Week 1, Lesson 2: Facing Giants in the Valleys of Life
When I was growing up, our high school basketball team was known nationwide for their “running and gunning” offense and stifling defense. To this day, the trophy cases in the high school gym are jam packed with evidence of state championships, trophies of major tournament wins, and accolades poured out upon coaches and athletes who made the program super successful.
I think of Israel as God’s trophy case! It is jam packed with all kinds of evidence of God’s faithfulness to His people and the land of Israel. One cannot spend a day in Israel without being overwhelmed by the “trophies” packing the trophy case.
One of Israel’s “star players” was David. We could focus on any number of accounts to illustrate God’s faithfulness:
- God preserved David’s life many times while fleeing Saul.
- David was raised from shepherd boy to King of Israel because God appointed him.
- Despite David’s sin, God restored and blessed him following his repentance.
- …many more.
But today, we are going to focus on young David’s encounter with Goliath. The youngest son of Jesse the Bethlehemite, David became a lowly shepherd boy while his older brothers got plumb positions in family affairs. But God had special plans for David. Let’s pick it up in 1 Samuel 16:1-13. Samuel the prophet was sent to proclaim a special calling the Lord had for David. Based on verses 8-10, who was his competition? In verse 13, what special advantage did God grant to David?
As David learned, just because one is anointed king does not mean it is immediate, or that there will be no challenges! I wonder if young David (probably a young teenager) spent quiet shepherding moments contemplating the faithfulness of God, because he certainly tapped that faithfulness often throughout his life. God’s faithfulness is almost always linked to other characteristics such as His grace, His power, and His incredible love.
1 Samuel 17 lays out the familiar account of David and Goliath. I encourage you to read the entire chapter, paying close attention to detail. Saul was king at the time, and the Israelites were face-to-face with the Philistines and their champion, 9-foot-tall Goliath. He taunted and mocked the Israelites, yet Israel seemed to have no answer.
David was summoned to take food to his brothers in the camp, and to report back to their father, Jesse, about their condition. While in the camp, it was apparent to David that no one, including his brothers, would take on the task of confronting Goliath. Despite ridicule from his brothers, David announced to Saul (verse 32) that he would go and fight the Philistine!
What courage David had! Where did he get it? Well, back to the thought that perhaps David had experienced God’s faithfulness and protective power during contemplative moments of shepherding. It was a lonely job and provided much time for contemplation. According to verses 34-36, with the power of God, what had David accomplished while tending sheep? And what was David’s response in verse 37?
Wow! What depths of faith had grown in David! God had given him victory over formidable and dangerous foes, and God’s faithfulness to David built David’s trust and faith in God! God’s faithfulness begets our faith in return when we fully trust in Him!
David went on to refuse the oversized armor given to him by Saul’s men, and he refused to take up the overweight weapons of battle to face Goliath. Instead, he took the slingshot that conquered lions and bears, and five smooth stones from the brook, and headed into the Valley of Elah to face the Philistine beast. You know the account: Using his sling, David buried one of those stones precisely in Goliath’s forehead, knocking him out; then proceeded to use Goliath’s giant-sized sword to cut off his head.
We hail David as a champion, and well he is! But this was not the only giant David faced in life. What about you? Have you ever stood in the valley and faced a seemingly undefeatable giant? Is God’s faithfulness any less abundant for you than it was for David? Of course not! David learned early in life how to trust in a faithful God.
Like us, David did not always perfectly live out his faith. The Bible records his downfalls, but David always had experiences of God’s faithfulness to draw upon when new giants arose. So do you! Think of a “David and Goliath moment” in your life when you experienced the faithfulness of God in something you never thought possible. Did your faith increase? Let that serve as a hill you stand on when facing giants.
David authored many Psalms following his encounter with Goliath, many of which extol God’s faithfulness. Here are a few to encourage you:
- Psalm 3 – written as David fled from his son Absalom
- Psalm 32 – David’s prayer of rejoicing after his confession. (We will see some “hiding places” David ascribed to the Lord in verse 7.)
- Psalm 138 – David acknowledges God’s faithfulness and his goodness to the faithful
- Psalm 143 – David’s appeal for deliverance as he faced life’s giants.
Lord willing, while in Israel, we will visit the Valley of Elah where God’s faithfulness to David was on full display. My prayer is that being at that site and soaking in the reality of just how faithful God was to David will spur you on in deeper faith in Him!