1 Samuel 17:49
And David put his hand in his bag, and took there a stone, and slang it, and smote the Philistine in his forehead…
It would be interesting to dwell on the various personages that appear prominently in this historic scene. They are Saul, Eliab, Goliath, and David; the dismayed monarch, the envious brother, the scornful enemy, and the man of God. Whatever Saul's sins had been, he acted well on this occasion. He did not despise the rumour of David's words but sent for him; and when he professed his readiness to fight the Philistine, "Saul said unto David, Go, and the Lord be with thee." There is something very affecting in these words. Saul had violated the principles of the theocracy; he had been rejected by God, and the sentence of rejection bad gone forth; "the Spirit of the Lord had departed from him;" and yet he could recognise the workings of that Spirit, be touched with expressions of godly trust, and bid God-speed to another in an exploit forbidden to himself. Poor Saul! In Eliab we have a characteristic display of genuine human nature. Goliath stands before us as a type of brute power and blustering self-confidence. What shall we say of David? What simplicity and strength of heart appear throughout! what meekness before his angry brother, what modest dignity before Saul, what courage before Goliath, what humility and confidence before God!
I. DAVID POSSESSED A STRONG AND UNWAVERING CONFIDENCE IN GOD. From whatever grounds that assurance proceeded, he felt it; and it was the secret of his calmness and strength. The inquiry may occur to us, How came David to have this faith? We do not read of any Divine declaration made to him on the subject; it is not written that God told him that he should triumph: whence then did it proceed? was it holy trust, or vain presumption? It is possible to possess a sure confidence of success, and to succeed in consequence of that confidence, and yet to have no just grounds for it; and David might have felt securely and wrought gloriously without any reasonable basis for his trust. The only ground he himself assigned was past Providence. But in connection with something else, that deliverance would have a special argumentative force. Along with his predicted destiny it would be valuable. The Lord had said, "Arise anoint him: for this is he." Thus set apart by the prophet, immunity was assured him; and the immunity already granted would justly bear the character, not of a mere fact, but of a kind of pledge and guarantee. And might there not be something more still? Is it unlawful to suppose Divine suggestion and impression? We are told, in connection with his selection as Saul's successor, that "the Spirit of the Lord came upon David from that day forward." A like confidence may be possessed as to particular events. Who has not read of instances of strong presentiment in men having no religion, in relation to their worldly destiny, or the success of their enterprises? They were determined to reach a certain goal; they felt that they could reach it; and they did reach it: power and purpose became prophecy. The history of saints furnishes like instances.
II. DAVID'S FAITH WORKED WISELY. If he had confidence in God that victory would be his, he expected victory in the way of applying his own powers and resources. It was not a miracle, but a natural operation, that he looked to for triumph. God must be in it, but not in it so as to dispense with means. The opinion is very prevalent, and the impression still more so — though neither so prevalent as they used to be — that God is in the habit of employing unlikely instruments; that, for the purpose of revealing His all-sufficiency and bringing honour to Himself, He delights to contrast results with their secondary causes, and to disappoint the calculations founded on the supposed efficiency of human agents. To hear some men talk, you might conclude that God cannot be properly said to employ instruments at all; that in Nature, and still more in Providence, and most of all in grace, they are not so much instruments that He employs as obstacles, not so much things having a tendency and fitness to accomplish His designs as things altogether unsuitable and inappropriate. Now this belief or feeling is entirely erroneous and woefully mischievous. Many are the connections in which this important truth is lost sight of, and men imagine that they do honour to God by denying or ignoring it Sometimes the grand central truth of the Gospel is adduced as an illustration of important results brought about by unlikely means; and Paul's statements respecting "the foolishness of preaching" are made to sanction this use of the doctrine of the cross. Yet surely this is to mistake the matter altogether. We admit and maintain the need of Divine influence to render even this truth effectual — and that influence is one of the most glorious proofs of the virtue of Christ's death — but we also assert that never was truth more adapted to produce the effects proposed, to open the deep fountain of human affections, than the truth of "Christ; crucified." Much the same may be said of faith, as the appointed instrument end condition of spiritual blessing. The importance attached to faith in the Bible, and the marvellous virtue ascribed to it, are often regarded as a proof a mere arbitrariness on the part of God, having nothing to do with its inherent qualities and powers. And truly, if faith were what many deem it, a simple reception of historical facts or theological opinions, it might properly be so regarded. But if faith is, as any careful student of the New Testament may easily ascertain it to be, spiritual insight and sympathy as well as intellectual credence; if it is the reception of Gospel facts in their moral meaning and relations; it would be difficult to discover how anything except faith could realise the effects which Christ came into the world to secure. How can truth operate except by being believed? How can spiritual truth operate but through spiritual faith? The truth we are now asserting requires to be applied to spiritual human agency. Many need to be convinced of the propriety of this application of it; they do not see that the power of Christian workers has a regular relation to their qualifications. Doubtless in Greek and Roman and even Jewish eyes, the agency which Christ appointed and honoured was feeble and worthless, ridiculously so; considered simply as "of the world," and in connection with merely worldly works and aims, it was foolish, weak, base, yea nothing at all: but that is very different from saying that in God's eye, and according to spiritual laws, and for the production of spiritual effects, it was so. The doctrine we have in hand should be recognised in the sphere of physical and secular affairs. We are not perhaps in most danger here; it is in the department of God's spiritual works that we cleave to the faith and expectation of the irregular and unusual: yet is there on some minds an impression that law does not preside over our material and worldly interests, and that God does interfere to avert the natural consequences of actions and conditions. David had confidence in God, the simplest and firmest, that he would overthrow Goliath, but in the strength of that confidence he employed his familiar weapons of offence. He did just what he would have done if he had sought the destruction of the giant without any confidence in God: but his confidence doubtless enabled him to do it better than with a faithless heart he could have done it; it was an inspiring, a strengthening principle. And true faith is always such.
(A. J. Morris.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And David put his hand in his bag, and took thence a stone, and slang it, and smote the Philistine in his forehead, that the stone sunk into his forehead; and he fell upon his face to the earth.