The Courage of David
A few weeks ago we talked about Moses and his answering God’s call in his life. Today we are going to talk about courage with yet another Old Testament personality but I want to revisit Moses for a moment.
What would have happened had Moses tried to figure out what was needed to accomplish God’s command? One of the biggest arithmetical miracles in the world was required in the desert. Moses led the people of Israel into the desert….Now what was he going to do with them? They had to be fed, and feeding 3-1/2 million people required a lot of food. According to the U. S. Army’s Quartermaster General, Moses needed 1500 tons of food a day, filling two freight trains, each a mile long. Besides, you must remember, they were cooking the food. Just for cooking this took 4000 tons of firewood and a few more freight trains, each a mile long and this is only for one day (not to mention for keeping warm, and if anyone tells you it doesn’t get cold in the desert don’t believe them!). They were for forty YEARS in transit!!! Let’s not forget about water, shall we? If they only had enough to drink and wash a few dishes (no bathing?!), it took 11,000,000 gallons EACH DAY--enough to fill a train of tanker cars 1800 miles long. And another thing! They had to get across the red sea in one night. Now if they went on a narrow path, double file, the line would be 800 miles long and require 35 days and nights to complete the crossing. So to get it over in one night there had to be a space in the Red Sea 3 miles wide so that they could walk 5,000 abreast. Think about this; every time they camped at the end of the day, a camp ground the size of Rhode Island was required, or 750 square miles. Do you think that Moses sat down and figured out the logistics of what God told him to do before he set out from Egypt? I doubt it. He had faith that God would take care of everything. Let us have courage, we share the very same God!
The Bible is full of examples of leaders that exhibited courage. They would include, Esther, Joshua, Gideon, Moses, Noah and young people like, Daniel and the three Hebrew children. These men and women were given an opportunity to bring about change. In every story there is one thing they all had in common. They all needed courage to leverage the opportunity that was before them.
David was perhaps the youngest of all these Old Testament figures but he is a perfect example of how courage is a vital part of leading and life. The story of David and the giant Goliath contains some important life principles.
He was the youngest son of a man named Jesse. He was a shepherd who tended sheep for his family. He was a young man with a heart for God. Only recently had the old prophet Samuel visited his home and after seeing all David’s brothers asked if there were any other. When told about David the youngest son, Samuel asked to see him and immediately under the prompting of God anointed him to be the next king of Israel.
There really is no indication in the Bible that David or his family knew what the prophet was doing. David had seven brothers so there would be no thought that the youngest would be the one to be the next king. Three of his brothers were in King Saul’s army and were camped facing the Philistines or an enemy army. If you could picture almost a Civil War scenario where two armies are camped within earshot of each other you would have a picture of this standoff.
One day he is asked by his father to go to the area where some of his brothers are camped with the army to take them a care package from home. As he arrives at the edge of the camp something really unusual happens.
The bible says that, “The Philistines now mustered their army for battle and camped between Socoh in Judah and Azekah at Ephes-dammim. 2 Saul countered by gathering his Israelite troops near the valley of Elah. 3 So the Philistines and Israelites faced each other on opposite hills, with the valley between them.
4 Then Goliath, a Philistine champion from Gath, came out of the Philistine ranks to face the forces of Israel. He was over nine feet tall! 5 He wore a bronze helmet, and his bronze coat of mail weighed 125 pounds. 6 He also wore bronze leg armor, and he carried a bronze javelin on his shoulder. 7 The shaft of his spear was as heavy and thick as a weaver’s beam, tipped with an iron spearhead that weighed 15 pounds. His armor bearer walked ahead of him carrying a shield.
8 Goliath stood and shouted a taunt across to the Israelites. “Why are you all coming out to fight?” he called. “I am the Philistine champion, but you are only the servants of Saul. Choose one man to come down here and fight me! 9 If he kills me, then we will be your slaves. But if I kill him, you will be our slaves! 10 I defy the armies of Israel today! Send me a man who will fight me!” 11 When Saul and the Israelites heard this, they were terrified and deeply shaken.” 1 Samuel 17:1-11 NLT
It was into this camp that David walked one day. Sure enough just as he arrived the
giant Goliath came out and stood taunting the whole army of Israel with his booming voice and insults.
What would you do? I suppose some of your response will depend on your personality and temperament. I suppose that your response would be shaped by your life experiences and training. But what we are going to see today is that if God is on your side there is really nothing that you can’t do.
Our response to challenges in our life needs to be influenced by our relationship with God. If you are walking in a personal relationship with God how you handle the challenges and fearful moments in life will be gauged by the depth of your relationship.
David knew God and had relied on Him many times in his young life. It was second nature for him to automatically trust God to enable him to overcome anything.
1. His courage distinguished him as a leader not his talent, calling or title
He would be called to be king of Israel someday but at the time of this story that was not even remotely in his mind. He was just a young kid that had a confident trust in God.
