Reading: 1 Samuel 17
In 1 Corinthians 1:26-29, Paul describes the church as “not many wise, not many influential, and not many of noble birth.” He then goes on to describe how God then acts and works in the world: “God chose the foolish of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly of this world and the despised—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are...”. David's encounter with Goliath informs our understanding of these verses, teaching us what it means to be despised by the world, and teaching us what it means to nullify the things that are.
Goliah was a somebody. He was a giant and is described as the champion of the Philistine army (1 Samuel 17:4). The word used in the Greek Old Testament means “strong man”. Goliath was a strong man that had to first be defeated before the rest of the Philistine army could be defeated. He was powerful.
Goliath despised David! (1 Samuel 17:42 ESV) Why did he despise him? Because he was but a boy... his cheeks were still red, his appearance still had that fairness of a youth. He was a nobody, a freshman! Who does he think he is? In fact, even his oldest brother despised him (1 Samuel 17:28). The world measures power based what it can see; God measures based on what He can see (1 Samuel 16:7). In David, God didn't see power, but a humility that was dependent on God. David was able to kill Goliath, not because David was powerful, but because God was powerful. Goliath despised David, but God didn't. God favored David.
God would use David—a nothing and no one as far as what is visible—to make nothing of Goliath—a giant, a major something and someone, as far as what is visible. We see this described briefly:
So David triumphed over the Philistine with a sling and a stone; without a sword in his hand he struck down the Philistine and killed him. (1Sa 17:50)
The irony of this chapter is captured in the last scene as David is brought before Saul. He hasn't had time to clean up, or even dispose of the head of Goliath, so he is brought in before the king, with Goliath's head in his hand, as Saul asks, “whose son are you young man?” David wasn't old enough to be a man in his own standing. The question put to him after this momentous occasion is basically, “Who is your daddy?”
As we come to the Gospel, we are those no ones and nobodies in the eyes of the world. And we face powerful foes in the governments of the world, and the powerful of the world (rich, those in power positions of the educational system) who would defy God and reject Him. However, as we go forth with the seemingly weak message of a crucified Messiah, God uses nothing to make something into nothing. (For more on this see Making Nothing Out of Something with Nothing.) Christ, the Son of David, the one despised and rejected by men, has defeated the strong man first at the cross, and now we do the clean up operation by proclaiming the message of the cross. (Isaiah 53:3; Matthew 12:29) The seemingly weak message of the cross is powerful because it is effective at saving those who are otherwise perishing!
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