Can you picture the Jerusalem press in the days of 1 Samuel 17? I picture the headlines something like this: “Day 15 of the Goliath Matter.” I picture media swarming the hills on the allied side of the Valley of Elah. I can see them airing Goliath’s rants over and over, showing photo ops of Saul and his joints chiefs in apparent strategy meetings. I picture Saul’s press secretary expressing how concerned Saul is and how his advisors are determining whether to use diplomacy or force, airstrikes or ground troops.
As we know, it was nothing more than a game of chicken. It was a classic case of a lack of leadership—a lethargic king with an aversion to risk, a man consumed with his own name over God’s name.’
Enter David, with a package of pizza ingredients—bread and cheese, and a sling-shot in his back pocket. He must have taken that thing everywhere! (You never know when you might run into a random lion.) The kid is a no-name. He smells like sheep. He’s a delivery boy. He’s the runt little brother of some of Israel’s best soldiers.
It’s a story of God doing a most unlikely thing, with a least likely person, in a most unproven and unconventional way. He tends to do that. Obliterating any reasonable explanation is one of the many ways He insures that the glory is all HIS.
Have you ever considered the ironies of the story of David, King Saul, and the Goliath matter? God breaks all the rules in this story, in ways that many would not be comfortable with today. Here are just a few ironies and principles we can take away…
1. Saul was experienced, David not so much—Saul was strong and self-assured. David was young and inexperienced. God passed over Saul’s experience, and grabbed a sheep-keeping kid from an obscure hillside.
Principle: Experience becomes a hindrance when it produces self-reliance. God can use a dependent you, in spite of not having “giant-killing” in your resume.
2. Saul was older, David younger—Saul allowed his age to petrify his thinking. David’s thinking hadn’t pretrified yet. He wasn’t stuck in the same “battle box” as Saul. Saul had armor and strategy. David had faith and God-confidence.
Principle: In God’s economy, when age and experience trump faith and risk-taking, they become hindrances. God won’t be crammed into your box, He’s much bigger than that.
3. Saul had proven armor, David a proven sling—Saul had proven resources—the way he had done it for years. David’s resources quite different. Note—both were proven, to each man, differently. But the fact is, the armor and the sling were inconsequential—God didn’t need either. David needed God.
Principle: The “proven” thing that most matters in your life is God. He can use tools, but He’s not bound by them or to them.
4. Saul had stature, David had stability—Saul’s position had become a problem. He was big in his own sight, and therefore blinded. David was little in his own sight, and had a firm identity in God. This made him nimble and light spiritually—he wasn’t weighed down with the paralysis of potenial risk.
Principle: Identity founded in lose-able or breakable things can keep me from having an unshakeable identity in Jesus Christ. God is your only source of true strength.
5. Saul cared for his kingdom, David cared for God’s—Saul’s kingdom was on the line. He had a lot to lose, or so he thought. (He ended up losing it any way.) David had no kingdom of His own. His sole concern was God’s kingdom.
Principle: I can live for my kingdom and lose it any way, or I can live for God’s kingdom and enjoy it forever! That God invites me into his work and kingdom is unthinkable!
6. Saul was self-centric, David was God and others centric—Saul’s world revolved around himself as king. David’s world revolved around God as king, and the good of others. The real risk was in the tarnishing of God’s name and the oppression of God’s people—Saul forgot it, David got it.
Principle: God honors even rookie leadership when it serves to magnify His name and edify His people. God has your back when you care about His glory and His sheep.
There are more ironies in this story. And the amazing thing about God is that He still loves to work in ironic, jaw-dropping ways today. He still likes to use people who are little in their own sight—regardless of their age or experience. He can use a sling-shot as well as He can use armor. He can use old and young, experienced or inexperienced. He can do His work through anyone who will dare to trust Him. What He’s looking for is radical faith.
Sad thing is, if you play the story forward, David goes down a similar road. With age and experience came greater lethargy, less faith, and bad decisions. How I pray that God will keep me youthfully blind to impossibilities. I pray He will help me avoid the transition from building His kingdom to protecting mine. I pray He will help me establish a firm identity in Him that keeps me light, ready to take risk, ready to obey in faith. I pray He will continue raising up young Davids all over America and around the world—little guys, who know they are small, but who also know God is very BIG! Davids may look young, inexperienced, and a bit unconventional—but apparently God smiles on their FAITH and uses their sling-shots.
To the Saul’s of the world—soften your heart, reduce your image of self, risk your kingdom, and give yourself to building God’s. Refuse to let your thinking atrophy, and don’t scorn the thinking of the sheep-keeping kids that deliver the pizza’s to your strategy meetings. Don’t mock their sling-shots. Hopefully, the faith of those kids with sling-shots in their back pockets will someday change the world!
To the David’s of the world—keep walking with God in obscure valleys, and don’t worry about your kingdom. Keep tending sheep and delivering cheese. Keep anchoring your identity to God’s heart. Keep loving His kingdom, and developing your sling-shot skills. There’s coming a day—a random, unexpected moment—when you are least suspecting it, God is going to bless your faith and blow your mind!
If God can use a kid with a slingshot—He can use you!
You’re not too little. You’re not insignificant. Faith in God trumps proven things, prestige, position, age, or experience every time.