now. You may be so sick that it is impossible to get well. You may be so poor that it is impossible to be rich. You may be in a situation where achieving health, wealth and success is like a shepherd boy fighting a fully armed champion warrior in a single combat. The good news is, that had happened. God had recorded the story for us to tell us that if we believe, we will achieve.
David did not win by doing nothing. He believed in the faithfulness of God and he confessed his victory before it happened. He had won from the inside. In his mind, he had already won even before the fight began. This is called faith. He confessed that he would cut off his opponent’s head when he did not even have any sharp object. It was physically impossible for him to do that. Yet it did not bother him. He knew that all he needed to do was to believe and confess. The Lord would do the rest. The rest is history. David became a legend.
If you happen to be in an impossible situation right now, this is the time to make some confessions of your own. If you are sick, confess health. If you are poor, confess riches. If you have failed in anything, confess success in the same thing. As long as you keep confessing and believing, you will have what you want. You can even be a legend.