deliverance

Can you picture it? On one side of the valley is the army of the Philistines. On the other, the army of Israel. 3,000 years ago Goliath the giant stood in the middle of a similar valley mocking Israel and Israel’s God. On a fateful morning, shepherd boy David arrived and witnessed the terrifying blasphemy.

We often apply this story with David as our model and Goliath as representative of our giants and obstacles. In this interpretive scenario, any difficulty becomes our Goliath and David’s faith and courage become our template for overcoming.

I believe this interpretation is individualistic and shortsighted. David stood before Goliath because the Philistine army was seeking to take away Israel’s land. God had given Israel the land. Israel was standing on the promises of God. David’s victory over Goliath is a template, but not primarily of personal triumph. It is a picture of deliverance.

God used David to deliver Israel from Goliath and the Philistines. God honored David’s faith and established David’s fame that would eventually lead David to Israel’s throne. We’ll not dive into the story’s details here, but you should reread 1 Samuel 17.

David is a model of faith, but his faith and his victory were designed to redeem and deliver. God wants your faith to grow. He wants you to overcome. He does not want you to experience defeat. Ultimately, we know this because David is representative of a Greater King and a Greater Deliverer who withstood the enemies (giants we could not overcome) of sin, death, and Satan on a cross outside of Jerusalem.

What God does desire for you and for me is that our faith would grow so that he can use us to participate in his work of deliverance for others.

David developed his faith in four specific ways in and around 1 Samuel 17. I’ve written them below as applications that will help us as we develop our faith in God.

  • We develop our faith in the alone times with God. David spent years in the wilderness caring for his father’s sheep. His alone time with the sheep provided David the opportunity to reflect on the glory and majesty of God (look at Ps. 2, 8, 19, 22, 23, and many others). If you want your faith to grow, you must make time to read God’s Word, reflect on his glory, worship him privately, and pray to him regularly.
  • We develop our faith by being faithful in the little things. Goliath provided a giant test to David’s faith. David was ready for that test because he was faithful in the little things in life. David took his role as a shepherd seriously. When he went to the camp that day, he was on an assignment from his father. Even on assignment, he left his sheep with a caretaker. David was responsible and faithful in the little things that few people noticed, but God noticed his heart (Acts 13:23). You can develop your faith by being faithful in whatever role God has given you: father, mother, child, caregiver, employee, boss, etc. If you will be faithful and full of integrity in the small things, God will prepare you to participate in his redemptive work in larger things.
  • We can develop our faith by looking to God’s faithfulness in the past. David’s faith in God in his previous battles against lion and bear developed his faith for the enemy of the present. One of the more helpful things we can do to develop our faith is to reflect on God’s deliverance in the past and the times we believed and God came through. The God who came through yesterday is the same God who will come through today and tomorrow. Too often we borrow fear and worry because we look at our situations. Instead, we need to look back at God who is and who is faithful. If we could trust him in the past, we can trust him in the present and the future.
  • We can develop our faith by relying on God and who God made us to be, not the resources of others. Saul offered his armor to David. This was a noble gesture. Actually, it was Saul’s responsibility to fight Goliath, but his fear and lack of faith in God kept him paralyzed in the camp. When David agreed to the battle, Saul sought to protect David by loaning his armor. David rejected it because he knew his strength rested not in outward vesture, or in military attire, or in skill and arms. His strength rested in God and what he had tested in the past—his sling and the stones. Our God is full of resources. Furthermore, he designed you perfectly. He gave you gifts and talents, and if you will trust him, he will strengthen you just like he did David.

Building our faith is vitally important for daily Christian living. Truthfully, we are more often like the fearful Israelite army than the courageous shepherd boy.

Get this. God wants to develop your faith because he invites you to participate in his work of deliverance.

  • Your faith in a trying situation might become the catalyst for an unbeliever to come to Christ.
  • Your faithfulness in the little things might be the testimony a child, grandchild, or friend needs to believe in God.
  • Your trust in God to be on mission (like going on a mission trip, sharing your faith, serving a local mission agency) might be the springboard a lost person needs to come to Christ.

God is interested in developing your faith for his redemptive purposes.

Significant themes run as threads through the entirety of Scripture (God’s Sovereignty and holiness, mankind’s sin, redemption, grace, forgiveness, and numerous others). One important biblical theme is judgment. Judgment is necessary because of human sin. Had sin not entered the world, neither would judgment. And the reality is that we all deserve judgment because we are sinners who have rejected God’s right to rule over us. But have you ever considered God’s judgment as an act of grace?

God does not judge to be mean. God does not judge to destroy. God judges and chastises to reveal his holiness, our sinfulness, and drive us to repentance. In the book of Judges, the people of Israel were supposed to conquer and inherit the land of Canaan. Yet the people of Israel did not conquer all the land. Many nations and their Idolatry remained. Israel became tainted in their worship because they adopted the gods of the land. They broke the first two of the ten commandments by not worshiping Yahweh alone and worshiping idols instead.

So, in response to Israel’s idolatry and sin, God left the nations in the land. Scripture records that God left the nations in Canaan for two reasons. First, God left them to test Israel’s faithfulness (2:22-23). Second, God left them to teach the people of Israel how to war and engage in battle (3:1-2). God allowed the nations to stay in Canaan because his chosen people did not obey him in conquering the land. In other words, God let Israel face the consequences of her own sinful choices. Part of God’s judgment on Israel during the period of the Judges was to let her experience the difficulty of her own sinful choices. Yet, and this is striking, God sovereignly purposed two important reasons for allowing the idolatrous nations to stay in Canaan. God was actively working within and in spite of Israel’s sins. He offered gracious purposes in the midst of his judgments.

The cycle prevalent throughout the book of Judges also reveals God’s grace as a part of his judgement. Israel’s cycle was: sin cycle

While God allowed Israel to sin and face judgment, he responded graciously when they cried out in repentance. He sent a judge to rescue them. God is no different today. In his sovereignty, he is not intimidated by our free will and our choices to sin. In his holiness, he will chastise and judge our sin. In his grace, he will hear us when we cry out in repentance. And he will and ultimately has provided us deliverance from our sin. In the person of his Son Jesus Christ, God both judged our sin and rescued us. Even his judgments are gracious. And that my fellow believers should inspire love and worship for our great and gracious God.