Background Text: 1 Sam 17:1-11, 22-50
As we step into a new year, we are usually excited and optimistic. We should be because the turn of the year provides new energy and opportunities to achieve what we may not have done in the past. However, there are always challenges (Goliaths) on the way to great victories. Goliath was the major obstacle (of if you wish, opportunity) on the way to David’s breakthrough. At about 10 feet, Goliath (just like our challenges) was no mean opposition but David overcame.
I believe the key message for us now is found in the sentence, “But there was no sword in his hand” (1 Sam 17:50). It was emphasizing that, though defeating Goliath was an achievement itself, it was even a greater feat when you realise that David didn’t even use a sword. I believe God is telling us that we should prepare for some big breakthroughs and yet they will be without recourse to natural means and methods. We will enjoy unusual victories this year!
Having established that, let’s now step back and see some of the things that David did that helped him in this victory.
1. David was conscious of his covenant with God – 1 Sam 17:26
While Goliath referred to the army of Israel as the ‘army of Saul’ and the Israelites referred to themselves as ‘the armies of Israel’, only David used the term ‘the armies of the living God’! They all saw themselves as ordinary people while David saw a people with the backing of God who cannot be defeated by an enemy that didn’t know God. Every opposition we face tries to convince us that we are nobodies.
How do you see yourself? Do you know who you are in Christ? We must get a grip on our new identities in Christ or risk being defeated. Our victory lies in the new birth and not in anything in the natural (Gal 6:15, 1John 5:4, 2Cor 5:17-18). We are not going to survive and or succeed because of our natural strengths and connections. Our covenant with God is the source of our strength and victory.
2. David guarded his heart by being careful about who he listened to – 1Sam 17:30
Eliab, David’s brother tried to discourage him, but David turned away from him and continued talking to other people. He could have engaged his brother in an argument and perhaps spent the day doing that and never get to fight Goliath. Most of our arguments and offences are unnecessary and only distract us from pursuing our assignments.
It is very important as we go through life that we guard our hearts (Pr. 4:23) and don’t allow the poisons of discouragement and bitterness in. Choose carefully who you listen to and what you meditate on. Ignore every source of bitterness, anger, and discouragement. “Is there not a cause?” (1Sam 17:29). Receiving from God becomes difficult when you allow your heart to be poisoned. (Acts 8:21-23) so make guarding your heart a priority. There are things I don’t watch or listen to. There are conversations I don’t dwell on because I want to protect my heart.
3. David recalled past victories – 1Sam 17:34-37
Often, during this season, people tend to remember what they hoped/prayed for but didn’t get. I want to encourage you that, like David, you should rather recall what victories you did enjoy instead. What you recall to mind determines whether you will be hopeful about the future or not (Lam 3:21). That is why we are said to overcome by our testimonies (Rev 12:11) and instructed to fix our minds on good things that edify (Phil 4:8).
David recalled his past encounters with a lion and a bear. By the time he was done thinking about those past victories, he was encouraged and confident enough to declare that Goliath was only going to end up as one of them.
We have ongoing building projects in two cities and they both seem huge by themselves. Encouragement comes when we think of how God had always led us and come through for us in the past.
4. David built on his experience with God and not that of others – 1Sam17:39
Saul was quick to hand his own weapons to David. He figured that David would definitely benefit from using the best weapons available which are the ones the king uses. David found it difficult just to walk carrying Saul’s weapons and quickly returned them saying, ‘I have not proved them’. We prepare for war in the time of peace and it is the weapons you have tested, proved, and developed proficiency in using that can be used at war.
You will have to know God for yourself and develop your own experience of faith that you can build on. You can’t simply expect to believe God just based on someone else’ testimony. Yours will do you far greater good. Take on your current challenges in faith and each victory will provide you proven weapons you can use when you face your Goliath. Work out your own salvation (Phil 2:12).
5. David controlled his speech – 1 Sam 17:45
Yes, we need to repeat lessons on this every so often as it so important yet taken for granted by far too many people. What you say is a major determinant of what you experience in life (1Pet 3:10). If you must enjoy salvation (including healing, deliverance, provision, etc), a good marriage, a great career or whatever, you must control your tongue! First, you must refrain yourself from saying the negatives. Second, you must declare the positives.
David complained not about the size of Goliath but rather talked about the size of his God and, therefore, the certainty of killing the giant. Note that he also said so to the giant directly. Don’t talk about your mountain but rather talk to the mountain and give the faith command (Mk 11:23).