Practical Lessons we learn from David and Goliath

(I Samuel 17)

“The Philistines drew up their troops for battle. They deployed them …between Socoh and Azekah in Judah , and set up camp. Saul and the Israelites came together, camped at Oak Valley, and spread out their troops in battle readiness for the Philistines. The Philistines were on one hill, the Israelites on the opposing hill, with the valley between them.


A giant nearly ten feet tall stepped out from the Philistine line into the open, Goliath from Gath. He had bronze shin guards and carried a bronze sword. His spear was like a fence rail-the spear tip alone weighed over fifteen pounds. His shield bearer walked ahead of him.

Goliath stood there and called out to the Israelite troops, “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!”

Enter David”

Practical Life Lessons in this passage:


  1. The Lord often uses unlikely people to accomplish great things in Kingdom work:


David was the eighth son of Jesse, a farmer from the smallest tribe in Israel. The “root” of Jesse we hear in Bible prophecy is referring to David, who the Bible also refers to as “a man after God’s own heart”. David was a shepherd and a musician. He had a love of people and animals, and was a devoted, Godly young man. He spent a good bit of his time outdoors and learned much of his skill sets by observing the beauty and order of God’s creation. Later in life, David had moral failures, personal failures and a turbulent, often dysfunctional family. His own son went to war against him. He was the loving father of a physically challenged child, his first born. You see, things don’t always work out the way we plan. But in the final analysis, it not about how we plan but about letting him use us for kingdom work, in the good and the not so good.   God used David mightily, because when God called, David submitted to the calling. In spite of his future failures and shortcomings, God looked through time and selected David as his choice for King of Israel. He blessed David and he blessed Israel because of David’s dedication, repentant and submissive heart and leadership.


He can and he wants to use us and bless us in the same manner. However, the challenge is for us is simply to see ourselves as vessels for God to use, in spite of the shortcomings we may have? God will probably not ask us to be king or queen of New Castle or even downtown Riner. But he will use us for his glory in kingdom work, as we “remove the “I” and submit to his leading.


For instance, when the Lord spoke to Mary, Jesus’ mother, she didn’t demand a sign, or some sort of proof or additional confirmation of what God was asking her to do. She voiced no complaint at the total disruption of her life. She knew that life would not turn out the way she had planned if she yielded to God’s call. We see that, in her heart there was no resistance, no rebellion, and no– “but “I” responses, just a sweet simple submission to the will of God.


And so it will be that God will use us, like he used David (and Mary) when we submit to his call.


  1. Neither the size of our challenges or accomplishments intimidate or impress God.


Goliath was 10 feet tall, yet David (as a young teenage boy of about half that size) really didn’t seem to notice. What gets God’s attention is the degree of our submissiveness, the depth of our devotion, and the purity of our character. After pausing for a moment to learn about the King’s enticements to anyone who would fight Goliath, David focused on the injustice that God’s own people were experiencing at the hands of God’s enemies. Does it rile you up when the church is impugned by Godless people? Does your heart ache over the almost daily instances of God fearing people being abused, abandoned, neglected, or slaughtered? Are we focusing more on the challenges our country is facing and the number of aches, pains or challenges we are facing and are less concerned with the Godless influences in society? Do we want to give up when the challenges of life seem too big for us to handle? David didn’t give up. He got fired up! And the size of Goliath never seemed to faze him.

So why “oh why” I ask, do we focus on the size of the challenge we face or the abilities (or lack thereof we possess (or someone else possesses) or the time (large or small), talent (large or small) or resources. David focused on the reason “why” not the “what”.

  1. There will always be “naysayers” that tell you what you can’t do. Don’t listen to them. Listen to what God (through his word) promises to do with and through you.


David’s brothers sure tried to do that. So did the king. David didn’t listen to those who said you can’t do it.


Consider Caleb in the book of Joshua chapter 14. The Jews have occupied the Promised Land (having driven out enough to safely get a foothold). As the land was being apportioned among the twelve tribes there was still likely opposition that needed to be dealt with. There will clearly be opposition to what the church’s faithful decides to do today (it’s called the influence of satan in our lives). Now, back to the Caleb story. Remember, over 40 years earlier, Moses sent the 12 spies to “check things out” and 10 of the 12 came back with a negative report, saying the cities are fortified, the fighting men are huge and they have many chariots. Such reports understandably discouraged the people. There was no mention by these naysayers of “God is able to help us”. Only Joshua and Caleb had positive reports and said “we can do this”. God will help us”. But the folks didn’t listen to Joshua and Caleb, they listened to the majority. The majority is often wrong. On the other hand, God is always right.


Remember how God was angered and caused the disbelieving generation to wander in the desert for 40 years till most of them died off. So now they have gone into the Promised Land and conquered some but not all of the “bad guys”. Recall that the remaining job of each tribe inheriting its assigned area would be to complete the job of driving the bad guys out. Coincidentally, we should simply expect to deal with opposition to the things we do in the name of the Lord today, whether in our individual lives or in the affairs of his church. So, let’s look at what Caleb says in Joshua 14: 6 – 12.


