1 Samuel 17:4-11; 28-51
Dr. S. Lewis Johnson expounds the account of David and Goliath. The Messianic typology of the event is exposited.
[Message] For those of you who have been here the last couple of Sundays, you know that we are in the opening stages of a series of lessons on the life of David. And today we have reached his encounter with Goliath. The chapter is very lengthy and in order to save a bit of time, I’ve selected some portions out of 1 Samuel 17 for our Scripture reading. We’ll read verse 4 through verse 11 and then verse 28 through verse 51.
You remember the context. The Philistines have made some inroads into the land and now they are at the valley of Elah and camped on one side and the army of Israel on the other side. And in the army are three of David’s brothers. And so Goliath, the champion of the Philistines, challenges them to a battle but not a battle of the armies but simply an individual battle with a champion from Israel.
So we begin reading at verse 4 through verse 11.
“Then a champion came out from the armies of the Philistines named Goliath, from Gath, whose height was six cubits and a span.” Incidentally, biblical scholars down for well several centuries for that matter have debated the height of Goliath. Modern scholarship as a rule generally tends to take the position that his height was around nine feet, some a bit more, some at nine feet. So we’ll think of him as a very tall individual.
“And he had a bronze helmet on his head, and he was clothed with scale-armor which weighed five thousand shekels of bronze. He also had bronze greaves on his legs and a bronze javelin slung between his shoulders. And the shaft of his spear was like a weaver’s beam, and the head of his spear weighed six hundred shekels of iron; his shield-carrier also walked before him. And he stood and shouted to the ranks of Israel and said to them, “Why do you come out to draw up in battle array? Am I not the Philistine and you servants of Saul? Choose a man for yourselves and let him come down to me. If he is able to fight with me and kill me, then we will become your servants; but if I prevail against him and kill him, then you shall become our servants and serve us.” There’s no indication, incidentally that the other Philistines accepted this proposal but, at any rate, that was Goliath’s proposal and I would imagine there were not too many of the Philistines who wanted to debate the matter with him. “Again the Philistine said,” verse 10, “I defy the ranks of Israel this day; give me a man that we may fight together. When Saul and all Israel heard these words of the Philistine, they were dismayed and greatly afraid.”
Now, turn over to verse 28 through verse 51.
“I’m counting upon the fact that most of you in this audience are familiar with the story. Now Eliab his oldest brother heard when he spoke to the men; and Eliab’s anger burned against David and he said, “Why have you come down? And with whom have you left those few sheep in the wilderness? I know your insolence and the wickedness of your heart; for you have come down in order to see the battle.” But David said, “What have I done now? Was it not just a question?”
The original text has the word ‘word.’ “Was it not just a word?” Incidentally, in our last study you may remember the description that was given of David in verse 18 of chapter 16 was that he was one prudent in speech. And we found an illustration of it here. He doesn’t debate the matter but, simply, says, was it not just a question.
“Then he turned away from him to another and said the same thing; and the people answered the same thing as before. When the words which David spoke were heard, they told them to Saul, and he sent for him.” It became evident that David was willing to engage in battle with the giant. “And David said to Saul, “Let no man’s heart fail on account of him; your servant will go and fight with this Philistine.” Then Saul said to David, “You are not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him; for you are but a youth while he has been a warrior from his youth.” But David said to Saul, “Your servant was tending his father’s sheep. When a lion or a bear came and took a lamb from the flock, I went out after him and attacked him, and rescued it from his mouth; and when he rose up against me, I seized him by his beard and struck him and killed him.”
Incidentally, there are a number of illustrations in history of individuals who have killed lions with a stick, and I’m sure it was not the kind of thing we call a stick but really something rather strong. So this is not something out of the ordinary, in the sense of never having occurred. Verse 36.
“Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; and this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, since he has taunted the armies of the living God.” And David said, “The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, He will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.” And Saul said to David, “Go, and may the Lord be with you.” Then Saul clothed David with his garments and put a bronze helmet on his head, and he clothed him with armor. David girded his sword over his armor and tried to walk, for he had not tested them. So David said to Saul, “I cannot go with these, for I have not tested them.” And David took them off. And he took his stick in his hand and chose for himself five smooth stones from the brook, and put them in the shepherd’s bag which he had, even in his pouch, and his sling was in his hand; and he approached the Philistine. Then the Philistine came on and approached David, with the shield-bearer in front of him. When the Philistine looked and saw David, he disdained him; for he was but a youth, and ruddy, with a handsome appearance. And the Philistine said to David, “Am I a dog that you come to me with sticks?” And the Philistine cursed David by his gods. The Philistine also said to David, “Come to me, and I will give your flesh to the birds of the sky and the beasts of the field.” Then David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with a sword, a spear, and a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have taunted. “This day the Lord will deliver you up into my hands, and I will strike you down and remove your head from you. And I will give the dead bodies of the army of the Philistines this day to the birds of the sky and the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel, and that all this assembly may know that the Lord does not deliver by sword or by spear; for the battle is the Lord’s and He will give you into our hands.”
