King David: A Heart Like God’s: The Rock Star And His Greatest Hit
I Samuel 17:32-40
I wish to read for you these verses from 1 Samuel chapter 17. This is the Word of God.
“David said to Saul, ‘Let no one lose heart on account of this Philistine; your servant will go and fight him.’
“Saul replied, ‘You’re not able to go out against this Philistine and fight him; you’re only a boy, and he has been a fighting man from his youth.’
“But David said to Saul, ‘Your servant has been keeping his father’s sheep. When a lion or a bear came and carried off a sheep from the flock, I went after it, struck it, and rescued the sheep from its mouth. When it turned on me, I seized it by its hair, struck it, and killed it. Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them because he has defied the armies of the living God. The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.’
“Saul said to David, ‘Go, and the Lord be with you.’ Then, Saul dressed David in his own tunic. He put a coat of armor on him and a bronze helmet on his head.
“David fastened on his sword over the tunic and tried walking around because he was not used to them. ‘I cannot go in these,’ he said to Saul, ‘because I am not used to them.’ And so he took them off. Then, he took his staff in his hand, chose five smooth stones from the stream, put them in the pouch of his shepherd’s bag, and with his sling in his hand, he approached the Philistine.”
May God bless to us the reading and the hearing of this portion of His Holy Word.
Pray with me, please. Give me Jesus Lord. Give me Jesus. You can have all the rest, just give me Jesus. Amen.
Today, I wish to pose for you a question. A question raised first by the best-selling author Chuck Swindoll. The question is this. Would it surprise you to know that more is written in the Bible about King David than any other figure in the Old Testament? For example, Abraham has 14 chapters dedicated to his life. Joseph, the same number. Jacob has 11. Elijah has 10. But would it surprise you to learn that King David has 66 chapters devoted to his life, and that doesn’t even include 59 other references to King David found on the pages of the New Testament? Amazing.
I would have to tell you that from my time as a child in Sunday School until right now, King David has always drawn from me a special fascination. I have come to believe that that is true because the Bible allows us to see the life of King David as a whole, from beginning to end. And furthermore, the Bible allows us to see the life of King David whole. Both the good and the bad. And therefore, over these next weeks, I would like to lift up for you significant slices from the life of great King David because I believe that his life lived then has much to say to us living life now.
I want to begin by looking at the story of David and Goliath. I call it—with a bit of a snicker—The Rock Star and His Greatest Hit. Ha! No doubt you remember the story. The army of the Philistines led by the giant Goliath laid seeds to the army of the land of Israel. It was a desperate circumstance. And it was at that point that Goliath offered a military tactic which sometimes was used in those days. It was called a representative battle.
That is to say, instead of the two sides engaging in all-out war, each side would choose a representative, and the representatives would then fight, and the outcome of that fight would determine the outcome of the conflict between the two sides. A representative battle. Goliath obviously would represent the army of the Philistines. The army of the Israelite’s would choose their own representative. And the two would then fight to the death. And whoever won this individual battle, his army would be declared the victor. And whoever lost this individual battle, his army would be declared the vanquished.
Now, the problem was that no one in the army of Israel wanted to go up against the giant Goliath. It is at that point that David appears on the scene. Now, David was young. He was just a teenager. He was not even old enough to join the army. Furthermore, David was just a shepherd. Not in any way a trained warrior and fighter. And so the fact that David wanted to go up against Goliath, well, that was absurd on the face of it. In fact, when Goliath learned that this was what was being proposed, Goliath cried out, “What is this, some kind of joke? What are you doing sending this little pipsqueak out here to fight me? I’m going to devour him the way an animal devours its prey. “
Now, David was a bit more humble in his pre-game interview. David simply said, “I come in the name of the Lord, and the Lord who delivered me from the lion and the bear will deliver me from Goliath.” And in what then transpired, we gain a vivid reminder of the fact that our God is an awesome God. Our God is always turning the tables upside down. Always redefining reality. Our God is an awesome God. Our God is always taking those who feel they are the least and turning them into the most. Our God is always taking those who feel that they are losers and turning them into winners.
Our God is always taking those who are weak and making them strong. Our God is always taking those who are last and making them first. Our God is an awesome God. And our God is always taking ordinary people and using them to accomplish extraordinary things. Our God is an awesome God. And this awesome God of ours stands ready to deliver into your life and into mine that same power, enabling us to be able to stand before any Goliath that we might happen to face along our life’s way.
