I struggle somewhat when I read stories from early in King David’s life. David showed great faith and example to Israel, but the devil found a way into his heart. He fell so far in the incident of Uriah and Bathsheba that trouble plagued his family for the rest of his life. Knowing what’s coming sours the preceding stories for me a little.
Even so, like many prominent figures in the scriptures, if we look closely, we can still find value in the earlier stories because of what they teach us about Christ and His plan to redeem us.
Take the famous face-off between the Israelite and Philistine armies. The battle would be decided by a one-on-one contest. By all appearances, there was no chance of victory for Israel, especially when a shepherd boy stepped forward as Israel’s champion. Failure meant bondage to their enemies.
In Goliath’s overconfidence and arrogance, he couldn’t see his own downfall coming.
David came as a servant to his brothers, carrying supplies from their father. Then because of his desire to keep Israel out of bondage and to let it be known that one who defies Israel and Israel’s God cannot stand, he offered himself as the one to stand between his kindred and their enemy. David said to King Saul, “Let no man’s heart fail because of him; thy servant will go and fight with this Philistine” (1 Samuel 17:32).
When he faced Goliath, he said, “And all this assembly shall know that the Lord saveth not with sword and spear: for the battle is the Lord’s” (v. 47).
Jesus came from Heavenly Father as a servant to us, His brothers and sisters, with His power to heal and lift. Wanting to keep us from spiritual slavery to the devil and defeat him and his followers, He stepped forward to take upon Himself our sins. Just as the Philistines sent forth their strongest fighter, in the Gospels, we can see Satan trying everything he could to stop Jesus from completing His Atonement on our behalf—Judas’s betrayal, the Sanhedrin’s farce of a trial, physical and verbal abuse from them and the Roman soldiers, and temptation to cut short His suffering thrown in Jesus’s face. As Goliath wore and carried thousands of shekels of equipment, Satan threw all his diabolical weight against the Son of God in his effort to throw Him off course.
But Jesus’s faith, His love for us, and His desire to keep us free from bondage won out. Satan has been defeated, but in His conceit, He still seeks to win.
Having seen Jesus step out before us and defeat the champion of the enemy, we know that ultimately, victory is assured. But that leaves to us the choice to still choose Him for our Champion and avoid spiritual slavery. He wishes none of our hearts to fail us because of Satan but to instead stand boldly and face down this adversary. Victory will not come by sword and spear, but by Christ’s atoning power and our discipleship.
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