David was my earliest Bible hero because of the famous encounter he had with a mean giant named Goliath. I was fascinated with this talented warrior who would later become the king of Israel.
David seemed like someone I wanted to imitate. I was 9 years-old, living in South Los Angeles, and had just started taking guitar lessons. I was also selected for various positions by my classmates in school that I valued so much, like being the line leader or the hall monitor. You may remember, those positions were nearly sacred. There were qualities that David had that made my young mind imagine what could be of my life if I had those human qualities too.
He was an amazing musician, so much that his reputation as a talented man presided him and landed him a sweet gig as King Saul’s personal musician. So Saul said to his servants, “Provide for me a man who can play well and bring him to me.” One of the young men answered, “Behold, I have seen a son of Jesse the Bethlehemite, who is skillful in playing, a man of valor, a man of war, prudent in speech, and a man of good presence, and the LORD is with him. (1 Samuel 16:17-18) That would be like a solo artist being handpicked to play for the President of the United States!
David was also notably handsome. So Saul sent for him and had him brought in. He was glowing with health and had a fine appearance and handsome features. Then the LORD said, "Rise and anoint him; this is the one.” (1 Samuel 16:12). At this point in my life I think I was becoming more vain. I was a little kid but growing up in South Los Angeles you learn through social interactions at school that appearances matter much. In an area where poverty is the norm being good looking was a social advantage. It still is, I suppose, in adulthood. Furthermore, I figured that if the Bible records that David was handsome then it must have been one of the reasons God picked him to be king. That was my immature logic.
And when David became the King of Israel, he displayed extraordinary leadership abilities. Naturally, I was drawn to the stories of how men were so faithful to him because he was of the people for the people and anointed by God. Men would follow him to the desert and sleep in caves and suffer persecution all to protect him. Men would risk their lives to bring him his favorite drink (water) even though David himself didn’t think he was worthy of such attention (2 Samuel 23). I was astonished that men would go to great lengths for King David and ever since then, I have been enthralled with the results of anointed leadership. I wanted to be a leader people would want to follow as oppose to a leader people feel they have to follow. I still strive for that.
Yet, the one quality that David had that I didn’t posses then and I wish I had more of now, is courage. David was courageous in all that he did. Furthermore, when I was taught that famous story of David and Goliath in Sunday School, I wondered how anyone could be so brave that they would voluntarily put themselves in a position that burdened them with the fate of a nation on the result of their actions.
To this day I convince myself that David’s courage is unmatchable by a person like me. If you are familiar with the history you will read the accounts following this paragraph. If you are not familiar with it: you will now.
1 Samuel 17
31 Then David’s question was reported to King Saul, and the king sent for him.
32 “Don’t worry about this Philistine,” David told Saul. “I’ll go fight him!”
33 “Don’t be ridiculous!” Saul replied. “There’s no way you can fight this Philistine and possibly win! You’re only a boy, and he’s been a man of war since his youth.”
34 But David persisted. “I have been taking care of my father’s sheep and goats,” he said. “When a lion or a bear comes to steal a lamb from the flock, 35 I go after it with a club and rescue the lamb from its mouth. If the animal turns on me, I catch it by the jaw and club it to death. 36 I have done this to both lions and bears, and I’ll do it to this pagan Philistine, too, for he has defied the armies of the living God! 37 The Lord who rescued me from the claws of the lion and the bear will rescue me from this Philistine!”
Saul finally consented. “All right, go ahead,” he said. “And may the Lord be with you!”
38 Then Saul gave David his own armor—a bronze helmet and a coat of mail. 39 David put it on, strapped the sword over it, and took a step or two to see what it was like, for he had never worn such things before.
“I can’t go in these,” he protested to Saul. “I’m not used to them.” So David took them off again. 40 He picked up five smooth stones from a stream and put them into his shepherd’s bag. Then, armed only with his shepherd’s staff and sling, he started across the valley to fight the Philistine.
48 As Goliath moved closer to attack, David quickly ran out to meet him. 49 Reaching into his shepherd’s bag and taking out a stone, he hurled it with his sling and hit the Philistine in the forehead. The stone sank in, and Goliath stumbled and fell face down on the ground.
50 So David triumphed over the Philistine with only a sling and a stone, for he had no sword
1. David made a valuable decision to do what he could do and nothing else.
One of biggest mistakes that I see people make is that they overlook the value of their decisions. That is often because people don’t know themselves well enough or really haven’t assessed the situation. It’s crucial that you take time to think through your decisions.
My friend and mentor, John C. Maxwell, says that “everything begins with a decision and then we have to manage that decision for the rest of our lives.”
David’s decision to face the giant was not a light one. His choice would affect the life of two nations. So he made a solid decision to do only what he could do, which was to fight. David didn’t waver. He declared his intentions: “I’ll go fight him!”
In your life, you need to make decisions and you must be firm in withholding those decisions. You can’t be flakey. You have to know what it is you are deciding on and stick with it. Weigh your decisions accordingly. That is a big step to being courageous.
2.He was sure of himself. V 33-36
Even when Saul tried to dissuade him he persisted. Persist in the knowledge of who you are. Don’t let anyone convince you otherwise. The enemy will try to discourage your uniqueness and tempt you to blend in in. Resist the temptation to be bland. Being courageous means to be secure in who you are.
