Written by Juan Dugan, D.Min. – Worship Leader
What if I told you that you’ve completely misunderstood the story of David and Goliath? If you read through I Samuel 17, it appears to be the story of a young boy who stood up for God’s people against overwhelming odds. David was not a military man or a fighter; he couldn’t even wear Saul’s armor properly. We often assume that this means David’s victory was nothing short of a miracle, but perhaps the story is trying to teach us something bigger.
Goliath was a giant, standing over 9 ft. tall and was called the “champion” of the Philistines, which means this was not his first time challenging an opposing army to representative combat. He was a legend in his army. The armor he wore was not only ornate and intimidating, but it was of a far higher quality than what any other member of the infantry would have worn. The description of Goliath’s armor is the longest explanation of military attire in the entire Old Testament. Goliath was a battle hardened member of the Philistine’s heavy infantry.
By contrast, David was a lowly shepherd boy; however, the life of a shepherd was not easy. Bears, lions, and other such animals were a constant threat to both the sheep and the shepherds. A shepherd would often become, out of necessity, a very skilled hunter and defender. They had to deal with attacks from creatures just as deadly as any man. David was not a scared or weak little boy. He was cool under pressure, an experienced hunter, and was used to taking on enemies twice his size. In addition to all of this, David’s weapon of choice was a sling.
Slings are not frequently used in our modern culture, and we have a tendency to see them as a children’s toy, much like a slingshot. In the time of David, slings were one of the most deadly weapons in existence and were employed by almost every army. They took extreme skill and practice to use accurately, but once mastered, they became a devastating, long range weapon. By using a long leather strap to accelerate and throw a small stone at approximately 40 meters a second, a slinger could hit a dinner plate-sized target 100 meters away with the same kinetic energy as a large caliber handgun. With this level of accuracy and power, slingers could decimate an opposing force before it ever had the chance to fight.
Goliath may have been the most intimidating heavy infantryman anyone had ever seen, but David was a slinger.
David was appalled that Goliath’s challenge had gone unanswered. He was offended that the king would allow anyone to speak of God this way, but he was also dumbfounded that no one else saw the potential for victory. Goliath may have been huge, but he was a weighed down, stationary target holding a sword. David was mobile and holding a sling. Goliath’s towering size, exotic armor, and enormous weapons would mean nothing against a stone moving like a 90 mph fastball, and David knew it. Goliath never stood a chance. It was Saul who didn’t understand. Saul was afraid. He wasn’t thinking like a military leader. He was praying for a miracle while David was using the skills God had prepared in him.
We must remember that the Bible is God’s story, and this part of his story is not about performing a miracle to save his people. It’s the story of how He spent years preparing a young shepherd, by sending lions to attack his sheep, so that one day he would have the skills to face a giant, defend his countrymen, and begin his journey to kingship. For over a decade, God had been training David for this one moment, which in turn prepared him for the moments to come. This is not a story of a miracle; it is the story of God preparing for the needs of his people long before they ever knew they would one day face a giant.
This story teaches a valuable lesson for today as well. God does not leave our lives to chance, and he certainly is not surprised by the giant problems we encounter. God is not sitting around waiting for the next catastrophe, so he can save the day with a miracle. He has a plan that is already in motion. You have never been, nor will ever be, left to face a giant alone or unprepared. God has laid the ground work for your rescue and readied you for the battle. Remember who you are in Christ and know that before you even realize you are in danger, God is already there to see you through it. When you face your next challenge, think back to all the moments in your life when God rescued you from your troubles and remember David’s words: “The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.”