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slingshotAnd what more shall I say? For the time would fail me to tell of Gideon and Barak and Samson and Jephthah, also of David and Samuel and the prophets: who through faith subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, became valiant in battle, turned to flight the armies of the aliens. – Hebrews 11:32-34

David

David is best known as a great King, the Psalmist, and a “man after God’s own heart.” For all his greatness, he started out in the humble position of serving his family as a shepherd. Shepherds were just about the lowest rung on the social ladder in that day and time. It was not great job, no great social position, and no great honor. Watching the flocks was one of the chores that went to the youngest member of the family or the lowest slave in the household.

And yet David, as a young boy, was a faithful shepherd. He fearlessly defended his flock against a lion and a bear. Later when a young teen, as he was taking provisions to his older brothers who had gathered with King Saul and the armies of Israel to fight the Philistines, David overheard the mocking blasphemy of a giant Philistine warrior named Goliath.

Rather than sit still and allow this uncircumcised Philistine to mock God and Israel, David volunteered to fight him. Saul and the others thought he was crazy but also were too afraid to do anything themselves. So Saul had David put on his armor to prepare for battle. The armor was too big of course, as David was a teenager and Saul was “from his shoulders upward…taller than any of the people” (1 Sam 9:2). David removed the ill fitting armor, went to the brook and picked up five smooth stones, and went to face this giant with his staff and sling, the weapons of a shepherd.

Goliath was nine feet nine inches tall. He had an armor bearer who carried his shield out in front of him. He was armed with a sword, spear, and javelin. David proclaimed that he was coming in the name of the Lord whom Goliath had defied. David even proclaimed a brief word of dooming prophecy to Goliath:

“You come to me with a sword, 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. 46 This day the LORD will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you and take your head from you. And this day I will give the carcasses of the camp of the Philistines to the birds of the air and the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel. 47 Then all this assembly shall know that the LORD does not save with sword and spear; for the battle is the LORD’s, and He will give you into our hands.” – 1 Sam 17:45-47

David ran toward Goliath, pulled a stone from his pouch, put it in the sling, and hit Goliath in the forehead. The Bible says that the stone sunk into his head killing him. David did not have a sword, so he took Goliath’s, and to show that he was dead, cut his head off, just as he had prophesied and promised.

After this battle and great victory David and Jonathan became best friends, making a covenant together to take care of each other and their family for the rest of their lives.

Even after this victory, Saul was often distressed. The Lord would send a distressing spirit from time to time and the only relief Saul could find was found in David skillfully playing his psalter (a stringed instrument that is a cross between a hand held harp and a guitar). Saul also became jealous of David as the people sang about his victory over Goliath.

One day Saul became distressed enough that he tried to kill David by throwing a spear at his while he sat at the King’s Table having dinner with him and his family. Saul drove David out and in the conflict that resulted David had several opportunities to capture or kill Saul but he would not raise his hand against God’s anointed authority over him.

David’s faith is demonstrated not just in his bravery, but also in his willingness to do things God’s way. As things settled down for a time in Israel God sent Samuel to anoint David, testifying that he, and not any of Saul’s sons, would be the next king of Israel.

After this David led a group of “Mighty Men” and defeated several enemies of Israel, including the Philistines, Moabites, Syrians, and Edomites. Later as Saul and Jonathan were killed in battle with the Philistines, David fulfilled his promises to Jonathan caring for his family members for the rest of his life.

As he then became king of Israel, we know that he did great things for God and for the nation. He expanded the kingdom, brought peace, and even penned many of the Psalms giving us poetry put to music for the worship of God.

He was indeed identified as a man after God’s own heart. And yet, even though he was mentioned for his faith in Hebrews 11, we have to note the obvious. David was just a man. He was a sinful man. He was at times obedient and a shining example of what it means to believe and obey God. There are no better passages in Scripture that help us see God’s awesome majesty than the Psalms. But he was still just a man.

He had problems with his kids, raising one son, Absalom, who would murder his half brother Amnon and then rebel and even try to take the kingdom from his father. Of course we know about David and Bathsheba. He committed adultery with her and then had her husband killed in battle to cover up his sin. He was confronted by the prophet Nathan and at first would not confess his sin, but once he did he wept bitterly and repented, even fasting before God. The son conceived of adultery died, but later we know that Bathsheba had a son, Solomon, who would be one of the greatest kings the world has ever known.

David knew what it was to sin, to rebel against God, and also to repent and to desire being restored to the joy of the Lord’s salvation. He believed God.

(Next: Samuel)

 

 

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