FAITH or COURAGE?


I Samuel 17

It is in 1 Samuel 17 that we find the account of a young shepherd boy becoming a national hero and overcoming impossible odds in an epic battle that saved the nation.  This is often referred to as a demonstration of courage.  Is it accurate to describe this as a demonstration of courage or was it a demonstration of faith? 

I suggest that courage is not adequately defined by courageous acts.  That may sound confusing but what is courage?  If we simply use the Merriam-Webster definition we would render it, “mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty.”  That seems woefully inadequate or incomplete but that is the official definition. 

I feel compelled to ask, “Is it possible to do a courageous act and not have courage?  Can we do an act of courage and not be courageous?”  I have been in war and know that sometimes things are done that appear a demonstration of courage but were done out of necessity and were courageous, but the heart of the person was not one of courage.  I have seen people that could rightly be described as cowardly do incredibly courageous acts in an emergency and the heat of the moment.  You may argue, well they could not or would not if courage was not present in the heart.

In the account of David and Goliath, I contend it was David’s Faith, not his courage that caused him to do what he did.  It was his Confidence in God that propelled him into a powerfully courageous act, not necessarily his courage.  In order to fully define what I am saying and hopefully make it applicable to our lives in the present let’s go back to the account.  We will address several issues, conditions, or situations and from there determine the power of Faith and Confidence in life.

The Philistines and Israel were at a stalemate.  Both armies were camped on the field of battle.  Saul and his army were in the valley and the Philistine army was in the mountains.  The Philistine champion, a giant in the natural, named Goliath would step out for all to see and shout to the armies of Israel a challenge that caused them to cower in the shadows in fear.  He taunted them and threw down the gauntlet challenge that he would face one Israeli in battle.  Each combatant would represent their respective nation.  It would be winner take all.  Israel had no person with the faith, confidence, or courage to take up the challenge. 

David’s father had sent him to the battlefront to bring supplies and provisions to his brothers in the army.  David arrived as Goliath was doing his daily taunting and issuing his challenge.  Several things transpired in that moment and in the minutes that followed.  Some on the battlefront asked David, “Have you heard this Philistine taunting Israel?”  The Bible says that they were ‘dreadfully afraid.’  Fear and panic had gripped their hearts and even the promise of great reward and become the son-in-law to the king were not enough to inspire courage or prompt them to act. 

David, to the dismay of his older brother, asked, “And what is to be done for the man that kills this enemy and takes away the reproach from Israel?”  He then issued the words that are incredibly telling, “For who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the Living God?”  That’s the key.

David’s spirit was moved deep inside as he heard the Philistine defy the armies of the Living God.  He had walked all his life in commitment to and confidence in God.  He had protected the flock with the sense that God was watching over him.  He believed that God, the Living God, was the protector of Israel.  He believed the prophets of old and the Promises of God in the Abrahamic Covenant.  He was surprised that not one of his fellow Israelis had risen and exercised the promise of God that one would chase a thousand. 

It troubled him to the core of his being that anyone would defy God through bringing reproach on the armies of Israel, the armies of God.  Something rose up inside of him as he remembered the lion and the bear, he killed to protect his father’s flock.  He remembered what he had heard from his earliest remembrance about the Living God, the protector of Israel. 

Saul heard that there was someone willing to take on this enemy.  He called for David and was surprised at his youth.  David said, “Let no man’s heart fail because of him; your servant will go and fight this Philistine.”  Had that simply been Courage speaking, David would have taken the armor and weapons Saul offered.  He would have trusted the arm of flesh and fought like all men, using natural weapons of warfare.  But, he did not.

David rejected the unfamiliar weapons and choose what he knew.  I suggest that it was not the sling and stones that David trusted, but God.  I say that because when he stepped onto the field of battle, he heard Goliath’s lament about his youth and how that offended the giant.  David said, “You come against me with a sword, with a spear, with a javelin. That’s what you have but I have something beyond what you can see and something you know nothing of, The Name of the Lord!” 

David then prophesied to Goliath and said, “This day the LORD will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you and take your head from you.”  At the end of his prophetic utterance he revealed what this was all about, he said, “Once I have defeated you, then everyone here, both sides, will know that there is a God in Israel and that God does not fight with man’s weapons.  This battle is God’s and I come in what I know, THE NAME OF THE LORD.”

It was David’s Faith, his Confidence in God, and his Commitment to the Living God that drove him to the field of battle, not simply human courage.  His faith propelled him into a courageous act.  His confidence in God produced a confidence in him that enabled him to dispatch all human emotions of fear and doubt.  He knew God and the God he knew had delivered him before and would deliver him again.

I find it interesting that once on the field of battle and after his prophetic pronouncement he did something amazing.  He ran toward the giant! Tragically, even in exploits of courage people tend to walk carefully and seek to avoid danger trying to gain an edge.  David faced his giant and ran toward the problem.  He took one stone, hurled it at the giant and the stone flew with amazing accuracy and struck Goliath in the forehead causing him to fall to the ground.  He ran to Goliath took the giant’s own sword and cut off his head. 

David’s demonstration of Confidence and his response to Faith caused him to act courageously.  He faced the giant and rather than trying to fight the giant the normal way he took what he knew, the Name of the Lord, his sling, and a few stones.  He ran toward the enemy further confusing Goliath and hurled the stone with amazing accuracy rendering him unconscious.  He then took the sword of the giant and killed him, beheading him in full view of both armies. 

David was incensed by the blasphemy and his commitment to God refused to allow him to accept the status quo.  He was disturbed by the lack of confidence he witnessed in the armies of Israel.  He trusted God not man and defeated the enemy of God’s people.  It was David’s Faith that produced the Courage through Confidence to do this exploit.

What is the message for us?  We must never run from our problems or allow them to intimidate us.  If Jesus’ victory on the Cross was complete and the Bible says it was, we have hope.  If Jesus has all authority in heaven and earth, and the Bible says He does, we have hope.  If Jesus has given us that authority and equipped us with the measure of faith to enforce His victory, we are victorious.  It is not that we will be someday when we get to heaven, WE ARE! 

It is time that we demonstrate who God says we are and rather than trying to be courageous we need to Trust God and in that Trust there will come Confidence and out of that Confidence, we can demonstrate our Faith.  It is Faith that produces Courage and we are commissioned to “Do” the Works that Jesus Did and even Greater through the Power of the Holy Spirit.

Believers it is time that we allow our Faith to reach the level of Courage!

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