I think it’s important for you to notice, I’ll comment on it later on, that in verse 46 we read “This day the Lord will deliver you up into my hands.” But then in the last clause of verse 47 we read, “He will give you into our hands.” Notice the pronouns.
“Then it happened when the Philistine rose and came and drew near to meet David, that David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet the Philistine. And David put his hand into his bag and took from it a stone and slung it, and struck the Philistine on his forehead. And the stone sank into his forehead, so that he fell on his face to the ground. Thus David prevailed over the Philistine with a sling and a stone, and he struck the Philistine and killed him; but there was no sword in David’s hand. Then David ran and stood over the Philistine and took his sword and drew it out of its sheath and killed him, and cut off his head with it When the Philistines saw that their champion was dead, they fled.”
You know the remainder of the story, they plundered the Philistines; they drove them out of the valley of Elah. David, also, took the armor to the city that was in the hands at the time of the Jebusites, and entered that city with the giant’s head in his hands, a rather interesting story in the light of some of the things I’d like to bring out in the message that follows.
Let’s bow together in a word of prayer.
[Prayer] Heavenly Father, we are indeed grateful to Thee that Thou hast preserved for us the Holy Scriptures and we are able to read these inspired records so many hundreds and even thousands of years after the events described have taken place. We thank Thee for the manifestation of the sovereign providence of our Great God in the preservation of this word, spoken to us for our edification.
We ask, Lord, Thy blessing today upon the whole church of Jesus Christ wherever the word of God is proclaimed and wherever place it may be proclaimed. Built up the church of Christ, edify the believers, strengthen them and enable us as the Body of Christ to be a blessing to those who are about us.
We thank Thee Lord, for Believers Chapel, and pray for its leadership, for our elders and for our deacons, and we pray for our members and the friends and the visitors who are with us today, may through the ministry of the word of God, we each be edified and strengthened. Enable us to learn the lessons from the word of God that will profit us in our lives.
We especially pray, Lord, for those who have requested our prayers, those who are sick and some in the hospital. We pray for them. And, for others who have great physical needs, we pray for them. Some, Lord, who are suffering, we especially remember them and we pray for their family and for the physicians who minister to them and for their friends who minister to them as well. Encourage those who are sick and ill. Be with them in their trials and bless them richly. We especially pray for some who are in very great difficulties and trials. Encourage them Lord. Be with them. Accomplish all of the promises of the word of God in their lives.
And we ask, Lord, Thy blessing upon us as we sing together. May our meeting be a meeting in which our Lord, Jesus Christ, is exalted.
And we pray, in His Name. Amen.
[Message] The subject for today, as you may read from the bulletin is, “David, Goliath and David’s Greater Son.” I’m sure that of all the stories in the Bible, one of the most familiar with you and I know with me, is the story of David’s slaying of the Philistine giant, Goliath.
I must confess that I had a rather erratic Sunday school history in my early days. I grew up in the First Presbyterian Church of Birmingham, Alabama. And I attended Sunday school pretty regularly; my father saw to that. And then when I moved, he moved, back to South Carolina, which was his home, I moved my membership to the First Presbyterian Church of Charleston, the Old Scotts Church, two hundred and fifty years old. And there I had an evangelical Bible teacher and, usually, was found in Sunday school until the time came, having taken up golf, [laughter] I discovered that the best time to play golf was on Sunday morning because the course was not crowded.
It was obvious that I was not interested in spiritual things as I should have been. But even thought I have had this rather erratic Sunday school history, there was one thing that I did remember and that was the story of David and Goliath. I wasn’t sure about Jonah and the whale. I wasn’t sure whether it was Jonah swallowed the whale or whether it was the whale swallowed Jonah [laughter]. My memory was a little hazy on that point but I do remember David and Goliath.
