There’s nothing quite like a story of the underdog.
Always introduced as the one who is marginalised, undervalued and forgotten, you can’t help but take their side right from the beginning. You root for them as they navigate the complexities of life and cross your fingers in the event they come up against adversity. You celebrate their wins and mourn their losses. Then at last, by the end of the story, you breathe a sigh of relief with a knowing smile on your face upon their final triumph.
We see so many of these plotlines in movies because Hollywood knows we can’t resist the rollercoaster journey of the underdog! In my opinion, better than any movie are the real-life stories of underdogs in the Bible and the well-known story of David and Goliath is one of them.
We first meet David in 1 Samuel 16, as the Lord sends the prophet Samuel to Jesse (David’s father) to anoint one of his sons as future king of Israel. At the time, David is elsewhere tending to his father’s sheep and is not even given a thought. Until Samuel passes over all other 7 sons and is prompted by the Lord to ask for another. Upon being anointed, the Spirit of the Lord rests on David and leaves Saul (the existing king of Israel). An evil spirit begins to torment Saul and as a result, David’s name is mentioned for his musical skills and ability to usher in the Lord’s presence.
Saul grows fond of David and consequently, David becomes Saul’s armour bearer. As a side note, an armour bearer is a person who carried a large shield and other weapons for a warrior of distinction. They were to be by the side of the warrior in every battle, for their safety.
Now, the Philistines were the Israelites’ long time enemy and now had a new weapon - Goliath. Goliath was an over nine foot tall beast of a man who effectively intimidated the Israelite army. One day, Jesse sends David to the army camp to deliver food to his 3 eldest brothers. David witnesses Goliath’s shouts and volunteers to fight him. Saul protests against it, David insists and Saul concedes. Much to everyone’s astonishment, David defeats Goliath with a sling and a stone.
No sword, no armour, just a sling and a stone.
What a victory! A victory that would have seemed impossible to man but was possible with God.
Like David, you and I have moments or seasons in our lives where it feels like what we come up against is impossible to overcome. Our “Goliath” looms over us like an ever present threat and all we want to do is retreat and hide. Yet, we can look to this story and be reassured that if David the underdog managed to win, so can we!
How was it that David was victorious, what can we learn from his experience that we can apply to our own?
David was prepared by God
“But David said to Saul, “Your servant has been keeping his father’s sheep. When a lion or a bear came and carried off a sheep from the flock, I went after it, struck it and rescued the sheep from its mouth. When it turned on me, I seized it by its hair, struck it and killed it.” | 1 Samuel 17:34-35
What may have seemed like a menial and unimportant task (and shepherding was viewed as so) was actually daily preparation. Each time David fought off a lion or a bear brought him a step closer to being ready to face Goliath. David was a faithful steward of his responsibilities. Even as he was given more, he didn’t neglect his existing responsibilities until he was released to do so (1 Samuel 17:15).
As mundane as life can be at times, especially during this time when we are spending so much time at home, there is purpose in every season. What may appear to be insignificant may be the very thing that God uses to sharpen our skills and prepare us for what He has planned.
David was positioned by God
“As he was talking with them, Goliath, the Philistine champion from Gath, stepped out from his lines and shouted his usual defiance, and David heard it.” | 1 Samuel 17:23
David was at the right place, at the right time. Not from his own doing but by God’s design. As the youngest of 8 sons, David was far from considered as being capable to go to war. But, his food delivery to his brothers positions him to witness Goliath’s threats. Further, had Saul not known who David was, a meeting orchestrated by God, he would not have allowed David to face Goliath.
Just as God was at work in David’s life, so too is He at work in our lives today, positioning us in the right place, with the right people, at the right time. To witness more of these God appointment occurrences in our own lives, we need to trust in His perfect timing and ability to open new doors for us.
David used what was already in his hand
“Then he took his staff in his hand, chose five smooth stones from the stream, put them in the pouch of his shepherd’s bag and, with his sling in his hand, approached the Philistine.” | 1 Samuel 17:40
Though offered the best of the best armour and weapons, David refused on account that he wasn’t used to them. Instead, he took his staff, five stones and his sling. The tools of a shepherd rather than the tools of a warrior. He knew what was in his hand and was confident in his skills to use it.
I don’t know about you, but when I’m thrown out of my comfort zone, I have a tendency to look to how others who appear to have “mastered it” would handle it. But no matter how much I try to adopt the approach of someone else, it never feels quite right.
God has created each of us as a one-of-a-kind masterpiece. Our skills, talents and abilities reflect our purpose. So, rather than looking at the person to the right or your left, try looking at what God has already put in your hand. That is your most powerful tool.
David fought in the name of the Lord
“David said to the Philistine, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the Lord will deliver you into my hands, and I’ll strike you down and cut off your head. This very day I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds and the wild animals, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel.” | 1 Samuel 17:45-46
When those who called themselves warriors retreated from Goliath in fear, David advanced in courage. Why? Because he knew the battle was the Lord’s. Not only did David draw his confidence from the Lord to fight, he fought to make God’s name known. He didn’t do it for personal achievement, a desire for accolade or to create a name for himself. No, he did it for the Lord.
In the same way, I feel that sometimes we need to check our own motives and ask ourselves, “am I doing this for the Lord, or for myself?”
The odds were against David yet he was not defeated. Because of his obedience and trust, God uses him as the most unlikely of heroes.
“What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?” | Romans 8:31
Have you come up against a giant that seems impossible to conquer? I want to encourage you today and let you know that the God of the universe is for you!
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