The narrative on David and Goliath is one of the best in literature. Sunday school children enjoy hearing this story repeatedly and even the adults. David became a hero in the history after he killed Goliath. When David encountered Goliath, David’s potentials, excellence, and skills were exploited. Davids are God’s surprises for Goliaths.
The Christian history has encountered several Goliaths in the form of individuals such as Voltaire, ideologies such as Communism and hierarchical social structures. Today any false religion is a powerful ideology that is challenging Christianity.
The presence of Goliath provoked David into action. Similarly, the secular world, society around Christians should provoke them to respond with Holy Anger, painful heart and courageous action. Goliath provoked David to such an extent that David exhibited zeal, identity, and faith.
Goliath provoked the zeal of David
History belongs to the radicals. The contemporary people stamp radicals as rebels. The Catholic Church stamped Martin Luther as a rebel. But history interprets him as a radical. The Anglicans regarded John Wesley as a rebel, and Amy Carmichael by Church Missionary Society. They proved themselves radicals. David was a radical, who wanted to take the challenge of Goliath head on. However, he was misunderstood and was criticised by his elder brother (I Samuel 17:28). The accusation was personal, cruel, and unwarranted. But the zeal provoked by Goliath was not quenched by the words.
Saul was looking for the right person to fight Goliath, but when David volunteered, he did not consider him. In fact, Saul tried his trick by advising David (I Sam 17:33). He tried to convince David that since he was only a boy he would not be able to fight Goliath and that he lacks experience. In contrast, Goliath was capable and an expert in warfare. Saul was looking for somebody to fight Goliath but did not find David to be the right person.
The Cat Tradition
As the next step, Saul gave his tunic to wear. -- the legacy of formalism, tradition, strategy, nominalism etc. There is an interesting story about an ashram. A black, yelling cat disturbed one guru while he taught his disciples. He ordered his disciples to tie the cat with the tree. And this became a daily practice. The guru died after few years and the new guru also taught while the cat was tied to the tree. After few days, the cat also died. The next day, when the guru came to teach found that the cat was not tied to the tree. In rage, he inquired about the cat. The disciples told him that the cat had died. The guru said, “How can you violate the tradition? While I teach a black cat must be tied to the tree. Bring a black cat and tie it with the tree. Then only can I teach.” Saul wanted David to stick to the tradition. However, David adopted a non-formal, non-conventional, non-traditional and non-popular method to meet Goliath in the battlefield.
Sauls must seek to understand, appreciate, acknowledge, assist, and encourage Davids into action. The senior leaders must allow the younger leaders to experiment new ideas and strategies. Mission is always creative, innovative new idea that has to be given practical shape. Young people tend to be more creative as well as pragmatic, if given proper encouragement and environment.
Goliath provoked the identity of David
Who is this Philistine? (I Sam 17:26) This question shows his thoughts about Goliath. Is he greater than God Himself? Goliath is neither god nor representative of god or sent by God. Is anything hard for the Lord? All plants that are not planted by the Father shall be rooted out. The ultimate destiny of any person, or any ideology or any structure that is not planted by God is doomed. Then why should one be afraid of Goliath?
He saw the army of Israel as one of the armies of the living God. That is neither Saul’s army nor Israel’s. David identified himself with the army of God. The army of God knows no defeat. His identity was in God and he identified himself with God’s army. Thus he identified himself with the ultimate victory. That also helped him to upgrade his faith.
David sensed the call of God. He knew he was chosen and destined for that hour. The church has to realise that they are the called out people, chosen of God, to represent His kingdom on the earth, and His army and to proclaim the good news. The ideologies that contradicts, defies or challenges God should reaffirm our identity in Christ and in the Kingdom of God.
Goliath provoked the faith of David
David declared that the Lord will deliver him (I Sam 17:37). His statement had the basis of God’s faithfulness, promises, and his past experiences. But this statement was not positive in a sense, initially. David speaks only about deliverance i.e. escape from harm. His faith does not anticipate victory and vanquish of Goliath. However, his faith increases and declared that the Lord will hand over Goliath to him (I Sam 17:46). It is an offensive, aggressive, positive faith based on God’s purpose, power and promise. Also he declared that Lord gives deliverance and victory not by sword but by spiritual weapons. (I Sam. 17:47) God’s mission is accomplished by spiritual infrastructure and weapons.
David was responding to the challenge of Goliath with a missional attitude. Around the globe, there are challenges that defy God’s sovereign authority. Mission is taking up new challenges that arise in every generation. People like David would have to face, opposition from within, but that should not shake their confidence in their call and missional purpose. The mission challenges, though seemingly difficult like Goliath in terms of physical size; established, entrenched and experienced; intimidating; insurmountable; sometimes impossible from human perspective; need not quench the spirit of David. God raises Davids to confront Goliaths in each generation and in every location. Missionaries are God’s instruments in God’s missional purposes. David was one and every Christian is expected to be one.