So David prevailed over the Philistine with a sling and with a stone, and struck the Philistine and killed him. There was no sword in the hand of David.
1 Samuel 17:50 (ESV)
This verse summarizes the victory of David over Goliath. The entire story1 is worth reading and I previously mentioned how David was prepared even though the moment was unexpected. In the verses that follow David is praised for his triumph; his victory was certainly noteworthy. Later David succeeds Saul as the king of Israel.
David’s ascent to the throne began earlier than 1 Samuel 17. In the preceding chapter David is anointed as king. But David’s ascent to the throne began still earlier than 1 Samuel 16.
But David said to Saul, “Your servant used to keep sheep for his father. And when there came a lion, or a bear, and took a lamb from the flock, I went after him and struck him and delivered it out of his mouth. And if he arose against me, I caught him by his beard and struck him and killed him.
1 Samuel 17:34-35 (ESV)
Before confronting Goliath David describes his preparedness to Saul. Many people want the end result. They want the metaphorical victory David had over Goliath. While God certainly wants followers of Christ to experience that, God spends more time focused on the individual’s journey than his or her destination.
When people accept Jesus and begin a journey of being a follower of Christ, they often ask what their function is, “What am I supposed to do?” It’s a difficult question to answer and even though God knows He doesn’t always make it readily apparent. David was visibly launched on a trajectory to kingship with the defeat of Goliath, but he spent 30 years preparing for it. The reality is that God recognized David’s potential well before his rise to fame.
The Lord said to Samuel, “How long will you grieve over Saul, since I have rejected him from being king over Israel? Fill your horn with oil, and go. I will send you to Jesse the Bethlehemite, for I have provided for myself a king among his sons.”
1 Samuel 16:1 (ESV)
When we think about the word provide we often associate it with preparedness: a resource being made available or in advance. When God says He has “provided” a king, He means He has inspected, spied, examined and understood. The root word is sometimes even translated as “seer.” The above verse tells us that God looked deeply into who David was and He was pleased with what He saw.
But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”
1 Samuel 16:7 (ESV)
Whether we achieve the metaphorical victory over Goliath is less a concern to God than the journey that would prepare us for such a confrontation. David was willing to go through the process, regardless of the final product.
for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
James 1:3-4 (ESV)
It’s easy to want the final product and often we want it without the process. God wants something different. He wants the finished process, not the final product. It may be a small difference in words, but it’s a significant one in the journey of a follower of Christ.
1 Samuel 17 ↩