Arguably one of the best known and loved stories of the Old Testament is the story of David and Goliath. A young shepherd boy courageously takes on the gigantic champion of Israel’s enemy, the Philistines. Conventional wisdom is that David will be killed off very, very quickly in this epic mismatch. This is what everyone watching would have been thinking, and no doubt David was aware of this perspective. Yet, David courageously entered into the battle, and wins a stunning victory.
The actions of David raise the question “how can we find the courage to live the lives we are called to live?
When David arrives in the valley of Elah where battle lines are drawn between the Israelites and the Philistines, he sees what everyone else sees. Goliath. He was sort of hard to miss. This man who is estimated to be between 7ft to 9ft tall is hurling abuse at the Israelites and ridiculing God. What sets David apart from the others in the valley that day is that he cannot and will not do nothing when God is being challenged this way. He has a love and zeal for God.
It’s hard to live the life God calls you to live if you don’t care for the things of God, nor love God. David has this in spades. He loves God and is prepared to risk his life honouring God than living long without God.
When David decides to fight Goliath, there is a unique perspective which he also brings to the battle. To Goliath, David says, “‘you come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied.” Paraphrased, he is saying, you think you are fighting me, but you are fighting God.
Eugene Peterson in his book “Leap Over a Wall” writes:
In this “episode in the Davidic narrative sequence, we find ourselves faced with acquiring a God-dominated imagination and rejecting a Goliath-dominated imagination.”
What does Peterson mean by that? A Goliath-dominated imagination is where we permit evil or fear to control our thinking, shape our responses, and we are incapable of seeing the good, the true and the beautiful.
David had a God-dominated imagination. For David, what is even a 9ft man, compared to the living God. The presence of God was more real to David than the taunts of a giant. He dares to believe that God is bigger than anything or anyone who is against him, so long as he keeps his heart on God.
If you find yourself in a situation where you need courage to pursue the life God is calling you to live, perhaps remember David. Do a heart check, and consider whether you are being driven by a heart and zeal for the things of God. Then remember who God is. No matter how large a challenge you face, I suspect that God is bigger.