And I also remember when I would come to Dallas and had gone through seminary and was teaching at the seminary and preaching, also, that one morning, my son, who was just a small boy at the time, asked me what I was preaching on that Sunday morning. And I said, I’m preaching on David and Goliath. And this is the first time that I’ve ever preached upon it. And I remember what he said. He said, “That’s one of the first things I would preach on. I know it so well.” I imagine that that is true of many of us. The story of David and Goliath is one that we all remember. But there was one thing about it that I never did have very plainly in my mind, even though I remembered the story, and that was the spiritual significance of the incident. I never really learned what was the fundamental and the abiding lesson of the story of David and Goliath.
Now, of course, there are a number of lessons that one might point to, but there was one that I think is very important and it’s the one I want to lay stress on as we come to the conclusion of the message. For example, in Hebrews chapter 2 in verse 14 and verse 15, the writer of this epistle writes:
“Since then the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and might free those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives.”
I want to make the point that that was one of the greatest of the lessons that one learns from the encounter between David and Goliath.
I have, in my library, some books, about eight or ten of them, actually, which are expositions of a Scottish expositor. He was a man who was a layman, actually, but began to preach and was so widely received as a Bible expositor in the city of Edinburgh, that he attracted large crowds to his ministry. And in one of his lectures, I think on this very incident, he begins his lecture by saying, “There is one young man that I want to especially address this evening. You are not converted. May God convert you tonight. It’s about time.” To my mind, that’s the preeminent point of the encounter between David and Goliath. It’s an incident that ought to bring all of us, if we have never known our Lord, to the point of conversion, to faith in him who died for sinners. I hope that that is your experience if you may be here without the knowledge of our Lord.
Now, the historical situation we’ve eluded to in the reading of the Scripture. The valley of Elah was about eleven miles southwest of Jerusalem and in the midst of that valley there is a ravine called Wadi es-Sant, this ravine is sharp and deep, and evidently the ravine that is described as the valley, in verse 3 of chapter 17, which may account for the fact that the Philistines were on one side and the children of Israel are on the other side. And, perhaps also, accounts for the fact that Goliath, with all of his heavy armor, did not venture down into the ravine. It would have been a little difficult for him to go down and then come up. So he challenges Israel from the side of the ravine where the Philistines were.
The three important characters in the story, of course, are Goliath, the champion of the Philistines. He’s described as a champion twice. The Hebrew expression is the expression iysh benayim is an expression that means something like ‘the man of the middle.’ And so, since it’s plural, we could say, the man of the two middles. And some have suggested that its force is mediator. The reason I say suggested is because the word is a very rare word and, actually, its precise meaning is not altogether certain. But we’ll speak of it as something like a mediator. And Goliath certainly assumes that position. He will mediate for the Philistines and calls upon the children of Israel to bring forward a mediator who will mediate for them. A man, nine feet plus tall.
Now, we know in history there are individuals who have been that tall. There was a Russian giant by the name of Machnow, who appeared in Britain in the earlier part of this century, and he was nine feet eight inches tall. He appeared before his time because there are a few teams that might have used him in the N.B.A. [laughter] but he didn’t have the opportunity to get rich that way.
Saul is the next of the characters. You may notice, the 11th verse that I read in which we read, “When Saul and all Israel heard those words of the Philistine, they were dismayed, and greatly afraid.” That’s a very interesting thing because you might expect Saul, who was as we mentioned last week or the week before, Saul was the one who stood head and shoulders above his fellow Israelites. But, now, he who had won some very remarkable victories, now is cowering in fear in the presence of Goliath and, also, a man, as we mentioned last week, a man who needed some psychological help.
The Apostle Paul says in 2 Timothy chapter 1, in verse 7, “For God has not given us a spirit of timidity but of power and love and discipline.” And it’s certainly plain that Saul is one who now is affected by the spirit of fear.
The third character, of course, is David and we read of him in verse 12 through verse 16.
“Now David was the son of the Ephrathite of Bethlehem of Judah, whose name was Jesse. And he had eight sons and Jesse was old in the days of Saul, advanced in years among men. And the three older sons of Jesse had gone after Saul to the battle. And the names of the three sons who went to the battle were Eliab, the firstborn and the second to him, Abinadab, and the third, Shammah. And David was the youngest.”
Now, the three oldest followed Saul but David went back in forth from Saul to tend his father’s flock in Bethlehem. And the Philistine came forward morning and evening and took his stand and taunted the children of Israel, calling for them to bring their champion out; perhaps thinking that Saul would be the champion, and face him in a singular fight that would decide the destinies of the two peoples.
