Last year, I was hired to work on a unique project. I’ll spare all the details until it’s officially available, but it involved a great deal of work taking Bible stories and paraphrasing them for different audiences. It was a huge job and certainly overwhelming at times, but it was also hugely rewarding. I reread stories that I’d heard dozens of times with a different level of attention, and I learned so much more about the Bible and about how God uses it to tell His story.
One of the stories that struck me was actually a story that I’d heard probably fifty times. It’s a Sunday school favorite, probably one of the most famous Bible stories of them all – David and Goliath.
You know the one. Small shepherd boy, huge murderous soldier who hates the Israelite people. A few rocks and a sling, shouts of timber, and then a decapitated head. It’s a classic story, and it’s even part of the everyday vernacular. Small college teams who make a run to the Sweet Sixteen in March are playing the part of David to the Goliaths of Kentucky, North Carolina, Michigan State, or whoever. People who have never even read the Bible probably know about David and Goliath.
And I thought I did too. I had the story down pat. But as I was working on this project and reading more closely, one verse struck me as being different. I’d never heard it before. It brought a whole new image of David to mind.
1 Samuel 17:48 (ESV) – When the Philistine arose and came and drew near to meet David, David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet the Philistine.
Read that again.
Did you catch it?
David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet the Philistine.
David, this teenage shepherd boy, was facing a mountain of a man, a proven killer and enemy of the Lord’s people. And he ran quickly to meet this giant.
I think we sometimes have this image in our head that David somehow got lucky. That he put the rock in his sling, closed his eyes, and hoped to goodness that he hit the mark. But that’s not what the Bible says!
David ran headfirst towards a battle that he should never have even had to fight. He’s a young boy during this story. He wasn’t responsible for protecting Israel. That’s the king’s job, or at least the soldiers who serve the king. And he wasn’t being stupid or overconfident; he knew that the Lord would be with him.
Perhaps the best part is that this isn’t out of character for David! In 1 Samuel 17:34-35, he tells King Saul that he has killed frightening monsters before.
“But David said to Saul, “Your servant used to keep sheep for his father. And when there came a lion, or a bear, and took a lamb from the flock, I went after him and struck him and delivered it out of his mouth. And if he arose against me, I caught him by his beard and struck him and killed him.” (ESV)
This is a young man who, when a lion or bear came and took one of his sheep, he chased after it. That’s not normal, is it? And better yet, when he caught up to the ferocious animal, he grabbed it by the beard and killed it. Just think about that for a moment. I’ve seen lions in the zoo, and I’ve seen bears. They’re not small creatures. I can’t possibly imagine having the courage to chase after one, let alone grab it by the face and kill it! I won’t even tap on the glass at the zoo.
This image has stuck with me for nearly six months now. David was so confident in God and so confident in himself that he chased after lions and charged at giants without a moment of hesitation. “The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine,” David tells Saul in verse 37. There’s no doubt there. No “I hope God is with me on this one.” Just pure faith and belief that he’ll be safe.
I’d love to tell you that I’m like David. I’d love to have stories of times I charged at a problem or a situation that was scary or uncertain without any doubt. I probably do have a few of those stories, but I worry that I have a lot more times where I was like David’s brothers. You remember, the ones who told him to be quiet and get lost. To them, Goliath was huge. To David, God was huge, and Goliath was just another dude.
My word for the year is striving. I wrote about that a few weeks ago, and I am trying to filter everything through that lens as I progress through the year. I want to be the best me I can be and have one of the best years ever. Part of that for me is becoming more like David in this regard.
What David possessed is not something unattainable. We read later that David messes up, many times quite badly. He was an adulterer, a murderer, not the best father at times, and made mistakes that cost the kingdom. He’s not some superhero that we can’t ever be.
What he was, and what he proved to be when he charged Goliath, is a man of great mental strength. This came from his faith, no doubt, and I 100% believe the Lord was with him on the day he cut the giant’s head off. But David was the one charging. David was the one speaking up and saying “I’ve got this guy. Let me at him.” David was the one who had the mindset that it was better to stand up and fight than to cower in a hole and hope the problem goes away.
Life is full of giants. Everyone has different ones. What seems giant to me isn’t a big deal to others, and vice versa. There will always be giants, I’m coming to find out.
For me, this story, that one verse in a story I had heard again and again, helps to define who I want to be. This is the kind of striving I aim for. Life isn’t going to be obstacle free, but I want to charge into battle. I don’t want to sit back and watch and hope things work out. I want to jump into the fray and attack my giants.
I want to be like David.