When our two sons were small, I enrolled the three of us in a taekwondo class offered by a local community program. The boys and I had a great time learning about self-defense, and developing some strength and flexibility. But I well-remember the words of our instructor on the very first day of class. He said that, “The best way to avoid a punch is to not be there when it happens!” In other words, when one is a situation of danger, the first and best option is always to run! That’s very wise counsel, indeed.
This comes to mind when we read 1 Samuel 17, the detailed account of David’s improbable victory over Goliath. As we discovered last Lord’s Day, when this massive—even freakish—giant made his appearance and began to challenge and taunt the army of Israel, all of the fighting men of the Covenant nation, including king Saul, decided to avoid the punch by not showing up! In a pathetic scene, we discover that no one from the Lord’s side would answer the challenge of the Philistine champion. But in this case, running from the danger was exactly the wrong thing to do! Who would defend the honor of the Lord’s sacred Name? Who loved God enough to go to war for His glory? Who would protect God’s people, the beloved sheep of His pasture? Who cared enough to make a sacrifice for the God of the Covenant? No one, apparently!
Yet, there was this little boy, a shepherd, the last son of eight who, on first appearance, was completely outmatched and ill-equipped. David cared about the Lord’s honor! David loved God’s people! David would defend them! David was not about to avoid the mighty punch of this massive blasphemer by running from the challenge! And the rest is history!
But what does this story really teach us? Better yet, who is this episode really about? And why is this chapter so very important for us as New Covenant believers who likely will never face such an imposing and impossibly big threat?
The answer is that in the details of this blessed and well-known story we find our Savior and His people. We discover Jesus and His Church! We encounter a wonderful picture of our Great Champion who never ran from a battle, but came and rescued His precious sheep from grave danger, and gave them eternal life in His name!
I can’t wait to probe the deep and reassuring truths of this passage with you on Sunday! And I hope that you will be able to spend some time meditating upon this episode from the life of Israel’s greatest king.