Enemy 1: overcoming (feeling of) rejection
The first thing that became David’s enemy was the rejection from within his own family. Born as the youngest of 7 or 8 brothers, 1 Samuel 17:12-14, 1 Chronicles 2:12–16, did not make David the most loved or spoiled like in this modern age, in the family of Jesse, who was from Bethlehem, 1 Samuel 16 :1. When Prophet Samuel came to Jesse’s house, David was not counted to be shown before Samuel, 1 Samuel 16:11.
He was not called together with the rest of his brethren to be consecrated at the sacrifice, 1 Samuel 16:5, not because he was just a little boy yet. But because he was also not inside the house at that moment, his father had him gone and feed the flocks, 1 Samuel 16:11. The question is this, has he been so trustworthy at his early age in taking care of the family business to shepherd his father’s flocks? Or had he deliberately pushed away from Jesse’s house? 1 Samuel 17:28, shows us that only 2-3 sheep were tended by David. This flock was not a big business, what is even sadder was that Father Jesse left this little boy, David, out in the field by himself to shepherd only 2-3 sheeps alone. Wasn’t there a father’s hired man who could do this, or couldn’t he just put the 2-3 sheep in the backyard of the house? So what kind of father would have the heart to let his young son go alone in the field and had to face the lion and the bear? 1 Samuel 17:34. No wonder David wrote these words in his Psalm, for my father and my mother have forsaken me, but the LORD will take me in. Psalm 27:10.
But it is also possible that this was caused by David himself. Notice what David said in 1 Samuel 17:26 ESV, What shall be done for the man who kills this Philistine and takes away the reproach from Israel? For who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God? These words bother Eliab, his elder brother in verse 28, Why have you come down? And with whom have you left those few sheep in the wilderness? I know your presumption and the evil of your heart, for you have come down to see the battle. Oftentimes, the faith of someone who was full of confidence in the midst of adversity would sound more of a presumption or pride instead of encouragement. The attitude of David who refused to run into hiding like all other soldiers, 1 Samuel 17:24, including his own brother who ran away in fear, made his brother angry and thought David was prideful (evil, bad heart) and arrogant, 1 Samuel 17:28. Yes, courage because of faith is often misunderstood by many people, especially when someone dared to go against the flow! David’s attitude on the battlefield in 1 Samuel 17 did not just happen there. His courage against the crowd might have driven him out of his own house, but also what kept him upright and did not run to face the lion and the bear. 1 Samuel 17:34.
Faith was not built just when Goliath came, it was built first in a lonely place when we are alone. Psalm 23:1, The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want, was not written when David had become King. This psalm was written while he was out there alone, tending the 2-3 sheep of his father. He had learned to find God as his shepherd, that in the Lord he found contentment. When he had God, he had enough already. I shall not want doesn’t mean that everything was fulfilled already, but David understood that if God was with him, he wouldn’t need anything else. The presence of God, His Personality, His Word, was sufficient for David. He would not be alone anymore! He knew God was with him!
Enemy 2: overcoming fear
The Lion and the Bear were the next enemies, they could be called the second and the third. But these two beasts were only mentioned in 1 Samuel 17:34-35. There are no other references of this in the Bible. David did not even mention these two beasts in his writings in the Psalms or other books.
So besides Samson, Judges 14:6, David also killed a lion. Even David did it when he was a young boy, before facing Goliath. And David did not do it with super strength like Samson, pure in his courage (faith?) facing these 2 terrifying beasts. David seemed to have been a man of war since he was a child, and he was not the one to back down just because his opponent was bigger and stronger than him. It is interesting that these two beasts are mentioned when David was going to face Goliath. Goliath was 6 cubits and a span, or nearly 3.25 meters high. The average height of a lion is 1-1.2 meters. (Brown) Bear height ranges from 70 cm to 1.5 meters. The Polar Bear can reach 2.5 meters, but the Bear in the Middle East is a type of Brown Bear, the Syrian Brown Bear. So it seemed that David’s enemy did not get any smaller, after overcoming the rejection, he faced the Lion. Then the Bear, which was bigger and taller than the Lion. And now in 1 Samuel 17, he was going to face Goliath.
Lion, Bear, and Goliath, all three represent fear. David was facing a growing fear. The next fear got escalated after he won the previous one over. But only in this way his faith grew bigger until he was ready to face Goliath. God tested David one by one, step by step. He didn’t immediately give Goliath, but the Lion and the Bear first. His faith was trained from smaller things to bigger things. David was not afraid to face all of them, one by one he defeated them with God.
When he came to face Goliath on the battlefield, Goliath said, I will give your flesh to the birds of the air and to the beasts of the field, 1 Samuel 17:44. But David said, today I will give your corpse and the corpse of the Philistine army to the birds of the air and to the wild animals, 1 Samuel 17:46. David boldly challenged him that it was not only Goliath’s flesh but the corpses of the Philistine soldiers as well. David apparently not only saw Goliath being defeated, he knew he was going to defeat the entire Philistine army that day.
