How did David know he could beat Goliath in a fight to the death?

artwork by Richey Beckett

artwork by Richey Beckett

The story of David and Goliath is one of the most well-known Bible stories in our world today. People use it as an example for all underdog situations. Yet, as you read the story, it does not seem like David thought of himself as an underdog. We can see this by reading his own words:

In 1 Samuel 17:34-37 David is trying to convince King Saul to let him fight Goliath and he says:

“Your servant has been keeping his father’s sheep. When a lion or a bear came and carried off a sheep from the flock, I went after it, struck it and rescued the sheep from its mouth. When it turned on me, I seized it by its hair, struck it and killed it. Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, because he has defied the armies of the living God. The Lord who rescued me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will rescue me from the hand of this Philistine.”

Then in 1 Samuel 17:45-47, Goliath is taunting David as they are about to fight and David responds:

“You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the Lord will deliver you into my hands, and I’ll strike you down and cut off your head. This very day I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds and the wild animals, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel. All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves; for the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give all of you into our hands.”

Now, anyone looking on could see that there is no worldly reason why David should win against Goliath. So, why is it that David is not afraid? Why is he so sure that God will help him defeat Goliath? To answer these questions you need to know that this story, like all others in the Bible, is better understood when they are studied in context.

Context simply means you should know what happens before and after the story. Or, as Rob Green from biblicalcounselingcoalition.org says “’Scripture interprets Scripture.’ That means that reading the Bible helps you read the Bible. The Bible is such an interconnected story that reading one part will make you think of another part. When you see how the parts fit, the story becomes even more amazing.” 

In order to better understand the story of David and Goliath, you should also read 1 Samuel 16.

Chapter 16 shows us that God made a promise to David. By having His prophet, Samuel, anoint David, God is making a promise that someday David would be king of Israel. 

We should also remember Numbers 23:19.  This verse is just one many which tells us that God always keeps His promises.

Numbers 23:19 (NIV)

God is not human, that he should lie,
    not a human being, that he should change his mind.
Does he speak and then not act?
    Does he promise and not fulfill?

In other words if God says something will happen, He will make sure it happens. 

Now we know God told David he would be king someday, and we know that David was not king yet. So, next we must ask again, was it possible for Goliath to kill David? 

No. It was not possible for Goliath to kill David, because if David died before becoming king, it would have meant God had either lied or was not powerful enough to keep His Word.

But, God never lies and He is omnipotent, which means He is all-powerful and can always keep His Word.

Therefore, David knew for sure that God would not let him die by Goliath’s sword. 

David may seem like an underdog in the eyes of unbelievers, but David was not facing Goliath alone, and no one who has God on their side and who is relying on God’s promises, is ever an underdog.

Now, what does this mean for us today? 
Can I go out and fight a giant and claim God will make sure I win? No, because God never made me that kind of promise. But, He did make us other promises. We can see a couple big ones in the following verses:

Romans 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Romans 3:21-22 “But now God has shown us a way to be made right with him without keeping the requirements of the law, as was promised in the writings of Moses and the prophets long ago. We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are.”

Romans 10:9 “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”

Romans 8:37-39 “Overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

These verses tell us that even though we are unable to be good enough to get to Heaven on our own, God loved us enough to send Jesus to die on the cross and pay for our sins. God promises us that if we accept Jesus’ payment and let Jesus pay for our sins, then we will get to spend eternity in Heaven with God and nothing at all can separate us from God’s love and stop Him from getting us into Heaven.

Just like David, we can know for sure that if God says it, it will happen, no matter what. Because God is not a liar and He always keeps His promises.

(Amanda Hovseth/Blanco is an announcer for KCMI Radio. You can hear her live on Mondays and Wednesdays from 1:30-6pm and on Saturday mornings from 8:30 to 9:35)