Continued from my previous post (https://www.thedubaicitychurch.org/the-spirit-of-excellence-ii-a-series-on-david-follow-his-leading/) …
The Valley of the Shadow of Death
Armed with only a staff, slingshot, and these five stones, David coolly approached Goliath.
“Abner, whose son is this young man?” King Saul inquired the commander of his army as they spectated the battle of champions from afar.
“I really don’t know,” Abner shrugged his shoulders.
“Well, find out who he is!” King Saul roughly remarked.
With his shield-bearer marching ahead of him, Goliath swaggered towards his opponent. When the skilled mercenary looked about and saw David, he realized that he had been sent an adolescent! A tanned complexion and sanguine cheeks – all David appeared to be was a healthy and good-looking teenager. Goliath was filled with scorn and disdain. To the seasoned warrior and worshipped hero, David was an opponent “unworthy” of his expertise. I say, “Send me your champion!” And after forty days, who do they send me? A pretty boy – a kid! Do they think this some sort of joke?
“Am I a dog that you come at me with sticks?” he sneered.
As per the Septuagint, the earliest Greek translation of the Old Testament, David responded, “No, you’re worse than a dog.”
Goliath cursed David by the names of his gods and bellowed, “Come over here, boy, and I will give your flesh to the birds and wild animals!”
“You come to me with a sword, spear, and javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of Heaven’s armies – the God of the armies of Israel, Whom you have defied,” David replied, undaunted by the towering giant’s vicious threats. “Today the Lord will conquer you, and I will kill you and cut off your head! And then I will give the dead bodies of your men to the birds and wild animals, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel! And everyone assembled here will know that the Lord rescues his people, but not with sword and spear. This is the Lord’s battle, and He will give you to us!”
If that is not faith, I do not know what is! As emphasized by the Apostle Paul in Romans 10:17 (KJV), “So then faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.” When he was alone, aside from his personal experiences with the lions and bears, David must have also meditated the times that the Lord had promised to fight for Israel. As noted in Psalm 91:4b (NLT), “His faithful promises are your armor and protection.” Before my sisters and I turned three and a half years old, my mother taught us each more than three hundred verses from the Bible. As we grew, she encouraged us to cherish and jot down the promises God has given us. When you record and choose to remember His promises, you can then remind Him and yourself that He never breaks His promises! Otherwise, if you do not fill yourself with God’s Word, the enemy will fill your head with doubts! This reminds me of Pastor Bill’s toothpaste lesson. When pressure is applied, what is in you will inevitably come out! Thus, it leads to the following question: “What’s in you?”.
If David had not filled himself with the Word of God, he would have been shaken by the venomous words spewed by Goliath. Imagine how easily a seventeen-year-old could fall apart upon encountering a giant that threatened to turn you into minced meat! Imagine all your natural senses betraying you in such a scenario. It is not just “butterflies in your tummy”. All your senses signaling you with ongoing “Warning: Hazard Detected” alerts. Your heart palpitating as you feel the earth tremble beneath you the closer he gets. The closer he gets, the larger he appears! Your mind telling you that your opponent has all the experience and expertise – ah, did you see the size of that sword? The growls and roars swearing to rip you apart limb from limb. It’s like having to face that T-Rex from Jurassic Park! Except, David did not run for cover. Nor did his voice quiver. In fact, his response to Goliath was like spitting on the giant’s face. He dauntlessly vowed the same threats against the giant. In fact, he even took it a couple notches higher. He pronounced that Lord will rescue his people. Fear did not come out of David. It was the Word of God that came out of David because it was in him. Faith! Thus, it is crucial to align yourself with God’s Word! If the Scriptures are your foundation, you will thereby stand steadfast and unwavering! In Psalm 89:34 (NIV), the Lord swears, “I will not violate My covenant or alter what My lips have uttered.” God never goes back on His Word! As declared in Numbers 23:19 (NLT), “God is not a man, so He does not lie. He is not human, so He does not change His mind. Has He ever spoken and failed to act? Has He ever promised and not carried it through?” In Psalm 77:11-12 (NLT), in his distress, the psalmist reminisces, “I recall all You have done, O Lord – I remember Your wonderful deeds of long ago. They are constantly in my thoughts. I cannot stop thinking about your mighty works.”
A month or so ago, we had dinner with a lovely couple from England by the names of Jonathan and Torill. During our conversation, Jonathan recalled the interpretation of the word “testimony” from a sermon he had once heard. The Hebrew meaning of “testimony” is “do it again, Lord”. This resounded within me. When we hear and hold on to testimonies, our hearts are believing and prayerfully repeating, “Do it again, Lord. Do it again.” David must have pondered upon when God vowed to fight for the Israelites. Ever since he was a child, he heard the stories of God’s faithfulness retold. These stories were the “testimonies” of his forefathers. His heart whispered, “Do it again, Lord, do it again.” He probably brooded upon the Abrahamic covenant. In Genesis 12:3a (NLT), God swore unto Abraham, “I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse those who treat you with contempt.” He must have mused the story of how God miraculously delivered the Israelites by splitting the Red Sea. In Exodus 14:14 (NIV), Moses had told the multitude, “The Lord will fight for you – you need only to be still!” He must have contemplated the rich history of numerous victories that God gave Israel. As written in Joshua 23:3 (NIV), Joshua reminded the people, “You yourselves have seen everything the Lord has done to all these nations for your sake – it was the Lord your God Who fought for you!” David must have considered the spectacular way that God had defeated the Midianites. In Judges 7:7a (NLT), the Lord had promised Gideon, “With these three hundred men I will rescue you and give you victory over the Midianites.” Overall, the nation’s history recorded countless times that the Lord came through and fought for His people. Such marvelous feats of divine intervention remind me of Paul’s statement in Romans 8:37 (NKJV), “Yet, in all these things, we are more than conquerors through Him Who loved us.”
David must have encouraged himself in the Lord. He knew that this was not his battle – it was the Lord’s battle! In Psalm 44:4-5 (NLT), the psalmist sings, “You are my King and my God. You command victories for Israel. Only by Your power can we push back our enemies. Only in Your name can we trample our foes.” David’s confidence was fueled by his faith in the faithfulness and the Power of his God. As David sang in Psalm 23:4a (KJV), “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil – for Thou are with me.” Even though he walked through the valley of the shadow of death, the ominous shadow of Goliath that threatened to devour him, David had the confidence that God was “with him”. He was spurred by the “testimonies”. Hence, David came before Goliath “in the name of the Lord of heaven’s armies”. His attitude, manner of speech, and actions echoed of a heart sowed with the Word of God! You did it back then, oh, I know You’ll do it again! Truly, faith does come by hearing. The faith that my God can “do it again”!
To be continued…