For those who have been anointed and have received a calling from God one of the greatest tests you will face will come in the form of discovering the skill of transforming challenges into victories. Last week I talked about how “those who have been given a call and purpose from God will inevitable find themselves facing a great decisive and unexpected challenges which will determine if they will continue down the path God has laid out.
How you face those challenges will determine if you’ll even take up the courage to fight your battle and see God bring about a mighty victory in your life. As we’ve seen so far in the past few weeks having a calling or anointing on your life is only the first step in a life long journey full of ups, downs, sorrow, joy and total dependency on God.
David’s Statement Of Faith
Now let’s continue to look at the life of David and pick up at the leading up to the monumental confrontation between the anointed future king of Israel and the giant Goliath. If you remember last week, we looked at the arrival of David to the battlefield after he had been sent by his father to bring supplies to his brothers and their regiment.
David saw the hulking Goliath taunting the Israelite army into a champions battle to determine who would be subjected to whom. David unlike many of the soldiers apparently, demonstrated a willingness to stand up against this giant and stand up for God and his people. At first David was laughed at and scorned by his brothers and passing soldiers but one person overheard David’s words and told Saul about them.
1Samuel 17: 31- 32 “31 Now when the words which David spoke were heard, they reported them to Saul; and he sent for him. 32 Then David said to Saul, “Let no man’s heart fail because of him; your servant will go and fight with this Philistine.”
In 1 Samuel 17:34-37 David recounts to Saul his previous victories against a lion and a bear, battles fought in secret upon the hills of Judah as David protected his flock of sheep. David speaks of how he killed a lion after he pulled one of his sheep from its mouth and how he grabbed it by the beard and killed it, a surprising feat for any teenager. David didn’t attribute those victories to his own military prowess or his great skill or strength but rather David gave all of the credit to God. This abundantly clear when we get to verse 37
1 Samuel 17:37 “The Lord, who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, He will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine. And Saul said to David, “Go, and the Lord be with you!”
To David, God wasn’t an ideal to him but a living reality, God wasn’t some far off entity who occasionally checks in on creation to make sure he didn’t leave the oven on. No, David saw God as an integral part of his daily life who was there to help him. This is a truth that became even more entrenched in David’s life after he was anointed. David knew what he was called to be and from that revelation he trusted God to preserve him long enough to fulfill that calling (as long as he remained faithful of course).
A Kings Battle
David was ready to fight this battle, but the irony here is that it wasn’t his battle in the first place. Here the person who should of gone up against Goliath wasn’t a pint-sized teenage shepherd but the King of Israel Saul. Of all the people in the Israelite army Saul was the closest match for Goliath in terms of size, we know this because 1 Samuel 10:23 describes Saul as being literally head and shoulders taller than the rest of the people who are estimated to of had an average height of around 5’3”.
Perhaps Goliath’s taunting was to lure out King Saul to fight this battle, to have the largest Philistine (between 6’ and 9’6”, depending on the manuscript) and the largest Israelite fight for control under the watchful eye of each others’ gods to see where the true power in the region rested. Even after weeks of taunting and challenges King Saul was content to stay in his tent and hope someone else would fight this battle for him. The shackles of fear had tightened around the heart of the king following his abandonment of God’s anointing and how he was failing in his duty to protect God’s people.
On the other hand you had David how was ready and willing to step up and fight this battle against the people’s enemy. Here we see play out a contrast of how two groups of people react to challenges in their lives. At one point both David and Saul were anointed by God but only one of them remained faithful and was ready to work with God to bring about a victory. We have one person ready to take up arms and fight while we have another who is trying to pawn off their responsibility but still maintain the credit for the accomplishment.
Don’t believe me then take a deeper look at what Saul tried to do with David. After Saul agrees to send his minstrel to fight the Philistine champion he tries to arm David with his own royal armor. At first this may seem reasonable but the deeper meaning here is that Saul may have been trying to trick the people into thinking he was fighting in the battle. Or another way to look at it Saul was trying to put his name on David and take the credit for a victory by proxy. Saul was looking for an easy way out, he didn’t want to fight but he wanted the glory from the victory.
But Saul’s armor was too large and cumbersome for David and he elected to go into battle without it. David refused Saul’s armor, he didn’t need Saul’s covering or protection because God was with Him. Would we make that same choice in our own lives, how often do we trust other people’s armor or position or power in place of God’s in our lives? It’s a temptation because it’s easy to trust more in things we can see or seem to provide tangible protection in a battlefield we don’t always see clearly.
