Summary: An exploration of how others viewed David before and after he killed Goliath and the lessons we can learn.
Perhaps the best know story from the life of David is the account of him slaying the giant Goliath found in 1 Samuel 17. There are many valuable lessons to be found in this great passage. However, I would like to focus on how David was viewed by the other characters in this passage and make some application to ourselves.
To set the scene, the battle lines have been drawn between Israel and their archenemy Philistia (17:3). Rather than have the two armies fight it out and sustain heavy losses, the Philistines propose a match between the two best fighters from each army with the loser’s army becoming the slaves of the winner (17:8b-10). Fighting for the Philistines was the giant Goliath (17:4-8a), while on the Israel’s side was… well, no one. Fear had gripped the men of Israel and they fled and the sight of this man (17:11, 24). Even the reward of riches and the king’s daughter were not enough to encourage any of the Israelites to fight Goliath (17:24-27). However, one day young David, the future king of Israel, happened to be bringing supplies to his brothers (17:17-23). Upon hearing the Philistine taunt the armies of God, David resolved to fight for the honor of the Lord. Let’s explore four views of David from 1 Samuel 17:1-18:5 as he fights and prevails over the Philistine. These four views of David and his response to them will form the basis of our application at the end of this lesson.
#1. The Critical View:
Eliab, David’s brother, was critical of David’s motives for being present at the battle and for talking to the other seasoned soldiers about fighting Goliath.
“Now Eliab his eldest brother heard when he spoke to the men. And Eliab’s anger was kindled against David, and he said, ‘Why have you come down? And with whom have you left those few sheep in the wilderness? I know your presumption and the evil of your heart, for you have come down to see the battle.’” (17:28-29)
Rather than allowing this unfair criticism distract him, David stayed on course (17:30).
#2. The You Can’t View:
The next view of David came from Saul, the king of Israel. When no one else was willing to fight for the Lord, David volunteered but Saul was quick to say David couldn’t possibly be victorious:
“When the words that David spoke were heard, they repeated them before Saul, and he sent for him. And David said to Saul, ‘Let no man’s heart fail because of him. Your servant will go and fight the Philistine.’ And Saul said to David, ‘You are not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him, for you are but a youth, and he has been a man of war from his youth.’” (17:31-33)
Nevertheless, David didn’t allow Saul to stop him from fighting for the Lord (17:34-40).
#3. The Contemptuous View:
Within a short amount of time, David found himself facing Goliath mano a mano. Goliath was rather unimpressed with David and the text records,
“And the Philistine moved forward and came near David, with his shield-bearer in front of him. And when the Philisitine looked and saw David, he disdained him, for he was but a youth, ruddy and handsome in appearance. And the Philistine said to David, ‘Am I a dog, that you come to me with sticks?’ And the Philistine cursed David by his gods. The Philistine said to David, ‘Come to me, and I will give your flesh to the birds of the air and to the beast of the field.’” (17:41-44)