Thoughts for the Day

Sunday, 23rd June 2024: God's chosen require courage

David King Saul Samuel Prophet Courage 1 Samuel 17

Reading : Verses from 1 Samuel, Chapter 17


Now the Philistines gathered their armies for battle; Saul and the Israelites gathered and encamped in the valley of Elah, and formed ranks against the Philistines. And there came out from the camp of the Philistines a champion named Goliath, of Gath, whose height was six cubits and a span. . He had a helmet of bronze on his head, and he was armoured with a coat of mail; the weight of the coat was five thousand shekels of bronze. He had greaves of bronze on his legs and a javelin of bronze slung between his shoulders. The shaft of his spear was like a weaver’s beam, and his spear’s head weighed six hundred shekels of iron; and his shield-bearer went before him.... And the Philistine said, ‘Today I defy the ranks of Israel! Give me a man, that we may fight together.’ When Saul and all Israel heard these words of the Philistine, they were dismayed and greatly afraid...

David rose early in the morning, left someone in charge of the sheep, took the provisions, and went as Jesse had commanded him.... He went and greeted his brothers. As he talked with them, the champion, the Philistine of Gath, Goliath by name, came up out of the ranks of the Philistines, and spoke the same words as before. And David heard him.

All the Israelites, when they saw the man, fled from him and were very much afraid.... David said to the men who stood by him, ‘What shall be done for the man who kills this Philistine, and takes away the reproach from Israel? For who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living God?’

When the words that David spoke were heard, they repeated them before Saul; and he sent for him..... David said to Saul, ‘Let no one’s heart fail because of him; your servant will go and fight with this Philistine.’ Saul said to David, ‘You are not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him; for you are just a boy, and he has been a warrior from his youth.’ But David said to Saul, ‘Your servant used to keep sheep for his father; and whenever a lion or a bear came, and took a lamb from the flock, I went after it and struck it down, rescuing the lamb from its mouth; and if it turned against me, I would catch it by the jaw, strike it down, and kill it. Your servant has killed both lions and bears; and this uncircumcised Philistine shall be like one of them, since he has defied the armies of the living God.’ David said, ‘The Lord, who saved me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, will save me from the hand of this Philistine.’ So Saul said to David, ‘Go, and may the Lord be with you!’

Saul clothed David with his armour; he put a bronze helmet on his head and clothed him with a coat of mail. David strapped Saul’s sword over the armour, and he tried in vain to walk, for he was not used to them. Then David said to Saul, ‘I cannot walk with these; for I am not used to them.’ So David removed them. Then he took his staff in his hand, and chose five smooth stones from the wadi, and put them in his shepherd’s bag, in the pouch; his sling was in his hand, and he drew near to the Philistine.

The Philistine came on and drew near to David, with his shield-bearer in front of him. When the Philistine looked and saw David, he disdained him, for he was only a youth, ruddy and handsome in appearance. The Philistine said to David, ‘Am I a dog, that you come to me with sticks?’ And the Philistine cursed David by his gods. The Philistine said to David, ‘Come to me, and I will give your flesh to the birds of the air and to the wild animals of the field.’ But David said to the Philistine, ‘You come to me with sword and spear and 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. This very day the Lord will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you down and cut off your head; and I will give the dead bodies of the Philistine army this very day to the birds of the air and to the wild animals of the earth, so that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel, and that all this assembly may know that the Lord does not save by sword and spear; for the battle is the Lord’s and he will give you into our hand.’

Then the Philistine drew nearer to meet David, and David ran quickly to meet the Philistine. David put his hand in his bag, took out a stone, slung it, and struck the Philistine on his forehead; the stone sank into his forehead, and he fell face down on the ground.

(Lectionary, New Revised Standard Version)


The backstory of this episode is that Saul who was appointed as King by God, has been rejected by Him for disobeying His instructions. As a consequence the prophet Samuel, in response to God's command, goes to the house of Jesse in Bethlehem. Jesse was the grandson of Ruth and Boaz (Ruth 4.13-17) and Samuel is to anoint one of his sons as the future king to replace Saul. As we have seen before, anointing is often done long before the person takes up their work, and in some secrecy. Samuel is surprised to be instructed by God to anoint David who is the youngest, and a shepherd. David will become a musician, playing his lyre to sooth the ailing King who is mentally disturbed, and ultimately a great King himself.

Today's reading though shows King Saul's need for a champion, and David is the most unlikely candidate. He seems little more than a bragging boy, completely out of his depth, but when King Saul sends for him we see his true metal. He has defeated a lion and a bear in order to save his family's sheep. Shepherding in the places like the Judean hills was no sinecure it was a dangerous past-time. But more than that David knows that the Lord is with him, and not just that but the "living Lord" is with him. Unlike King Saul, David goes out to defeat Goliath secure in the knowledge that he is doing God's work.

Today it's no different for us. Whatever we do we need to be sure it's God's will (do we ask Him?), and then we need to have the courage to do it. We Christians can make a big difference to our world. So go in the faith of Christ, with courage, to carry out His work.


Living Lord God,
may we never forget when we make plans
to check in with You
and to listen to Your promptings,
when we are tempted to go our own way.
Then Lord give us the courage
to do Your work in the world,
as You lead us onwards.

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