I would like for us to look at the David-Goliath story in a new way. David’s victory over Goliath brought him acclaim and notoriety. What I find intriguing is what he had been doing before that epic encounter. I’d like for us to look at his resume.
David had recently been anointed to be king by the prophet Samuel, after having passed over his older and seemingly more capable brothers. Shortly thereafter, three of David’s brothers were drafted to serve in an escalating conflict involving the Philistines in the Valley of Elah. During this time, David is charged with taking care of the sheep in a wilderness environment. There is nothing glamorous about the job—finding good pasture, locating in a safe environment, and having access to water. It is hard work, long hours, and a very solitary assignment. He became an incredible shepherd. During this time, David devoted himself to being a creative worshiper. Not only did he journal, he also wrote music, wrote poems, and played out those pieces on a harp. He became an accomplished musician. It was this skill—playing the harp that brought him on a part-time basis to the palace. He was asked to come and play for King Saul because of Saul’s depressive episodes. David’s father asked him to take supplies to his brothers and gifts to the king on the battlefront. There is never any mention that David refused any of the assignments he was given. So this king-to-be comes disguised as a shepherd, poet, musician, supply clerk, and general farm hand.
At the Valley of Elah
When David arrived on the battlefront and handed his supplies to the supply-keeper, little did he know that he was hours from a life-changing encounter. As was his daily custom, the giant, Goliath, appeared to ask for a combatant, a challenger, a foe. This had been occurring for 40 days. It was the first time David had heard the challenge. David’s brother was upset that David was voicing his willingness to fight—he was just a kid—inexperienced and untrained. The Bible states that he “turned from him.” David had a completely different perspective on the giant. The army saw Goliath as invincible. David saw him as one who had defied the Lord God and his armies. When Saul was told that David voiced a willingness to fight the giant, he sent for him. It’s this exchange that holds some relevant insights for us:
34 But David said to Saul, “Your servant has been keeping his father’s sheep. When a lion or a bear came and carried off a sheep from the flock, 35 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. 36 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. 37 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.” (1 Samuel 17:34-37)
Secrets of Lion and Bear Steps
Lion and bear steps may seem insignificant, but they are defining moments. Moments that affirm or confirm calling, vocation or purpose. Lion and bear steps are indispensable. Simply put, without them, we cannot move to the next level.
They are hidden away
David’s encounter or brush with the lion and the bear occurred in the wilderness while watching the flock. It was out of view. Perhaps no one else to assist. While they may be an “Aha!” moment, a wake-up call, or give us a big rush, there is no public acclaim. It is not a concert-stage setting. There is no applause following the act of courage, bravery or integrity. David’s first encounter with a wild animal was a motivational event to prepare for additional encounters. As a shepherd, a wild animal event was a given, it was not a question of “if”, it was simply a question of “when”.
They are stepping stones
When David is summoned by King Saul, Saul questions his inexperience and his youthfulness. What David says is both significant and intriguing. He tells Saul that he (David) is eminently qualified because on two occasions aggressors came against his father’s flocks and on both occasions he successfully rescued his sheep and killed both aggressors and he adds this Philistine is just another aggressor. What David is saying is: “I’ve been to basic training! It may be a little different that the basic training you went to but I’m good to go!”
Each lion and bear step gave David a holy confidence, not a self-confidence, but a confidence that God is fighting on our behalf if we enlist in the cause. In David’s mind there was never any wavering—I wonder if this will work—he has waged war against wild animals of superior strength, agility, weight, and speed and they were not match for him. David is not daunted by appearances. The wild animal events taught him that! David saw the lion and bear experiences as God redeeming his life through opportunity to improve his skills with a sling, his mobility, and his reliance on God! The lion and the bear were simply God-opportunities to hone David’s skills for a time when he would meet Goliath. There were arranged and ordained by God.
Every past experience is preparation for some future opportunity. God doesn’t just redeem our souls. He also redeems our experiences—and not just the good ones.
They are filled with covenant power
David had a profound understanding of his covenant with God. He was able to face down enemies in any dimension because he understood who he was linked with! We have a blood covenant that has redeemed us, delivered us, and empowered us to face down enemies in every level of life—we simply need to be mindful of our covenant relationship!
Connect the Dots
From outward appearances it looked like David was not the go-to guy for the Goliath encounter. He lacked experience; he had no weapons training; and he was not in the army. For David his destiny was hidden when he least expected to find it. He had compensatory skills—he was one mean guy with the sling! David connects the dots between his past experiences and his present circumstances and he has a sense of destiny….
Before David ever sets foot on the battlefield, the battle has been won! David connects the dots between his past experiences and his present circumstances. David was not relying on self-confidence, but on a holy confidence that had been birthed in him by reason of the lion and the bear.
In order to be a giant killer, you must first take lion and bear steps. . .