Enemy 1: overcoming (feeling of) rejection
David’s family rejection was the initial challenge he faced. Despite being the youngest of 7 or 8 brothers in Jesse’s family, according to 1 Samuel 17:12-14 and 1 Chronicles 2:12-16, he was not favored or pampered as one might expect in today’s society. In fact, when the Prophet Samuel visited Jesse’s house in Bethlehem, as recounted in 1 Samuel 16:1, David was not even considered important enough to be presented before him, as noted in 1 Samuel 16:11.
David was not included in the group of his siblings who were being consecrated at the sacrifice in 1 Samuel 16:5. It was not because he was still a small child, but rather because he was tending to his father’s flocks in the field at the time. It is uncertain whether David was given this responsibility because he was so trustworthy at a young age or if he was purposely sent away from Jesse’s house. In 1 Samuel 17:28, it is mentioned that David only tended to 2-3 sheep, indicating that his father’s flock was not a large operation. However, it is disheartening to learn that Jesse left his young son alone in the field to shepherd such a small number of sheep. One may wonder why Jesse did not hire someone to help or keep the sheep in the backyard of the house. It was a difficult task for a young boy to face dangers like lions and bears, as described in 1 Samuel 17:34. It is not surprising that David wrote in Psalm 27:10, “for my father and my mother have forsaken me, but the LORD will take me in.”
Alternatively, it is plausible that David’s own actions caused his rejection. In 1 Samuel 17:26 (ESV), David asks, “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 irritated his elder brother, Eliab, who questioned him 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.” Sometimes, the confidence and faith of a person in the midst of adversity may be perceived as arrogance or presumption rather than encouragement. David’s refusal to hide like other soldiers in 1 Samuel 17:24, including his own brother who fled in fear, angered Eliab and caused him to believe that David was prideful (having an evil, bad heart) and arrogant, as noted in 1 Samuel 17:28. Indeed, having faith and courage in the face of opposition can be misconstrued, especially when it goes against the norm. David’s behavior on the battlefield in 1 Samuel 17 may not have been an isolated incident. His determination to face the lion and the bear in 1 Samuel 17:34 could also have been driven by his courage to go against the crowd, which may have contributed to his alienation from his own family.
David’s faith was not solely developed when he faced Goliath on the spot; it was first established during a time of isolation when he was alone. Psalm 23:1, “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want,” was not written when David was already a king. Instead, he composed this psalm while he was alone, tending to his father’s 2-3 sheep. David had learned to rely on God as his shepherd and found contentment in the Lord. He understood that with God, he had everything he needed, and he didn’t require anything else. His next statement on Ps. 23, “I shall not want” does not mean that all his needs or desires were already fulfilled, David knew that with God by his side, he had enough. The presence of God, His character, and His Word were sufficient for David, and he never felt alone because he knew God was with him.
Enemy 2: overcoming fear
The lion and the bear that David faced were indeed enemies that he had to overcome, but they are only briefly mentioned in 1 Samuel 17:34-35. David did not mention these encounters in his writings in the Psalms or other books. Therefore, while they were formidable adversaries that David had to face, they are not typically considered significant enemies in his life story.
In addition to Samson’s account in Judges 14:6, David also demonstrated his bravery by slaying a lion. David’s encounter with the ferocious animal occurred during his youth, before he famously faced Goliath. Unlike Samson, who relied on superhuman strength, David’s victory over the lion was achieved through sheer courage and perhaps faith. David appeared to have possessed a warrior’s spirit from a young age, and he refused to back down in the face of a larger and stronger opponent.
It is worth noting that the Bible mentions both the lion and the bear in the lead-up to David’s confrontation with Goliath. While Goliath towered over David at a height of 6 cubits and a span (nearly 3.25 meters), the average height of a lion is only 1-1.2 meters, and the height of a bear ranges from 70 cm to 1.5 meters. Although the Syrian Brown Bear found in the Middle East is not as large as the Polar Bear, it was still larger and taller than the lion that David had previously slain. Despite these formidable opponents, David remained undaunted and was determined to defeat Goliath, who posed an even greater threat.
The lion, bear, and Goliath all represent different forms of fear that David had to overcome. Each victory over a ferocious beast led to the next fear being escalated, but David’s faith grew in proportion. God tested David gradually, step by step, starting with the lion and then the bear before eventually facing Goliath.
David’s faith was honed through his victories over smaller adversaries, and he continued to face each challenge fearlessly, relying on God’s strength. With each triumph, David’s faith grew stronger, and he became increasingly prepared to face greater challenges.
By facing his fears one by one and relying on God, David was able to develop a deep sense of trust and confidence in himself and his abilities. His journey serves as a reminder that faith is not a one-time event but a continual process of growth and development.
When David faced Goliath on the battlefield, Goliath arrogantly declared that he will give your flesh to the birds of the air and to the beasts of the field, 1 Samuel 17:44. However, David responded with unwavering confidence, declaring that not only would he defeat Goliath, but he would also vanquish the entire Philistine army.
