(Today's post by James Rooks)
1 Samuel 17
We know how this story goes, Goliath taunts the Israelites for 40 days. Saul and the rest of the Israelites were afraid, who could blame them? David emerges to fight the giant, wins the short battle with a sling shot to the forehead, and the rest is history. For a lot of us this story has been a part of our christian history fabric since as far back as we can remember. One of the most used sports analogies throughout the years is the classic “David vs Goliath” match up. As exciting as it is to write to you today about such a famous Bible story, there is a down side. With it being over-used even in worldly circles, the challenge is to present a take away or observation that you might not have thought of before.
Let's pick up in verse 34 where David is taken to Saul who learns of David's intention to take on Goliath.
But David said to Saul, “Your servant was tending his father's sheep. When a lion or a bear came and took a lamb from the flock, I went out after him and attacked him, and rescued it from his mouth; and when he rose up against me, I seized him by his beard and struck him and killed him. Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; and this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, since he has taunted the armies of the living God.” And David said, “The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, He will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.” And Saul said to David, “Go, and may the Lord be with you.” (1 Samuel 17:34-37 NASB)
I've often heard the story of David/Goliath and imagined David's acceptance of Goliath's challenge as a spontaneous act of faith. In view of this passage, we know now that it is so much more. From a Biblical world view perspective, let's don't put this story on the shelf next to that of our comic book heroes. Let it sink in to reality….David killed a bear and a lion with his bare hands. He didn't just know to trust God in the sunday school sense of trusting God. David had been through some major life threatening confrontations and had come out on top. In his mind, why would facing this giant be any different? What happened on the battle field was an exercise in a faith that had been built over time because David had seen and experienced God's provision first hand.
So where do we fit in to this story? As we read the story line and get an idea of the cast of characters in the Israelite camp, we see three main figures emerge. You have Saul, who was on his way to becoming the “forgotten man”. Once great in his own right, but pride and disobedience had rendered him weak in faith and sidelined from the battle. You've got the “critics”, who were themselves afraid to face the giant. The “critics” found it easier to watch from the sidelines and even offer discouraging words to the only guy among them who was brave enough to step on to the field. Lastly, you have the “warrior”. Even though David would stand alone, he was willing to stand against anyone who dared taunt the armies of the living God. Who are you? Are you a forgotten man who's allowed failure to sideline you, a critic who would rather give commentary on the mistakes of other believers around you who are in the battle, or are you a warrior who is willing to stand on the battle field?
If you said warrior, I give you this challenge. Don't wait for the big moment in life (david vs goliath) when everyone is watching to step up to the plate. Take David's story, especially the part found between vs. 34-37 and see that David's warrior faith was built over years of facing fierce battles and seeing God move.
If you said critic, I give you this challenge. Those weak in the faith are usually the most critical and sometimes do the most damage to the church. The last thing you're expecting when facing an enemy is to have arrows hitting you in the back. Too often we hear of Christian brothers criticizing others who are out there trying to fight the good fight. Critic, repent, and get off the sidelines. Get in the game. Grow your faith and join the fight.
If you said forgotten man, here's your challenge. God's grace is bigger than your past mistakes. I know far too many warriors of the faith who've allowed poor choices in their life to leave them feeling the weight of defeat. Defeat gives way to despair…and soon they are a mere shell of the person that they used to be.
God can restore and reconcile you. I believe He wants you back in the game as well.
I'll leave you with a quote from Theodore Roosevelt:
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”