There is something pitiful about the scene that plays out in these chapters. We see it in 17:20 - "He reached the camp as the army was going out to its battle positions, shouting the war cry." Why? In this case "battle positions" is an oxymoron, like military intelligence or jumbo shrimp. There is no intention of doing battle with the enemies of God. They are simply going through the motions they feel obligated to perform. War cry? Whatever they were screaming, they didn't really believe it or they would do something about it. This army of God did nothing when the very God they were representing is insulted. To them, that would have been like the ultimate "Ya Momma" comment, and yet they did nothing. For forty days! At some point, you'd think someone would just be ready to do something to get things over with.
It's a situation not unlike the church today. The servants of God line up every Sunday, just like they always have because they feel obligated to do so. Maybe it's not a war cry, but they all have the same mantra about how great God is, how powerful the gospel is, how Jesus is on their side, nothing is impossible with God . . . we've all been there and heard it. Sadly, this is often just as futile as the army of Israel lined up against the Philistines. We know they have a giant. Every day he taunts us and our God. Every day we evaluate our abilities and his. He has the training, the armor, the strength, the sound bites. There's just no way we can defeat him. He's too big, too fast, too strong, too smart. We're defeated in every area.
Or are we? Once in awhile, someone comes along who is willing to risk it all. A voice that screams, "This is not right! Do you believe what you're saying about the God you serve! If so, then do something about it! If you won't, then I will!" And often, that voice comes from the most unlikely of places.
David is the wake up cry in the army of Israel. There was another with the position. Saul was the king. This was his job. He was equipped - he was a full head taller than all the Israelites. He was their champion, but he was a coward. Every day he would survey his abilities, think about the battles he had fought, sharpen his sword, heft his spear, and polish his armor. Every day he would come to the same conclusion - "I simply don't have what it takes." He was focused on what he could do.
In contrast, David focused on the God he served. He was not concerned about abilities, odds, or appearances. He knew God. He had seen God deliver him before. He knew that God would not stand by and let His name be defiled. All God wanted was someone strong and courageous because he knew God was with him.
David was the man. Did he seem like it? When Saul was looking for a champion, did anyone think of David or send for him? Did he aspire to be the king or the chief warrior of the army? Was David scheming for an opportunity, hanging in the shadows, looking for the best time to usurp Saul?
David was content in the place God had him. He wasn't training for military service. He simply showed up and did the best job he could where God had placed him. A shepherd's life did not seem to correlate with the training of a warrior, but this was no ordinary warrior. His strength was not exhibited by the size of his biceps. His strength was not his own, it was drawn from God. The same God that he spent each day with. Each day, David was found on the hillsides, watching his father's sheep, playing the harp and singing songs praising God. When trouble came, he faced it, confident that God would rescue and deliver him. As he grew to know God, his confidence in God grew. Whatever task presented itself, it was no greater than the ones God had already seen him through. Philistine, lion, bear, it didn't matter. Alone, David was overmatched, but with God . . .
How does one become heroic like David? How do you move to the front of the battle, become the instrument God uses to honor His name and defend His people? By being consistent in the everyday and mundane. Seek to grow in your knowledge of God. Learn to allow His grace to transform your heart. Trust God and see how He provides. Discover how to put your faith in Jesus and depend on Him. Then, when the day comes, your faith will be strong.
God doesn't seek those who are prominent in the eyes of the world, who are wise or strong. God seeks those whose faith has been nurtured and strengthened through the everyday tasks they have encountered. He wants those who are serving Him on the backside of the sheep fields, who are ready to respond when the opportunity comes. They will have already faced many "giants" in the solitude of their own hearts; lions and bears in their own right. Then when the time comes, it's just another rock, just another foe, but the same God guiding the stone.
"Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the trong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things - and the things that are not - to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God - that is, our righteousness, holiness, and redemption. Therefore, as it is written: "Let him who boasts boast in the Lord." 1 Corintians 1:26-31