David’s bold challenge revealed his unwavering faith and confidence in God’s power to deliver him from any adversary. He did not see Goliath as an insurmountable obstacle but rather as an opportunity to demonstrate his faith and courage. David believed that God was on his side and that he would emerge victorious in the battle, despite the overwhelming odds against him.
David’s unwavering conviction and faith ultimately led to his triumph over Goliath and the Philistine army. His story serves as a powerful reminder that with faith and courage, even the greatest challenges can be overcome.
When Goliath appeared on the battlefield, his imposing stature instilled great fear in the Israelite army. However, their lack of experience and equipment in warfare also contributed to their apprehension. At the time, Israel was still in the early stages of emerging from the control of the Philistines, and Saul was their first king. In fact, according to 1 Samuel 13:19-22, the Israelites were so unprepared for battle that only Saul and Jonathan had swords and javelins.
However, as time passed, and Israel became more established, their army grew in experience and strength. Eventually, David became the full king over Israel, and under his leadership, the Israelites achieved military glory. They even defeated other formidable opponents, such as the descendants of Goliath, as recorded in 2 Samuel 21:15-22.
David’s appearance in 1 Samuel 17 highlights how Israel was still a young nation, struggling to establish itself. However, David stood out among the Israelite soldiers due to his unique spirit and fearlessness. This is why God chose him, as stated in 1 Samuel 16:7 and 12. Unlike Eliab, who appeared impressive but was too afraid to face Goliath, David’s heart was not filled with fear.
It is interesting to imagine what David’s brothers, Eliab, Abinadab, and Shama, thought when they saw him walking forward to face Goliath alone. Despite their doubt, David’s faith in God and his own abilities propelled him forward, demonstrating his unique character.
David’s story serves as an inspiration, reminding us that sometimes the most unexpected individuals can rise to the occasion and achieve great things through their faith, determination, and fearlessness.
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. David courageously entered the battlefield armed only with his shepherd’s staff and five small, smooth stones in his pocket. Rather than relying on conventional weapons of war, David faced Goliath in the name of God. He believed and understood that victory did not come from the sword or javelin, but rather from God’s hands alone, as stated in 1 Samuel 17:47.
David’s unwavering faith in God’s power to guide and protect him in the face of great danger serves as a powerful example of how we too can draw strength from our beliefs when facing challenges. His story reminds us that true courage comes not from the weapons we carry, but from the conviction and trust we place in a higher power.
On that day, the behavior of David was incomprehensible to his three brothers, who may have wondered how they would explain later to their father about this little rascal who died on the battlefield, killed by Goliath. For Eliab, David’s behavior seemed arrogant and pretentious, as described in 1 Samuel 17:28-29. Particularly when they saw that David was advancing when everyone else was running away to hide, and he did so without any armor, sword, or javelin. David marched forward alone, holding only his shepherd staff, just as he would carry 3-4 of their father’s sheep into an open field. To his brothers, it seemed like a suicidal attitude right before their very eyes. Moreover, when David and Goliath began to face each other, they listened to David’s words, which did not sound like words of faith but rather like those of a man who did not comprehend what he was facing. Eliab, Abinadab, and Shama must have thought, “Oops, our brother is facing Goliath not with weapons, but with arrogant words.” They were probably thinking, “Look, he’s advancing alone! How reckless!“
It is interesting to note that David also tried to wear Saul’s armor, but he took it off not because it was too big, but because he had never fought before in such a suit. That’s why he decided to fight without it. (1 Samuel 17:38-39) David was apparently more accustomed to just using his shepherd’s staff and sling.
But despite facing a larger opponent like Goliath, David did not try to improve his weaponry or combat equipment. Only his faith grew stronger, as he believed that the same God, The LORD, who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine too,1 Samuel 17:37. Although the problem was daunting, David’s courage did not waver; his faith had grown significantly.
Interestingly, the weapon David carried into battle was not only his shepherd’s staff but also little stones. He went to a nearby creek and selected five smooth stones that were small enough to fit in his pocket. In 1 Samuel 17:49, David reached into his bag, took out a stone, and slung it at Goliath. He used a sling, a small leather bag or wool swab tied to a long enough rope that could be swung around and released to launch the stone. In the future, David himself would command an army of slingers. (1 Chronicle 12:2)
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The small rock that David slung hit Goliath directly, right on his forehead between his eyes. The impact was so hard and precise that it went right through the skull of Goliath’s forehead. This stone was found embedded in Goliath’s forehead, as mentioned in 1 Samuel 17:49. Goliath fell lifeless, dying without a sword, as stated in 1 Samuel 17:50. This was exactly what David had said, that God would deliver without the sword, as per 1 Samuel 17:47.
When the Philistines saw that their champion 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 war cries of the Israelite army thundered as they charged at the Philistines who ran in terror after watching Goliath fall at the hands of a young boy.
