This is probably one of the most famous stories in the Bible. I’ve probably read or heard it hundreds of times in my lifetime. But as I read it this time, the thing that came out most clearly was the difference between men of faith and fear. Or to be more politically correct, people of faith and people of fear. 🙂
The Israelites were being confronted by the Philistines again, and this time, a Philistine champion challenged the army of Israel to a one on one duel. If the Israelite champion won, the Philistines would serve them. If the Philistine champion won, the Israelites would serve them.
But when the Saul and the Israelite army heard this, they all cowered in fear. And in the midst of this, a man of faith appears: David.
It’s very interesting to see the reactions the men of fear had to the man of faith.
1. Anger. When David heard about Goliath’s challenge, he said,
Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living God? (26)
When Eliab, David’s older brother, heard this, he lashed out at David saying,
Why have you come down here? And with whom did you leave those few sheep in the desert? I know how conceited you are and how wicked your heart is; you came down only to watch the battle. (28)
Why did Eliab lash out? Perhaps because David’s words pointed out his own fear. Perhaps, Eliab felt like he should go out to face Goliath, but his fear kept him from going. Now here was his little brother saying these big words of faith, and it shamed him.
How often do we do the same? We face a difficult situation, and instead of facing it in faith, we cower in fear. And as a result, we lash out at the people around us, especially the ones who show a faith we don’t have.
2. Discouragement. When Saul heard that someone was willing to stand up to Goliath, he must have been excited. The truth is, probably everyone was hoping Saul would face him. After all, Saul was head and shoulder’s taller than anyone else in Israel. It only made sense for him to face Goliath. But Saul too cowered in fear. So when he heard someone was willing to fight Goliath, he immediately sent for him. But when he saw David, Saul’s face must’ve fallen. “A boy? A mere boy is going to try to take on Goliath?” Not only was Saul discouraged, he tried to discourage David as well. He said,
You are not able to go out against this Philistine and fight him; you are only a boy, and he has been a fighting man from his youth. (33)
How often do we have the same reaction as Saul. Discouraged by our own fears, we try to discourage others from walking out in faith.
But how did David respond? He didn’t let his brother’s anger or Saul’s discouraging words get to him. Instead, he put his faith fully in God. How could he do this? He remembered what God had done for him in the past. That when he faced a bear and a lion that attacked his sheep, God had helped him kill them. And now he said,
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. (37)
David didn’t see the circumstances so much as he saw the God who was bigger than the circumstances. And by doing that, he was able with God’s help to defeat Goliath and give the Israelites a great victory.
Saul, on the other hand, never did learn this as also seen in chapter 13 when his men’s fear dripped on to him, and he panicked and sinned as a result.
How about you? Are you a person of faith or a person of fear? When you face difficulties in your life, how do you respond? Do you respond in fear? Or in faith? Let us not be like Saul and Eliab who focused on the problems and were ruled by their fear. Rather, let us be like David and focus on the God who is bigger than our circumstances. Let us trust in him who has delivered us in the past, knowing in our hearts that he will continue to do so in the future.