Last Sunday I told you half of the story of David & Goliath – which really ended up being more like the story of Saul and Goliath. Because by all accounts, that’s how the story should have played out!
David never should even been at the battlefield. Saul should have defeated Goliath weeks before David even showed up. As the king of Israel, it was Saul’s responsibility to lead the Israelites into battle. It was his job to courageously face the enemy and lead his men to victory.
But as it happened, Saul did none of that. As the Philistine giant Goliath strutted in front of the Israelite army both day and night for 40 days, boasting and taunting and mocking them, Saul did nothing but offer a reward to anyone who had the courage to do the task that he should have done. It seems both he and all the Israelites were paralyzed with fear.
I was reading in the book of Deuteronomy this week – and in chapter 20, Moses lays out instructions for what to do when the the Israelites went to war and I just want to read a few of those verses for you this morning. This is Deuteronomy 20, verse 1-4
“When you go out to fight your enemies and you face horses and chariots and an army greater than your own, do not be afraid. The Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, is with you! 2 When you prepare for battle, the priest must come forward to speak to the troops. 3 He will say to them, ‘Listen to me, all you men of Israel! Do not be afraid as you go out to fight your enemies today! Do not lose heart or panic or tremble before them. 4 For the Lord your God is going with you! He will fight for you against your enemies, and he will give you victory!’
Even before they entered the Promised Land, Moses assured the Israelites that God’s presence and power would be with them as they faced their enemies – even when the enemy armies were far greater and stronger than their own. But It certainly seems like the Israelites had missed this memo from Moses because as Goliath mocked and taunted them, and challenged them to come and fight, it says in 1 Samuel 17:11…
11 When Saul and the Israelites heard this, they were terrified and deeply shaken.
1 Samuel 17:11
Both Saul and all of the army were paralyzed with fear. And interestingly, Deuteronomy 20 addresses that issue as well. If you jump down just a few verses from what we just read, it says:
8 “Then the officers will also say, ‘Is anyone here afraid or worried? If you are, you may go home before you frighten anyone else.’ Deuteronomy 20:8
It seems like Saul missed that memo too! Fear is contagious – and it’s the last thing you want spreading through your troops before a battle! But Saul certain had done nothing to put an end to the fear that was running rampant throughout his camp.
Fortunately, David had not been in the camp very long. He had only just arrived to bring some supplies from his father and to get a report on how everything was going. And as we’re going to see today, David’s courage was just as contagious as Saul’s fear!