1 Samuel 17:48–53 When the Philistine arose and came and drew near to meet David, David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet the Philistine.  And David put his hand in his bag and took out a stone and slung it and struck the Philistine on his forehead. The stone sank into his forehead, and he fell on his face to the ground. So David prevailed over the Philistine with a sling and with a stone, and struck the Philistine and killed him. There was no sword in the hand of David.  Then David ran and stood over the Philistine and took his sword and drew it out of its sheath and killed him and cut off his head with it. When the Philistines saw that their champion was dead, they fled.  And the men of Israel and Judah rose with a shout and pursued the Philistines as far as Gath and the gates of Ekron, so that the wounded Philistines fell on the way from Shaaraim as far as Gath and Ekron.  And the people of Israel came back from chasing the Philistines, and they plundered their camp.
Goliath was dressed like a serpent with his scale armor, and he died like a serpent, with a head wound, just as the Philistine god Dagon had his head crushed. Psalm 115 says that all those who worship idols will be like them – dead.
David knows where true power comes from. Psalm 33:16–19 The king is not saved by his great army; a warrior is not delivered by his great strength. The war horse is a false hope for salvation, and by its great might it cannot rescue. Behold, the eye of the LORD is on those who fear him, on those who hope in his steadfast love, that he may deliver their soul from death and keep them alive in famine. Psalm 147:10–11 His delight is not in the strength of the horse, nor his pleasure in the legs of a man, but the LORD takes pleasure in those who fear him, in those who hope in his steadfast love.
What matters is not whether you have the best weapons but whether you have the true and living God. In fact, your “inadequacy” is precisely our qualification for serving Him; for his strength shines most brightly behind the foreground of our weakness. 2 Corinthians 12:9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
And by crushing the head of the Philistine army, David began a rout, driving the Philistines down the valley to the coastal plain back to Ekron. David’s boldness and heroism inspire the whole Israelite army, just as Jonathon had. And their destruction would serve a high theological purpose; it would be a revelatory event by which “the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel.” What happens when God’s people arise armed to the teeth with faith, defiant? We need to learn what this means: “it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves, for the battle is the Lord’s.”
David was not self-confident; he was God-confident. We are not facing down our own Goliaths of secularism, statism, communism and the like. We are not going out, against all odds, facing our enemies, as if our lives are a sanctified version of a scrappy underdog. We’re not Appalachian state beating Michigan in a NCAA football game. We are not David. We are Israel; cowering, incapacitated by fear, fixated on the size and power of our enemies. Wallowing in disobedience. Israel sees Goliath. His size and armor. David sees Yahweh. Hapless and helpless Israel. We are more likely to accuse and malign obedient sons like David – just as Eliab and Saul did.
We need someone to deliver us. We need saving. We need courage. We need proof that faith overcomes. That God’s promises are true. That our enemies and circumstances are not bigger than God. David comes and shows us, with defiance, confidence and grit what the life of faith could be. He is the captain leading the way. He is a type of Christ: Colossians 2:15 He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him. 1 John 5:4–5 For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? Psalm 37:1–6 Fret not yourself because of evildoers; be not envious of wrongdoers! For they will soon fade like the grass and wither like the green herb. Trust in the LORD, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness. Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him, and he will act. He will bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday.
Our shepherd, armed merely with a staff has gone out to the chasm between our armies and Satan’s, and has thrown him down and cut off his head. Up Israel. The enemy is dismayed. The enemy is routed. Let us to the battle and follow our captain. Let us hunt down every sin and every lie and put them to the sword. In our hearts. In our homes. In our community. Take up the sword of the spirit, the word of God. The battle is God’s battle. If our confidence is fixed on the power of God, rather than in any armor or sufficiency of our own, we may be certain the world’s utmost might cannot withstand us, because they could not withstand Christ. God resists the proud and pours contempt upon those who bid defiance to His people, humiliating them by a defeat with the meanest of instruments.
The humblest of tools – you and I. 1 John 4:4 Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. Do you believe this? Do you know the Christ who has delivered Israel from Goliath? Who has delivered you? Herman Bavinck explains,
“Saving faith is not only a certain knowledge, a firm assurance, and undoubted certainty concerning the prophetic and apostolic testimony as the word of God, but is at the same time a sure confidence, as of one person in another, in Christ Himself as the fulness of grace and truth revealed in Him by God. The one stands in inseparable connection with the other. Without knowledge no confidence or trust is possible. For how should we trust anyone whom we do not know? But, conversely, too, if the knowledge does not lead to confidence and trust, it was not the right kind of knowledge. They that know the name of the Lord put their trust in Him. But those who do not trust Him have not yet leaned to know him from his word as he really is.”
Do you need to repent of the wrong kind of knowledge of Christ? Knowledge that knows of him, but does not know him? Do you trust him? Are you confident in him? Not just in words of ink about him – but Him. Do you have knowledge that does not penetrate beyond the head, to the heart? Are your eyes fixed on Him or your circumstances? Him or politics? Him or Economics? Him or COVID? Him or that which you fear? Him or wayward Israel? Him or the failed leadership? Him or his kingdom?
A Faith well-aimed at Christ, eyes fixed on him, a head full of Christ and a heart full of Christ will overcome all opposition because he has overcome all opposition. In Him, you discover that you are already, whether fighting lies or sin or the world, victorious, because he is victorious. Do you believe it?
Psalm 9:10 And those who know your name put their trust in you, for you, O LORD, have not forsaken those who seek you. There are giants in the land. But our captain, our king, our Lord is a giant slayer. Up Israel. Follow Him.
1. 1 Samuel 16 is a very reassuring chapter, coming as it does before Chapter 17. Isaiah 52:13–53:12 is an amazing prophecy of Christ. Can you see that Isaiah 52:13 fulfils a similar function in relation to that passage?
2. A person’s words should be weighed, not counted, and the same applies to the books in a Christian’s library. How heavy are your words and books?
3. ‘Theocentric thinking’—it should be normal for Christians but often proves to be rare. Is it the normal way you think?
4. ‘In God’s economy no experience is wasted.’ Think that through in terms of your own life. It will enable you to find causes of thankfulness in the unpleasant as well as the pleasant times.
5. 1 Samuel 17 emphasises David’s weakness. Study the way Paul deals with the theme of weakness in 2 Corinthians 10–13.
Davis, D. R. (2000). 1 Samuel: Looking on the Heart (pp. 190–191). Scotland: Christian Focus Publications