GOD’S WIDER PURPOSE
Mighty One, you are an amazing God; greater than my ability to imagine, beyond any word I could use to describe you.
Read 1 SAMUEL 17:28–54
28 When Eliab, David’s oldest brother, heard him speaking with the men, he burned with anger at him and asked, “Why have you come down here? And with whom did you leave those few sheep in the wilderness? I know how conceited you are and how wicked your heart is; you came down only to watch the battle.”
29 “Now what have I done?” said David. “Can’t I even speak?” 30 He then turned away to someone else and brought up the same matter, and the men answered him as before. 31 What David said was overheard and reported to Saul, and Saul sent for him.
32 David said to Saul, “Let no one lose heart on account of this Philistine; your servant will go and fight him.”
33 Saul replied, “You are not able to go out against this Philistine and fight him; you are only a young man, and he has been a warrior from his youth.”
34 But David said to Saul, “Your servant has been keeping his father’s sheep. When a lion or a bear came and carried off a sheep from the flock, 35 I went after it, struck it and rescued the sheep from its mouth. When it turned on me, I seized it by its hair, struck it and killed it. 36 Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, because he has defied the armies of the living God. 37 The Lord who rescued me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will rescue me from the hand of this Philistine.”
Saul said to David, “Go, and the Lord be with you.”
38 Then Saul dressed David in his own tunic. He put a coat of armor on him and a bronze helmet on his head. 39 David fastened on his sword over the tunic and tried walking around, because he was not used to them.
“I cannot go in these,” he said to Saul, “because I am not used to them.” So he took them off. 40 Then he took his staff in his hand, chose five smooth stones from the stream, put them in the pouch of his shepherd’s bag and, with his sling in his hand, approached the Philistine.
41 Meanwhile, the Philistine, with his shield bearer in front of him, kept coming closer to David. 42 He looked David over and saw that he was little more than a boy, glowing with health and handsome, and he despised him. 43 He said to David, “Am I a dog, that you come at me with sticks?” And the Philistine cursed David by his gods. 44 “Come here,” he said, “and I’ll give your flesh to the birds and the wild animals!”
45 David said to the Philistine, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. 46 This day the Lord will deliver you into my hands, and I’ll strike you down and cut off your head. This very day I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds and the wild animals, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel. 47 All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves; for the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give all of you into our hands.”
48 As the Philistine moved closer to attack him, David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet him. 49 Reaching into his bag and taking out a stone, he slung it and struck the Philistine on the forehead. The stone sank into his forehead, and he fell facedown on the ground.
50 So David triumphed over the Philistine with a sling and a stone; without a sword in his hand he struck down the Philistine and killed him.
51 David ran and stood over him. He took hold of the Philistine’s sword and drew it from the sheath. After he killed him, he cut off his head with the sword.
When the Philistines saw that their hero was dead, they turned and ran. 52 Then the men of Israel and Judah surged forward with a shout and pursued the Philistines to the entrance of Gath[a] and to the gates of Ekron. Their dead were strewn along the Shaaraim road to Gath and Ekron. 53 When the Israelites returned from chasing the Philistines, they plundered their camp.
54 David took the Philistine’s head and brought it to Jerusalem; he put the Philistine’s weapons in his own tent.
- 1 Samuel 17:52 Some Septuagint manuscripts; Hebrew of a valley
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Think of a time when you experienced difficulties. What lessons did you learn?
The contrast of perceptions continues as Israel faces a giant enemy. Eliab, David’s older brother, completely misreads David’s intentions (v 28) and he is not the one who will bring God’s perspective to the situation. Saul adopts the pagan viewpoint advocated by Goliath that might and superior military gear will decide the outcome of the showdown. This is evident when he doubts David’s suitability to fight the giant and offers his weapons to equip him (vs 33,38). David, on the other hand, recognizes that it is the Lord who delivers, whether in simple situations of difficulty (against the lion and the bear) or when the enemy specifically mocks or defies him (v 36).
David testifies to the Lord’s power not only to Saul but to Goliath as well. Moreover, he brings an additional angle to the issue, namely that through the deliverance it will be made known to the whole earth that there is a God in Israel (v 46). In other words, David not only shows spiritual discernment but understands God’s wider purpose. Israel’s and her king’s calling are to witness to the Lord’s presence and power through their interaction with others and their trust in him. Moreover, the outcome of David’s stance will testify to God’s own people (v 47) and thereby encourage them.1
David’s attitude reminds us that when we go through testing times, more is at stake than our own well-being, though God cares about that too. Outsiders as well as Christians, whether colleagues, friends, or family, see our reactions and may recognize God’s presence through us. For some it could become the opportunity that awakens them to the reality of God for the first time; for others it may be the encouragement they need as Christians to keep going in their own struggles.
Lord, may we witness to your reality in word and deed and offer hope to those without hope.
Heavenly Father, you’re greater than the most powerful forces in the world. Use me to point others to your grace.
1 The Hebrew qahal (assembly, NIV ‘those gathered here’) most often refers to Israel as a religious community
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