When the Israelites are in danger of losing heart in battle, David steps in to fight on their behalf.
1 Samuel 17:12-40
12 Now David was the son of an Ephrathite named Jesse, who was from Bethlehem in Judah. Jesse had eight sons, and in Saul’s time he was very old. 13 Jesse’s three oldest sons had followed Saul to the war: The firstborn was Eliab; the second, Abinadab; and the third, Shammah.14 David was the youngest. The three oldest followed Saul, 15 but David went back and forth from Saul to tend his father’s sheep at Bethlehem.
16 For forty days the Philistine came forward every morning and evening and took his stand.
17 Now Jesse said to his son David, “Take this ephah of roasted grain and these ten loaves of bread for your brothers and hurry to their camp.18 Take along these ten cheeses to the commander of their unit. See how your brothers are and bring back some assurance from them. 19 They are with Saul and all the men of Israel in the Valley of Elah, fighting against the Philistines.”
20 Early in the morning David left the flock in the care of a shepherd, loaded up and set out, as Jesse had directed. He reached the camp as the army was going out to its battle positions, shouting the war cry.21 Israel and the Philistines were drawing up their lines facing each other.22 David left his things with the keeper of supplies, ran to the battle lines and asked his brothers how they were. 23 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. 24 Whenever the Israelites saw the man, they all fled from him in great fear.
25 Now the Israelites had been saying, “Do you see how this man keeps coming out? He comes out to defy Israel. The king will give great wealth to the man who kills him. He will also give him his daughter in marriage and will exempt his family from taxes in Israel.”
26 David asked the men standing near him, “What will be done for the man who kills this Philistine and removes this disgrace from Israel? Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living God?”
27 They repeated to him what they had been saying and told him, “This is what will be done for the man who kills him.”
28 When Eliab, David’s oldest brother, heard him speaking with the men, he burned with anger at him and asked, “Why have you come down here? And with whom did you leave those few sheep in the wilderness? I know how conceited you are and how wicked your heart is; you came down only to watch the battle.”
29 “Now what have I done?” said David. “Can’t I even speak?” 30 He then turned away to someone else and brought up the same matter, and the men answered him as before. 31 What David said was overheard and reported to Saul, and Saul sent for him.
32 David said to Saul, “Let no one lose heart on account of this Philistine; your servant will go and fight him.”
33 Saul replied, “You are not able to go out against this Philistine and fight him; you are only a young man, and he has been a warrior from his youth.”
34 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, 35 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. 36 Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, because he has defied the armies of the living God. 37 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.”
Saul said to David, “Go, and the Lord be with you.”
38 Then Saul dressed David in his own tunic. He put a coat of armor on him and a bronze helmet on his head. 39 David fastened on his sword over the tunic and tried walking around, because he was not used to them.
“I cannot go in these,” he said to Saul, “because I am not used to them.” So he took them off. 40 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.
“Let no one lose heart on account of this Philistine; your servant will go and fight him”: David, 1 Samuel 17:32
“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms….I am going there to prepare a place for you”: Jesus, John 14:1-2
After 40 relentless days of the Israelite army coming out to face the Philistines then running away at the sight of Goliath, it would have been very hard for them not to lose heart.
Living in this world we can find ourselves in many situations, some relentless, which give us cause to lose heart.
David, the unlikely hero, sees the discouragement of the Israelites, and perhaps more importantly, the dishonouring of his God, and sets out to defeat the enemy in an unlikely way. His assurance is based on God’s faithfulness, not his own strength or fancy weapons.
Jesus, the unlikely hero, sees the current discouragement of his disciples, knowing also the things still to come. He tells them that he will be going ahead of them to prepare the way home to the Father. He then sets out to defeat their biggest enemy, with very unusual weapons. He asks the disciples to believe in him (not in themselves), that he is able to do what needs to be done to bring them home to God.
Today, the risen Jesus sees our troubled hearts too, and also asks us to believe in him. We can be assured of the victory he has won over sin and death on our behalf, and the place he is preparing for those who trust in him.
As we face the realities of life in this world, Jesus calls us to trust in him, to remember his proven faithfulness to us, and to follow him to the place he has prepared for us in his Father’s house. May he enable us to do just that!
Head: What situations do you find yourself in at the moment which sometimes cause you to lose heart? How does Jesus speak into these situations?
Heart: Where are you turning to for encouragement during difficult times? How easy do you find it to trust in Jesus rather than your own efforts or abilities?
Hands: What can you do today to focus your trust on Jesus? How can you encourage those around you to find hope in him?
Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, thank you that you see my heart. Thank you for making it possible through Jesus’ death and resurrection for me to know true, unyielding hope. Please, may your Spirit continue to be at work in this new heart of mine, that I might not lose heart as I live the life you have called me to. Please open my eyes to those around me who are in danger of losing heart, and use me to speak your words of hope to them. Amen.
A song to listen to: See the Man
Ros Cree- Creek Road Presbyterian Church- Carina