Here we were again, on a hill overlooking Oak Valley — the Israelite army, servants of the living God… demoralized and paralyzed by the spectacle facing us.
On the opposite hill, our enemies: the Philistine army, a match for ours, we might have said, if it were not that God is on our side. But the Israelite army had a legacy of triumph, fighting against impossible odds, conquering cities and nations against any expectation and for no discernible reason other than that God Himself had decreed for us to take the land.
The Philistines should not have been a concern to God’s army, should they? But here he came again, the cause for our despair — Goliath, the giant, champion of the Philistine army, issuing his daily challenge:
“Why bother using your whole army? Am I not Philistine enough for you? And you’re all committed to Saul, aren’t you? So pick your best fighter and pit him against me. If he gets the upper hand and kills me, the Philistines will all become your slaves. But if I get the upper hand and kill him, you’ll all become our slaves and serve us. I challenge the troops of Israel this day. Give me a man. Let us fight it out together!”
Just as we had every day for the past forty days, we looked at one another in despair. Brothers in arms, we had trusted one another with our lives on a daily basis… but the thought of any one of us in single combat against that massive brute, with the freedom of our entire nation on the line? Suddenly this one’s proficiency with his sword, and that one’s vaunted strength, and the other’s bravery in battle… they were nothing. All useless against one ten-foot tower of a man, taunting us from the distance.
Then suddenly, through the murmuring ranks of disheartened soldiers, a teenager pushed his way to the front. A mere boy to our eyes, too young to serve in the army, and dressed as a humble shepherd… but this young man had a look of determination. Determination, and indignation.
“Who does this guy think he is? This uncircumcised Philistine, insulting and taunting the armies of the living God? Are you all seriously going to let him get away with this?”
And as this fiery youth stepped up to the challenge, volunteering with the passion and confidence of one who could not envision his own mortality, one who refused to accept the possibility of failure, something strange began to stir inside my heart.
Could this be hope?
David was God’s man of the hour.
From this moment forward, David was moving toward his destiny. But in this moment, he wasn’t thinking of the rewards he might gain (marrying the king’s daughter), or the glory and adulation that would follow his victory.
And he was the one man in the army that day who was not concerned with his own death, or the threat of slavery, or the humiliation of being taunted as a coward.
His thought was for the honor of the God he served, and his confidence was in God’s power to bring victory where all others saw certain defeat:
“You come at me with sword and spear and battle-ax. I come at you in the name of God-of-the-Angel-Armies, the God of Israel’s troops, whom you curse and mock. This very day God is handing you over to me. I’m about to kill you, cut off your head, and serve up your body and the bodies of your Philistine buddies to the crows and coyotes. The whole earth will know that there’s an extraordinary God in Israel. And everyone gathered here will learn that God doesn’t save by means of sword or spear. The battle belongs to God—he’s handing you to us on a platter!”
David’s eyes were on God’s intended outcome.
Lord, teach us in our personal challenges to focus not on our own rewards, or the consequences of our failure, but on how to bring glory to Your Name. Help us to be like David, who was known as a man after Your own heart… and to be used in our own circumstances as Your man of the hour.