Lessons From the Life of David: David and Goliath

I like very much the theme you Loveland Young People have chosen for this year’s convention, ‘Lessons from the Life of David.’’ I like your theme because it gives me the opportunity to bring to you the Word of God and to bring it from the life of one of God’s saints. There are few of God’s saints whose lives are as worthy of study as David. The fact that the Bible records the life of David in more detail than the life of any other person in the Old or New Testaments is a good indication of the importance of David’s life as a source of Gospel-lessons for us.

We must remember, however, that these lessons from the life of David are not just little moral examples telling you that you must be good boys and girls, but these are the lessons of the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Gospel which speaks of salvation through the dying of the Lord Jesus, and which calls us to thankful obedience, a Gospel which speaks also to you young people. That means, of course, that these are not lessons which you may choose to hear or not to hear as you please, but lessons you must learn as blood-bought children of God and followers of the Lord Jesus.

The story of David and Goliath is especially appropriate for our study this evening, since it speaks of the crowning event of David’s life as a young man. In this history, therefore, God is speaking to you directly as young men and young women and telling you, not what you will be someday when you are older and married and fathers and mothers and office-bearers in the Church, but what you ought to be now.

In turning to this history, I am not going to tell you the story of David and Goliath. It is a story that you learned on your mother’s knees, and though it bears re-telling time and again because of its significance for us, I am going to take for granted this evening that you know the story and get right down to the business of seeing how it applies to you and me and what lessons we may learn from it.

David as a Type of Christ

The first lesson from the story of David and Goliath is one which really applies to the whole life of David. In this first lesson I am not going to tell you how you must be like David, but how David is like Christ – a type of Christ, as we usually say.

David is one of the clearest and most beautiful pictures of Christ in the whole Old Testament. That’s the reason, by the way, why his life is recorded in such detail in the Bible. He is a picture of Christ as the great captain of God’s people, the warrior- King who fights against and delivers them from all their enemies. Very obviously the story of David and Goliath is part of that picture.

But why begin there? Do you know why that must be the first lesson from the life of David, that David is like Christ? Understand, my dear young people, that only when you see first in David’s victory over Goliath what Christ has done for you, will you have any real reason to want and try to be like David and to pattern your life after his. Then too your desire to be like David will be the desire to be Christ-like, and that, as you know, is always the essence of the Christian life for us.

Goliath represents the enemy against whom Christ fights, and against whom we fight in Christ’s name. The whole description of Goliath in the first part of I Samuel 17 shows us that he was a great champion, the hero of the armies of the Philistines. When you translate some of the data given in our KJV into modern English then you will realize how strong and fearsome he was. He was about nine and a half feet tall, his armor weighed around 150 pounds, and his spear-head alone weighed nearly 17 pounds. The picture, then, is of one who was, in earthly terms, all but invincible.

You know whom he represents, don’t you? He is in one man a picture of the power and dominion of sin, which is the power and dominion of Satan and his dark hosts. In Ephesians 6:12 he is called “the rulers of the darkness of this world” and “spiritual wickedness in high places.” I want to come back to that a little later on when we talk about Goliath as the enemy against which you must fight, but for now let us go on.

Against him and all that he represents Christ goes to battle in the person of David. What a picture we have here of the battle Christ fights on our behalf as our great warrior-King! In the first place you might notice that like David against Goliath He fights alone. He Himself says this in Isaiah 63:5; “And I looked, and there was none to help; and I wondered that there was none to uphold: therefore mine own arm brought salvation unto me; and my fury, it upheld me.”

