Great stories of the Bible: David & Goliath
Joel S. Heckendorf
Rudy. Hoosiers. Moneyball. Miracle. Karate Kid. Cool Runnings. Rocky. What do all these sport movies have in common? Against all odds, the underdog wins.
We love such movies. But we don’t just love the big-screen stories; we also cheer for the underdog in life. We cheer for the “Cinderella” team in the NCAA basketball tournament. Underdog victories are heartwarming and motivational.
David and Goliath is the ultimate underdog story (1 Samuel chapter 17). Standing at six cubits and a span (about 9’6”), Goliath towered over David by about four feet. The giant’s 126-pound armor weighed almost the same as his opponent. The iron tip of his spear was as heavy as a bowling ball. David had five smooth stones from a stream. To say the Vegas odds were against this sling-shooting shepherd is quite the understatement. And Goliath knew it. Shaking his massive head in disbelief at the boy coming to meet him in the valley, the Philistine’s pride pumped his armored chest out just a bit more.
But you know what happened next. Pride goes before the fall. One stone. That’s all it took. One stone to the head, and the giant fell.
David vs. Goliath isn’t just a clash between a boy with a peach-fuzzed face and a man’s man. It wasn’t just a battle between a sling and a sword. The battle didn’t belong to David. “The battle is the LORD’s” (1 Samuel 17:47). Goliath’s sarcasm was true . . . he was a dog in this battle. Against the Lord, Goliath was the underdog.
We often go through life with an underdog mentality. With chips on our shoulders we are out to prove something. We want to “be a David.” Self-help books encourage us to “be a David” as we face our giants. But this popular story is not about being the hero. If David walked into the valley alone, he would have died there. Don’t try to be a David; rather see David’s greater Son. See Jesus, the Son of David.
Although he didn’t look like much, Jesus, the Son of David, has taken down bigger giants than Goliath. When the devil tempted him in the desert, Jesus slung the smooth stone of his Word at this mighty foe. When sin towered over Jesus and pinned him to the cross, what did Jesus do? With his words, “It is finished,” he hurled a stone and struck sin in the head, knocking it to the ground. Three days later, when death thought it had Jesus defeated, Jesus burst through the stone of the tomb and cut off death’s head.
The big giants have been defeated. Therefore, little giants in our life don’t stand a chance. No matter what you are facing, you are always the favorite because “the battle is the LORD’s.”
Exploring the Word
1. Tell the story in your own words. Then read the account. Which details did you omit or mistakenly add?
Answers will vary. If studying in a group, split up into smaller groups and see how many different details are included in the exercise. Why do you think some details made every list and other details didn’t make any lists?
2. Why do you think this story is one of the most popular stories included in children’s Bibles?
We are inspired by David because we often see ourselves as the underdog. But hopefully we now see that with the Lord we are never the underdog.
3. What can we learn from David when Saul told him he couldn’t fight Goliath (1 Samuel 17:33)?
David looked at victories he had in the past. So, too, as we look at the challenges of our future, may we remember how the Lord has provided in the past.
Contributing editor Joel Heckendorf is pastor at Immanuel, Greenville, Wisconsin.
This is the fourth article in a 10-part series on the top ten stories included in children’s Bibles and how they apply to our lives today. Find answers online after March 5.
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Author: Joel S. Heckendorf
Volume 103, Number 3
Issue: March 2016
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