Well, David, remember, had been in Saul’s court as his musical psychologist, whenever Saul had difficulties, David would play on his harp and that would calm his spirit. But, evidently, he went back and forth from the flock to ministering to Saul. And since Saul is now with the army, he had evidently gone back to the flock. And so, the father came out to him one day and told David that he would like for him to go to the valley of Elah, where the armies were, and there bring the sons who were fighting in the army necessary provisions. And so, David comes to the camp with the provisions in order to meet their needs. But while he’s there, he hears the taunts and the challenges of Goliath, the Philistine champion.
The defiance of Goliath is described in verses 23 through 30, and I think that it would be wise to read a few of those verses. We read in verse 24.
“When all the men of Israel saw the man they fled from him and were greatly afraid. And the men of Israel said, have you seen this man who is coming up? Surely he is coming up to defy Israel. And it will be that the king will enrich the man who kills him, with great riches and will give him his daughter and make him – make his father’s house free in Israel.” That is, free from taxes and free from public service. So it is quite a reward to have the king’s daughter and to have his family experience those particular blessings and to be enriched. David was immediately interested. “Then David spoke to the men who were standing by saying, “What will be done for the man who kills this Philistine and takes away the reproach from Israel? For who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should taunt the armies of the living God?”
Isn’t it interesting? There are some really practical lessons here. The children of Israel, the people o God, those who have within them the knowledge of God, who have the Scriptures that they had at that time, who know about Yahweh, the true God, they, in the midst of trials, they are thinking about Goliath, instead of thinking about the Lord.
David, however, thought of Goliath’s relationship to God. Notice what he calls him? “This uncircumcised Philistine.” What’s meant by that? Well, now, if you’ll remember in the Old Testament, when God gave the fundamental biblical promises to Abram, he also gave them the sign of the covenant people of God, which was the circumcision of the male. So an individual who was uncircumcised would be an individual who was outside the covenant; who did not stand in the line of the divine promises found in the word of God. So when he call him this uncircumcised Philistine, he’s marking him out as one who is not within the covenantal family, therefore, not within those who have professed at least the knowledge of the true God, Yahweh.
But, also, you’ll notice he says that “He should taunt the armies of the living God.” And so he recognizes the fundamental fact that the Philistines gods are the gods that are made by the Philistines. They are the dead gods. But the God of the children of Israel is the living God. So in David’s case, instead of thinking of Goliath, he’s thinking about the honor of the Lord God, and he’s thinking, also, about the fact that this incident will take place in order that men may know that Yahweh is the true God.
You might wonder why some Israelite did not volunteer. Well, I can imagine some ancient GI’s in the army of Israel would say to David when he came suggesting that he would like to volunteer. Now, listen young fellow, we’ve been in the army a short time, but we know enough to know that we don’t volunteer for anything. [Laughter] And so there were no volunteers but this one volunteer.
I have in my notes a cartoon that I cut out a long time ago. It’s a picture that you only get in the cartoon, the picture of a giant from about his belt up and his sword is hanging down the side and then there’s a little boy who comes to about the knee of the giant. And the little boy is making a comment to the giant and the comment is this. He says, and he has a sling in his hand, incidentally, so it’s an attempt to portray Goliath and David and the little boy looks up at the giant and he says, “Before we get too deep in this thing, do you think we ought to submit to arbitration?” [Laughter] We could say binding arbitration today.
Well, as soon as the word goes out that there is someone in the camp who would like to volunteer, word comes to Saul and so David now makes an appearance before Saul. And it’s described in verse 31 through verse 39.
Now, it’s very interesting to see the defense of David’s volunteering. When he stands before Saul, Saul says to him, “You’re not able to fight with this Philistine. You’re just a youth. And this person has been a warrior since the time of his youth. He’s an experienced, strong warrior and you’re just a boy.” And then David looks into his past and begins to speak about his experiences. He reminds him that he was tending his father’s sheep and one day there came a lion and attacked the sheep. And he went out, with his staff in his hand, and grabbed the lion and killed the lion, evidently with his bare hands plus his rod that he was using or perhaps even he used his sling at that time. There also came a bear and the same thing happened. And so David reminds Saul of the fact that he’s a youth, that’s true, but he’s not an inexperienced youth. I went out after him, attacked him, and rescued it, that is, the sheep from its mouth and when he rose up against me, I seized him by his beard and struck him and killed him. “Your servant killed both the lion and the bear; and this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, since he’s taunted the armies of the living God.”
