Defending God’s honour – part 3 (1 Sam 17)

This is the final part in our three-day look at the David and Goliath story. We’ve seen how the battle was really about defending God’s honour. David was the only one zealous enough to want to defend it, and confident enough in God’s power to attempt it.

Today, we look at the final part of the story – only a few verses – to see how it fits into the bigger sweep of what God was doing.

In the first part, I asked ‘Who will defend God?’. At some level, that’s a pretty dumb question. Because obviously he doesn’t need it; he’s perfectly capable of defending himself. Nonetheless, his preferred method seems to be to use people. David’s a case in point.

Here, God didn’t do it through obviously ‘supernatural’ means like he had sometimes done in the past – through his angel of death, through the waters of the Red Sea, or even through shoddy standards in the Jericho wall-construction industry.

He raised up a person. But he didn’t raise up just any old person. He used someone who saw things how they really were; who saw things through God’s eyes. Someone who was zealous enough for God’s honour to want to do something about it; someone who was confident enough in God’s power to actually try.

Are you going to be one of those people God uses to defend his honour?

These days it doesn’t involve enlisting for the army, or picking up a bunch of stones. We’re called to defend God’s honour in different ways. Not in military contexts, but most commonly in interpersonal contexts. That is, when we talk and interact with our friends who don’t know Jesus. But like David, we still need to get equipped for the battle.

We need knowledge and training to be able to explain and to defend God and his gospel. Putting my Bible college lecturer hat on for just a minute, this is a call to being equipped: whether it be by formal Bible college study (Morling offers an excellent distance learning programme!), by reading, or by attending courses run by your local church. Many people in my church do this not because they want to be pastors, but because they want to be equipped to defend God’s honour in their workplace with the nonbelievers they have the privilege of talking to every day.

Are you going to be that person who stands up for God against the twenty-first century Goliaths? Of course not, you say, God couldn’t possibly use me. Or could he…?

God often uses ‘unlikely’ people:

You know, David could have thought that way. The story makes much of David as the ‘unlikely’ hero. He’s still a boy. He’s the youngest in the family and his brothers try to put him in his place. Saul’s armour (a man’s armour!) is too big. He uses a simple slingshot.

This continues a theme from earlier in 1 Samuel, where God chooses David as his next king. Back in chapter 9 Saul had been the obvious king in the eyes of the people:

9:2 He had a son named Saul, an impressive young man without equal among the Israelites—a head taller than any of the others.

But he was a disaster. He refused to do things God’s way, instead taking matters into his own hands. (We saw this last week.)

13:14 “But now your kingdom will not endure; the LORD has sought out a man after his own heart and appointed him leader of his people, because you have not kept the LORD’S command.”

So God says, ‘right, now we’ll do it my way’, and chooses his kind of king. God tells Samuel to anoint one of Jesse’s sons. So Samuel starts with the eldest:

16:7 But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”

The story of David and Goliath, then, is not just about God defending his honour. It’s about God defending his honour through someone ‘unlikely’ in the eyes of the world. The shepherd boy with the slingshot who kills the giant. It reminds us of one of the great themes of the Bible, seen even in the ministry of Jesus. Born in a stable. An ordinary carpenter’s son. Family from Nazareth – can anything good come from Nazareth? Humanly speaking:

Isa 53:2ba He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him

Even as the son of God, Jesus chose to be incarnated not as a king, or a rich person – but as an unlikely, ordinary human being.

By doing that, God is sending us a very clear message. The very same message we learn from the example of David. And the message is this: never, ever think that God can’t use you! He’s in the habit of using unlikely people. Of using them in unlikely ways. He doesn’t care if we’re the standout candidate; in fact, he seems to prefer it when we’re not. What he does look for is someone who sees the world his way.

Firstly, someone who knows that it’s God’s honour at stake; that the challenge is ultimately against God. God uses people who are zealous for his honour.

And secondly, someone who knows that God will defend his honour with his own power. It doesn’t matter what’s arrayed against us, humanly speaking. God uses people who are confident in his power.

To think about and do!

Do you need to get equipped for the battle? Is there a pastor or leader you can discuss ways of being better informed and equipped to defend God’s honour?

Do you need to stop looking at your own (in)ability, and start trusting in God’s ability? Is there something you sense God calling you to do, but are putting it off because you don’t think you can. Of course you can’t! But God can, through you. Pray about where God might be challenging you to step out of your comfort zone in his service.

2 thoughts on “Defending God’s honour – part 3 (1 Sam 17)

  1. Rich says:

    Hi Tim,
    I think there is also another factor at work in the David and Goliath story. One of the roles of the king is to lead the army into battle. At this point in the story, David had already been anointed as the next king so for him to go out and battle Goliath is him stepping up to his appointment and fulfilling the role God gave him. If one of the other soldiers had tried to take on goliath, even for all the right reasons, I doubt he would have succeeded, because the situation required God’s appointed representative to step up. Saul, for all the reasons you said, tried to abdicate his responsibility to someone else, but David, for all the reasons you said, took on his responsibility.
    So I don’t think David beat Goliath because he was the only one prepared to defend God’s honour,but because he was prepared to be obedient to his appointment (like christ). But he may well have been appointed to the role because he was prepared to defend God’s honour.

    PS. Love your work Tim, very helpful.

  2. Rich says:

    Hi Tim,
    I think there is also another factor at work in the David and Goliath story. One of the roles of the king is to lead the army into battle. At this point in the story, David had already been anointed as the next king so for him to go out and battle Goliath is him stepping up to his appointment and fulfilling the role God gave him. If one of the other soldiers had tried to take on goliath, even for all the right reasons, I doubt he would have succeeded, because the situation required God’s appointed representative to step up. Saul, for all the reasons you said, tried to abdicate his responsibility to someone else, but David, for all the reasons you said, took on his responsibility.
    So I don’t think David beat Goliath because he was the only one prepared to defend God’s honour,but because he was prepared to be obedient to his appointment (like christ). But he may well have been appointed to the role because he was prepared to defend God’s honour.

    PS. Love your work Tim, very helpful.

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