Have you ever been in a situation where you were convinced you were right, but ultimately found out you were wrong? It can be shocking when that happens. We tend to go about life trusting our intuition, our viewpoint, and when we are believing something we think is so obvious, only to discover that we are wrong, it rattles us. One way this can happen is when we limit our view, though we have no idea that our view is limited. I’ve had this happen to me too many times to count. It could be a new piece of knowledge, a new theory, or something about which I was just simply wrong. As we continue the story of David versus Goliath, we’re going to see how some people in the story were completely wrong in their way of looking at the world, but they had no clue.
Yesterday we saw that David was aghast that the enemy Philistine giant Goliath was defying the armies of God, and no one was standing up to him. Teenage David’s outburst got him nowhere with his older brothers. So in 1 Samuel 17, verse 30 we learn that David brings up the matter to other people standing nearby. He is persistent. And eventually, in verse 31, other people report this to King Saul. For the first time in 40 days, Saul gets a report that someone is willing to fight Goliath. Of course Saul calls for this person to be brought before him, mostly likely because this will get Saul off the hook for having fight.
Look at what David says to Saul in verse 32. It is straight up bold: “Let no one lose heart on account of this Philistine; your servant will go and fight him.” What? A 16 year old shepherd poet versus a battle-hardened trained, armored giant? It’s ridiculous.
And that’s exactly how Saul responds in verse 33. “Come on, David. You’re just a boy.” Saul’s first line in that response shows you where his heart and mind is at, and perhaps why not only he, but the whole army is gripped in fear. Saul leads with, “You are not able to go out and fight against this Philistine.” That shows you how small, how limited is Saul’s vision, how weak is his trust in God in the midst of what appears to be an impossible situation. Saul limits himself to a human evaluation of the situation. God is nowhere to be found in Saul’s vision.
David, though? Totally different viewpoint.
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, 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. 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. The LORD who delivered me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.”
How about that? “The Lord will deliver me!” In the midst of crippling fear from what looks like insurmountable odds, David is laser-focused on God, and he alone is able to view the situation with truth.
Saul’s human response in verses 38-39, however, is to have David put on the king’s armor before he faces Goliath. Saul is viewing the solution within his limited view. The Israelite army also seems to be putting their faith in human means, as they see no way to overcome Goliath, and yet they were the people of God with a super clear history of God’s intervention in their lives. Fascinating, isn’t it? They had the wonderful stories of God’s amazing miraculous work. They could even remember Samson’s wild victories over Philistia, who likely was a judge in Israel only decades before. But they don’t remember any of that. They each look at their size, their armor, their weapons, and they conclude they are no match for Goliath.
And when one man does step forward with no armor, Saul, still thinking humanly, even though his vision is that David is no match for Goliath, believes maybe David will have a little more chance wearing armor.
David obediently tries on the armor, but knows immediately it will be counterproductive, slow him down, get in the way, and he says, “This can’t work,” takes off the armor, and heads out to face Goliath.
My guess is that for the most part, you have been tracking with this story, and so far it has sounded pretty much familiar to what you remembered. The classic underdog story. As David walks from the Israelite battle line, heading in Goliath’s direction, I would like to suggest, however, that this is not an underdog story at all.
You might be thinking, “Well, of course, Joel. David has God on his side, and therefore he is not really an underdog.” True. I agree with that. But that’s not what I’m getting at. We will certainly be talking about God’s involvement in this story, but there is something else important going on here. And we’ll reveal that in the next post in this series.