Mr. Spurgeon has a sermon called, “The Lion Slayer, the Giant Killer.” And in it he says that the text, these texts, these words that I’ve just read, “Is a text that brings before us three things: recollections, reasonings, and results.” And among the recollections, which are very important for you and for me. Incidentally, I gave this message this morning at 8:30, and someone came up to me and thanked me afterwards because they were passing through some difficulties with their business that the lessons that are found in this story definitely speak to.
For example, we often write our benefits in dust and our injuries in marble. We inscribe our afflictions in brass while our deliverances are written in water. I think all of us can do and remember that in our experience. We remember the things that are difficulties for us, but the ways in which God has delivered us and blessed us, we tend to forget.
Mr. Spurgeon makes a number of points, which I think are very important. He says that when David stood before Saul, he stood before him and reminded Saul that he had been tried before. That’s something for you and I to remember; that we have been tried before. If we, as believing Christians, have relied upon the ministry of the word of God, and have found the Lord to deliver us from our difficulties, that’s cause for believing that he will continue to do that in the future. David had been tried before. Not only that, but he said that he had been tried frequently. It’s not only the lion, but it’s the lion and the bear. And there is indication from this that he must have had a number of experiences that were experiences in which his life, itself, was in danger. He had risked everything for his duty, which his father had laid upon him to take care of the flock.
And we, of course, are responsible for the ministry of the word of God as believing individuals. The church is the pillar and ground of the truth and we have as a responsibility from the Lord God, the guarding of the gospel of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. And it’s not too much to give our lives for the gospel of Christ as the martyrs of the church and the great men of the past have made very plain.
He had risked all for duty. He had gone alone into the fray on this occasion with the lion and then with the bear. And the question that arises for those of us who’ve had experience of deliverance, when the next trial comes, do we go into that trial with the same confidence, remembering the way in which God has dealt with us in the past?
He had nothing visible to lean upon, only the Lord God. His tactics were natural, artless and vigorous. He didn’t call any committee of lion slayers and bear trappers to get some advice as a result of the situation that he faced. His whole art was faith. This was his science and his skill, confidence in God as he fought vigorously gaining the victory.
He might have said, someone has said, “I’ve handled lions. I’ve handled bears. But this is no lion, this is no bear. This is a champion. This is a giant.” But, looking at the way in which God had delivered him in the past, he relied upon it and has given us an example of how we ought to approach our problems.
There’s one other point that I think is very important. When Saul put his armor on David with his garments, then put the bronze helmet on his head, clothed him with all of the armor then girded his sword over his arm, he tried to walk.
I have a friend who loves to say, “David took four steps in that armor before the armor moved.” [Laughter] And so we learn an important principle; we do not fight the Lord’s battles in Saul’s armor. And, consequently, David put it off and as a result of putting it off, decided that he was going to fight the battle in the armor of the Lord God and the simplicity of the weapons that he possessed.
The victory over Goliath is described in verse 40 through verse 53. It was a great victory for the Lord, Jehovah, through a man. John McNeil, the Scottish Presbyterian preacher, who came to the United States and actually was pastor for a while at a church in which I grew up, in Birmingham, Alabama, once said with reference to this account, “Could I miss a man the size of a gable of my father’s steading?” You might say, could I miss a man who was as big as a barn? And David, like the men of Benjamin, who could take a sling-shot and hit a hare with their sling, went into the battle confident that he at least could handle his sling in the proper way.
Some years ago, I was the first pastor of what is now Northwest Bible Church. And, we were in the early stages of the church and it had begun to grow. And we had finally bought the property down on Northwest Highway where they are now located and we wanted to have a church meeting and some of the men in the church felt that it would be desirable for us to have some one from out of the religious environment to come speak to us and we would invite people in who would perhaps be responsive to having them in the meeting. Now, I do not believe that is the best methodology, but we did it. And, we had an individual who spoke and he spoke on David and Goliath. I took some notes. That’s why I remember what he said. I took the notes because of the weird things that he said [laughter] not because of the great things and I did not want to forget them.
