Under Samuel’s leadership, the ancient Israelites demanded from God a king like the other nations. The first king was Saul whom Samuel (remember Samuel from our story last week?) anointed. But Saul proved unworthy. The Lord sent Samuel to the house of Jesse in Bethlehem, where Samuel would find the new king. That king was David, a shepherd and Jesse’s youngest son. The story of David and Goliath is that of David’s first military victory.
Imagine the biggest, most heavily armed, most powerful and frightening warrior you can. That was Goliath the Philistine. He was almost 10 feet tall. Goliath challenged the Israelites to send someone to do battle with him. Whoever won the fight would make servants of the opponent’s people. The Israelites quaked with fear.
David was young and not the most experienced, but he volunteered. He figured that if he could protect the sheep from lions and bears, he could handle Goliath. David trusted that God would protect him as God had done in the past. Unaccustomed to military armor and weaponry, David went in his shepherd’s garb and with his shepherd’s staff and bag, in which he placed five stones for use in his slingshot – hardly an adequate weapon against Goliath. Goliath came to do battle with David. But David drew out his slingshot, hit Goliath square in the forehead, and won the battle.
What is the source of real power? We tend to think that military might, wealth, and political power rule the world. None of these amount to anything beside the power of God on which David relied. This story is not so much about God taking up arms against humans as it is about the real nature of power. God stands with those who appear to be weak and brings to naught those who wield the power of this world.