Good morning! I hope this day finds you and your family well, and I want you to know that you are in my prayers daily during this difficult time.
I invite you to take a few moments with me to reflect on today’s Upper Room Devotional below — as well as on the theology woven into “It is well with my soul.”
1 Samuel 17:19-37 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
19 Now Saul, and they, and all the men of Israel, were in the valley of Elah, fighting with the Philistines. 20 David rose early in the morning, left the sheep with a keeper, took the provisions, and went as Jesse had commanded him. He came to the encampment as the army was going forth to the battle line, shouting the war cry. 21 Israel and the Philistines drew up for battle, army against army. 22 David left the things in charge of the keeper of the baggage, ran to the ranks, and went and greeted his brothers. 23 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.
24 All the Israelites, when they saw the man, fled from him and were very much afraid. 25 The Israelites said, “Have you seen this man who has come up? Surely he has come up to defy Israel. The king will greatly enrich the man who kills him, and will give him his daughter and make his family free in Israel.” 26 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?” 27 The people answered him in the same way, “So shall it be done for the man who kills him.”
28 His eldest brother Eliab heard him talking to the men; and Eliab’s anger was kindled against David. He said, “Why have you come down? With whom have you left those few sheep in the wilderness? I know your presumption and the evil of your heart; for you have come down just to see the battle.” 29 David said, “What have I done now? It was only a question.” 30 He turned away from him toward another and spoke in the same way; and the people answered him again as before.
31 When the words that David spoke were heard, they repeated them before Saul; and he sent for him. 32 David said to Saul, “Let no one’s heart fail because of him; your servant will go and fight with this Philistine.” 33 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.” 34 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, 35 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. 36 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.” 37 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!”
Tim’s Devotional Reflection for Today
The story of David and Goliath is one that touches us at a lot of different levels from the time we’re small children through to old age. It is one of those stories that endures and is shared in all kinds of contexts.
You can find news stories about the little guy taking on the big corporation and winning or the underdog school winning a championship against a powerhouse—all with “David and Goliath” in the headlines. We think of this story in terms of bigness and smallness: the bigness of Goliath the giant, David the small shepherd boy.
But the meaning of this story goes way beyond what’s big and what’s little. The story is about more than the victory of the underdog. I invite you to think about this ancient story today asking this question: What are the giants I’m facing and what do I possess when I step down into the valley to face them?
All of us have had, have, or will have some kind of giant facing us. A giant is anything that instills fear in you, that looms large in your life, that seems overwhelming and insurmountable. It may be a job situation. It may be a family dilemma. It may be a temptation. It may be loneliness. It may be a health issue. Giants come in many forms.
At some point in your life you will have to do battle with a fearsome giant.
Your Goliath may be called illness or grief. It may go by the name of job loss, addiction, betrayal, temptation, or tragedy. But that giant will come and when it does, you’ll have to step down into the valley to face it. When you do, what resources to you possess to face that giant?
David picks up five smooth stones from the dry riverbed to arm himself against the giant. So, I invite you to imagine that you are gathering stones to carry into the valley to face your giants. What are those stones you need to carry when you go down into your own “valley of Elah?” What do you need for those valley times?
I want to suggest a few:
Being prepared. Having spiritual practices that have prepared you to face the toughest challenges. David’s experiences and honed skills prepared him to face Goliath.
Being yourself. No one can face our giants for us. When you have to face a giant be yourself! I encourage you to read the entire story and notice that David couldn’t wear King Saul’s armor because he wasn’t Saul. He was David. Saul’s armor wouldn’t work for him. It didn’t fit. When he put it on, it was cumbersome and he looked ridiculous in it.
David had to be himself! He had to do it his way!
God gave David what he needed and created David to face the giants in his life in his own way.
Relying on God’s Strength.
When you have to face a giant, draw strength from God.
David drew his courage, his strength and his confidence from the bold certainty that God was with him.
Trusting in the Face of Fear.
Faced with the Philistines and their giant, Goliath, Saul and his people were immobilized by fear. Day after day they sat in their tents and sulked, as Goliath came out and issued his challenge, immobilized by their fear of Goliath – not by anything the giant had done to them.
That can happen to us when we face a Goliath in our own lives. We can be overcome by and paralyzed by fear, rather than facing that giant with trust.
In that ancient battle in the valley of Palestine there was no shortage of spectators. There was one that stepped forward in faith to face his Goliath. And he stepped forward and was able to overcome because he didn’t try to be somebody else. He tried that for a moment but that armor just didn’t fit. He was himself as God had created him to be. He stepped forward and he used what he had, what God had given him. He stepped forward in trust and trusted in God’s power, and he went out to meet his Goliath. He acted and stepped out in faith into that valley, and he overcame.
What are your personal Goliaths? What are the things you face in your life that loom so large, the really big things, the things that taunt you, the things that challenge you, the things that challenge even your faith, that challenge even your ability to hang on? Every life faces Goliaths.
The Apostle Paul reminds us that the biggest giant of all is death, and that even death does not have the victory. Rather we have the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. What is your Goliath? God is with you to help you face it.
Thank you for sharing this early moment of your day with me, with God, and with the words and music that I hope you will carry with you throughout the coming day and night.
I am so grateful for you, for our church, and for the Love that will see us all through this very difficult time. Please stay safe and well and we’ll be together again in spirit tomorrow morning!
Grace and Peace,
Dr. Tim Bruster