“David asked the soldiers standing nearby, “What will a man get for killing this Philistine and ending his defiance of Israel? Who is this pagan Philistine anyway, that he is allowed to defy the armies of the living God?” 1 Samuel 17:26 NLT
David asked the right questions. He didn’t wring his hands and say what are we going to do? His first question smacks of youth and courage. Courage was deep in the heart of this young man.
What life situation has you on the run? What are you dealing with in your life that feels like a giant right now?
Don’t forget that you are serving a living God. A God who responds to our needs. Sometimes with the answer we want and sometimes with grace to enable us to endure the hardships. Remember it was his courage not his title that set him apart from all the others.
2. He acted on the need that he saw. He seized the moment while everyone else was just looking on.
The Israeli army had been running scared and latterly trembling in the face of Goliath. Remember the bible says they were terrified and deeply shaken. What makes a difference in the lives of people who lead are their willingness to step into a crisis and work for a solution.
“Don’t worry about this Philistine,” David told Saul. “I’ll go fight him!” I Samuel 17:32 NLT
Can you imagine what those soldiers must have thought?
“But when David’s oldest brother, Eliab, heard David talking to the men, he was angry. “What are you doing around here anyway?” he demanded. “What about those few sheep you’re supposed to be taking care of? I know about your pride and deceit. You just want to see the battle!”
29 “What have I done now?” David replied. “I was only asking a question!” 30 He walked over to some others and asked them the same thing and received the same answer. 31 Then David’s question was reported to King Saul, and the king sent for him.” 1 Samuel 17:28-31 NLT
People who make a difference in life are always those who rise above the herd or crowd to take on a challenge that nobody else will tackle.
3. Goliath presented a great threat but he also presented an great opportunity.
(Great threat = Great opportunity.) This is a good case study to do a SWOT analysis on.
SWOT: Strengths Weakness Opportunities and Threats
I’m not going to spend much time here but what you would list as a threat can usually be an opportunity if you have the right perspective.
J. B. Phillips, in his book, “Your God Is Too Small”, responds to an old children’s poem that says, “Christian children all must be mild, obedient, good as He.” He writes: “This word ‘mild’ is apparently deliberately used to describe a man who did not hesitate to challenge and expose the hypocrisies of the religious people of His day; a man who had such ‘personality’ that He walked unscathed through a murderous crowd; a man so far from being a nonentity that He was regarded by the authorities as a public danger; a man who could be moved to violent anger by shameless exploitation or by smug complacent orthodoxy; a man of such courage that He deliberately walked to what He knew would mean death, despite the earnest pleas of well-meaning friends! Mild! What a word to use for a personality whose challenge and strange attractiveness nineteen centuries have by no means exhausted. Jesus Christ might well be called ‘meek,’ in the sense of being selfless and humble and utterly devoted to what He considered right, whatever the personal cost; but ‘mild,’ never!” - J. B. Phillips “Your God Is Too Small” Macmillan paperbacks, 1960
We cannot discover new oceans unless we have courage to lose sight of the shore.
4. He was courageous and careful.
He didn’t rush into the valley full of adrenaline or full of the prospect of becoming a national hero. He wasn’t looking for his fifteen minutes of fame. He played to his strengths even when they weren’t conventional. King Saul heard from David and was hesitant to let such a young kid go and face the giant yet there was something about his courage that made the difference.
“But David persisted. “I have been taking care of my father’s sheep and goats,” he said. “When a lion or a bear comes to steal a lamb from the flock, 35 I go after it with a club and rescue the lamb from its mouth. If the animal turns on me, I catch it by the jaw and club it to death. 36 I have done this to both lions and bears, and I’ll do it to this pagan Philistine, too, for he has defied the armies of the living God! 37 The LORD who rescued me from the claws of the lion and the bear will rescue me from this Philistine!”
Saul finally consented. “All right, go ahead,” he said. “And may the LORD be with you!” Then Saul gave David his own armor—a bronze helmet and a coat of mail. 39 David put it on, strapped the sword over it, and took a step or two to see what it was like, for he had never worn such things before.
“I can’t go in these,” he protested to Saul. “I’m not used to them.” So David took them off again. 40 He picked up five smooth stones from a stream and put them into his shepherd’s bag. Then, armed only with his shepherd’s staff and sling, he started across the valley to fight the Philistine.” 1 Samuel 17:34-40 NLT
He was careful to realize that this was going to be a God moment in his life and the conventional armor was not needed nor would it be effective.
5. There is a fine line between being careful and being fearful
Questions that fearful people ask:
What if it doesn’t work?
What if I’m wrong?
What will others think of me?
A. Careful is cerebral; fearful is emotional.
B. Careful is fueled by information; fearfulness by imagination.
C. Careful calculates risk; fearfulness avoids risks.
D. Careful wants to achieve success; fearful wants to avoid failure.
E. Careful is concerned about progress; fearful is concerned about protection.
David was careful but he moved forward to engage Goliath.
