So David shows up to the battlefield to bring his brothers some food and is startled to hear Goliath screaming in defiance at the Israelites; he then sees the Israelite army run away in fear. David responds by immediately putting Goliath in his place. This tells me two things: one, that David understood the superiority of God over man. Two, that David had a habit of placing his problems in their place in his mind. This is reflected in his speech. David asks, "What will be done for the man who kills this Philistine and removes this disgrace from Israel? Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living God?" (1 Samuel 17: 26, emphasis mine).
Look at his word choice! David didn't immediately talk to the people around him about the size of Goliath, his giant muscles, or his impressive weaponry. He didn't wonder or worry or chatter nervously before coming to his conclusion of faith. In fact, as soon as David starts talking, Goliath is no longer mentioned by name (in the NIV), he is simply "this Philistine". Isn't that fascinating? He immediately speaks the about Goliath and puts him in his place. His words reflect his heart and his faith in God.
David's strong words get him attention pretty quickly. His older brother becomes angry and belittles him in front of others in the army. He basically tells him to to be quiet and go back to his "few sheep" (v. 28-29). Wow- what's the story there? I need the scoop! Why did Eliab react so strongly? After all- he could go fight Goliath and collect the huge reward. I am reminded of how, in the previous chapter, Samuel passed up Eliab when he was anointing a new king to follow Saul. It seems to me that Eliab is still bitter and jealous about the whole thing. He doesn't seem to be worried about David's welfare, or concerned out of love. I think he saw David's strength and trust in God and resented it; he perceived it as arrogance. It is a great reminder that a statement of faith can be an unpopular choice. The people around you, maybe even ones close to you, might want you to just "go back to your sheep"- no risks, no attention, nothing to rock the boat. Join the masses. Some may become ashamed and resent God's use of the weak and foolish things of this world (1 Corinthians 1:27). But how does David react to his brother? He says, "Can't I even speak?". He then "turned away to someone else and brought up the same matter" (v. 29-30). Man, I love that! He stays with the truth! He sticks with God's plan! He puts Eliab in his place too, turns his back to him, and asks the same question to someone who might be a little more supportive. He stays on the defense against negativity. He monitors who speaks into his life.
David's words continue to grab the attention of the people around him, and King Saul eventually hears about it. David encourages the king (v. 32) and convinces Saul to allow him to fight, reminding him of God's power (v. 34-36). Boy, his words are just so positive, powerful, and life-giving. My prayer today: Let me speak as David did in the face of my everyday trials, my conflicts, my life-changing moments. How that would change my life! Saul blesses David, and then dresses David in his armor:
Then Saul dressed David in his own tunic. He put a coat of armor on him and a bronze helmet on his head. David fastened on his sword over the tunic and tried walking around, because he was not used to them.
“I cannot go in these,” he said to Saul, “because I am not used to them.” So he took them off. Then he took his staff in his hand, chose five smooth stones from the stream, put them in the pouch of his shepherd’s bag and, with his sling in his hand, approached the Philistine.
(1 Samuel 17:38-40)
So again, I ask myself, why? Why did Saul dress David in his armor? Were the reasons born of goodwill- did he want to give him the best he had? Did he want to protect him with only the best? Or were the reasons showing a lack of faith- did he doubt David's skill? Did he want to make his mark on this remarkable act of bravery that he could not do? Whatever the reason, Saul's lack of faith is shown in this action, relying still on his earthly garments when David is so obviously wielding the shield of faith. David realizes that the armor, although nice, is not a good fit for him and rejects it.
My takeaway: sometimes, in this fight, this everyday spiritual warfare, it can become tempting to take on things that God has not instructed us to take on. These heavy weights can drag us down in our fight. Some may be suggested in goodwill. Two examples immediately come to mind:
1) Time Suckers
I used to be AWFUL at saying no. I would let people drag me in and out of their problems, schedules, and activities, leaving me exhausted at the end of each week with little to nothing to give to my family, little free time to enjoy a lazy Sunday, certainly little time to focus on growing spiritually. A few months ago, I intentionally paused before making a big decision and managed to squeak out a timid, "no". Now, I feel addicted to saying no! It was funny for a little bit, but I've calmed down now. Not saying "no" in a selfish way, but in a healthy way. In a "what is best for my family and me?" way. In a "is this something God is calling me to do?" way. I'm addicted to scheduled simplicity, and now I understand that time-suckers can distract and exhaust me from keeping my focus and perspective on what matters most.
2)Negativity and discouragement in the guise of "advice"
Yep, we all know and love those people. The well-meaning, wonderful people who always have discouragement and negativity gift-wrapped as well-meaning advice. If we are not careful, this negativity can weigh us down like Saul's armor weighed on David. Shake it off, take it off, it doesn't belong to you. Turn your back on it if you need to. Know what God says about you, know what he has told you to do, and go kill your Goliath.
Other weights in the fight might not have as pure motives; they might actually be distractions or manifestations of a lack of faith.
This one body-slammed me this week. I found myself worrying about everything: bug bites, "what-ifs", relationships, the future, and on and on and on. Silly stuff. But worry consumes. By the end of each day, I was exhausted. And I know worry stems from a lack of faith, from not trusting God, which led me to feel...
It's a downward spiral from there. Get me off the crazy train! If I'm not careful, it can drag me down for days, weeks even, and all spiritual growth stops, and to be honest, can even start to go backwards. These two distractions are a one-two punch. I spent the next few days immersed in my favorite Bible teachings and worship music to get out of that fight. When worry, guilt, and other distractions creep in, fight back! What God has ahead for you is too good, too important, to give up because of these weights. Press toward the mark, friends!
And just in case you forgot, David beat that "MEAN, BIG, FAT giant- hit him right in the head" (Reed's words). We will overcome!