David: The Courage to Fight

Take Courage

The next example in our series is David who had the courage to fight. There are several examples in David’s life of him courageously fighting against his enemies (and God’s enemies). But for our lesson, we will focus on his fight against the Philistine giant, Goliath.

Then a champion came out from the armies of the Philistines named Goliath, from Gath, whose height was six cubits and a span. He had a bronze helmet on his head, and he was clothed with scale-armor which weighed five thousand shekels of bronze. He also had bronze greaves on his legs and a bronze javelin slung between his shoulders. The shaft of his spear was like a weaver’s beam, and the head of his spear weighed six hundred shekels of iron; his shield-carrier also walked before him.

He stood and shouted to the ranks of Israel and said to them, ‘Why do you come out to draw up in battle array? Am I not the Philistine and you servants of Saul? Choose a man for yourselves and let him come down to me. If he is able to fight with me and kill me, then we will become your servants; but if I prevail against him and kill him, then you shall become our servants and serve us.’ Again the Philistine said, ‘I defy the ranks of Israel this day; 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” (1 Samuel 17:4-11).

David said to Saul, ‘Let no man’s heart fail on account of him; your servant will go and fight with this Philistine’” (1 Samuel 17:32).

The nature of our fight today may be different. Paul said, “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:3-5). Even so, there are still valuable lessons for us to learn from David’s fight against Goliath.

The Background

Saul, the first king of Israel, had just been “rejected” by God “from being king” because of his failure to obey the Lord and destroy the Amalekites (1 Samuel 15:22-23). Once God rejected Saul, He sent Samuel to Bethlehem to anoint a new king – a son of Jesse (1 Samuel 16:1). The seven older sons of Jesse passed before Samuel, but God did not choose one of them (1 Samuel 16:10). Instead, God chose David – the youngest who was initially excluded from this gathering and left out tending the sheep (1 Samuel 16:11-13). Yet he was God’s choice to succeed Saul. So Samuel “anointed him in the midst of his brothers” (1 Samuel 16:13).

Later, Israel assembled to do battle with the Philistines (1 Samuel 17:1-3). Goliath, a giant and valiant warrior, issued a challenge to the Israelites – a one-on-one, winner take all duel between himself and anyone the Israelites chose to represent them (1 Samuel 17:4-10). Saul should have answered the challenge. One of the reasons why the people of Israel wanted a king in the first place was so that he would “go out before [them] and fight [their] battles” (1 Samuel 8:20). Besides this, Saul was “taller than any of the people from his shoulders upward” (1 Samuel 10:23). But Saul was like the rest of his people – “dismayed and greatly afraid” (1 Samuel 17:11).

David’s three older brothers were in the army and his father sent him to deliver provisions and bring back a report on their welfare (1 Samuel 17:10, 17-19). While there, David found out about Goliath’s challenge and the reward for defeating him (1 Samuel 17:25-27). Even though his oldest brother mocked and ridiculed him (1 Samuel 17:28), David volunteered to fight (1 Samuel 17:32). Initially, Saul was hesitant to let him go, but David was confident that he would win (1 Samuel 17:33-37). After refusing the king’s sword and armor, David took his sling and gathered five smooth stones on his way to face Goliath (1 Samuel 17:38-40).

When David came to fight, Goliath mocked him (1 Samuel 17:41-44). David responded by declaring his confidence that “the Lord [would] deliver [Goliath] into [his] hands” (1 Samuel 17:45-47). With one stone, David killed the giant, then cut off the warrior’s head with his own sword (1 Samuel 17:48-51). This led to a great victory by the Israelites over the Philistines (1 Samuel 17:52-53).

Why This Took Courage

It is easy to see that it took courage for David to fight Goliath. Let us notice four reasons why this was such a courageous act.

First, David was a youth. This was Saul’s first reason for discouraging David from going: “You are not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him; for you are but a youth…” (1 Samuel 17:33). When he came to fight, Goliath dismissed him on account of his youth: “When the Philistine looked and saw David, he disdained him; for he was but a youth…” (1 Samuel 17:42). David was not even supposed to be there, as was bluntly pointed out by his oldest brother Eliab (1 Samuel 17:28).

Second, David was not adequately trained and equipped (at least not from a human perspective). Saul contrasted David – “a youth” – with Goliath – “a warrior from youth” (1 Samuel 17:33) – implying that David had no training to fight in battle. Besides being untrained, he had no armor and no suitable weapon of war (1 Samuel 17:38-39). Instead, he faced the giant with a stick, five stones, and a sling (1 Samuel 17:40).

Third, David’s opponent was a warrior and a giant. We already noticed how Goliath had been trained as “a warrior from his youth” (1 Samuel 17:33). If his training was not enough to intimidate any potential opponent, Goliath’s size – a height of “six cubits and a span” (1 Samuel 17:4), which was about nine and a half feet tall – would have deterred almost anyone.

Fourth, David’s opponent was an enemy of God. Of course, to David, this only served as further motivation to fight (1 Samuel 17:26, 36, 45-47). But this was more than just a physical fight. David had to stand up and fight in the name of God against an opponent who was bold enough that he “taunted the armies of the living God” (1 Samuel 17:36),

David Took Courage

David knew what was right. He knew that this enemy of God had to be defeated (1 Samuel 17:36).

David recognized the reward, both for himself and for the nation of Israel. He would receive riches and the king’s daughter in marriage (1 Samuel 17:25). More importantly, the Israelites would defeat and plunder their enemy (1 Samuel 17:46, 52-53).

Finally, David took action. He did not wait to be called upon; he volunteered (1 Samuel 17:32). When Goliath ridiculed him, he boldly answered (1 Samuel 17:45-46). When the time came to fight, David did not hesitate, but “ran quickly toward the battle line” and killed the giant (1 Samuel 17:48-49).

Application for Us

There are a few lessons we should take from the example of David.

First, we must have courage to fight, no matter who we are. Paul wrote to the Corinthians about “our warfare” (2 Corinthians 10:4). Participation in the spiritual battle that will continue to be waged until the Lord returns is not only for a select few. All must be willing to fight. Youth does not make one exempt. Paul told Timothy, “Let no one look down on your youthfulness, but…show yourself an example of those who believe” (1 Timothy 4:12). Youth is no excuse for failing to do what God has called His people to do.

Second, we must not worry about being adequately equipped. Peter and John were seen as “uneducated and untrained men,” yet they displayed great boldness in proclaiming Christ (Acts 4:12-13). We may also be “uneducated and untrained” by the world’s standard, but we are adequately prepared for our fight when we put on the armor that God provides (Ephesians 6:14-17).

Third, we must not worry about who our opponents are. Paul said, “Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:11-12). We have some powerful opponents against us. But we must remember that Christ is over all of them (Ephesians 1:20-21) and that through Him we will be victorious (Revelation 17:14).

Fourth, we must direct our fight against those who are the enemies of God. “We do not war according to the flesh” (2 Corinthians 10:3) because our fight is spiritual in nature. We fight to destroy “speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God” (2 Corinthians 10:5).


David was confident that the Lord would be with him. He told Goliath, “This day the Lord will deliver you up into my hands, and I will strike you down and remove your head from you…for the battle is the Lord’s and He will give you into our hands” (1 Samuel 17:46-47). We must be confident as well. Though powerful forces “will wage war against the Lamb…the Lamb will overcome them, because He is Lord of lords and King of kings” (Revelation 17:14). Therefore, let us take courage and “contend earnestly for the faith” (Jude 3). Let us “fight the good fight of faith” (1 Timothy 6:12) so that we can share in the Lord’s victory as He triumphs in the end.

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