Written By Victor Goh, Singapore
Whenever we think about overcoming challenges, the story of David and Goliath comes to mind. It shows us that God is the one who empowers the weak, humbles the mighty, and gives us the victory.
While we know the account of the duel between the teenaged David and Goliath well enough, perhaps we should also consider David’s encounters with his older brother Eliab and King Saul, and how they responded when he volunteered to fight the giant. Before David could face Goliath on the battlefield, he first had to face the doubts of those around him.
We may not have to fight giants like Goliath today, but perhaps we have faced the same kind of skepticism from our peers and elders when we try to follow God’s will. How often are we told not to do something because we are too young, too weak, or too immature? David could have backed down when faced with such disapproval. But he knew that God measures His servants by a different standard, and this gave him the confidence to step forward.
David was the youngest of eight brothers. Those of us who are younger siblings probably know what this means. Coming from a family where three of your eldest brothers are already frontline fighters alongside the king while you got stuck with tending sheep back home would probably do wonders for your self-esteem. Not to mention having to endure constant put-downs from your older siblings. Eliab, David’s oldest brother, was quick to do just that, sarcastically telling him to stop trash-talking and get back to minding the sheep. Yet this distinct lack of support from his own family did not stop David from volunteering.
David wasn’t a champion fighter, or even an ordinary soldier. He was a shepherd boy, too young to report, like three of his older brothers had, for mandatory military service. He definitely wasn’t very impressive. When Goliath saw David, he saw nothing more than a young boy, glowing with health and somewhat handsome perhaps, but certainly not someone that looked capable of defeating him in combat. In contrast, Goliath was three meters tall and furnished with an impressive array of equipment—complete with an armor bearer to help carry the lot. Even King Saul, the tallest man in Israel then, was reluctant to challenge Goliath.
King Saul voiced his doubts openly, telling David that it was impossible for someone so young and inexperienced to defeat the veteran Goliath. Yet this public skepticism from the king himself didn’t stop David from accepting the haughty Philistine’s challenge.
Was David crazy, stupid, or just rebellious? I think not. I think what made the difference was what, or whom, David was standing up for. We definitely should not be taking stands merely for the sake of it, on things that do not matter. But David wasn’t being reckless or foolhardy, because he was standing up for something, or someone, that mattered more than anything else.
David knew that God was far more powerful than any Philistine, giant or not. He also knew that God values a willing and trusting heart in His servants, above strength, experience, and even maturity, and can perform great deeds through even the most humble of them. He had learned these truths through long experience, defending his flock against predators. God had protected him many times before when he faced down and defeated lions and bears. Confidently, David assured King Saul that God would grant him the victory. And ultimately he triumphed.
In taking a stand against the mighty Philistine, who had terrorized the people of Israel for the past 40 days, insulted the brave warriors of the land, and mocked the army of the Most High—David reminded everyone that ultimately, God was the mightiest of all and would deliver victory through his faithful servants, no matter how young and powerless.
For whom do we take a stand?