I got to re-read the story of David and Goliath during my morning devotional today. It’s a story many of us have heard growing up. If you haven’t read the full version of the story in a while, take a second and read 1 Samuel 17. We’ll meet back here when you’re done.
All set? Good, me too. As I said, I have read this story many times, heard it in song, seen it adapted with talking vegetables (thanks, VeggieTales), it’s basically embedded in my genetic code at this point. But I read it through this fresh lens today–the lens of a person wondering about her place in God’s plan. I’ve been thinking a lot about what the Lord has called me to in my life. How long should I stay at my current job? Will I have little humans to raise someday? Am I called to be a person of influence? These are just some of the questions I’m asking (and struggling with, to be honest). There are a lot of things I want (and don’t want, for that matter). I’ve got this picture in my head of what I see in the future, but I’ve been trying to line that up next to what I think God has for me to make sure I’m walking in His will.
I was talking to a friend of mine recently about these questions I’ve been asking and she pointed out that I was getting caught up in the black and white. I was stuck thinking that there was a specific set of steps God had and that if I missed any, I would somehow be doing my life wrong. Now, there’s some truth to the fact that God ultimately knows and purposes each detail of our life for His glory, but my friend lovingly reminded me that I have a God who loves me and wants me to experience joy. I have a choice, to some extent, about what I want my life to look like. Leaving or staying at a job, choosing a new city to live in, choices like these don’t in and of themselves take me outside of His will.
To be honest, I sort of brushed her off at the time. I had my “Type A” hat on, totally entrenched in a fear of messing up or taking a wrong step. Raise your hand if you can relate. But as I read the story of David and Goliath this morning, I started to see that there may have been some freedom of choice involved in one of the most significant life stories in the Bible.
If you went along with me at the beginning of this post and read 1 Samuel 17, you might have noticed something new that I did as well. God did not tell David to fight Goliath. There were no quotes in that passage or and-the-Lord-said’s. There were no conversations between Samuel (the prophet) and David saying “This is what the Lord told me about you.” David actually just goes to the battle front to bring his brothers some food, but his almost immediate reaction to finding this smack-talking giant is to raise his hand to say “I’ll go fight!” But why?
He understood how God had equipped him
King Saul hears that David is volunteering to fight, so he offers his armor and weaponry to this young shepherd boy. I love David’s response (as read in the Christian Standard Bible): “I can’t walk in these.” He’s like THIS IS NOT GOING TO WORK. He knows his strengths. He has fought off bears and lions while tending his father’s sheep. He knows how to use his sling and he knows how to use it well. Saul is big dude. David isn’t trying to fight like Saul. He’s not trying to be the big warrior in the suit of armor. He’s just trying to be David.
He chose to step up not because of his own strength but because he knew he had a big God behind and in front of him
As Saul tries to talk David out of fighting Goliath, David reassures him, “The LORD who rescued me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will rescue me from the hand of this Philistine.” (Verse 37) But not only does he point to the Lord in the presence of the king, a man of God, but he proclaims this truth again in front of all the troops, both Israelite and Philistine, as well as his enemy. In verses 46 – 47, David proclaims to Goliath: “Today, the LORD will hand you over to me. Today, I’ll strike you down, remove your head, and give the corpses of the Philistine camp to the birds of the sky and the wild creatures of the earth. Then all the world will know that Israel has a God, and this whole assembly will know that it is not by sword or by spear that the LORD saves, for the battle is the LORD’s. He will hand you over to us.”
Wow, what a demonstration of confidence! And such a helpful reminder for me today–an illustration of living freely within the will of God. God did not command David to fight Goliath. David was not obligated. He could have delivered those pizzas (VeggieTales-style), gone back to his flock of sheep and remained a beloved child of the Most High. But instead, in response to a precarious situation for his people, he responded based on what he knew to be true in the Lord. And God used him. But he CHOSE the giant over the sheep. I don’t know about you, but I just find immense freedom in that today. God is the one who does the work, who fights the battle, regardless of where I am, what job I work, or who I can influence. I can choose to step into battle because I know He will back me up. I’m hoping to get better at believing that deep down. Thinking it might make life decisions a whole lot less stressful…