That’s the point of this story. David and Goliath are the key players, yes, but the message of the story is simply our God is an awesome God. And from that story, let me lift two great spiritual principles.
Principle number one. We need to be open to what God wants us to do in life.
In other words, be available. When you read the story, it is quite clear that David was open to whatever God wanted him to do. David came to the battlefield. And when you read the verses, you discover that David consciously, deliberately made himself open to whatever God wanted him to do. David made himself available.
Now, there were those who did not believe that David ought to be there. His brothers, for example, they tried to get David to go back home. Even King Saul said to David, “Look, you’re too young. You cannot possibly go up against someone like Goliath, who is a seasoned warrior.” David was facing Goliath who was for sure a fearsome figure indeed. I don’t know if you’ve thought about it or not, but the Bible actually describes Goliath in exact detail. For example, the Bible tells us that Goliath height was six cubits and a span. Now, understand, please, a cubit was the distance between the elbow and the tip of the middle finger. In those days, it was usually about 16 inches. A span was the distance between the extended thumb and the extended little finger. In those days, it was about eight inches. You put it together, and the Bible is telling us that Goliath stood between eight and eight and a half feet tall. He was an enormous man. Furthermore, the Bible describes in detail the weapons and equipment that Goliath possessed. They were all enormous in scale.
And so, here is David going out to face this enormous giant. Little wonder that his brothers whom he loved and the king who he respected all tried to urge him not to do it. To go home instead. David ignored their advice. You see, David understood—listen to this. David understood—that his value in life was determined by his relationship to God. David believed that just as God had used him in the past, so God would use him now. He was open, wide open, to whatever God wanted him to do. He was available to the Lord.
Now, there’s also something else here that I want you to see. It says that when it become clear that David was going to fight Goliath, the Israelites began to try to rally around him. In fact, King Saul said to him, “I’m going to give you all of my armor.” Well, King Saul was a big man. Not as big as Goliath, no, but he was a big man. The Bible tells us that King Saul stood head and shoulders taller than every other man in Israel. He was a big man. His armor would simply have swallowed up young David. And so David said, “Thanks, but no thanks.”
Here’s the point. Dear friends, when it comes to being open to what God wants you to do in life don’t try to be someone else. Don’t try to pretend that you are someone you are not. I see Christians all the time trying to be someone they’re not. Trying to be like someone else. And all the while, God wants to use us just as we are.
I love the way Tony Campolo expresses it. Early in his marriage, Tony and his wife Peggy, because Tony was traveling all the time on the speaking circuit, they sat down together, and they made a decision together. They made the decision that Peggy would be a stay-at-home mom. That’s what she did, and she loved every minute of it. However, there were times when they would go to parties or other social gatherings and on occasion engaged in conversation with someone else, someone would say to Peggy, “And what do you do Ms. Campolo?” And Peggy would reply, “I don’t do anything. I’m just a mom.” Well, one night after one of those parties as they were driving home Tony said to his wife, “Do you really think that you don’t do anything?” “Of course not,” she said. “Being a mother is the greatest thing in all the world, but it just sounds so insignificant when compared with what other people are doing.”
Tony Campolo then said to her, “Look, I want you to try to think of a way to express what you do in such a way that everyone else will realize just how important it really is.” Well, the next time they went to a party sure enough they engaged in conversation with a gentleman, and midway through the conversation suddenly, rather condescendingly in fact, he turned to Peggy and he said, “And Mrs. Campolo what is it that you do?” And she replied immediately, “I happen to be nurturing two Homo sapiens into the dominant values of the Judeo-Christian tradition and by so doing creating the kind of eschatological utopia God envisioned from the beginning of time. And what do you do?” And the man stammered, “I’m just a lawyer.”
Be yourself. Don’t try to be someone else. Don’t pretend that you’re someone you’re not. Just be yourself. And when it comes to being open to what God wants you to do in life, be yourself and be available.
Principle number two: Be ready.
When you read the story, it is quite clear that that was true of young David. The message here is, determine what skills, abilities, and gifts you have which come from God, whatever they happen to be, develop those to the highest degree possible, use them with courage and faith, and God will bring the victory. That’s what it means to be ready. David was ready.
