Text 1 Samuel 17:37-39, 45-48 “David said moreover, The Lord that delivered me out of the paw of the lion, and out of the paw of the bear, he will deliver me out of the hand of this Philistine. And Saul said unto David, Go, and the Lord be with thee. And Saul armed David with his armour, and he put an helmet of brass upon his head; also he armed him with a coat of mail. And David girded his sword upon his armour, and he assayed to go; for he had not proved it. And David said unto Saul, I cannot go with these; for I have not proved them. And David put them off him . . . Then said David to the Philistine, 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 I will smite thee, and take thine head from thee; and I will give the carcases of the host of the Philistines this day unto the fowls of the air, and to the wild beasts of the earth; that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel. And all this assembly shall know that the Lord saveth not with sword and spear: for the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give you into our hands. And it came to pass, when the Philistine arose, and came and drew nigh to meet David, that David hasted, and ran toward the army to meet the Philistine.”
When David is called by Jessie from tending the flock, the existing conflict is vocalized (see vs.17-19). Once he had arrived on the frontlines near the valley of Elah, the existing conflict was visualized (see 20-21). In spite of the fact that David is but a youth, he has come to learn at an early age that life is full of conflict. In spite of the fact that he is not the instigator, conflict has found its way into the everyday life of this young shepherd boy. Yet, this isn’t an isolated case; conflict is a fact of life that needs be recognized by all. Speaking unto His disciples previous to His death on the cross, Jesus said, “In the world ye shall have tribulation” (John 16:33). Having recovered from the brutal act of stoning, Paul exhorted the disciples to continue in the faith and admonished them with these words; “we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22). If conflict can’t be avoided, it is imperative that one learns how to approach it! The activities of David reveal at least three things that are helpful in our approach to conflict.
The first thing that we notice is a reminder of the past. David has been conducted into the presence of King Saul where he volunteers to fight Goliath. Saul’s immediate response is to tell David why he isn’t qualified for the job. Having heard all the negatives, David responds with a reminder of the past; “Thy servant kept his father’s sheep, and there came a lion, and a bear, and took a lamb out of the flock: And I went out after him, and smote him, and delivered it out of his mouth: and when he arose against me, I caught him by his beard, and smote him, and slew him. Thy servant slew both the lion and the bear” (vs.34-36). While he had never faced a giant before, David was no stranger to conflict. A bear and a lion had attempted to take one of his sheep from the flock and the Lord had given David the ability to with stand the aggressor! When faced with conflict we are sometime blinded to all God’s past provisions and the means whereby He has delivered. As we make our descent into the valley of our spiritual Elah, pause to be reminded of the faithfulness of God in past conflicts.
The second thing that we notice is reliance for the present. Having come face to face with his aggressor, Goliath of Gath; David is bombarded once again with all of the negative aspects of the conflict. The giant mocks David’s size, his strength, and selection of weapons. The giant basically tells David that when he gets through with him, the fowl of the air and the beasts of the field will be picking the meat off his bones. David’s response is with reliance for the present; “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” (vs. 45-46). The giant’s confidence rested upon the physical implements of war and his ability to use them, but not David! David would take no credit for his past success and he would not be so foolish to test his own abilities in the present. Past, present, and future; it was God and God alone that David would rest in.
The final thing that we notice is a revelation to be projected. The fact that Goliath is repetitively referred to as a champion projects the idea that he has made a name for himself. He has obtained the praises of men; a thing that he has sought for a life time. He feeds on being exalted and elevated in the eyes of men. This is simply the element of pride, a lustful desire that the flesh must have to nourish itself. This is not the case with David; the revelation to be projected is not that of a man, but the Master; “I will smite thee, and take thine head from thee; and I will give the carcases of the host of the Philistines this day unto the fowls of the air, and to the wild beasts of the earth; that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel” (vs.46). David’s objective is not to stand in the sunlight, but in the shadow of the Sovereign! David has but one objective; to make the preeminence and power of his God known to all men. Jesus said, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).
David approached the conflict with a reminder of the past, a reliance for the present, and with a revelation to be projected. The odds of success are greatly improved when these principles are found in our moments of conflict!