Another important part of the picture is that David goes to fight against Goliath virtually unarmed and naked, and yet with perfect confidence in the Name of the Lord of Hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, and, in the face of what appears to be certain defeat and death, conquers. No more than David could go to battle wearing the armor of Saul, could our Lord fight with the weapons of this world against the enemy of His people. “Put up thy sword into its sheath,” He said to Peter. He too in the face of apparent defeat and death, when He hung naked, mocked and dying on the cross conquered so completely that He destroyed forever the power of the Wicked One. And He conquered by the Name of Jehovah of Hosts when He cried from His cross, “My God. My God.” Paul speaks of this conquering Christ in Colossians 2:15 when he says: “And having spoiled principalities and power, he made a shew of them openly triumphing over them in it (i.e.. in His cross).” Who cannot see that Christ in David as he cuts off Goliath’s head with Goliath’s own sword, and despoils him of both sword and armor?

Don’t you love this David? As you watch him and listen to him, so bold and fearless, doesn’t your heart go out to him? And yet if our love for him is to be more than mere hero worship, then our love must be love for Christ as we see him in David, and we will love Christ in David not just because He has done great deeds, but because He did them for us. That love is the beginning of a Christ-like obedience in our lives, for it will make us want to imitate David and be like him for Christ’s sake. You young people must imitate David, then, not as a substitute for various worldly heroes in sports, entertainment. or fashion, but in thankfulness for what Christ has done and as an example of what it means to love and follow Christ.

David as an Example for Us

That, then is the second great lesson from the life of David. You must be like David in courage, in battle, and in victory for Christ’s sake. Let me show you what that means.

The first thing you can learn from the story of David and Goliath is that you young people have a calling and work to do in the cause of God’s kingdom. That is true of you as much as of David as a young man in the OT church and kingdom of God. It is not just the older members of the Church or the office-bearers who have work to do in God’s kingdom, but you young people also.

You are called to be warriors and to follow Christ into the battle. That is the second thing you may learn from David’s example, and the second way you must be like him. In fact, this calling belongs especially to you as young people. Just as in an earthly war, it is the younger men who do the actual “dirty work” of fighting, so it is in the cause of God, though that is not to say that fighting for Christ is “dirty work.” Nor is that to say you are the only ones called to fight. It is only to say that you young men and young women stand in the front lines and in the trenches against the enemy, and that the calling to fight is yours in a unique sense. For this God has given you in your youth particular gifts suited for that calling, especially your strength and energy and enthusiasm. As we grow older our strength declines and we easily weary of the battle, and God recognizes that, in giving to the church with each new generation new strength and courage by giving to the church its young men and women. You are the ones whom God has given to our churches for that reason. This is God’s Word in I John 2:13, 14: “I write unto you, young men, because ye have overcome the wicked one . . . because ye are strong and the word of God abideth in you, and ye have overcome the wicked one.”

Young people, you must fight in the battle of faith. I was impressed at our discussion groups this morning with your knowledge of the truth and your insights into the truth. I was able to learn from you. But there is more to your Christian calling. You must fight for the truth and to put that truth into practice by way of resisting the enemy. You must not hide in your tents as all Israel did when challenged by Goliath.  That was the reproach of Israel (I Sam. 17:26) in those days, and you will be the reproach of the church today if you do not fight.

How the church needs you! How very much do our churches need you! The church today resembles nothing so much as it resembles Israel during the days of Saul, dismayed in the face of the enemy, few if any willing to fight for the cause of the kingdom and covenant of God, easily put to flight by the threatening power of evil. We need you to be strong and to have the word of God abiding in you, that you may overcome the wicked one, and that the church of God may continue to be delivered from many enemies and from the power and raginq of Satan.

You will have to fight alone oftentimes. Some of you already know what that means. You will have to fight, so it seems to us, your parents, pastors, and elders, ill-equipped for that battle. You will have to face not only the mocking scorn of the ungodly, as David faced Goliath’s mockery, but you will also have to face the derision of those whom you call brothers just like David had to face the sneers of his older brother, Eliab.

