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.

A typical Sunday afternoon dinner at our house goes something like this. One of my boys says, “Dad, mom, tell us a story.” We then recount some imaginative or interesting experience from our childhood. Those stories connect our remembered past with the current lives of our children.

Stories describe.

Stories define.

Stories connect.

It is through stories that we relate to one another, make sense of life, and help identify our place in the world. Stories sell. See the MCU and the recent movies that have made billions based on comic book stories. See the timeless tales written in books like The Lord of the Rings, The Chronicles of Narnia, or the Harry Potter series.

Stories are not new. The Bible is made up of a variety of genres: history, prophecy, poetry, teaching, law, epistles, and narrative. Narratives are stories. Much of the Bible comes to us in the form of story. As a story the Bible connects us to God, to one another, and invites us to participate in a narrative that is grander than the sum of our individual lives.

A Jewish description of the importance of story helps us grasp why God chose to reveal himself through the medium of story:

“Truth naked and cold, had been turned away from every door in the village. Her nakedness frightened the people. When Parable found her she was huddled in a corner, shivering and hungry. Taking pity on her, Parable gathered her up and took her home. There, she dressed Truth in story, warmed her and sent her out again. Clothed in story, Truth knocked again at the villagers’ doors and was readily welcomed into the people’s houses. They invited her to eat at their table and warm herself by their fire.”

Annette Simmons, The Story Factor: Inspiration, Influence, and Persuasion  Through the Art of Storytelling (New York: Basic Books, 2001), 27. 

In the story of God found in the Bible, God reveals himself to us through narratives. The beauty of God’s revelation is that we can connect to his story because he came down in Christ to relate to us. God’s story can be seen in the four episodes of the Bible: Creation, Fall, Redemption, Restoration.

In Creation, God reveals that he is and that he created all things. He created us in his image so we could know him.

In the Fall, God judges the sin of Adam and Eve when they broke his law by eating the forbidden fruit. The Fall explains why the world is in the sinful and selfish condition it is in.

In Redemption, God rescues his people. His perfect redemption is foreshadowed in the Old Testament stories of rescue and declared in Jesus’ death on the cross and resurrection.

In Restoration, God will make all things new and restore the perfect glory and purpose of his creation. Things will not be forever in sin and separation because God will restore.

Too often we get caught up in the details of our lives and focus time, energy, efforts, and worry on things that don’t really matter.

In other words, we allow our small stories to dominate our thinking. God invites us to have an eternal story. When we follow Jesus, we enter into

As we live out our lives as followers of Jesus who lead others to follow Jesus, our stories take on a permanent dimension.

The next time you read a Bible story, consider how God might have you join his story of redemption.