So he began his talk by looking out at us and saying, “I am a believer.” And in case you got some comfort from that, he then said, “I believe in Santa Claus.” And we all laughed. I thought it was silly, to begin a speech like this; this was a well-known public speaker who really made some of his living, traveling around giving this type of speech. Then he said, “David got his job because his father knew where he was. He was in the field.” And, of course, the application for businessmen was, if you’re going to get ahead in life, you’ve got to be in the field, which seems to me a weighty application that anybody who’d ever been in business, I had been in business, would know immediately. If you’re going to be any good in the business world, you’ve got to be in the field.
But then he let us in on the five smooth stones. Now, I might have some friends who’d say, the five smooth stones are the five points of Calvinism. [Laughter] But that would be a better interpretation than the one that I am going to give you. But that one is not one that is biblical, so far as I know. At any rate, he said, “The five smooth stones, they signify: kindness, courtesy, tact, the Fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man. Five points, the five smooth stones.” I’ve never known those things to kill any giant but, at any rate, they do not have much application to the word of God. This is a victory of the Lord, Jehovah, through a man.
Now, I’m going to read a rather lengthy quotation from a biblical author and I’ll think you’ll recognize who it is, but the reason that I’m reading it is because it pertains to the way in which victories are won. “No marvel that David put the thing off, the armor. He felt most at ease in his own shepherd’s garb. Of course, we are not going to infer that unsuitable instruments are desirable. We teach nothing so romantic or absurd. It well becomes us to use the most suitable tools we can find. As for those stones out of the brook, David did not pick them up at hazard; he carefully chose them, [The text says, select.] selecting smooth stones that would exactly fit in his sling, the kind of stone he thought best fitted for his purpose.
Nor did he trust in his sling. He tells us he trusted in God, but he went to work with his sling as if he felt the responsibility to be his own. To miss the mark would prove his own clumsiness: to compass his aim would be of God’s enabling. Such, my brethren, is the true philosophy of a Christian’s life. You are to do good works as zealously as if you were to be saved by your good works, and you are to trust in the merits of Christ as though you had done nothing at all. So, too, in the service of God, though you are to work for God as if the fulfillment of your mission rested upon yourselves, you must clearly understand, and steadfastly believe that after all, the whole matter, from first to last, rests with God. Without him, all you have ever planned or performed is unavailing. That was sound philosophy of Mahomet’s when the man said, “I have turned my camel loose, and trusted in providence.” “No,” answered he, “tie your camel up and then trust in providence.” Do the best you can and trust in God. God never meant that faith in him should be synonymous with sloth. Why, for the matter of that, if it is all God’s work, and that is to be the only consideration, there is no need for David to have a sling. Nay, there is not any need for David at all. He may go back, lie on his back in the middle of the field, and say, “God will do his work: he does not want me.” That is how fatalists would talk, but not how believers in God would act. They say, “God wills it, therefore I am going to do it;” not, “God does it, and therefore there is nothing for me to do.” No, “Because God works by me, therefore I will work by his good hand upon me. He is putting strength into his feeble servant, and making use of me as his instrument, good for nothing though I am apart from him. Now will I run to the battle with alacrity, and I will use my sling with the best skill I have, taking quiet, calm, deliberate aim at that monster’s brow, since I believe that God will guide the stone and accomplish his own end.”
I think all of us need to bear in mind the fact that our salvation is the work of God alone. But to say our salvation is the work of God alone and that our sanctification is the work of God alone is not to invite passivity in the Christian life. As Paul said, “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” I’m so glad he then went on to say, “For it is God that worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure. The victory is his.” And we acknowledge he is the victor through us. But, Jehovah triumphs through an instrumentality, a human instrumentality, David, who used his sling and his stone. That’s so important.
Now, we’re drawing near the end of the hour and I wanted to lead up to something that I think is an important lesson from this account. And you will, I hope, excuse me if I do not deal with any further details. The spoiling of the foe is described. Saul’s questions regarding the parentage of David are given at the end of the lesson.
When one studies the Bible, one learns a very important fact and that is that the Bible in the Old Testament contains illustrations of the ultimate spiritual truths of the New Testament. Biblical scholars call this typology; that is, the types of the Old Testament find their anti-types in the New Testament. There are, of course, outstanding ones that one can think of. One can think of the Tabernacle. One can think of individuals. Adam, himself, is described by the Apostle Paul as a type of the one that was to come, and so on. You’re familiar, I image, with all of that.
A type is nothing more than an example. If one looks at the use of the term tupas, he will discover that it means simply an example. It’s not something special. It’s an example, that’s all. We cannot speak of an example and a type. Types and examples are the same thing. The examples in the Old Testament are typical. They point onto the future. The reason for this is that we have one God and we have one God who works according to one eternal purpose and because he is one God working for one eternal purpose and his own being, his attributes and his being are one, therefore, we may expect him in our day to work as he has worked in the past. It’s the same working purposing triumphing God.
