Tag Archives: King Saul

Is your view of life upside-down? – Characters: David & Goliath, Part 3

27 Nov
Photo by Mathilda Khoo on Unsplash

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.

Do you have crippling fear? – Characters: David & Goliath, Part 1

24 Nov

What seemingly impossible situations are you facing?  What is causing you fear?  What keeps you up at night?  What gives you an upset stomach?  Fear is a powerful force that affects so many of us.  Fear of losing our health.  Fear of losing control.  Fear of poverty.  Fear of death.

In our Characters series, we come to a famous story of David who was confronted by a soldier named Goliath who drove fear into the hearts of the whole Israelite army. Their story is found in 1 Samuel chapter 17.  We actually met David last week.  Very briefly.  Last week we studied the amazing story of David’s great-grandmother, Ruth

Ruth lived in the period of the nation of Israel when judges ruled the land of Israel.  The very last judge was a man named Samuel, who was also a great prophet.  During his years he led Israel in victory over the Philistines, and he eventually anointed the first king of Israel, a man named Saul.  As king, Saul had some victories, but he also disobeyed God, and so in 1 Samuel chapter 16, we read that God instructs Samuel to anoint a new king to take over after Saul.

In nearly every nation in the history of the world that has a monarchy, they almost always use the same system for picking the next king or queen.  Do you know what it is called?  Primogeniture. 

My wife, Michelle, and I have been watching The Crown on Netflix, all about the life of Queen Elizabeth of England, and in one episode they show a flashback when Elizabeth and her younger sister Margaret are girls, and they are discussing how Elizabeth will someday take over for her father.  They both agree that with Elizabeth’s personality which was more quiet and reserved and Margaret being more the people person, Margaret, the younger sister, should be queen.  So Margaret goes to an official to make this request thinking it is for the best.  The official has to break the news that primogeniture is the way it is, and Elizabeth will be queen.  Margaret is crushed.

Primogeniture means simply that the first born child takes over as the next monarch. 

Interestingly God instructs Samuel not to follow primogeniture.  Saul’s son Jonathan would not be the next king.  In fact, no one from Saul’s family would be king.  Instead God directs Samuel to go to the town of Bethlehem to the house of Jesse, whose grandmother was a Moabite (a non-Israelite) lady named Ruth, and Samuel anoints not the oldest of Jesse’s sons, but the youngest, a shepherd poet named David.  Then we read that the Spirit of the Lord came on David in power.  1 Samuel 16 concludes with David traveling to Saul’s house from time to time to play the harp for Saul, because Saul was regularly afflicted with what seemed to be a combination of spiritual and psychological oppression, and David’s music would calm him.  That brings us to 1 Samuel 17, and the famous story of David and a man, named Goliath.

How do we normally understand the story of David and Goliath?  It is perhaps the classic underdog story, right?  In sports, in war, in a political election, and in just about any arena where one weaker, smaller person or group is pitted against an opponent that seems bigger, wealthier, more experienced, or more famous, we say that it is David vs. Goliath situation.  A famous example is from a few years ago when the Eagles were considered underdogs in the Super Bowl against the New England Patriots. 

But what we’re going to find is that the original David vs. Goliath story is almost certainly not an underdog story. 

1st Samuel 17, verses 1-3 tells us that two armies, the Philistines and Israel, are facing each other from opposing hillsides.  These two nations had been at war with one another for many years.  But this particular battle is unique. Why? Keep reading…

The Philistines have a secret weapon.  Well, a man.  A giant of a man.  Goliath.  And he is decked out in armor, armed with a javelin, and we later learn he also has a sword. He also has a shield bearer going ahead of him.  In other words, Goliath is an imposing soldier.  Intimidating.  Fearsome. 

Furthermore, as we keep reading, we learn that the Philistines use Goliath in a unique method of ancient warfare.  In verses 8-11, we learn that each side is to send out a single champion soldier to represent their army.  Whichever soldier wins the one-on-one fight, they will have won the battle for their whole army.  It is, in a way, a good idea to avoid loss of life.  But King Saul of Israel and his army are terrified.  Who wouldn’t be, right?  Goliath was a freak of nature!  Who would want to go fight him?

Here’s what is sometimes missed in the story: Israel had a giant too.  It’s true.  Israel had a tall man.  He wasn’t as tall as Goliath, but they had a man who we are told was a head taller than all the rest.  You know who it was?  King Saul.  In 1 Samuel 9:2, we read that Saul was impressive too, without equal among all Israel, as he was a head taller than the others.  He should have been the one to go fight Goliath.  But he didn’t.  No one from Israel’s army would fight.  They were all terrified. 

Fear is crippling, isn’t it?  Fear can cause you to forget truth.  Fear can cause you to fixate on disaster.  Think about that in your own life.  Have you ever succumbed to fear, to assuming the worst of things?  Assuming that things are terrible and awful and insurmountable, as if there is no hope?  I’ve been there.  If I’m driving down the road, for example, and I hear what seems to be a new noise coming from the direction of the engine of the car, my mind can go lightning fast down a negative path thinking, “Oh man…our car is dying and it is going to cost a ton to fix and it is going to ruin us financially.”  Because I heard one little new noise?  Fear can do that, if we let it.  Hear that last bit of the sentence?  If we let it. How have you let fear cripple you?

Saul and Israel allowed Goliath to fill their hearts with fear.  Jump down to verse 16, and we read that this was going on for forty days.  Forty days!  Goliath would come out twice a day, challenging any Israelite soldier to fight him.  That’s forty days of fear.  Forty days of Saul and Israel crippled by their fear.  Maybe you’ve been there.  If we allow it, fear can linger, and it can ruin our lives.  We can’t sleep good.  We can’t eat.  We can be very difficult to be around.  Our friends and family try to help us out, but fear can get a stranglehold on us and lock down our lives.  Anyone know what I mean?  We know it is no way to live.  We hate the struggle, but we can get so stuck that we have no idea what to do.  That seems to have been happening to Saul and his army.

As we continue the story, we’re going to learn an amazing response to fear.