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David & Goliath


by Rev. Antony W. Ball

 
It used to be one of the best-known stories from the Old Testament - many a boy, hearing it read to him in Sunday School, must have imagined himself taking David's place, relishing all the gory details of that stone sinking into Goliath's forehead, and David slaying the giant with his own sword and cutting off his head. These days it would probably be considered unsuitable for children and given some cautionary rating but, blood and gore aside, it can still speak to us.

David was ordinary - the youngest of Jesse's eight sons at a time when that fact alone consigned him to being insignificant and fit only to run errands for his father and to keep an eye on a few sheep.  The three eldest sons were fighting the Philistines as soldiers in King Saul's army, while David just kept them supplied with food parcels from home.

Goliath was a giant of a man and challenged any Israelite to meet him in single-handed combat to decide the outcome of the battle.  David was the only volunteer.  He tried wearing armour, but found it too heavy and challenged Goliath armed only with a stick, his shepherd's sling and five smooth stones chosen from a stream. He countered Goliath's derisive comment...

Am I a dog that you come out against me with sticks?
 
by answering...
 
You have come against me with sword and spear and dagger,
but I have come against you in the name of the LORD of hosts,
the God of the army of Israel which you have defied.
The LORD will put you into my power this day...
the LORD saves neither by sword nor spear;
the battle is the LORD'S; and he will put you all into our power.

And the rest, as the saying goes, is history.  Whether it really is history or not (and I do appreciate that some stories improve with age), it makes the valid point that when we're doing things for God we can rely on far more than our normal, natural, innate abilities.
 
  • David was not overconfident - he chose five stones in case he missed with the first one or two tries
  • David used his talents - he'd doubtless practised with his sling many times when bored as a shepherd-boy and so that he could fight off animals threatening his sheep
  • David attributed his success to God rather than claiming it for himself - and made that clear to Goliath.
  • When we're working for God, we should use our common sense and allow for the possibility that we might fail a few times before getting it right
  • When we're working for God, we should use and practise the talents we already have, recognising them to be God-given
  • When we're working for God, we should make it clear to ourselves as well as to others that God is the source of our successes.
A.W.B.

 
 

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Isleworth Congregational Church - Twickenham Road - Isleworth - Middlesex - TW7 7EU - United Kingdom

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