Day 12 - Focus Reveals Faith

Day 12 - Focus Reveals Faith

Written by: Katelyn Boyd

8 Goliath stood and shouted a taunt across to the Israelites. “Why are you all coming out to fight?” he called. “I am the Philistine champion, but you are only the servants of Saul. Choose one man to come down here and fight me! 9 If he kills me, then we will be your slaves. But if I kill him, you will be our slaves! 10 I defy the armies of Israel today! Send me a man who will fight me!” 11 When Saul and the Israelites heard this, they were terrified and deeply shaken. 16 For forty days, every morning and evening, the Philistine champion strutted in front of the Israelite army.

23 As he was talking with them, Goliath, the Philistine champion from Gath, came out from the Philistine ranks. Then David heard him shout his usual taunt to the army of Israel. 32 “Don’t worry about this Philistine,” David told Saul. “I’ll go fight him!”

41 Goliath walked out toward David with his shield bearer ahead of him, 42 sneering in contempt at this ruddy-faced boy. 43 “Am I a dog,” he roared at David, “that you come at me with a stick?” And he cursed David by the names of his gods. 44 “Come over here, and I’ll give your flesh to the birds and wild animals!” Goliath yelled.45 David replied to the Philistine, “You come to me with sword, spear, and javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies—the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. 46 Today the Lord will conquer you, and I will kill you and cut off your head. And then I will give the dead bodies of your men to the birds and wild animals, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel! 47 And everyone assembled here will know that the Lord rescues his people, but not with sword and spear. This is the Lord’s battle, and he will give you to us!”

48 As Goliath moved closer to attack, David quickly ran out to meet him. 49 Reaching into his shepherd’s bag and taking out a stone, he hurled it with his sling and hit the Philistine in the forehead. The stone sank in, and Goliath stumbled and fell face down on the ground.

50 So David triumphed over the Philistine with only a sling and a stone (1 Samuel 17: 8-23, 32-50)

The story of David and Goliath is well-known and a favorite of many (including two little boys at my house); perhaps because we love a classic underdog story, or perhaps it is simply because we desperately want to be reminded of the truth that we serve a God who accomplishes the impossible! But, today as we read 1 Samuel 17, I want us to focus on the mindset of David going into battle; he gives us a model of confidence in God that should be central to both the way we pray and the way we move forward with trust and obedience, singularly focused on the name and mission of God.

Something that struck me as I read through this story again this week was the difference between the focus of the Israelite army and the focus of David in light of the might of the enemy and the taunts of Goliath. We see that when their enemy came against them, the Israelite army focused on the threat of the enemy and their own cause (their own fear, safety, etc.) In verses 10 and 11, Goliath comes again before the Israelite army, seeking to invoke fear among God’s people– “I defy the armies of Israel today! Send me a man who will fight me!” When Saul and the Israelites heard this, they were terrified and deeply shaken.” (NLT) Verse 16 tells us that Goliath comes out every morning and evening for 40 days, strutting and harassing the Israelite army, essentially beginning the battle by assaulting the minds of his enemies before a physical altercation ever begins on the battlefield. And it works. Not one Israelite soldier, including Saul, the king and commander of the army, volunteers to challenge the enemy; they are not willing to risk life and limb, even for a handsome reward, to fight against Goliath. The Hebrew word used for the Israelites’ terrified response here, hatat, means to be “dismayed, shattered, discouraged, beaten down.” The response of the Israelite army at the sight and sound of the enemy is dismay; they are beaten down by the terrible greatness of their enemy. Can you relate? What does Satan, our enemy, use to harass you in the dark? What lies does he hurl at you in the solitude of your own mind to try to keep you from ever stepping foot on the battlefield? Does he tell you that you’re not good enough to be used by God? That God doesn’t care enough to heal you? That whatever you’re facing is too great for you, or your God, to overcome? And how do you respond? Do you stay frozen in fear, unwilling to strap on the Armor of God and engage with Him, with the help of your Savior, who has already defeated him; do you run terrified like the army of Israel (v. 24)? Do you focus on the terror that the might of the enemy or the difficulty that the battle invokes?

When David arrives in the camp of the Israelite army and hears the shouts of the enemy, he doesn’t respond in fear, but with indignation at the “pagan Philistine…allowed to defy the armies of the living God!” (v. 26) As a result of this indignation, David is moved to action: “Don’t worry about this Philistine…I’ll go fight him!” (v. 32) Rather than fearing for his own safety, David was offended that Goliath would challenge the army, and thereby the authority, of God! The other soldiers focused on the danger of the battle, and David focused on the honor and the power of the Living God! He would challenge Goliath because Goliath deigned to challenge the armies of the living God! His brothers, and even Saul himself, sought to discourage David from advancing forward in the seemingly impossible battle, and David remained resolute that “The Lord who rescued me from the claws of the Lion and the bear will rescue me from this Philistine!” (v. 37) He was confident, not in his own strength or abilities, but was confident in the power of His God and in God’s ability to give him victory! David focused not on the power of the enemy before him, but on the power of the God behind him!

God accomplished a decisive victory for His people by delivering Goliath into David’s hand! Our God is ABLE to accomplish much more than we could ask or imagine, and there is no enemy too great for our God to overcome–it’s about time for us to pray like that is true and then to advance forward with confidence in our God to accomplish VICTORY for us! This story is a beautiful picture of Gospel and reminds us that God sent a Warrior–JESUS–into battle against the ultimate enemy on our behalf, to accomplish an eternal victory that we could not win in our own strength! Because of Jesus, we don’t have to focus on the roar of the enemy and cower in fear; we can focus instead on the power of our God and move forward in faith!

What is the enemy you are facing right now? Is Satan harassing you and waging war against you in your mind, accusing you and seeking to convince you that your past, your shame, your current shortcomings disqualify you from approaching the throne with confidence? Are you in the battle of your life against a devastating diagnosis or a relationship that is in shambles? Are you focusing on the size of your enemy or the greatness of your God? Name your enemy, out loud in prayer or in writing, and then name your GOD–He is HEALER, DELIVERER, CONQUEROR, etc. Shift your focus from the enemy before you to the God behind you and ask Him for the remainder of our season of prayer and fasting to accomplish victory on your behalf. Then, go forward, trusting that your God is with you in the battle.

God, you are GREATER than any enemy that comes against me; would you help me to respond to adversity in faith, with my focus on You and your power to overcome what overwhelms me? Help me to focus on your Name, and your mission rather than my own fear. Help me to follow you into whatever battle you call me to, knowing that the battle and the victory belong to you! You are good and you do good, and I trust you. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.