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Life Lessons: Young David

I was thinking about the modern life lessons in the historic stories of the Bible recently and the story of David fighting Goliath came to mind. It’s one of the first stories you learn as a child and one that everyone seems to know regardless of religious affiliation or upbringing because it’s one of those great underdog moments. The little guy faces the bully and wins. Isn’t that what we want out of life? To come out on top of our battles with the enemy? But what else can this story teach us in our daily living?

Let me tell you what I’ve learned in my years of reading this part of David’s story.

God’s plan may not always look as expected. (1 Samuel 16:7)

This part of the story comes a little before Goliath but to me it’s definitely part of the big picture. At this point in 1 Samuel we see Saul has been rejected by God for all of his disobedience and Samuel is sent to anoint David as the new king but like me, Samuel has expectations of what the Lord’s plan will look like in action. He goes and meets all of David’s brothers and from the first one his thought is basically, “Here’s a strong, rugged, manly man. He must be the one.” However, the prophet is wrong. In fact, the Lord says “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” Actually, it’s obvious that no one even considered David as an option because he was left out in the field tending the sheep while his brothers were brought in for evaluation.

Isn’t that just like something we would do? Not only do I have expectations to how the Lord’s plan should go, I also completely write off “options” for various reasons that seem logical to me. Yet, the Lord’s plan always seems to surprise me when I look back on His path of faithfulness. Don’t forget that the Lord’s ways are far beyond our understanding and don’t miss what He is doing simply because it doesn’t look like you thought it would.

The Lord is preparing you for your purpose even if you don’t understand. (1 Samuel 17:34-35)

When David shows up to the battle in chapter 17, it’s not as a warrior or a king, rather he’s there as a glorified errand boy but he hears all the trash the Philistines are talking about God and His people and it doesn’t sit right with him, yet, everyone else seems to be scared senseless. (It’s like those middle school fights when the boys just circle each other yelling insults but don’t actually want to throw a punch.) David starts asking around about Goliath and eventually volunteers to fight for the honor of the Lord. When Saul hears of this he tells David all the reasons he isn’t capable of defeating him. He’s too young and not skilled. Goliath has been training for war since he was a child and David is just a lowly shepherd.

However, David can see the preparation the Lord provided him and he goes on to explain how as a shepherd he has slain a bear and lion to protect the flock. No one would think of raising sheep as a way to train for battle but David was actually gaining the skills necessary to defeat the enemy. He too was training since childhood…he just didn’t realize it until this moment?

Has that happened to you? Have you had a moment where you looked back and realized the skills you possessed were exactly what you needed in a moment of struggle but during the process you were at a loss for the happenings? I have so many “aha moments” with the Lord in my life as a teacher. There are moments, challenges and skills that I experienced years ago that make me an accomplished teacher today yet during those moments I was adamant that teaching was never going to be a part of my life but God... That always seems to be my “hindsight is 20/20” revelation… but God…

Remember the Lord’s faithfulness. (1 Samuel 17:37)

As David is explaining to Saul why he is capable of handling Goliath, he states that God will rescue him from Goliath just as God rescued him from the bear and lion. David’s faith was not in his own ability but in the faithfulness of his Father. He trusted the Lord to see him through this battle and he had that trust because he remembered all the other times the Lord was faithful.

Sometimes, it’s easy to forget the Lord’s provision because new needs pop up. We often pray for one thing and then move right on to the next issue when that prayer is answered. To help combat that, I started a tradition a few years back of journaling my prayer time each morning and then going back and highlighting the answered prayers. Let me tell you… it’s hard to think the Lord might leave you out in the cold when you have journals full of neon marks. To me it is such a tangible picture of God’s faithfulness. It’s also a great reminder to me of the Lord’s timing. Often a page with have several colors highlighting it because the answers came over the course of a few months or years. Some prayers will never be highlighted which reminds me that it isn’t always my business to know the outcome. God is faithful, not as an action but as His character. Never forget that!

Stop comparing yourself to others. (1 Samuel 17:39-40)

Once Saul decides to let the little shepherd boy face the giant on his behalf, he decided to at least give him the best shot possible. So, he dressed David up in his armor and gave him his sword. Poor David tries to walk around in this uniform that probably weighs as much as he did and quickly realizes this was going to make things worse. Remember, his faith is in God not in his weapons or armor. He knew whose battle it was ultimately and decided to face Goliath with the skills God had given him. Can you imagine what all these battle hardened warriors must have been thinking? “Poor stupid kid!”, “Man, I can’t watch this.”, “He won’t last a minute.” After all, these are the men that were too scared to face Goliath themselves but off David goes wearing a simple tunic, carrying a staff, a sling and some stones.

So, often we are jealous of the abilities and skills of others and we completely neglect the talents the Lord has bestowed on us. I have several friends in the choir who sing like absolute angels and man, is that a talent I wish I had but that is just not the gift the Lord bestowed on me. Could I (in theory) sing a solo one Sunday morning? Yes! Would that bless anyone? Definitely not! I’ve come to learn that a lot of my God-given abilities are more “behind the scenes” but they are just as important and necessary as those spotlight roles. And you know what? I’ve learned that there are things that I can do better than anyone else because the Lord created my brain that way. Can you imagine if I refused to work with what the Lord provided and went after the spotlight roles instead? The congregations’ ears would bleed, I’d be embarrassed and most importantly, the role that I was created to fill wouldn’t be filled in the way it needed to be done. Stop trying to be a different part of the puzzle. We need you to be your part or we’re going to have a big hole.

Be intentional. (1 Samuel 17:48)

This is probably the hardest lesson for me from David’s story because it’s bold and not necessarily in my comfort zone. At this moment we see David kitted out (his way) and facing Goliath. The giant is essentially laughing at the absurdity of the situation and throwing in a little trash talk for good measure. So, when the big moment comes it says that Goliath moved in to attack and David ran directly at him. Literally, meeting him at the battle line. Do you trust the Lord enough to run boldly towards whatever he has called you to do? If I’m honest, I know that’s not always the case for me. Sometimes, I tiptoe towards obedience which isn’t necessarily obedient and surely isn’t full of faith because the reality is I’m looking for an exit plan if things go south or I’m hoping not to get too bashed up in the beginning but David knew his mission and went for it. God often requires boldness just like he requires trust in His plan and if we truly trust Him, why wouldn’t we be bold?

The Scriptures are so alive and full of life lessons that we can benefit from if only we take the chance to truly dive in and learn from the heroes of the faith. Thank you Lord for giving us realistic and useful instructions for our daily living!

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