The shout that echoed at that time was truly unbelievable. When faced with a problem as enormous as Goliath, it was inconceivable that God would send a mere shepherd boy. There was no war hero, no adult, and no larger opponent sent to face Goliath, only a child. “Am I a dog, that you come to me with sticks?” said Goliath in surprise, seeing David’s presence as a mockery. God indeed mocked him, making fun of Goliath. To God, this towering giant of over 3 meters tall could be defeated by a small shepherd boy. He did not need to send His army of angels, let alone Archangel Michael, His warrior angel!
Not only David, but Samuel also came as a savior and messenger of God, born to Hannah as a baby, to help Israel overcome their spiritual barrenness. This is mentioned in the first chapter of 1 Samuel. Moses was sent by God to deliver Israel from the giant Pharaoh and his kingdom of Egypt, who had enslaved them for more than 400 years. He first appeared as a fearless baby, with a radiant face that showed calmness in the face of Pharaoh’s orders that should have led to him being thrown into the Nile (Hebrews 11:23). The reference to the “lovely face” of baby Moses in the Amplified translation does not refer to his physical beauty, but rather to the serenity of his soul as a baby born into a very frightening political situation.
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 young when he was called to bring God’s message to stubborn Israel (Jeremiah 1:6). Similarly, Daniel, Shadrack, Meshac, and Abednego were chosen by God while they were still young (Daniel 1:3-7). The Lord Himself came into this world as a baby to be the Savior of humanity (Isaiah 9:6). He did not come down from the sky like Superman or an alien. It’s interesting to note that in the Superman comic, Superman was initially described as coming as a baby, not as an adult being straight down from the sky. Furthermore, it’s worth mentioning that this comic story was written by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, both of whom were Jewish.
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 consumed by flames of jealousy, and David had to start running to escape the threats and assassination attempts made by Saul. David was on the run for 10 to 15 years before he was finally made king of Israel in 2 Samuel 5. It was a long and arduous process that David had to endure.
When Saul confronted David, he didn’t challenge him to a duel like Goliath. Unlike the lion and bear who came to steal what David was guarding, Saul came with his entire army and kingdom. David had to contend with his own country and people when Saul became his enemy. This was a much bigger enemy than the lion, bear, and Goliath, and one that might even have been too big for David. To make matters worse, David knew that God didn’t want him to kill Saul with his own hands, as stated in 1 Samuel 24:6 and 26:11.
David had two opportunities to kill Saul when he was given to him to be slaughtered in 1 Samuel 24 and 26. On both occasions, David’s men pointed out that God had delivered Saul into his hand. In 1 Samuel 24, Saul entered the cave where David and his men were hiding alone, and David’s men said, “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). Later, when David and Abishai came down to the camp where Saul was sleeping with 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 both times, David refused to harm Saul, saying, “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 essence, the Word of God remained the same for David in this matter: “the LORD does not save with sword and spear; for the battle is the LORD’s.” (1 Samuel 17:47). Even in defeating this enemy, God wanted David to rely completely on Him. He did not want David to use his military skills, nor did He want him to use a sword and javelin to defeat Saul. David had to endure until the time came for Saul to die. He had to endure without losing his faith.
Proverbs 16:32 states that “whoever is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city“. Other translations render this verse as “gentleness and humbleness are better than muscle, self-control is better than political power.” Another translation advises, “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 Septuagint translation, this verse suggests that it is better to be someone who forgives than someone who is strong.
God wanted David to defeat Saul with a different approach. Against Saul’s jealousy, violence, and destructive behavior, which relied on physical strength that had a tendency to injure, destroy, and kill, David was to use gentleness, humility, forgiveness, and yield to God. David even had to flee and stay in enemy territory for over a year. However, the problem did not end there because the city where they had taken refuge, Ziklag, was captured and held captive by the Amalekites in 1 Samuel 30. Despite all of this, David managed to persevere without using his own hands to kill Saul. Although he faced God’s tests, he passed them!
King Saul met his end in battle against the Philistines, along with his sons Jonathan, Abinadab, and Malkisua, as described in 1 Samuel 31:3-4. David almost became involved in the battle as a member of the Philistine army, as mentioned in 1 Samuel 29:6. However, God intervened by causing unrest among the Philistine warlords, as detailed in 1 Samuel 29:3-4. If not for this intervention, Saul could have met his end at the hands of David or his army.
It is certainly possible that the story of Israel’s first king could have been different if Saul had not become jealous and sought to kill David. He could have been a great mentor and role model for David, and the relationship between them could have been a positive one. But unfortunately, only Saul’s children loved David. Jonathan, 1 Samuel 18: 1, and Milcah, 1 Samuel 18:20.
After Saul’s death, David finally became king. He was thirty years old when he ascended to the throne and reigned for forty years as the second king of Israel. He ruled over Judah for 7 years and six months in Hebron, and then he reigned over all Israel and Judah for 33 years in Jerusalem, according to 2 Samuel 5:4-5.