"I have never yet found a text that had not got a road to Christ in it, and if I ever do find one that has not a road to Christ in it, I will make one; I will go over hedge and ditch but I would get at my Master, for the sermon cannot do any good unless there is a savor of Christ in it." C.H. Spurgeon
In this article I would like to look at a classic Bible story with you, in hopes that it might alter the way you approach some of the more well-known narratives of scripture. I'm simply going to walk through the text, much like a sermon would, and explain it as we go.
Many people don’t think about the Old Testament stories in the “road back to Jesus” way. Instead, they like to think of them more as some kind of moral compass that points you to a "best life now" type of understanding. To prove it I looked up: top 20 David and Goliath sermon titles. Here is the gist of the entirety of that list:
Facing Your Giants
Bringing Down Your Giant
I suppose you could gather all of those ideas from this story, but I would like to challenge that there is a deeper and far more important meaning behind it.
But forget about the deeper meaning piece for a second. Logically, a story about you defeating your giants isn’t very effective when it comes down to it. There are plenty of "giants" that are going to be far too big for you in this life. There are things that will overpower you to the point of breaking. The money might not come, the car crash might take the loved one, the cancer will continue to literally eat you alive. So, if I were writing about David and Goliath, and my main point was “all’s you need is some faith.. some courage like David... then you’ll get your breakthrough; then you’d slay your giant.” I would be not only lying to you, but I would be damning you to a wrong understanding of how God works in our lives.
So instead of that, we’re going to get into that deeper meaning, the God-centered meaning of the text and figure out what it is God has revealed to us through his word. We'll be in 1 Samuel chapters16 &17 if you'd like to go read all of it for context.
“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 beasts of the field." Then David said to the Philistine, "You come to me with a sword and 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. This day the Lord will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you down and cut off your head. And I will give the dead bodies of the host of the Philistines this day to the birds of the air and to the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel, and that all this assembly may know that the Lord saves not with sword and spear. For the battle is the Lord 's, and he will give you into our hand."”
1 Samuel 17:43-47
This interaction would be fairly comical, right? A teenage boy with his slingshot running up to a ten foot tall man in full armor, with a javelin, a sword, and a spear... But David knows it’s not about his weapon. God didn’t choose David because he was good with a slingshot.
Joshua brought down Jericho with horns. Moses parted the water with a staff. It’s not about the tool or the talent. It’s about God.
Remember that one time Kanye West came out with a gospel album? There were a lot of Christians that were just overjoyed that “Kanye was saved”. And absolutely let’s rejoice in salvation! But their excitement usually was followed by “Kanye can reach so many people for Jesus now!”
As soon as you start to think things like “no wonder God saved this or that celebrity, they have such a platform!” you have missed the point completely. This is how we read the Bible sometimes.
David’s track record with killing bears and lions was impressive. But the thing that defeated those animals and the thing that would defeat Goliath wasn’t anything in or of David himself. Look back a chapter with me and see where all this power comes from.
“Then Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the midst of his brothers. And the Spirit of the Lord rushed upon David from that day forward.”
1 Samuel 16:13
It’s all God. Do you think without the power of the Holy Spirit that David would have even been willing to offer, let alone accomplish, the killing of the giant? No, without the supernatural power and guidance of God, you, me and not even David could stand before Goliath and win.
God directed every moment that follows.
“When the Philistine arose and came and drew near to meet David, David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet the Philistine. And David put his hand in his bag and took out a stone and slung it and struck the Philistine on his forehead. The stone sank into his forehead, and he fell on his face to the ground. So David prevailed over the Philistine with a sling and with a stone, and struck the Philistine and killed him. There was no sword in the hand of David. Then David ran and stood over the Philistine and took his sword and drew it out of its sheath and killed him and cut off his head with it. When the Philistines saw that their champion was dead, they fled. And the men of Israel and Judah rose with a shout and pursued the Philistines as far as Gath and the gates of Ekron, so that the wounded Philistines fell on the way from Shaaraim as far as Gath and Ekron.”
1 Samuel 17:48-52
You remember the quote I started with, “for the sermon cannot do any good unless there is a savor of Christ in it." This is where that part kicks in. You see most people are satisfied with the heroics and the climactic nature of this story. But when we stop here, when we don’t press further to see what this is really about, we misunderstand completely the intent of the story.
Every book, verse and word in the Bible is always meant to be taken in light of the overarching story of redemption. The fun kids’ stories become life-changing gospel messages when we understand them in the context of the Bible as a whole.
We find the beautiful substance of the shadow of David and Goliath's story in Paul’s gospel presentation in Colossians.
“And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.”
This is it people. God is showing us over and over and over that His Son has defeated sin!
It's in Exodus with the triumph over Egypt.
In Joshua with the destruction of Jericho.
In Samson in his defeating 1000 Philistines.
And here it’s in the death of a giant.
This is the gospel!
That we were dead - we were the Israelites standing afraid for 40 days, shaking in their armor, not willing or able to stand against the giant... that’s us. They’re as good as dead, no hope that this enemy will be defeated.
But Jesus, the meek, unlikely hero, triumphed over all that we could not, our sin, guilt, shame, death, by taking it to the cross and bearing our penalty--just as David foreshadowed when he stepped on the battlefield in the place of a helpless Israel... THAT’S what David represents in this story, King Jesus.
And now we live in freedom over sin, not because we were good enough, not because we “asked Jesus into our hearts”... The Israelites celebrated that night because of what David did to free them from the demands of their pagan challenger, not what they did. So, likewise, we live free from sin simply because God overflowed with mercy and breathed our limp, rotten bodies back to new, glorious life - as David represents with his beheading of the enemy, and the sudden quickening of the soldiers upon his victory.
"When the Philistines saw that their champion was dead, they fled. And the men of Israel and Judah rose with a shout and pursued the Philistines"
1 Samuel 17:52
This story is about Jesus. Every story in the Bible is about Jesus. Don't get me wrong: this message does affect us, it does have wonderful application for our lives, but one that is much greater than the self-help--slay your giant--type of application.
See, when it’s up to God, when the hero is Jesus, it doesn’t matter what your situation is, it doesn’t even matter what your outcome is. If you were to die tomorrow for whatever reason, but Jesus had saved you, then God is the victor.
I want to leave you with these verses from Ephesians as a reminder that the power to live this life for God does not come from us but from God himself, through Jesus' blood on the cross.
“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”
This life will have its struggles, and they may overtake you, but as followers of the conqueror of death and the giver of life, we can say along with Paul, for us, "to live is Christ, and to die is gain."
Soli Deo Gloria
List of people who are very bad at preaching the Bible/People you should not listen to.