Understand, please, David was a shepherd and he had only the simplest of resources in order to do his job. But he took the skills he possessed and refined them to the highest degree possible. For example, David had a slingshot. Now, I want you to understand what a slingshot was in those days. A matter of fact, shepherds in the Middle East to this very day use slingshots exactly identical to the one that David used. The slingshot was formed like this. There would be a square of leather and then tied to each corner of the square of leather would be four bands of rope extended out. When the ropes were then gathered together at the top, the leather would create a pocket or a pouch, and you would place the rock or the stone in that pouch. It was preferable to have smooth stones because they sat more readily into the pocket and they came out of the pocket with greater velocity. And so then when the shepherd took the strands of rope and began to twirl that whole thing above his head in ever-increasing velocity, when the proper velocity was reached, he would release the two bands. The rock would be propelled through the air. David had that skill and refined it. In fact, the Bible tells us that he had killed both a lion and a bear when those animals had threatened his flock. So he had become very proficient in the use of the slingshot.
Consequently, when David gets prepared to go out and face Goliath, David does not think to himself, “I’m so small and Goliath’s so big, he’s going to kill me.” No. David didn’t think that. Instead, David thought to himself, “Goliath is so big, I can’t possibly miss him.” And so David, armed with just that slingshot and five smooth stones, took on the fearsome giant Goliath. David, young, agile, light on his feet, moving quickly, began to dance around this great, big, lumbering giant.
And as he moved around the giant, he was placing the stone into the pocket of the sling, and then he took the bands and he began to twirl them above his head in those ever-increasing gyrations of death. And when the right velocity had been reached, he released the bands, and the rock was propelled through the air. Wham! Goliath, the great Goliath, fell dead in the dust. It was all over in an instant.
Here’s the point. David gave God his best. He took the skills he possessed, he refined those skills, he used them with courage and faith, and God used him to save the Israelites. That’s what always happens whenever we give God our very best.
Maybe the perfect illustration of that is Dr. Evan O’Neill Kane. Dr. Evan O’Neill Kane was a surgeon at the Summit Hospital in New York City. He was also a man of faith. And in the course of his medical career, he came to the conclusion that local anesthetic could be used in some forms of surgery. Even some forms of major surgery. Because of the risks inherent in general anesthesia, he encouraged the use and development of local anesthetic. His colleagues in medicine opposed him. Attacked him. They tried everything they could to stop him. It didn’t work. He kept pushing to use local anesthetic in some forms of surgery, even major surgery.
Finally, it became clear the only way the issue could be settled would be to find someone who would volunteer to undergo an operation using only local anesthetic. A patient was found. A volunteer. The operation took place at the Summit Hospital in New York City. The case was an appendectomy. Dr. Evan O’Neill Kane had performed more than 4,000 appendectomies in his medical career, but this one would be different. The patient was prepped. The local anesthetic was administered. Dr. Kane then made the incision, clamped off the blood vessels, removed the appendix, and then closed and sutured the incision.
The operation was successful, and the report is that the patient experienced only very minor discomfort. Dr. Kane had proved his point in this operation which took place on February the 15th, 1921. I told you that the name of the surgeon was Dr. Evan O’Neill Kane. I did not tell you the name of the patient. The patient’s name was Dr. Evan O’Neill Kane. He operated on himself. Here was a man who took the skills God had given him, refined them to the highest degree possible, utilized them with courage and with faith, and God gave him the victory. Dear friends, be ready. Determine what your skills and abilities are, refine them, develop them, and then use them courageously for Jesus Christ and I promise you God will use you to do extraordinary things.
So there you have it. The two principles from this great story. Principle number one, be available. Principle number two, be ready. Here’s what I believe to be true. You can gain as much out of life as you are willing to trust God for or you can have as little out of life as you are willing to settle for. Because that’s true, that’s why I’m calling us to give the best that we are, the best that we have, to give to Jesus Christ all that we are. For if we do that, if we are available, if we are ready, then God in Jesus Christ will be able to use us in wondrous ways. Here’s the way I like to say it: You and the Lord together can defeat any Goliath you may ever encounter.
Soli Deo gloria.
To God alone be the glory.