1. Saul shows us What Leadership and Manhood are NOT in 17:1-11.
2. David shows us What Leadership and Manhood Are in 17:12-52.
A. Leaders cultivate a relationship with the Lord in private (17:12-30).
1. Before David faced a giant on the battlefield, he had been worshiping the Lord with his harp as he tended sheep. David got into the royal court and family because God had determined back in Genesis 49:10 that a king from the tribe of Judah will reign over Israel. Humanly speaking, David got into the royal court because of his skill and reputation as a harpist (16:18; 17:15). He will enter the royal family because of his skill with the sling when he defeats Goliath. Both of these skills, David honed in solitude as he worshiped and faithfully served his God. Before we wage war on the public battlefield we must spend time alone with God in our imaginary prayer closets and in our sometimes isolated places of service.
2. David had been faithful with small responsibilities.
Six times in chapters 16 and 17, David is described as a keeper of his father’s sheep (16:11, 19; 17:15, 20, 28, 34). Now God is going to reward David for his faithfulness in little responsibilities. The narrator informs us in 17:20 that David “left the sheep with a keeper.” David had faithfully kept his father’s few, smelly sheep and now God was going to promote him to be the Shepherd of Israel (2 Samuel 7:8; Psalm 78:70-72). David “left” those sheep for the last time to become the Shepherd of Israel, God’s flock. Are you faithful in what some might consider a small and unimportant ministry? David was and God increased his realm of influence.
I teach preachers, missionaries, and youth pastors. Sometimes they turn in their papers and sermons late and I remind them that one day they will be preaching two or three times a week. They need to prepare faithfully now for that greater responsibility in the future. They will not be able to turn in their sermons late like some of them do with their papers. They will not be able to do a phone tree message to all their church members early on Sunday morning: “Mysermon is not quite ready yet, but if you can show back up Monday morning my sermon will be ready. God Bless.Pastor.”
3. David had God’s perspective on problems.
In 17:25, Saul’s soldiers reflect Saul’s perspective. When they looked at Goliath they saw a human obstacle to great to overcome. They saw “this man that is come to defy Israel.”
By way of deliberate contrast, we hear David’s first recorded words in 17:26 which reveal a totally different perspective than Saul and his soldiers. David did not see a man who was defying Israel, he saw an “uncircumcised Philistine”, a rebel against God, who was blaspheming “the armies of the living God,” not just insulting a nation. Where did David get this divine perspective on life? From his time alone with God while he faithfully served God purely for His glory unrecognized by men. Do you view your problems as obstacles in God’s right of way in what He has determined for you? You can when spend time with Him. The consequence of this fellowship with the omnipotent God of the universe will be a perspective that your human obstacle is really a divine opportunity to see God work.
B. Leaders Confront Small Problems with God’s Help (17:31-39).
David recounts how God helped him defeat a lion and a bear in protecting his father’s sheep: “The Lord that delivered me out of the paw of the lion, and out of the paw of the bear, he will deliver me out of the hand of this Philistine.”
As you face your giant roadblock to God’s will today, reflect back on God’s answers to your prayers and how God has delivered you. Our God is still on the throne of the universe. Paul rejoiced in a specific instance when God delivered him. As he looked back on that rescue he wrote in 2 Corinthians 1:10 in praise to his Deliverer: “Who delivered us from so great a death, and does deliver: in whom we trust that he will yet deliver us.”
Rehearse for a few minutes God’s more recent answers to your prayers. Mediate on these answers until you can rejoice that God will respond as faithfully to your present problem.
C. Leaders Seek to Honor God with Their God Given Skills (17:40-52).
When David approached the giant, Goliath further ticked David off when he “cursed David by his gods.” That was a mistake. Goliath’s god was Dagon. We were introduced to Dagon in chapters 4-7, when the Philistines stole the ark of the covenant. In 5:1-4, the Philistine bring the ark of the covenant, which represented the God of Israel, and placed it before the national Philistine deity, Dagon, as a defeated enemy would be thrown at his opposing enemy’s feet. During the night, however, God body slams Dagon “upon his face to the earth before the ark of the Lord.” The worshipers of Dagon set him back up on his pedestal and once again God body slams him “upon his face to the ground before the ark of the Lord.” This is repeated twice for a reason which we will shortly see in David’s battle with Goliath.
David charges at Goliath with a sling and five stones. David expressed his motive in combating Goliath in 17:44-47: God’s honor. While Goliath focused on what he would do to David in his strength, David rehearsed what God was going to do through him. David would defeat God’s enemy “that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel. And all this assembly (Israel) shall know that the Lord saves not with sword and spear: for the battle is the Lord’s.”
That statement is fraught with Biblical theology. God had been predicting the monarchy (God leading through human rulers) since Genesis 17:6 when God informed Abraham that He would “make nations of you, and kings shall come out of you.” Later we learn that this coming God ordained leadership would not only come from Abraham, a Jew, but more specifically, this leadership would descend from the tribe of Judah (Genesis 49:8).
Even greater details were added in Deuteronomy 17:14-19. This leader was not to multiply horses or be a military leader. He was not to multiply wives or be a political leader. He was not to multiply gold or be a businessman. He was to be a man of God who “shall write him a copy of this law in a book out of that which is before the priests the Levites: and he shall read therein all the days of his life: that he may learn to fear the LORD his God, to keep all the words of this law and these statues, to do them.”
The leader of God’s people was not to be a military commander, politician, or a businessman but a man of the Word who would lead God’s people to obey God’s Law.
Why did David reject Saul’s armor in 17:38-39? Because David knew as the newly anointed king from the tribe of Judah, his primarily qualification was spiritual not physical or military.
David runs toward the Goliath in verse 48 in the name of the LORD. David fires one stone and mortally wounds Goliath who, like Dagon, falls “upon his face to the earth.” Just as God defeated the national deity of the Philistines, Dagon, He now defeats the national champion of the Philistines, Goliath.
Who ultimately defeated God’s uncircumcised enemy? God! Whom did God use to defeat His enemy? A man who was only about 13 years old but who was consumed with honoring his God with his God given skills.
Just as Saul influenced his men to run from their problems because he lost God’s power, David influence the same men to run to their problems because he was obsessed with exalting God. David was a man because of his spiritual influence.
You can be God’s man on your particular battle field and influence others when you
1. Cultivate a relationship with God
2. Confront rather than run from your problems
3. Seek to honor God with your God given skills
Swindol told this story of the influence of a David like father on his son.
A friend of mine, who graduated from the same seminary I graduated from, has a bright red scar, a birthmark, across the side of his face. It’s like a burn scar. It stretches in an unattractive, obvious fashion down his forehead and across his nose and down across a large section of his mouth and neck.
As far as I can tell, this man has absolutely no difficulty with inferiority. This is, to say the least, unusual.
One day I worked up the courage to ask him how it was that he could be so effective on his feet and trust God to use him without apparent concern about his looks.
“Because of my dad,” he said. “My dad taught me, as far back as I can remember, that this part of my face was where an angel must have kissed me before I was ever born. He said to me, ‘Son, this marking was for dad, so that I might know that you are mine. You have been marked out by God just to remind me that you’re my son.’
“All through my young days, as I grew up, I was reminded by my dad, ‘You are the most important, special fellow on earth.’
“To tell you the truth,” he told me, “I got to where I felt sorry for people who didn’t have birthmarks across the sides of their faces” (Charles R. Swindol. Three Steps Forward Two Steps Back. New York: Thomas Nelson, 1980, 134, 135).