Now, the three things that we need to bear in mind with regard to types are these: types are historical. Historicity pertains to a type. Anything that is not historical cannot be a type. You may have an allegory like John Bunyan’s allegory. But types have the quality of historicity. Secondly, they have the quality of correspondence; that is, the events that are types correspond to the fulfillment in the New Testament. And, thirdly, generally speaking, because we have in the type, something a bit more than the illustration of the Old Testament, it’s fair to say that in addition to historicity and correspondence, we have predictiveness in the type as well.
Now, David officially is a type of Jesus Christ. That’s why, in the New Testament, he’s called the son of David, that’s why he’s called the root of David, and that’s why he’s called those things when he prevails in his work on the Cross as the last book of the Bible makes so very plain.
Personally, apart from his kingship, he is an example for us, and therefore the principles by which David lived his life when he was in the will of God are principles that we should follow. Officially, his experience is an anticipation of the coming of the Lord, Jesus Christ. You know the Bible enough to know those things. All students of the Bible who have studied the Bible a bit intimately know that fact.
Now, I want to suggest to you that when David overcame Goliath, we have an illustration of the way in which our Lord Jesus has overcome in his ministry of saving sinners. In the first place, David came to the battle from his father’s house with gifts in his hands. The Lord Jesus says, “I have come from my Father and I have come into your presence. I am leaving your presence. I am going back to the Father.” And he came with gifts in his hands, the saving work that he accomplished on Calvary’s Cross and offering the propitiation for sinners by which sinners may be saved: the shedding of his blood.
Goliath was his personal antagonist, David’s personal antagonist. He is a picture of the personal antagonist of our Lord, Satan, who holds men in the thralldom of serve to sin. I’d like to go into details, but I’ll remind you of Hebrews chapter 2, verse 14 and verse 15.
David came forward when everything else had failed. Here is Goliath standing out in front of the children of Israel, the covenant people of God, and he is shouting out, “Give me a man. Give me a man.” And there is no man.
Saul and Israel are immobilized; shuddering, shivering, slaves. That’s what happened when man fell in the Garden of Eden, he fell into sin. And, since that time, men in one way or another, apart from the redemption of the Lord Jesus Christ, are slaves to sin. If you reflect upon your life and reflect in the light of the word of God, I’m sure that sooner or later you’ll find some reason to know that that is true. And if you do not find any reason to know that that is true, then pay careful attention to the obituaries. Your name will be there, too, someday, if our Lord does not come. Characteristic of all of us is we die. It’s appointed unto men once to die and after that the judgment. Those are fundamental principles that we need to keep plainly before us in our thought concerning spiritual things.
David came forward after all else failed. The Lord, Jesus Christ, comes in his incarnation, all things having failed, as the root of David, and as John the Apostle, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit in the last book of the Bible says, “That he has prevailed. He has won his victory. He has purchased a people out of every tribe, kindred, tongue and nation. He has made them priests to God and they shall rule and reign upon the earth forever.”
Isn’t that interesting, too, that when David came his brothers rejected him? Eliab rejects him. And, when our Lord came, his brethren rejected him, too.
“He came unto his own, and his own,” the Apostle says, “And his own received him not. But as many as received him, to them gave he the power to become the children of God, even to those that believe in his name: who were born, not of the will of man – or the will of the flesh – or of bloods, but were born of God.”
David’s victory was won by apparently foolish means. The Cross is a foolish means, apparently. Who could ever think of an individual overcoming by dying? But, it’s by the Cross that our Lord overcomes. It’s by death that he overcomes death. It’s by what apparently is more foolish than the sling and the stones that David had. And so David’s equipment and his victory, in which he slays Goliath and slays him with his own sword, suggests that our Lord overcomes, ultimately, by the very thing that Satan had delegated in his power, the power of death.
Isn’t it interesting? I think that when David has his sling and his stone and it struck Goliath in his forehead, stunned him, he fell on the ground, I’m not sure he was really dead. But David rushed up, drew his sword out of its sheath and killed him with his own sword. That’s what our Lord has accomplished on Calvary’s cross. He has overcome the wicked one. He has overcome Satan and sin by that which was and is regarded as the power and the weapon of the wicked one, death.