Goliath walked out toward David with his shield bearer ahead of him, 42 sneering in contempt at this ruddy-faced boy. 43 “Am I a dog,” he roared at David, “that you come at me with a stick?” And he cursed David by the names of his gods. 44 “Come over here, and I’ll give your flesh to the birds and wild animals!” Goliath yelled.
45 David replied to the Philistine, “You come to me with sword, spear, and javelin, but I come to you in the name of the LORD of Heaven’s Armies—the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. 46 Today the LORD will conquer you, and I will kill you and cut off your head. And then I will give the dead bodies of your men to the birds and wild animals, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel! 47 And everyone assembled here will know that the LORD rescues his people, but not with sword and spear. This is the LORD’s battle, and he will give you to us!”
48 As Goliath moved closer to attack, David quickly ran out to meet him. 49 Reaching into his shepherd’s bag and taking out a stone, he hurled it with his sling and hit the Philistine in the forehead. The stone sank in, and Goliath stumbled and fell face down on the ground.
50 So David triumphed over the Philistine with only a sling and a stone, for he had no sword. 51 Then David ran over and pulled Goliath’s sword from its sheath. David used it to kill him and cut off his head. 1 Samuel 17:42-50 NLT
Remember there is always a fine line between being fearful and careful. In his carefulness David was victorious and overcame is greatest obstacle.
6. The momentum totally changed when David exercised courage, faced and eliminated Goliath.
Israel had been filled with fear but in one moment of time they were full of courage. The Philistines were full of courage until one man found courage to move forward in faith and then in a moment they were full of fear.
When the Philistines saw that their champion was dead, they turned and ran. 52 Then the men of Israel and Judah gave a great shout of triumph and rushed after the Philistines, chasing them as far as Gath and the gates of Ekron. The bodies of the dead and wounded Philistines were strewn all along the road from Shaaraim, as far as Gath and Ekron. 53 Then the Israelite army returned and plundered the deserted Philistine camp.” 1 Samuel 17:51-52 NLT
It just may be that you plus God can make the difference in your life that will completely reverse the way things are going now. For forty days the giant Goliath had come out and tormented the whole army. He terrified them. He harassed them and he paralyzed them with fear.
What giants in your life have you trembling in fear?
Maybe you aren’t trembling but you are ignoring it all hoping it will go away but it never does.
Christian author Neil Anderson wrote a list he called The Twenty Cans of Success. These are based on what the NT says is true of Christians. These are promises, claimed by believers through the centuries. Allow God to speak to you through these assurances.
1. Why should I say I can’t when the Bible says I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength (Philippians 4:13)?
2. Why should I lack when I know that God shall supply all my needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:19)?
3. Why should I fear when the Bible says God has not given me a spirit of fear, but of power, love and a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7)?
4. Why should I lack faith to fulfill my calling knowing that God as allotted to me a measure of faith (Romans 12:3)?
5. Why should I be weak when the Bible says that the Lord is the strength of my life and that I will display strength and take action because I know God (Psalm 27:1;
6. Why should I allow Satan supremacy over my life when He that is in me is greater than he that is in the world (1 John 4:4)?
7. Why should I accept defeat when the Bible says that God always leads me in a triumphant procession (2 Corinthians 2:14)?
8. Why should I lack wisdom when Christ became wisdom to me from God and God gives wisdom to me generously when I ask Him for it (1 Corinthians 1:30; James 1:5)?
9. Why should I be depressed when I can recall to mind God’s loving kindness, compassion, and faithfulness and have hope (Lamentations 3:21-23)?
10. Why should I worry and fret when I can cast all my anxiety on Christ who cares for me (1 Peter 5:7)?
11. Why should I ever be in bondage knowing that there is liberty where the Spirit of the Lord is (2 Corinthians 3:17)?
12. Why should I feel condemned when the Bible says I am not condemned because I am in Christ (Romans 8:1)?
13. Why should I feel alone when Jesus said He is with me always and He will never leave me nor forsake me (Matthew 28:20; Hebrews 13:5)?
14. Why should I feel accursed or that I am the victim of bad luck when the Bible says that Christ redeemed me from the curse of the law that I might receive His Spirit (Galatians 3:13-14)?
15. Why should I be discontented when I, like Paul, can learn to be content in all my circumstances (Philippians 4:11)?
16. Why should I feel worthless when Christ became sin on my behalf that I might become the righteousness of God in Him (2 Corinthians 5:21)?
17. Why should I have a persecution complex knowing that nobody can be against me when God is for me (Romans 8:31)?
18. Why should I be confused when God is the author of peace and He gives me knowledge through His indwelling Spirit (1 Corinthians 14:33; 2:12)?
19. Why should I feel like a failure when I am a conqueror in all things through Christ (Romans 8:37)?
20. Why should I let the pressures of life bother me when I can take courage knowing that Jesus has overcome the world and its tribulations (John 16:33)?
“ 10 A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. 12 For we[c] are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.
13 Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. 14 Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. 15 For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared.[d] 16 In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil.[e] 17 Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” Ephesians 6:10-17 NLT
Benediction: “Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Thessalonians 5:23 NKJV