Simple Yet Profound | Tim Jones
Simple yet profound: a glimpse into God’s Deliverance of His People
For who is this uncircumcised Philistine,
that he should defy the armies of the living God?
1 Samuel 17:26b
The account of David and Goliath is widely spoken of in kid’s ministries. It is taught to churchgoers at a young age, yet in my experience, the story is then forgotten and its wider theme not grasped. This is a catastrophe because the Gospel of Jesus Christ is understood in its fullest when one beholds its truths expressed from Genesis through Revelation, from God’s foreshadowing of the Messiah in the OT to His sending of Him in the New. This small section in the book of 1 Samuel contributes to this broader context of the Gospel and God’s providence in freeing His people from the bonds of their enemies.
Before we look directly at chapter 17 where the events of David’s battle with Goliath take place, we will seek to understand the surrounding context. A few chapters into the book, the Philistines go to war against the Israelites and God allows them to prevail due to the disobedience of His people. The Philistines capture the ark of the covenant, put it in their god’s temple, the statue of their god is destroyed, and plagues are sent against them. In a desperate move for their own safety, they send the ark back to the Israelites. Following this, Israel begins to demand a king. Samuel the prophet warns them against this, yet the Lord grants their request and appoints Saul. Initially, things seem to go well until Saul neglects to obey God and begins to do things his own way. Due to this, God speaks through Samuel, rejects Saul, and has David anointed king unbeknownst to Saul. David is brought into Saul’s service as his armor bearer and comforter with a lyre. These events are a quick overview leading up to the famous account of the Israelite David and the Philistine Goliath.
In chapter 17 we see that the Philistines and Israelites are in a standoff, one army facing another with a valley in between. To avoid unnecessary bloodshed, armies would send out their fiercest warrior to challenge that of the opposing army, and the Philistines decided to use this method. Goliath of Gath came out and bellowed toward the Israelites to send out a warrior who will fight. For forty days Goliath came forth in the morning repeating his challenge and for forty days none had faith enough in God to take up arms against the giant. Then came David into the fold as he was sent by his father to bring his brothers food. David heard the challenge from the Philistine and was perplexed by two things. The first is the audacity of Goliath to challenge the armies of God Himself. The second is the fact that the Israelites are allowing Goliath to do so, they are cowering at the challenge of a mere man after all that God had delivered them from. David says, “For who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?” David then comes before Saul and states that he will fight against Goliath, he is turned down by Saul and proceeds to appeal to his experience fighting off bears and lions whilst shepherding his flock. David receives permission, denies Saul’s push for him to wear armor, and moves into the valley. When David is addressed in a mocking way by Goliath he responds boldly and with confidence,
“You come to me with a sword and with a spear and with a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the Lord will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you down and cut off your head. And I will give the dead bodies of the host of the Philistines this day to the birds of the air and to the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel, and that all his assembly may know that the Lord saves not with sword or spear. For the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give you into our hand.”
This proclamation from a small boy to a mighty warrior was a great one, it was not lacking in trust and faith in God almighty, and David had full assurance that his God would come through. A question we must ask is where did this courage, boldness, and faith came from. Was David simply a better person that the other Israelites? Did David somehow muster up this faith in himself while the rest could not? This question seems to be answerless if we remain consistent with the premise that people are sinners and can do nothing before The Holy God. That being said, the answer can be found if we simply look back at chapter 16. Samuel was sent by God to find and anoint the future king. Jesse brought before Samuel each of his sons, and each was rejected by God. Then David, Jesse’s youngest, was brought before Samuel and the Lord made it clear that David was who God had chosen. Just after David was anointed king, scripture tells us that “the spirit of the LORD rushed upon David from that day forward.” Our answer is that God chose David, and David was filled with the spirit of the Lord, along with which came faith, boldness, courage, and confidence, not in himself, but in the God whom he served.
To bring all of this to a culmination in the foreshadowing of Jesus Christ and His Gospel we will draw out one simple, yet profound conclusion from what we have looked at so far. It is quite easy to allow very simple truths to go without thought, yet sometimes it is those simple truths that make all the difference. I encourage you to think on these things in depth and praise God for his great grace in the Gospel. In this account, God’s people faced a foe mightier than they. The Israelites did not have in themselves the ability to overcome this foe and they did not even realize their desperate need for God to step in and deliver them. Despite their lack of understanding or acknowledgement of their need for God, He still took initiative… God moved towards His people in a manner of deliverance. Romans 5:8 tells us that “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” That verse is incredible, and it matches the framework just spoken of. Before we even acknowledged our incredible, enormous, meteoric, and utterly desperate need for God to help us, He moved towards us amid our sin, He stepped in and provided the sacrifice on our behalf in order to defeat the power of our enemy: sin and death. To do so God satisfied His righteous wrath against sin by pouring it out on His willing Son, Jesus Christ “who takes away the sin of the world.”
As you finish up this week and enter a couple days of rest, do not let this truth pass by you. Think on it, dwell on it, let it wholly and entirely fill you up, and then praise God with the very praises He has filled your heart with through His grace towards you in His Son Jesus Christ.
Try it yourself: Seek to find deposits of the Gospel in the account of Jonah this week, it is a great story through which to sharpen your senses to see Christ and Him crucified everywhere you look.