One might read David’s story and wonder what God saw in him. The fellow fell as often as he stood, stumbled as often as he conquered. He stared down Goliath, yet ogled at Bathsheba; defied God-mockers in the valley, yet joined them in the wilderness. An Eagle Scout one day. Chumming with the Mafia the next. He could lead armies but couldn’t manage a family. Raging David. Weeping David. Bloodthirsty. God-hungry. Eight wives. One God.
A man after God’s own heart? That God saw him as such gives hope to us all. David’s life has little to offer the unstained saint. Straight-A souls find David’s story disappointing. The rest of us find it reassuring. We ride the same roller coaster. We alternate between swan dives and belly flops, soufflés and burnt toast.
In David’s good moments, no one was better. In his bad moments, could one be worse? The heart God loved was a checkered one.
We need David’s story. Giants lurk in our neighborhoods. Rejection. Failure. Revenge. Remorse. Our struggles read like a prizefighter’s itinerary:
• “In the main event, we have Joe the Decent Guy versus the fraternity from Animal House.”
• “Weighing in at 110 pounds, Elizabeth the Checkout Girl will go toe to toe with Jerks who Take and Break Her Heart.”
• “In this corner, the tenuous marriage of Jason and Patricia. In the opposing corner, the challenger from the state of confusion, the home breaker named Distrust.”
Giants. We must face them. Yet we need not face them alone. Focus first, and most, on God. The times David did, giants fell. The days he didn’t, David did.
Test this theory with an open Bible. Read 1 Samuel 17 and list the observations David made regarding Goliath.
I find only two. One statement to Saul about Goliath (v. 36). And one to Goliath’s face: “Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living God?” (v. 26 niv).
That’s it. Two Goliath-related comments (and tacky ones at that) and no questions. No inquiries about Goliath’s skill, age, social standing, or IQ. David asks nothing about the weight of the spear, the size of the shield, or the meaning of the skull and crossbones tattooed on the giant’s bicep. David gives no thought to the diplodocus on the hill. Zilch.
But he gives much thought to God. Read David’s words again, this time underlining his references to his Lord.
“The armies of the living God” (v. 26).
“The armies of the living God” (v. 36).
“The Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel” (v. 45).
“The Lord will deliver you into my hand . . . that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel” (v. 46).
“The Lord does not save with sword and spear; for the battle is the Lord’s, and He will give you into our hands” (v. 47).›
I count nine references. God-thoughts outnumber Goliath-thoughts nine to two. How does this ratio compare with yours? Do you ponder God’s grace four times as much as you ponder your guilt? Is your list of blessings four times as long as your list of complaints? Is your mental file of hope four times as thick as your mental file of dread? Are you four times as likely to describe the strength of God as you are the demands of your day?
No? Then David is your man.
Some note the absence of miracles in his story. No Red Sea openings, chariots flaming, or dead Lazaruses walking. No miracles.
But there is one. David is one. A rough-edged walking wonder of God who neon-lights this truth:
Focus on giants—you stumble.
Focus on God—your giants tumble.
Lift your eyes, giant-slayer. The God who made a miracle out of David stands ready to make one out of you.