Today, I’m wrapping up my Sunday series on salvation stories from the Old Testament. There are several I haven’t mentioned – the scarlet cord and Mephibosheth feasting at the king’s table, for example. Still, today I want to focus on the very familiar story of David and Goliath.
As children, the focus was on David, standing firm against the giants in our lives, and being courageous. I don’t know about you, but the teaching I received implied I could be David. But let’s look more closely at this story because that’s not who we are! We are the cowering Israelites hoping that someone will fight for us. We need to know who the true king is!
David & Goliath in Sunday School
From childhood, you remember David being a shepherd boy with older brothers. Three of his older brothers were warriors under Saul’s leadership. David had been anointed by Samuel and had been recognized as having skill with the harp, able to soothe Saul when he was upset, tormented by an evil spirit. He went back and forth between serving Saul and keeping the sheep.
One day, Jesse, the boys’ dad, sent David to the encampment to deliver food to his brothers. That’s when David heard Goliath, a very large Philistine, taunting the Israelite soldiers. He looked to see who would step up to fight Goliath, who would protect Israel’s reputation, and no man was volunteering. David went to Saul and basically said, I’m your man. Saul must have laughed; David was a boy, small and inexperienced.
You know the story, Saul dresses David in armor, but it was much too big, too heavy for him. Instead, he just needed his sling and a few small stones from the creekbed. David brings Goliath down with a single stone, and then he removes Goliath’s head.
The Christ-centered picture
Do you hear the echoes of Genesis 3:15? The woman’s seed would strike or crush the head of the enemy.
The Israelites cannot fight for themselves. They are defeated by their fear. But one steps in to fight for them, one who is an unlikely hero and knows in whose name he is fighting – that the battle is the Lord’s!
David’s victory over Goliath is a picture of the victory that Jesus secures over Satan, sin, and death with His life, death, resurrection, and ascension. He foreshadows our conquering king – King Jesus!
Martin Luther draws the conclusion that David gave the Israelites their lives back, saved them, and brought peace. And so it is with us! “Without any merit of our own, Jesus made us righteous, gave us life, and saved us, so that we were given peace and brought back to God” (my paraphrase of Luther’s quote*).
John Calvin summarizes how much of the Old Testament points to Jesus – helping us see the deeper value of the stories we learned as children. When you read the Bible, remember it is “His” story, a grand narrative, always pointing us to God’s blessed redemptive plan!
Therefore, when you hear that the gospel presents you Jesus Christ in whom all the promises and gifts of God have been accomplished; and when it declares that he was sent by the Father, has descended to the earth and spoken among men perfectly all that concerns our salvation, as it was foretold in the Law and to the Prophets – it ought to be most certain and obvious to you that the treasures of Paradise have been opened to you …He [Christ] is Isaac, the beloved Son of the Father who was offered as a sacrifice, but nevertheless did not succumb to the power of death. He is Jacob the watchful shepherd, who has such great care for the sheep which he guards. He is the good and compassionate brother Joseph, who in his glory was not ashamed to acknowledge his brothers, however lowly and abject their condition. He is the great sacrificer and bishop Melchizedek, who has offered an eternal sacrifice once for all. He is the sovereign lawgiver Moses, writing his law on the tables of our hearts by his Spirit. He is the faithful captain and guide Joshua, to lead us to the Promised Land. He is the victorious and noble king David, bringing by his hand all rebellious power to subjection. He is the magnificent and triumphant king Solomon, governing his kingdom in peace and prosperity. He is the strong and powerful Samson, who by his death has overwhelmed all his enemies.-John Calvin, Preface to Olivetan’s New Testament
We see the Savior, Redeemer, and Conqueror foretold all throughout the Old Testament, the fulfillment of the promise made in the creation story! It’s a joy to read the grand narrative with Christ at the center!
A Hymn of Praise
Lo, Judah’s Lion wins the strife
and conquers death to give us life.
Oh, let us sing his praises!
‘Tis he whom David did portray
when he did strong Goliath slay.
Oh, sing with gladsome voices!
In festal spirit, song, and word,
To Jesus, our victorious Lord,
All praise and thanks be rendered.
All honor, glory, praise be givenAuthor Unknown 1695
Our Triune God, who reigns in heaven,
Now gladly sing we, Amen.
Translated Francis Pott, c. 1859
*Luther’s quote can be found in Reformation Reader
Reformation Reader. (1999). United States: Fortress Press, p. 114.
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