David – Shepherd Boy to Mighty Warrior
DAVID – SHEPHERD BOY TO MIGHTY WARRIOR
PREACHER – ANTONIO COPPOLA
Reading – 1 Samuel 17: 10-51
Are we defined by what other people think about us, or are we defined by God’s truth about us?
I have seen too many of us who go through life as slaves to others’ perceptions about them, living out of others’ fears about them and always worry about what other people think about them. The result of living like this is that we tend to live in fear and insecurity, trying to please other people and trying to be like other people, instead of stepping into the unique calling that God has on our lives.
This story about David shows how he refused to be defined by the fears and limitations of others, and how he instead walked in the truth of who God called him to be. His slaying of Goliath was his ‘new beginning’ – went from shepherd boy to mighty warrior. Let’s look at his story and see how it can impact our lives.
There is something about David’s life in the Bible that is incredibly captivating and inspiring. Many of us guys want to be like David in some way or another. I love his courage, determination, sheer cockiness and audacity in how he lived his life. He was a man’s man, that’s no doubt! Killed wild animals, war hero, babe slayer of note, strong, handsome, was a leader, a king – raw, real, not perfect by any means. Also man who passionately loved God – God calls David a man after his own heart. Deep, authentic, strong, intimate relationship with God.
For me David models Biblical manhood. He’s my guy-mometer, the level to which I gauge masculinity. If David models the ultimate man (Jesus is ultimate man of course), why is it very hard to find men like David in most churches? Why is the stereotype Christian man a bit of a woes and a pansy? Even worse these days where our culture is emasculating men (clothes shop inLausanne). What I see in the church is similar what happens to David – mighty raw men rise up as leaders, only to be cut down to size by other men who tend to be insecure in their masculinity. David was a rising star as a lightie, but cut down to size and put in a shepherd boy box. What I want to talk about tonight is how he broke free from the box and was released into what God had called him to be – a mighty warrior, and how God is calling us to do the same.
How David was put in a box
David was the youngest brother in his family. He was the lightie who looked after the sheep, while the elder brothers did man stuff like fight wars, hunt wild animals and help lead the household.
When Samuel came to David’s household to anoint a new king, David wasn’t with his father and the rest of the men of his family at the house, he was doing the peanut work, looking after the sheep in the fields.
Later whenIsraelwas at war with the Philistines, and Goliath challenged the men ofIsrael, David wasn’t on the battle front with the men, he was the boy who was running back and forth, taking bread and cheese to the men who were fighting.
When David arrived on the front with supplies and heard Goliath taunting the Israelite army, he couldn’t understand why no one was prepared to take him out. He said, “who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?” (1 Sam 17: 26). His elder brother, Eliab immediately rebuked him and asked him why he has left his sheep to come and meddle in man business, and called his heart evil. David said, “What have I done now?”, like he’s used to his brothers putting him down all the time, he’s the lightie shepherd boy after all.
Still, he’s not put off by his brother and goes to King Saul and tells him that he is prepared to go and fight Goliath. Saul says to him (v.33), “You are not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him, for you are but a youth, and he has been a man of war from his youth.”
Even after hearing Saul’s words, he persists and ends up facing Goliath in battle, without armour or a sword, just his shepherd boy sling shot. Verse 42-43, “And when the Philistine looked and saw David, he disdained him, for he was but a youth, ruddy and handsome in appearance. And the Philistine said to David, ‘Am I a dog, that you come to me with sticks?’ And the Philistine cursed David by his gods.”
So, it’s clear so far what a wide range of people thought about David. From his close family, to his leaders and to his enemies, the message was clear:
- You are still a little boy, young, inexperienced and naïve
- Your place is looking after sheep, not fighting battles
- Who are you to think that you can fight? You are not one of the men
- You can’t do this – you can’t fight Goliath – you are not a warrior!
How David broke out of the box
So, how was David able to press on and break this label that so many people around him imposed on him, and show who he really was and what God had called him to? I think many of us would have given up hearing that constant discouragement. How many of us give up so easily when people criticize us constantly and bring us down?
I believe that David was able to press through all this because he was secure in his calling from God. He knew in his heart that God was for him.
Before we see David doing anything of significance in his life – before he plays his instrument for Saul, before he takes out Goliath, basically while he is still a shepherd boy – God chooses him as king of Israel and anoints him with his Spirit. David had done nothing to deserve being chosen as a king, he was still a boy!! He had not proven himself in battle, he had not led people, he had not governed a nation, he wasn’t born into a royal family – he was a nobody – yet God sovereignly singled him out to lead his people!