The people of Judah came to Joshua at Gilgal. Caleb spoke: “You’ll remember what God said to Moses the man of God concerning you and me…when I was forty years old, when God sent (the two) of “us” (and 10 others) to spy out the land. I brought back an honest and accurate report. My companions who went with me discouraged the people. But I stuck to my guns, totally with God, my God. That was the day that Moses solemnly promised. “the land on which your feet have walked will be your inheritance, you and your children’s forever. Yes, you have lived totally for God. Now look at me: God has kept me alive, as he promised. It is now forty five years since God spoke this word to Moses, years in which Israel wandered in the wilderness. An here I am today, eighty-five years old! I’m as strong as I was the day Moses sent me out. I’m as strong as ever in battle, whether coming or going. So give me this hill country that God promised me. You yourself heard the report, that the Anakim (are there) with their great fortress cities. If God goes with me, I will drive them out, just as God said”. Caleb is saying that he believed in, and would rely on the promises of God. So should we…


Not listening to naysayers is beautifully illustrated by this Paul Harvey story. A three year old went with his mom to buy groceries. Before entering the store she told him not to bother to ask for chocolate chip cookies, cause she wasn’t going to buy any. When the cart was going down the cookie aisle, he asked anyway. “No chocolate chip cookies I said”. His mother forgot something and had to go down the cookie aisle a second time. The boy asked again. “No chocolate chip cookies” just a bit more strongly. As she headed to the busy check out aisles, the little boy got up and stood on his seat and yelled to the top of his voice, “In the name of Jesus, could I please have some chocolate chip cookies?” Some people clapped, some laughed but at last count, the little boy and his mother left the store with 23 boxes of chocolate chip cookies bought for him by other people. Never, never let the naysayers tell you what you can or can”t do or have or what we can or can’t do in the Lord’s name.


David certainly didn’t.


David immediately saw an opportunity to serve his God and his country and he willingly volunteered in the face of family, friends, colleagues and even the king telling him he was misguided, he was too small, he was un prepared, he was perhaps immature. David didn’t listen to the naysayers.


Neither should we.


Do we see opportunity through God’s eyes? Do we listen to advice of others or do we allow the leading of the Holy Spirit to guide us? Do we step out, step up, or remain seated when God’s puts opportunity in front of us? I would sincerely suggest that we should act when God is leading and in spite of what some may tell us.


  1. God will empower us when we use our strength, our initiative, our courage and our effort to overcome any fears we may naturally have.


Scripture tells us in verse 24 -25 that “the Israelites, to a man, fell backward the moment they saw the giant—totally frightened. The talk among the troops was, “Have you ever seen anything like this, this man openly and defiantly challenging Israel?

Note the account beginning in verse 41 of the Message bible: “As the Philistine paced back and forth, his shield bearer in front of him, he noticed David. He took one look down on him and sneered…

The Philistine ridiculed David…and cursed him…”come on I’ll make road kill of you for the buzzards and turn you into a tasty morsel for the field mice”. …


The Bible is silent here, as to David’s fears or reservations. My guess is: He was human and in all likelihood, probably had them. What we see though (and we should always take consolation from): HIS FAITH WAS GREATER THAN ANY FEARS.


What we see is the unabashed faith in the God of the universe that drove him forward. Listen to what David said and did.


“David answered, 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. The battle belongs to God…. That roused the Philistine and he started toward David. David took off from the front line, running toward the Philistine. David reached into his pocket for a stone….


Scriptures tell us that at the appointed time, David “ran toward Goliath”. I can’t speak for each of you, but such faith (prompting action) puts shivers up and down my backbone just trying to visualize it.  

Consider Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians 2:3 where he told of some reservations and fears about preaching to the Corinthian church –“I was unsure of how to go about this, and felt totally inadequate-actually, I was scared to death, if you want the truth of it”.


Paul was concerned that nothing he might consider saying to the powerful Corinthian church people could have impressed them or for that matter, anyone else. But Paul goes on to say,


“God’s strength and power came though anyway. God’s spirit and god’s power did it, which made it clear that your life of faith is a response to God’s power not to some fancy mental or emotional footwork by me or anyone else”.

Both David and Paul give us a clear example of the same thing Paul tells all of us in Galatians 2:20 “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the son of God…..”


David believed that God was enabling him to face Goliath; he acted and God enabled the victory. Paul believed the same thing when he spoke to the Corinthian church. We can know with certainty that we can succeed in the challenges of life because Christ is living in us and the battle with life’s challenges is his battle.


  1. The vision and action of one person can influence many in kingdom work.


1 Sam 17:51 …“Then David ran up to the Philistine and stood over him, pulled the giant’s sword from its sheath, and finished the job by cutting off his head. When the Philistines saw that their great champion was dead, they scattered, running for their lives”.


“The Men of Israel and Judah were up on their feet, shouting! They chased the Philistines all the way to the outskirts of Gath…and Ekron. Wounded Philistines were strewn along the Shaaraim road all the way….


The faith of one teen age boy influenced an entire army and an entire nation. The same thing done in the name of the Lord can happen today.


So the question to all of us in closing is:


Do we believe that God will act in and through us to accomplish what he has laid on our hearts to do for him?

Are we willing to let him take charge of the battles of our life?

Are we willing to stop listening to the naysayers?

Are we willing to be one person, led by God?


Consider these practical lessons as we examine our lives today. Let us pray.

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