1 Samuel 17:29, 37-39, 45-47
And David said, What have I now done? Is there not a cause?
Here the history assumes the charm of romance, and David stands forth a hero above all Greek and Roman fame. By the grace of God he won three victories in quick succession.
1. Over the spirit of auger. When David, shocked to see all Israel defied and daunted by one Philistine, showed his feeling to the men that stood by him, his eldest brother, Eliab, sneered at him openly, and taunted him with being fit only to keep sheep, or to look at battles which others fought. Probably this ungracious brother had not forgiven David for being preferred before him in the day when Samuel visited the house of Jesse; probably too he was conscious that it was the duty of some such tall soldier as himself to encounter the Philistine champion, and he was ashamed and irritated because he was afraid to fight. So he vented his ill-humour in a most galling and insulting reproach, hurled at his stripling brother. His words might have provoked a sharp retort. But David was in a mood of feeling too exalted to descend to wrangling. He was forming a purpose, at once patriotic and pious, which he saw that Eliab was unfit to appreciate, and therefore made a calm and mild reply: "What have I now done? It was only a word;" q.d. "I may surely ask a question." Thus the hero ruled his own spirit; was master of himself before he mastered others; had that disinclination and disdain for paltry quarrels which belongs to men who cherish high and arduous aims; and David's first triumph was the triumph of meekness.
2. Over the precautions of unbelief. When the youth was led to the king, and in his presence offered to fight with the Philistine, he was told that he was not old or strong enough for the encounter. When a tried soldier of lofty stature like Saul himself shrank from the combat, how could this stripling attempt it? It was certain death. David was not shaken from his purpose. He showed the king that his trust was in God, and that the remembrance of past encounters with wild beasts when the Lord delivered him made him confident of victory over the giant. Then Saul said, "Go, and the Lord be with thee." Perhaps he said it from a mere habit of using such phrases, perhaps with a melancholy feeling that from himself the Lord had departed. But he had so much consideration for the brave youth before him as to put his own armour on him, and gird him with his own sword. It may seem strange that he did not assign to him a suit of armour more suited to his size; but there was little armour of any kind among the Israelites, and none so good as that of the king. It was well meant, but it was a sign of unbelief. Saul could not trust in God to defend this young champion, but would cover him with a brazen helmet and a coat of mail. David, however, happily for himself, put off the armour. It only encumbered his body, taking away his native nimbleness of movement, and it tended to weaken in his mind that total faith in God and sense of dependence on him which was more to him in such a field than even the armour of a king. Thrice was he armed who had his quarrel just, and the living God for his refuge and strength.
3. Over the proud blasphemer. Goliath was a terrible opponent in a time when gunpowder as yet was not, and prowess in the field depended on size, strength, and armour. No one dared to accept his challenge; and as he stalked along the valley he scoffed at the men of Israel with impunity. It was a prodigy of courage on the part of a youth like David - however strong and active, not above the customary height of men - to assail that moving tower of brass. But it was no blind fanaticism, such as despises caution and skill, and disowns the use of fit means, as though implying a want of faith. David's faith made him use his utmost care and dexterity, trusting in God to give him a sure aim and a quick victory. It is quite a mistake to dwell on the simplicity of David in going forth to the combat with a weapon so unlikely, so inadequate, as a sling. On the contrary, he would have shown not simplicity only, but folly, if he had trusted to sword and spear. If he were to strike the giant at all, it must be from a distance, and not with weapons held in the hand; for Goliath's long arm and long spear would never have let him near enough to inflict a blow. So David shrewdly took the sling, with which he was familiar, and picked from the bed of the brook a few pebbles which would pass through the air like bullets. The sling was in fact the rifle of the period, and men who practised the art could make their bull's eyes with this weapon as well as our modern rifle shooters, though not at so great distances. The giant, seeing the shepherd's staff in David's hand, and probably not perceiving the thong of the sling, demanded whether he was regarded as a dog, that might be beaten with a stick. Then he loudly defied the rash boy who ventured to meet him in combat, and cursed him by his own heathen god. Back across the valley went the noble answer of Jehovah's servant. "I come to thee in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom thou hast defied." Then came the terrible moment, and both armies "held their breath for a time." David made the attack. Nimbly he ran forward to be within shot. Goliath had opened the visor of his helmet to look at the foe whom he despised, and to shout defiance. Thus was his forehead exposed. David's quick eye saw the advantage; he slipped a pebble into the sling, and let it fly. A sharp whistle in the air, and the stone sunk into the giant's haughty brow. "He fell on his face to the earth." How the men of Israel shouted as they heard the clang of his heavy armour on the ground, and saw their young champion cut off the boaster's head with his own sword! Then it was the turn of the Philistines to fear and to flee; and the Israelites pursued them, and "spoiled their tents." So one man gained three battles in a day, and thousands reaped the advantage of his victories. Is not this what we have under the gospel? One who was born in Bethlehem, but in whom his own brethren did not believe, is our Deliverer and the Captain of our salvation. Jesus overcame provocation by his meekness and lowliness of heart. He overcame all temptation to unbelief and self-will by his perfect trust in God his Father. He also overcame that strong adversary who had long defied and daunted the people of God, and had lifted up the name of false gods on the earth, blaspheming him who is true. This enemy seemed to stride to and fro in the earth, and boast himself against the Lord with impunity. But the Son of David has bruised the enemy's head, laid low his pride, and now thousands and tens of thousands enter into his victory and shout his praise. To David belonged the honours of the day. Jonathan loved him. All Israel extolled him. So let us love and praise him who has won for us a greater victory and a richer spoil. We thank victorious generals, we decorate valiant soldiers, we raise statues and trophies to national champions. But, in truth, the country which they have saved is their real monument, the nation which they rescue from oppression or danger is the true and lasting pillar of their fame. So is it in regard to the Captain of our salvation. Words and offerings for his cause are insufficient for his praise. The Church of the redeemed is his monument. All whom he has saved out of the enemy's hand are to the praise of his glory. "Hosanna to the Son of David; hosanna in the highest!" - F.
Parallel VersesKJV: And David said, What have I now done? Is there not a cause?