This past Sunday I preached a message on the story of David and Goliath from 1 Samuel 17 titled “The Normal Christian Life.” One of my goals for the message was to communicate that David didn’t really do anything spectacular in defeating Goliath. He didn’t have any special weaponry, armor, or fighting skills. Instead, he simply did four things that are central and common to the life of anyone seeking to walk by faith:
David viewed his circumstances through a spiritual filter. In other words, David saw the spiritual reality behind the physical circumstances of his life. The rest of Israel looked at Goliath and saw a more than nine and a half foot tall invincible enemy. David looked at Goliath and saw a man who was not stronger than God. Like David, Christians live their lives by interpreting their circumstances through a spiritual lens.
David made decisions according to God’s faithfulness to his promises. Since David was looking at his life through spiritual eyes, he made decisions based on his knowledge of God’s faithfulness to his promises. This led him to tell King Saul, “Let no one lose heart on account of this Philistine. Your servant will go and fight him.” The only reason David made this decision was because of his spiritual knowledge and his trust that God would keep his word. This practice should be a normal part of how Christians live their lives. We make decisions based upon our knowledge of God’s faithfulness to his promises.
David believed in his own weakness and in God’s strength. In order to fight Goliath, David first had to realize that he was utterly incapable of defeating the giant. No weapons, armor, or skill that he had in and of himself could ever hope to bring Goliath down. In order to defeat the giant, David had to not only realize this but embrace the truth that he was utterly weak. But it turns out that this is a fine place to be, because God’s strength is made perfect in our weakness. Part of the normal Christian life is embracing our inadequacies and thereby experiencing God’s limitless strength.
The motivation for David’s obedience was a commitment to God’s glory. The fuel for David’s battle against Goliath was his desire for the glory of God to be known by all who would see the giant fall. David knew that Goliath would only fall if God did something. In other words, in Goliath’s defeat, everyone who saw the battle would know that God had acted mightily - not David. Part of living the Christian life is a desire to live in such a way that people are able to see God’s glory through you (1 Samuel 17.46).
As I have written about before, there’s no such thing as “Bible heroes.” There are only weak men who reckoned upon God’s being with them, David included. David didn’t wake up that morning expecting to slay a giant. But he did wake up that day intending to something very normal: trust God and walk by faith.
We balk at the notion that David didn’t do anything spectacular or extraordinary in his battle against Goliath. Surely there must be something special about him in order for him to defeat Goliath! Doesn’t David deserve some credit for slaying the giant? I don’t think so. Instead, David simply did what any follower of God wants to do: trust in God and make decisions accordingly. It’s certainly true that God did something remarkable with David’s faith and obedience, but there was nothing David did that you and I can’t duplicate in our own lives.
By saying this I am meaning to differentiate between what David did, and what God did. For David’s part, he essentially did the four things listed above: see the spiritual reality of his physical circumstances, act according to God’s promises, embrace his own weakness and God’s strength, and obey for the glory of God. These are all very human and very attainable things for any follower of God. For God’s part, on the other hand, he used David’s faith and obedience to do something remarkable: take down the invincible giant.
I don’t mean to over-simplify the Christian life, but perhaps we too often over-complicate it. It’s easy to get caught up in the ifs, hows, whens, and whys that we never even take a step of faith. David’s experience is “normal” to the extent that he simply trusted and followed where God led. This is the same opportunity available to you and I. We can likewise share in this normal Christian life that David lived. And we serve the same God as David did. In David’s case, his “normal Christian life” found him on a battlefield with a dead giant at his feet. It may be that God will use your “normal Christian life” to slay giants as well. Or not. That’s not up to you and I. Our job is to trust and obey, and to leave the results up to God, knowing that whatever we do - and whatever God does - it will be for our good and ultimately for his glory.
Sometimes the story of David and Goliath is taught as an encouragement that, if you just believe enough, anyone can topple the giants in their life. Don’t believe that for a minute. The giants in your life will kill you; they will chew you up and spit you out. You are utterly unprepared to face them on the field of battle. But the giants of your life can’t kill your God. In fact, they are nothing compared to him, and he reigns over them as Lord. And he calls you to face your giants. But not under your own power. Instead, walk by faith, act according to God’s promises, and commit yourself to displaying his glory with your life, and leave the results up to him. This is what it means to live the “normal Christian life.”