From the time of Goliath’s appearance, 1 Samuel 17:4, his appearance and stature brought great fear to the Israelite army. 1 Samuel 17:11. The problem was not only that Goliath was a man of war, but at that time the Israelite army itself was not mature enough with the experience and equipment of war. Saul was the first king and the Philistines were their main enemy at the time, Israel was just beginning to emerge from the grip of the Philistines that controlled them. In 1 Samuel 3:18-22 it says that only Saul and Jonathan had swords and javelins. Later, when David’s time became only the full king over Israel, then the Israelite armies attained their glory. They killed many other Goliaths, 2 Samuel 21: 15-22.
David’s presence in 1 Samuel 17 actually describes how the Israelite soldiers were very young as a nation that was just starting to stand on its own. But David came with a different spirit, unlike all the other soldiers of Israel. That is why God chose him in 1 Samuel 16:7, 12. God knew that David’s heart was not afraid to face Goliath, unlike Eliab whose only appearance impressed Samuel the prophet of God but he himself was afraid to face Goliath, 1 Samuel 16:6, 1 Samuel 17:28. So as the 2 others. Try to imagine what David’s brothers, Eliab, Abinadab, and Shama thought when they saw David walking forward to face Goliath, alone.
Then he took his staff in his hand; and he chose for himself five smooth stones from the brook, and put them in a shepherd’s bag, in a pouch which he had, and his sling was in his hand. And he drew near to the Philistine. 1 Samuel 17:40. Yes, David entered the battlefield with only his shepherd staff in his hand and 5 small-smooth stones that he put in his shepherd’s pocket. David did not face Goliath with weapons of war, he did come to face this enemy in the name of God. He believed and knew that the LORD did not save with the sword, nor with the javelin. He understood it is in God’s hands the battle, not in the hands of heroes and armies. 1 Samuel 17:47.
It was incomprehensible to the three brothers of David that day, maybe they all thought how would they explain later to their father about this little rascal guy, who died on the battlefield killed by Goliath. Yes, David’s behavior for Eliab was considered arrogant (arrogant) and pretentious (evil), 1 Samuel 17:28-29. Especially when they saw that David was advancing when everyone ran away to hide and moreover, without any armor. He didn’t carry any sword or a javelin. He advanced alone with only the shepherd staff in his hand, just as David was going into the open field carrying 3-4 of their father’s sheep. To them, this seemed to be more like a suicidal attitude before their very eyes. Not to mention, when David and Goliath began to face each other, they listened to David’s words, which to them were not really the words of faith, sounded more like the words of a man who didn’t comprehend what he was facing. Oops, our brother came forward to face Goliath not with weapons but with arrogant words. Exactly to what he would always say. Look, he’s advancing alone, how reckless! thought Eliab, Abinadab, and Shama.
It is interesting to note that David also actually tried to wear Saul’s armor. But he took them off not because they were too big, but because he had never fought before in such a suit. That’s why he decided to take off that war suit. 1 Samuel 17:38-39. David was apparently really used to just the shepherd’s staff and the sling in his hand.
But like previous experiences, when David faced the Lion and the Bear, he still didn’t try to improve his weaponry and combat equipment this time. Only his real faith grew bigger. The LORD, who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, He will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine. 1 Samuel 17:37. The problem was getting bigger and bigger but not shrinking his guts. In fact, his faith had grown significantly. The weapon David actually carried was not the shepherd’s staff itself. The shepherd’s staff is more of a reserve weapon. He stopped by the creek near the battlefield, just to get some bullets (stones) he needed. Only 5 smooth stones, small enough to fit in the shepherd’s pocket. In verse 49, 1 Samuel 17, David put his hand in his bag and took out a stone and slung it . The little rock was shot by slinging it, using a sling or some kind of slingshot, a small leather bag or wool swab tied to a long enough rope which could then be swung around by turning and releasing! Later in the future, David himself had this army of slingers. 1 Chronicles 12:2.
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The little rock that David slung directly hit Goliath, right on his forehead, between his eyes. So hard and precise, it went right through the skull of the Goliath’s forehead. This stone was found embedded in Goliath’s forehead. 1 Samuel 17:49. Goliath fell lifeless. He died without a sword! 1 Samuel 17:50. Just as David said, God will deliver without the sword. 1 Samuel 17:47.
When the Philistines saw that their hero was dead, they fled. Then the sons of Israel and Judah rose up, shouting for joy and chasing the Philistines. 1 Samuel 17:51-52. With great excitement, the screams of war thundered, the Israelite army rose up and charged at the Philistine, who ran in terror watching Goliath fell in the hand of a child!
It was inconceivable how the shout rumbled at that time. When a terrible problem as big as Goliath arose, God sent just a little boy (shepherd). It was not a war hero being sent, not an adult, not a big and greater opponent who came to face this Goliath. Only a child was brought by God to face a giant enemy. Am I a dog, that you come to me with sticks? 1 Samuel 17:43. Goliath was actually surprised and saw David’s presence as a mockery. Yes, God mocked him, He made fun of Goliath. To God, this terrifying giant of more than 3 meters high, can be defeated by a small (shepherd) boy. He didn’t need to send his army of angels, let alone Archangel Michael, his warrior angel!