The Time For Battle
After David refuses Saul’s armor he goes outside and finds five smooth stones from a nearby brook (1 Samuel 17:41). Why five? Some like to joke/point out that it could have been one stone for Goliath and four more for his brothers, giants who were later killed during David’s reign as king (1 Samuel 21:15-22).
With a shepherds staff a sling and some stones David was ready for the battle. At first this may seem foolish but David has already shown that he can kill wild animals with his staff and the use of a sling was actually common in battle in that era. Some estimate that a trained slinger (Judges 20:16) could launch a projectile at speeds up to 100mph.
Now the pieces were set and David was ready to face off against Goliath a remnant of the giants that were driven out of Israelite territory by Joshua and into Philistine territory (Joshua 11:21-22). Israel failed to remove the Anakim (see also Rephaim, Emim and Nephilim) from the land and now an old battle was about to repeat itself, but the players remained the same the forces of chaos would stand toe to toe with God and his covenant partner.
1 Samuel 17:45-47 “45 Then David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with a sword, with a spear, and with a javelin. But I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. 46 This day the Lord will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you and take your head from you. And this day I will give the carcasses of the camp of the Philistines to the birds of the air and the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel. 47 Then all this assembly shall know that the Lord does not save with sword and spear; for the battle is the Lord’s, and He will give you into our hands.”
After making that declaration David rushed towards Goliath and hurled a stone with his sling and knocked out the champion who dared to curse and test God and his people.
Completing The Task
But the story didn’t finish there David went one step further and ensured that the battle was over.
50 So David prevailed over the Philistine with a sling and a stone, and struck the Philistine and killed him. But there was no sword in the hand of David. 51 Therefore David ran and stood over the Philistine, took his sword and drew it out of its sheath and killed him, and cut off his head with it.
How often to we fail to complete our spiritual battles, how often to we get a taste of victory and then go home without completing the battle? I feel this is a tendency that is common in the church today, we stick around just long enough for God to show up and begin to do something and we think that it’s enough and go home. We take progression and advantages which God has given to us but fail to see them through into victories and fulfillment of God’s intentions for our lives. We are content to knock our proverbial giants unconscious but are unwilling to “do the dirty work” and eliminate those giants from our lives.
Again we begin to resemble Saul, the giant is knocked down so we can all go home, amen, hallelujah. Saul failed in God’s eyes because he didn’t see things through according to God’s plans. He took shortcuts, spared the lives of enemy kings, acted as a priest to expedite the beginning of a battle and so on. We need to be more like David who completed the job without compromise. David ensured the victory was complete and left no room for chance, and even went as far as to use Goliath’s own sword to do it with.
We can’t continue to settle for half of a spiritual victories, it not good enough for God to only answer a part of our prayer we need to see things through. God is ready to continue to work with and through us but we have to remain persistent and expectant that there is more to a battle than just the battle, after the battle comes a victory and comes the spoils (rewards). Because if you are unable to convert your challenge into a victory you’ve only succeeded at inviting further challenges into your life. As I already mentioned the only reason there was a giant to challenge David is because Joshua’s army was content with a partial victory against Goliath’s ancestors.
David’s victory over Goliath was complete here and that lead to an even larger victory for the rest of the people. As we see in 1 Samuel 17:51 “… And when the Philistines saw that their champion was dead, they fled.” Because of the actions of one anointed and willing servant of God the entire nation enjoyed a victory that day
It All Begins With Servanthood
David didn’t do any of this for his own glory but he instead did it to stand up for God and His people. From what we can tell in the scriptures David never received the promised gifts of riches, tax/service exempt status for his family or Saul’s daughter in marriage (he married Michal later but under different circumstances). But what David did receive was recognition from God, as David graduated from the season of Anointing and entered into the season of Apprenticeship, the second stage of the 4 A’s: Anointing, Apprenticeship, Activation and Announcement.
David took this victory as a opportunity to not claim the throne by force but to continue serving Saul and the people. Unlike most people who would of followed up killing Goliath by next challenging Saul to the same battle, David instead continued to serve Saul as both as a commander and as they royal mistral. David didn’t take this victory as an invitation to fast-forward along the progression and suddenly go from being anointed to being announced as king. David took this opportunity to serve and was faithful to the point of annoyance in Saul’s eyes, but in the eyes of God and the people he was growing closer and closer into the manifestation of his calling.
1 Samuel 18:5 5 So David went out wherever Saul sent him, and behaved wisely. And Saul set him over the men of war, and he was accepted in the sight of all the people and also in the sight of Saul’s servants.
Transforming Challenges Into Victories Cameron Conway is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.