Nor is the enemy any less powerful than the great giant Goliath. For you the giant enemy is Satan’s power to tempt and to overcome by temptation. It is all the wealth and power and wisdom of the world which Satan uses to overthrow your faith in God and in His Word and to destroy your Christian life. The temptations you face will be as large as Goliath, and those temptations will be armored and invincible against all but God’s own help. Never will your own strength be enough. The pleasures and lusts of this world will be as sharp against you as Goliath’s spear, and the peer pressure put upon you as heavy as the shaft of that spear. Nor having slain the giant will the battle be over. As for David this was but the beginning of his life as a warrior. And Goliath, too, did not stand alone but came of a whole race of giants, and himself spawned four sons, all giants and all enemies of Israel. You will have to fight that battle everywhere – in your personal life, in your dating and your friendships, in school and at work.

Don’t forget either, young people, that that battle involves standing against everyone and everything that is not actively for the cause of God. The most striking thing about Goliath is what David says about him when he calls him “this uncircumcised Philistine.” And you understand that inasmuch as circumcision was the OT sign of the covenant. Goliath stands for all that is not part of that covenant. And you must remember that everything that is not for the cause of God’s covenant and kingdom is against it, including at times sneering brethren and Israelites who are unwilling to fight. Against such also you will have to stand, if not in open warfare, then at least as a condemning example.

That battle has two aspects, your private personal life and your public life, especially in the church, but the two are very closely related. Fighting that battle in your personal life is the training you receive from God to be warriors in and on behalf of the church. Just as David had first to fight the lion and the bear to learn confidence in God that he might also fight for and with God’s OT church, so for you the battle begins with your facing the lion and bear of evil and temptation in your own more private life.

David as an Encouragement to Us

In all this your faith is your only weapon and your victory. For “this is the victory that overcometh the world, even (y)our faith” (I Jn. 5:4). That is all you have. You cannot fight the philosophies of this world in the college classroom with argument, logic and learning alone. You cannot fight temptation by your own will-power and strength. You may not resist evil with evil, or blasphemy and scorn with railing and reviling. No more than David could wear Saul’s armor can you wear the armor and use the weapons the world uses. That is the case, not just because you are young and unproved, but because those weapons are not enough to overcome the giant: Not human strength or mighty hosts, Not charging steeds or war-like boasts

Can save from overthrow; But God will save from death and shame All those who fear and trust His Name.

And they no want shall know.

Even David, though he went armed with a slingshot did not make it his weapon apart from Jehovah. As He said to Goliath: “Thou comest to me with a sword, and with a spear, and with a shield: but I come to thee in the Name of the Lord of Hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom thou hast defied. This day will the Lord deliver thee into mine hand . . . and all this assembly shall know that the Lord saveth not with sword and spear.”

Armed only with faith, that gift of God, you cannot and must not be afraid. The giant of sin and temptation still roars and shakes his spear, but your faith is faith in Christ and in His victory. He has already conquered. In the cross the enemy is now defeated and all his power destroyed. By faith His power and victory are yours. Remember David and so many other OT heroes of faith, ‘Who through faith’ subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens. You too are more than conquerors in Him, that is, in Christ by faith.

And for your further encouragement there is an implicit promise here that God will use you for the good of His church. At the time of David’s victory over Goliath there was no champion in Israel who dared to face the giant. Not Saul, great warrior that he was, not Abner, mighty captain of the host, not even Jonathan, that man of faith and child of God. But after David’s victory there arose many champions in Israel, encouraged and strengthened by his example who slew the sons of the giant and worked to deliver God’s OT church. So God will use you for good in His NT church as young men and young women of faith.

Remember too, that when you fight this battle faithfully, you fight in the cause of Christ Himself. He is on your side. That is the assurance of complete victory over all enemies for us.


Did we in our own strength confide,

Our striving would be losing.

Were not the right man on our side,

The Man of God’s own choosing.

Dost ask who that may be?

 Christ Jesus, it is He;

Lord Sabaoth His name. 

From age to age the same,

And He must win the battle.


He wins that battle not only for us, but through us as we war the good warfare of faith.