Not only David, but Samuel also came in the form of a baby born from Hannah, as a savior, God’s messenger, to help Israel out of the giant spiritual barrenness. 1 Samuel 1.
Moses was sent by God to deliver Israel from the giant Pharaoh with his Kingdom of Egypt who had enslaved them for more than 400 years. He first appeared as a fearless baby, his face enlighten radiantly, showing calmness in facing Pharaoh’s orders that should had sent him thrown into the Nile. Hebrews 11:23, the lovely face of baby Moses here in the Amplified translation does not show his physical beauty but the serenity of the soul of him as a baby who was born amidst a very frightening political situation.
The prophet Jeremiah was also too young to go to bring God’s voice to stubborn Israel, Jeremiah 1:6. Daniel, Shadrack, Meshac and Abednego, were still young when chosen by God. Daniel 1:3-7. The Lord Himself came into this world to be the Savior of man, born as a baby. Isaiah 9:6. He didn’t come down from the sky, like Superman, or an alien!
What is interesting here is that in the Superman comic, Superman was initially described coming as a baby. Not as an adult being, straight down from the sky. And it should be noted, this comic story was written by a Jew.
For to us, a child is born,
to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
and his name shall be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Enemy 3: overcoming himself
David’s next enemy was Saul himself. Starting with the song of the women of Israel in 1 Samuel 18:7, verse 8 reads, then Saul was furious with anger. Saul was then burned by the flames of jealousy. David must now start running to escape the threats and assassination attempts made by Saul. There was a range of 10 to 15 years about David’s fleeing until he was later made king by Israel in 2 Samuel 5. It was a long process David had to face.
When Saul confronted David, Saul did not come to duel David like Goliath. Unlike the Lion and the Bear who came to take what David was guarding. Saul also did not come against David in the midst of David’s loneliness. But Saul came with his entire army and kingdom. So David practically had to deal with his own country and people when Saul became his enemy. This is an enemy much bigger than the Lion, Bear, and Goliath. An enemy that might even be too big for a David. And to make matters worse, David knew that God didn’t want him to kill Saul with his hands. 1 Samuel 24: 6, 26:11.
There were 2 occasions where David found a golden opportunity to kill Saul, as he had been given to David to be slaughtered. 1 Samuel 24 & 26. This is the day of which the LORD said to you, ‘Behold, I will deliver your enemy into your hand, that you may do to him as it seems good to you.’ 1 Samuel 24: 4. This was said by David’s men when Saul alone entered their cave to attend to his needs. And then also when David and Abishai came down to the camp of Saul who was sleeping with all his armies, Abishai said, God has delivered your enemy into your hand this day. Now therefore, please, let me strike him at once with the spear, right to the earth; and I will not have to strike him a second time! 1 Samuel 26: 8. But twice David answered them the same thing. The LORD forbid that I should do this thing to my master, the LORD’s anointed, to stretch out my hand against him, seeing he is the anointed of the LORD. 1 Samuel 24:6, 26:11.
In other words, even in this matter, the Word of God was the same to David, the LORD does not save with sword and spear; for the battle is the LORD’s, 1 Samuel 17:47. Even to defeat this enemy, God wanted David to rely completely on Him. He didn’t want him to use his skills of war, He didn’t want him to use sword and javelin to defeat Saul. David had to endure until the time come for Saul to die. And he must endure without losing his faith.
Proverbs 16:32 says whoever is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city. Other translations say, gentleness and humbleness are better than muscle, self-control is better than political power. Another translation also says, will you be a great and mighty person? Better to be known as being patient and slow to anger. Will you conquer a city? Master your anger before you conquer a city. Even in the translation of the Septuagint, this verse says that it is better to be someone who forgives than someone who is strong.
God wanted David to defeat Saul with a different spirit. Against Saul’s jealousy, violence, attitudes behavior which always involve physical strength that has a tendency to injure, destroy and kill, with gentleness, humility, and forgiveness, and yielding to Him. David even came to the point where he had to run and stay in enemy territory for more than a year. Even so, the problem did not end because the place where they were taking refuge, the city of Ziklag, was captured and held captive by the Amalekites in 1 Samuel 30. But David managed to get through all of this without using his own hands to kill Saul. Yes, he did not escape the test of God but he passed!
King Saul died in battle with the Philistines, with Jonathan, Abinadab, and Malkisua, 1 Samuel 31:3-4. A battle that almost involved David as part of the Philistine army, 1 Samuel 29:6. Fortunately, God caused unrest among the Philistine warlords, 1 Samuel 29:3-4. If not, Saul could have died in David’s hands or his army
If Saul had behaved differently to David, had not become jealous, and wanted to kill David, perhaps the story of Israel’s first king would have been very different. He could be a great father figure to David, a model of a good king who could then be passed on as a legacy to the Israelites in the later future. But unfortunately, only Saul’s children loved David. Jonathan, 1 Samuel 18: 1, and Milcah, 1 Samuel 18:20.
After Saul died, David finally became king. He was thirty years old when he became king; He reigned for forty years as the second king of Israel. In Hebron, he reigned over Judah 7 years and six months, and in Jerusalem, he reigned 33 years over all Israel and Judah. 2 Samuel 5: 4-5.