How come? In our natural minds we think that we need to qualify, we need to have achieved something and proved ourselves before we are selected and chosen for something great. God turns this upside down. He chooses David before he has done anything. In 1 Sam 16: 7, when the prophet Samuel is going through all Jesse’s sons to see who will be king, God says to him, “The LORD sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart.”
God chose David and filled him with his Spirit purely through grace. He saw his heart and knew that David loved him, trusted him and had a radical childlike faith in him.
Once David knew he had been called by God to be king, to lead his people and was empowered by his Spirit to do it, he immediately starts walking in his calling. Even before he is king (Saul was still king then), he acts like a king, because he knows that one day he will be the king.
We can see this soon after he is anointed by Samuel. Saul is looking for someone to play a lyre for him as he’s being tormented by evil spirits. One of his servants describes David, (1 Sam 16: 18) “Behold, I have seen a son of Jesse the Bethlehemite , who is skillful in playing, a man of valor, a man of war, prudent in speech, and a man of good presence, and the LORD is with him.”
So David’s anointing was already evident to others early on – people could recognize the work of the Spirit in his life and he was walking in his calling – he started to act like a king. He held onto this truth – that he was a king and that God was with him, instead of holding onto others’ fears and perceptions about him that he was a lightie who couldn’t do anything.
Finally the moment of truth for David arrives when he is faced with Goliath in battle. Instead of believing everyone around him that he is a young little shepherd boy, with no battle experience (which was true in the natural), he chooses to trust in God’s reality, the reality of the kingdom, which is impossible and crazy for the carnal mind! He lays aside armour and sword and confront Goliath with his shepherd sling and stone on the battle field, and declares prophetically (v.45-46):
“You come to me with a sword and with a spear and with a 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 day the LORD will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you down and cut off your head…that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel.”
We know how the story ends… David emerges as a mighty warrior from being a shepherd boy. He goes into battle trusting in God’s faithfulness and knowing that God is for him.
Are we going to live our lives bound by fear of other people’s opinions and perceptions about us? Are we just going to accept a mediocre life and be shepherd boys forever?
Our families, friends, people close to us, our leaders, the media, the world may be constantly reminding us that we are too young, too inexperienced, too naïve, under qualified, too weak, too shy. We are told, we can’t… that’s impossible… you’ll never be able to do something like that…Maybe you’ve been labeled or put in a box – reject, weakling, stupid, unloveable, ugly, useless, not good enough…
Church, my question to you is whose voice are you going to believe?
I have received a fair amount of criticism. As a leader, that’s life, we will always be criticized, it’s impossible for us to please everyone. Some things people say to me are valid and I thank them for having the courage to confront me about it. However there are some things that I will hear, but not take on board because it is an actual attack and undermining of the calling that God has on my life. The reality for us who want to go for it for God and make a difference in the kingdom is that Satan will always bring opposition to us and seek to undermine our confidence in God and the mission he has for us.
If took to heart everything that people say to me and say about me, I would probably curl up and crumble and Satan would have succeeded in making me useless in the kingdom. For sure, there is a place for feedback and correction, don’t get me wrong – and we need to man up and take swallow hard truths from people who genuinely love us. But we cannot let other peoples’ insecurities and fears which they project on us, get in the way of Jesus’ calling on our lives.
David chose to believe God’s truth about him over his circumstance and other peoples’ opinions. Yes he was a shepherd boy, yes he was young – BUT he knew he was called to be king and he trusted in God who empowered him as a mighty warrior.
David knew and held onto these truths –
God is able, God is for us! If God is for us who can be against us? (Rom8: 31). Therefore nothing is impossible. If we have the Spirit of God dwelling inside us, like David did, we have a craving to do things that only God can do, we have a yearning to see the impossible made possible. Kill giants! God can and is willing to do more that we could perceive or imagine.
God has called us! We have been chosen before the foundation of the world to be sons of the Father and to do good works for him. We have been called to live as kingdom royalty here on earth – have dominion over the created order, to bring God’s kingdom and light into the darkness and chaos that is in the world. Like David, let’s live knowing we are a king, that we are a son of the Most High. Let’s root our identity in what God believes about us, not in our own fears, nor what other people doubt about us.
2 Timothy 1: 7
For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-control.
God needs mighty warriors to stand up and kill some giants!
I see a church too full of shepherd boys, people too timid to take some serious risks and sacrifices for God. I believe that all of us have been called by God to be mighty warriors for him. God has more for us than we think and many of us are being robbed by Satan of our true calling and destiny in Christ!
God is on the move and is looking over the face of the earth for hearts that are keen to rise up, take him at his word, trust in his goodness, risk and go into battle for him as his warriors!
God is able – he is for us