One of the most memorable stories of the Bible is when the young boy David, fresh from the fields, casts aside the armor and faces the giant Philistine Goliath.
We are told that as the Philistine approached him, David declared that he came in the name of the Lord, who was going to deliver Goliath into his hands that day. Total faith by this boy in what the Lord was capable of doing.
As we read, we are tempted to think that this is David’s inclination. The idea that he was a man’s after God’s own heart get ascribed to David in a way that faith was just his natural bent.
And that becomes a heavy burden for us, as we struggle with our faith as we come up the Goliaths in our own lives. Our giant may be job loss, unrest in a relationship, or pursing our calling – to name just a few – but coming in the name of the Lord seems so much tougher if we believe it is just a natural state that will come to us.
That’s why we should back up to an unmemorable part of the narrative of David, a few verses before the famous slingshot battle.
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 its mouth. And if he arose against me, I caught him by his beard and struck him and killed him. Your servant has struck down both lions and bears, and this uncircumcised Philistine shall be like one of them, for he has defied the armies of the living God.” And David said, “The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.” – 1 Samuel 17:34 – 37
David’s faith was forged in the fields as he tended the sheep.
For a moment think about David’s life as a shepherd. What do you feel? Lonely? Isolated? Unnoticed? Abandoned? Maybe rejected by your father who doesn’t see anything in you, but heaps praise on your brothers.
Tending sheep was David’s experience in the desert. His dark night of the soul. A time of lack. Where David contemplated his identity and sought his sense of self in relation to God.
For David, the ability to stare down the Philistine and battle him in the name of the Lord was not the beginning of his faith, it was the result of being formed in the wilderness, listening to the still, small voice of God while living in dependence as a shepherd.
In his work as the potter, God uses the circumstances of our lives to direct our souls to him. Restoring our image. Developing our identity.
As you prepare to face your giant, what is God teaching you in your present circumstance?