David and Goliath
- Be amazed at David's courage and faith.
- Marvel in the surprising way God gave victory.
- Grow in our own faith in God's power.
You've probably been eager to tell this story. And why not? No matter how many times we've heard the story, the courage, suspense, and adventure grab us every time. But don't miss the even more exciting and deeper story of faith that underlies it all.
Just before this story begins, in chapter 16, we learn that "the Spirit of the Lord had departed from Saul." When the leader is "Spiritless," all his followers will become dispirited as well. Mighty King Saul is camped on one side of the Valley of Elah, the Philistines on the other side. The valley between is a no-man's land---because the giant Goliath has challenged Israel to settle the battle one-on-one. "This day I defy the armies of Israel. Give me a man and let us fight each other." The whole army of Israel, from Saul down to the lowliest soldier, cowers in fear.
Along comes David. His older brothers are all in the army of Saul, but David was evidently deemed too young and too inexperienced to be a soldier. Instead he brings sandwiches to his soldier brothers. While he is there, Goliath yells out his usual challenge. Interestingly, David is not only interested in the reputation of the God of Israel, but in his own advancement as well. "What will be done for the man who kills this Philistine?" Then he expresses his scorn for Goliath: "Who does he think he is 'that he should defy the armies of the living God.' The Bible is honest about people. David is not all courage and pious talk; he also wants to get ahead---he's got ambition. Another factor, perhaps, that makes him a "man after God's heart" (13:14).
David's defiance gets him an audience with the king himself, who is astounded and skeptical that this mere boy might go against Goliath. But David convinces Saul to give him a try, at least. "Go, and the Lord be with you." (An expression of faith or of desperation?) Next we see David stumbling out of the camp under the weight of Saul's full armor. He looks ridiculous and feels useless.
As soon as he gets far enough from the Israelite camp, he dumps the armor, takes his staff in hand, stoops to choose five smooth stones from a brook nearby, and sets off to meet Goliath with what he calls sticks and stones. The fact that David is so young, so small, so ill-equipped, seems to enrage Goliath all the more. But David only grows in faith and courage. He names his true champion, "the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied." Now we know what this is really all about: the reputation of God's covenant name and the well-being of his people.
David's very lack of the typical pieces of armor makes clear the real point. "It is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves; for the battle is the Lord's."
It's a case of faith in God combined with stealth, cunning, and skill. David sneaks up on Goliath, who hadn't seen the sling but only the staff. With a practiced shepherd's skill, David swirls the sling, lets the stone fly, and lands one right on Goliath's exposed head. Goliath drops dead on the spot, "facedown on the ground." Facedown is the attitude of slavery. Goliath, who had vowed to make slaves of the Israelites, now lies facedown before this kid, this young shepherd boy. David takes Goliath's enormous sword and slices off the giant's head.
As God's story continues, we will hear a lot about David. It's not all good, to be sure. An unfaithful husband and poor father, David will fail. But, the Bible seems to tell us, David is the best we as human beings can be. He has the qualities of greatness. He's the best we can be until the Son of David comes---the One who will give humanity a whole new start and wrestle with the powers of hell on the cross.
What motivates David to stand against Goliath?
What’s wrong with Saul and his armies?
What do you think of David’s apparently complex motivation?
How do faith and skill operate together in your life?
This is a story of faith, but as we’ve seen, it’s faith in combination with courage, skill, and cunning. Faith is central, but if it’s the only thing emphasized, our calling as human beings gets diminished.
Help the children begin to make a connection between David and “David’s Son,” Jesus Christ, the ultimate deliverer.
Since this is probably your first meeting together in a new year of church school, you’ll want to take some time getting to know each other. One fun way to do this is through the Name Game. Explain that you’ll go around the circle (beginning with you). Each person takes a turn to say his or her name and also mention something they like—a food, dessert, game, sport, or movie—something that starts with the same letter as their name. Here are a few examples:
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