God prepares us for the challenges we encounter
David and Goliath is arguably the best known of all the stories of King David. It is the classic underdog tale, where a courageous shepherd boy defends his people and God by taking on the Philistine giant, Goliath.
Yet, when David walks into the valley of Elah, he is not as ill prepared as we so often suppose. He entered into the battle armed with a shepherd’s staff, sling, and pouch with five smooth stones. This was the equipment of a slinger. They were formidable warriors in their time, able to hurl stones with surprising speed and accuracy.
David was a skilful and experienced slinger, who had used this weapon on many occasions to defend the sheep in his care from the attacks of lions and bears.
Goliath was dressed for hand to hand combat. Physically he was powerful. His wore scale armour which protected his body to his knees, as well as bronze guards which covered his shins and feet. On his head he wore a heavy helmet, and he carried three weapons which were all optimised for close combat.
It never occurred to Goliath that the battle would be fought on anything other than his terms.
David resisted the temptation to play by Goliath’s rules and entered into combat armed with the weaponry and skills which God had provided. Many nights defending sheep in the Bethlehem hills had taught David that God was with him and gave him the strength he needed to overcome. In the hills God had provided the experience, the skills, and confidence to go into this battle armed with the very things he already had in his hands.
In our world where the conventional weapons are things like power, wealth, politics and violence, perhaps we can learn from David? We can learn to resist the temptation to engage our battles or challenges on our opponents terms.
We can look at that which God has equipped us. The early church understood this. In a world where they faced opposition and often outright persecution, they refused to repay kind for kind. They refused the way of power and violence, and instead pursued the way of grace, love, generosity, hospitality, compassion and kindness.
In the brutality of life under Roman rule, they were the most stunningly different people, who lived so counter culturally, that they aroused the curiosity of the Roman world. As a result, the church grew and grew.
They lived this way because they dared to believe that God had given them everything they needed. That He would use them for His purposes.
What about you? When you find yourself facing a formidable challenge, how will engage the battle? With conventional weapons, or will you dare to trust in the “weapons” God has given us, knowing it is more than enough to overcome.