1 Samuel 17:32
And David said to Saul, Let no man's heart fail because of him; your servant will go and fight with this Philistine.
This valley has generally been identified with that which now bears the name of Wady-es-Sumt — a valley running down from the plateau of Judah to the Philistine plain, not more than perhaps eight or ten miles from Bethlehem. The Philistine champion appears to have been a man of physical strength corresponding to the massiveness of his body. Remembering the extraordinary feats of Samson, the Philistines might well fancy that it was now their turn to boast of a Hercules. And morning and evening for nearly six weeks, had his proud challenge been given, but never once accepted. Even Jonathan, who bad faith enough and courage enough and skill enough for so much, seems to have felt himself helpless in this great dilemma. The explanation that has sometimes been given of his abstention, that it was not etiquette for a king's son to engage in fight with a commoner, can hardly hold water. Jonathan showed no such squeamishness at Michmash; and besides, in cases of, desperation etiquette has to be thrown to the winds. Of the host of Israel, we read simply that they were dismayed. The coming of David upon the scene corresponded in its accidental character to the coming of Saul into contact with Samuel, to be designated for the throne. Everything seemed to be casual, yet those things which seemed most casual were really links in a providential chain leading to the gravest issues. One cannot but wonder whether, in offering his prayers that morning, David had any presentiment of the trial that awaited him, anything to impel him to unwonted fervour in asking God that day to establish the works of his hand upon him. There is no reason to think that he had. His prayers that morning were in all likelihood his usual prayers. And if he were sincere in the expression of his own sense of weakness, and in the supplication that God would strengthen him for all the day's dunes, it was enough. Oh! how little we know what may be before us, on some morning that dawns on us just as other days, but which is to form a great crisis in our life. How little the boy that is to tell his first lie that day thinks of the serpent that is lying in wait for him! How little the party that are to be upset in the pleasure boat and consigned to a watery grave think how the day is to end! Should we not pray more really, more earnestly if we did realise these possibilities? True, indeed, the future is hid from us, and we do not usually experience the impulse to earnestness which it would impart. But is it not a good habit, as you kneel each morning, to think, "For aught I know, this may be the most important day of my life. The opportunity may be given me of doing a great service in the cause of truth and righteousness; or the temptation may assail me to deny my Lord and ruin my soul. O God, be not far from me this day; prepare me for all that Thou preparest for me!" The distance from Bethlehem being but a few hours' walk, David starting in the morning would arrive early in the day at the quarters of the army. It is evident that the consideration that moved David himself was that the Philistine had defied the armies of the living God. Could there bare been a nobler exercise of faith, a finer instance of a human spirit taking hold of the Invisible; fortifying itself against material perils by realising the help of an unseen God; resting on His sure word as on solid rock; flinging itself fearlessly on a very sea of dangers; confident of protection and victory from Him? There are two ways in which faith may assert its supremacy. One, afterwards very familiar to David, is, when it has first to struggle bard with distrust and fear; when it has to come to close quarters with the suggestions of the carnal mind, grapple with these in mortal conflict, strangle them, and rise up victorious over them. For most men, most believing men, it is only thus that faith rises to her throne. The other way is to spring to her throne in a moment; to assert her authority, free and independent, utterly regardless of all that would hamper her, as free from doubt and misgiving as a little child in his father's arms, conscious that whatever is needed that father will provide. It was this simple, child-like, but most triumphant exercise of faith that David showed in undertaking this conflict Happy they who are privileged with such an attainment! In beautiful contrast with the scornful self-confidence of Goliath was the simplicity of spirit and the meek, humble reliance on God, apparent in David's answer. What a reality God was to David! He advanced "as seeing Him who is invisible." Guided by the wisdom of God, he chose his method of attack, with all the simplicity and certainty of genius. Conscious that God was with him, he fearlessly met the enemy. A man of less faith might have been too nervous to take the proper aim. Undisturbed by any fear of missing, David hurls the stone from his sling, hits the giant on the unprotected part of his forehead, and in a moment has him reeling on the ground. It is not possible to read this chapter without some thought of the typical character of David, and indeed the typical aspect of the conflict in which he was now engaged. We find an emblematic picture of the conquest of the Messiah and His Church.
(W. G. Blaikie, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And David said to Saul, Let no man's heart fail because of him; thy servant will go and fight with this Philistine.