New technology has always grabbed people’s attention. David’s preparation to fight Goliath began with a discussion of the latest military hardware. David was content to fight in the name of God but King Saul had armor and a gadget called a sword, and was keen to demonstrate an application or two.1
“David, look at the modern lines and see how sharp it is. It has some cool apps. This is how you slash. Here’s a thrust; aim for the ribcage. Wield it like this for a strike, but Goliath’s a lot taller than you so you probably won’t use that one. If you need to respond to Goliath’s thrust, use the parry stroke, so.”
After trying on Saul’s armor and bucket-like helmet, David could hardly walk, let alone fight a nimble dual. He confessed as he removed them, “I have not tried them out.”2 Instead, David went back to his favorite application—relying on the Lord to deliver him.3
That was how he approached Goliath, who taunted him for his outdated weaponry. Hidden between insults and mockery we find a principle of spiritual warfare—spiritual battles involve spiritual beings. Goliath cursed David by the Philistine gods;4 David declared that his own authority came from the Lord.
It was a battle of the giants. A physical giant faced a relatively puny shepherd; the Lord of hosts towered over a few pygmy Philistine gods. When David declared, “I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel,” he was applying a fundamental lesson learned in the pastures: There is little that we can do compared to what God does, when it comes to defending us or His own honor. Getting out of God’s way and allowing Him to exercise His authority is wise. David had experienced God helping him against bears and lions; he knew God would protect Him from Goliath. David placed himself completely under God; he did everything in His name and for his glory. He relied on God.
Then David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with a sword, a spear, and a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have taunted. This day the Lord will deliver you up into my hands, and I will strike you down and remove your head from you. And I will give the dead bodies of the army of the Philistines this day to the birds of the sky and the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel, and that all this assembly may know that the Lord does not deliver by sword or by spear; for the battle is the Lord’s and He will give you into our hands.” Then it happened when the Philistine rose and came and drew near to meet David, that David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet the Philistine. And David put his hand into his bag and took from it a stone and slung it, and struck the Philistine on his forehead. And the stone sank into his forehead, so that he fell on his face to the ground. (1 Sam. 17:45-49)
Once the boastful giant lay unconscious, David grabbed his fallen sword. It requires considerable training to use a sword effectively in battle, especially against a seasoned warrior. However, as a sharp instrument, its use is intuitive. David quickly found the slice and hack apps and used it to behead Goliath.5
David knew what fighting in the name of God meant; he was not familiar with Saul’s practices. If Saul and his men had insisted that David take a crash course in swordsmanship and save his faith for attacks by wild animals, Israel’s history would be different. Thankfully, David stood firm and demonstrated the power of dependence on God and the authority that is ours when we act in the name of God.
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