As we often sing, he death, by dying, slew. You think immediately of the crushing of the serpent’s head in the first preaching of the gospel in Genesis chapter 3. The first preaching of the gospel, the woman’s seed shall crush the serpent’s head.
David spoils the giant just as our Lord has spoiled the giant. He now has the keys of death and Hades. Satan’s lost them. And now, our Lord is the ultimate and the fundamental and immediate determinate of eternal life.
And one last thing, Israel enjoys the fruit of David’s victory. Isn’t that interesting? The champion, the mediator, is David, the man of the two middles, or the iysh benayim, David stands as the mediator of Israel. His death is a representative death and what he accomplishes, he accomplishes for not only himself but them, as well. Goliath, the Lord God is going to give you into my hands. And then later on, just a few minutes later, he said, “Goliath, the Lord’s going to give you into our hands.” He stands for them. And so, the Lord Jesus on Calvary’s cross acts as the representative mediator for the people of God. And there, he overcomes for those who are in him.
Isn’t it interesting? The master educator in the word of God is the Lord God, himself, and in the way in which the Scriptures have been given to us, he teaches us the important things of life. There are only two responses proper to David’s mission and to our Lord’s; one is the response of the Eliab, the response of proud rejection. We do not need you David. We can get along very well without you. We do not need you, Jesus of Nazareth. We do not need your atoning death. We do not need the blood that was saved. We can be saved by our education, by our culture, by our religion, by our ordinances, by our good works, and all of the other things which men so often trust. “We don’t need you. Away with him. Away with him. Crucify him! We have no king but Caesar,” so Israel said.
The other response is the response I love. I hope it’s the response that you have given. It’s the response of love and devotion. That’s the response of Jonathan to David.
“Now it came about when he had finished speaking to Saul, that the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as himself.” It’s repeated again in the next verse. And then in chapter 19 in verse 1, we read, “Now Saul told Jonathan his son and all his servants to put David to death But Jonathan, Saul’s son, greatly delighted in David.” That’s the ultimate response. And when, finally, Jonathan loses his life, David speaks of him as an individual whose love was more wonderful, I’m sorry, ladies, I have to tell you this, his love was more wonderful than the love of women: the love of Jonathan for David. The love of the saints for the Lord, Jesus Christ.
Some years ago, I was holding Bible classes in a home in this city and a large Bible class, about 125 people came in the home every week, and a number of individuals were converted through those Bible studies. And, in fact, what is now Grace Bible Church arose largely out of those classes, cause I was later pastor of Grace Bible Church. I remember specifically one person. She requested membership in the church and it was the custom for someone to call upon the individual and ascertain that they had genuinely, as far as we can tell, received our Lord as their Savior.
So I went to this individual and spoke to her. It was a lady and I asked for her testimony. And I grew up in a Presbyterian church, that’s the way we used to do it, too. Everyone had to, though baptized as an infant, had to confess his faith before he joined the church, usually at the age of twelve or thirteen or so. And he had to do it before the elders. But I asked this individual about her faith and she said, “Dr. Johnson, you were speaking in the home of the Slaughters, and I was there, and in the midst of one of your messages, you said, you may remember, ‘You don’t have to come down front in order to be saved. You don’t have to raise your hand in a meeting. The only thing that you need to do is to recognize that Christ is the Savior of sinners and then, in your own heart, give yourself to him.’ And she said, “Dr. Johnson, when you said that in the class, that’s what I did. And I became a Christian.” And she lived her life as a Christian. That’s all that’s involved. It’s the acknowledgement of our need and the turning to our Lord, who has gifts in his hands for sinners. Receive him as your own personal Savior and you may have the confidence of eternal life.
May we stand for the benediction? I apologize for keeping you a few minutes over today. Incidentally, last week after the meeting, someone came up to me and said, “I just noticed that you have on your sign that Sunday morning service goes to 12:01.” [Laughter] I don’t know the reason for that. Maybe it was out of recognition of the fact that I do not adhere to twelve o’clock too often. But I give you profuse apologies for keeping you a few moments over today.
Let’s bow together in a moment of prayer.
[Prayer] Father, we are grateful for the ministry of the word of God for us and to us. We thank Thee for the way it has ministered to us, personally. We pray, Lord, if there should be someone in this audience unsure of their relationship to Thee, that they may, at this very moment, within their own heart, confess their need, turn to Christ. Receive him, in grace as their only savior.
For Jesus’ sake. Amen.