David knew he was a warrior. He knew what he was made of. That gave him reasonable assurance that his unique skill set would enable him to win the battle. He did not perceive his youth as a hindrance. He focused on the benefits of his personal experiences.
34 But David persisted. “I have been taking care of my father’s sheep and goats,” he said. “When a lion or a bear comes to steal a lamb from the flock, 35 I go after it with a club and rescue the lamb from its mouth. If the animal turns on me, I catch it by the jaw and club it to death.
You need to focus on who you are and what gifts you posses. Don’t worry what other people have and what they don’t have. Stay in your lane. When you do that, you’ll discover that you’re so valuable because of what makes you different.
In this way we are like the various parts of a human body. Each part gets its meaning from the body as a whole, not the other way around. The body we’re talking about is Christ’s body of chosen people. Each of us finds our meaning and function as a part of his body. But as a chopped-off finger or cut-off toe we wouldn’t amount to much, would we? So since we find ourselves fashioned into all these excellently formed and marvelously functioning parts in Christ’s body, let’s just go ahead and be what we were made to be, without enviously or pridefully comparing ourselves with each other, or trying to be something we aren’t.
I heard my friend Marisa Coloma preach a message entitled, “Stay in your Grace.” Point of it was that we are all blessed uniquely with purpose and a destiny that can be obtained through obediently working our gifts. She continued saying that we need to trust God in the areas that He has called us to and not distract ourselves with what others are doing.
Often times we neglect our talents and our calling because we are focused on the victories of others. We begin to covet and envy those victories. The reason those people were victorious was because they used their talents to achieve those goals.
Stop comparing the state of your life to the highlights of others. Sometimes all we see is the result of perseverance, personal leadership, hard work, and the favor of God. Everyone is different and falling into the comparison trap is the effect of pride in action.
David was secure in himself because he knew what kind of person he was. He was not intimidated at the hundreds of soldiers that were present. Those men weren’t secure in their training, skills, and abilities.
3. He didn’t use Saul’s armor.
Just because it was royal armor didn’t mean that David should wear it.
Sometimes as young people we need to understand process and humility. Often times you’ve got these young people wanting to stand at the very top of the ladder of success without ever having to climb it. They want the trophy without running the race.
David could have looked at his equipment and compared it to the armor Saul was giving him yet he didn’t let pride or insecurity forfeit his identity.
We mistakenly bid for notoriety. The thinking that if we become something else, placing a facade over who we really are, that we will fast-track victory.
We think that if we have the best of things then we are more qualified then those who do not. Sometimes people get into debt, ruin their relationships, sabotage their growth, just because they want to keep up with what others have and look good. Stop trying to be like other people.
David could have fallen into the temptation of imitation. He could have convinced himself that if that armor was good enough for a king then it was certainly good enough for him. It obviously wasn’t. It wasn’t even necessary for David to even wear any physical armor of any kind.
I have learned this lesson the hard way: What has worked for others won’t necessarily work for you! So stop feeding your pride.
First pride, then the crash—
the bigger the ego, the harder the fall. (MSG)
I had taken years off working out and doing productive physical activities, unlike my brothers who are both in way better shape than me. I saw their dedication and commitment and I wanted that to rub off on me. Therefore, I accompanied them religiously to the gym. One day I was lifting 35lb dumbbells in front of the mirror. I looked at myself and was satisfied with the slow progress I had made. I was now lifting them without getting so tired. That was until I noticed a much older man standing next to me doing the same exercise with 65lb dumbbells. Immediately after that, I saw a much younger guy then me lifting 90lb dumbbells. They didn’t notice me looking at them but I noticed how quickly I became discouraged with my progress.
My brother Samuel saw that I didn’t finish my set and that I was coming back with 50lb dumbbells.
“What are you doing?” he asked.
“I have to get stronger,” I replied. “I have to get stronger.”
“You’re gonna hurt yourself,” he said as he took those heavy pieces of metal away from me.
He began to lecture me.
“You see that guy over there woking on his shoulders with those heavy weights? He’s using bad form. He’s doing the exercise wrong! And that guy over there with 300lbs on the squat rack, he isn’t even going all the way down! He’s only doing the bare minimum and his body isn’t getting challenged. He thinks he’s lifting a lot but he’s not doing the exercise right either. If he did it properly I guarantee you he could only squat HALF of what he is doing now.”
I was starting to see his point.
He said, “the guy working on his shoulders with heavy weights is only hurting his body. One day he’s gonna have a shoulder problems. The guy that is lifting more than he can handle on the squat rack is risking back injuries and knee issues in the future.”
I understood what Samuel was telling me. You can hurt yourself trying to compete with others. You can severely damage yourself, your relationships, your future, your health, by trying to look as good as others seem.
“Pride gets no pleasure out of having something, only out of having more of it than the next man... It is the comparison that makes you proud: the pleasure of being above the rest. Once the element of competition is gone, pride is gone.” - CS Lewis
It takes a lot of courage to remain patient through the growth process. You can take heart in knowing that strength will come from your decision to be committed to the process and that your faithfulness to your God-given gifts will produce courage.
I have come a long way from that young boy who desired David’s looks. I now realize that David was successful because he was full of courage, always willing to honor God no matter what. He used what he could to honor God and that made his legacy extraordinary.
Make good decisions, be secure, and don’t try to use other people’s ways to enhance your courage.