If you are just joining us, welcome to the Yeah, Whatever series as we study Philippians 4:8 in a way you may have never before! (You can read the first and second posts in the series HERE and HERE.) I’ve benefitted reflecting on specific things that are true and noble. I tell you what, though, I struggled to find something to say about “right” because it’s so similar to true.
But as I typed my thoughts about a chapter I’d recently studied – 1 Samuel 17 about David and Goliath – it occurred to me that this a perfect example of thinking on “whatever is right.” I was totally pumped when I saw these new things in a familiar passage – I hope you will be too!
(To read the full story, check out 1 Samuel 17.)
#1 – Collect the facts. V.20-27
David, the youngest of eight brothers, didn’t just brandish his sling and stones and come charging onto the battlefield looking to be a hero. He was only there in the first place to deliver supplies from his father to his three oldest brothers and their commander. Then the problem with the enemy captured his attention. So he gathered the facts about the situation first. He listened to the soldiers relay their experience with the enemy’s insults and their king’s offer to reward wealth and his daughter in marriage to the soldier who could defeat their enemy.
#2 – Continue despite scorn. V.28-30
David’s oldest brother, Eliab, hears David talking, sees where this could lead, and is immediately furious with jealousy. The firstborn rips into his youngest brother slandering David’s motivation, duties, and character. You get the feeling by David’s reaction, that this isn’t the first time he’s experienced this. “Now what have I done? Can’t I even speak?” David replies. And then, as if dismissing his brother’s jealousy, he turns to talk to someone else.
I wonder if being the youngest of your siblings is a gift in this way. You’ve already practiced dealing with the scorn of those who should be protecting you. I’ll also inject that Eliab’s jealousy is a backhanded compliment of sorts, because it indicates at least a partial belief in David’s ability to disarm their national threat. I highly doubt David viewed it as such! but it’s interesting to note.
#3 – Confirm the facts. V.30
I don’t want to overlook that tucked into David’s perseverance, he also didn’t settle for what he heard once. He confirmed the facts. He didn’t allow a jealous, furious older brother from detaining him in his mission to make sure that what he thought was true was really true before considering action.
#4 – Care about God’s people v.32
This just makes me want to hug David. He tells the king of all Israel, “Let no one lose heart on account of this Philistine; your servant will go and fight him.” Right? Like where was everyone else’s concern? Scared for themselves. David, a lowly shepherd, worries about God’s people losing heart. This people, Israel, distinct from all others, led by the highest power in the universe, considering giving up because evil looms. Even the king wasn’t brave enough to respond to Goliath’s challenge to select a representative from both sides – winner takes all.
And don’t you just love the foreshadowing of Jesus, our great Shepherd, caring for God’s people so much he volunteered to be our human representative to fight sin and death – winner took all?
#5 – Communicate with proper authorities v.31-37
David was not a renegade. The king sends for David and David takes the chance to communicate his concerns with the proper authorities in charge of this disaster. Granted, the authority is just as big a chicken as all his soldiers, so David could have been extremely depressed with the response king Saul gave, but David isn’t looking for validation – merely the legal permission to go ahead with the plan he’s formed based on the facts he’s already gathered and the faith he’s already got.
BONUS #5b – Center on God v.33
A shepherd boy not even old enough to fight in the army volunteers to get rid of a threat so large that trained soldiers and the king himself are too chicken to deal with it, and how does the king respond? Well, let’s look at how he could have responded.
“What do you know that I don’t, son? Maybe I ought to give it a go…”
“Thank you, you’ve reminded me of God’s miraculous power…”
He could have said a lot of things, but all he says is something to the effect, “Goliath’s been a warrior since before you were in diapers – I don’t think so.”
This response did not deter David, because he was centered on God and saw the situation from God’s perspective. As one woman in my Bible study group observed: David knew it was God’s reputation, not his, on the line.
#6 – Consider God’s past faithfulness v.34-37
Just a few chapters back in 1 Samuel 12:24 Samuel’s words to the nation of Israel were to “consider what great things [God] has done for you.”
When David stood before the king of Israel volunteering to fight Goliath, everyone thought he was a “nut head” as my kids would say. And he would have been, if God wasn’t part of the equation. God tips the scales and makes seemingly ridiculous nut heads into more than conquerors when they’re fighting for His glory.
David already knew this from previous battles. David had never fought wars, but he’d fought wilds beasts. Possibly alone in the fields, David triumphed over an attacking lion and bear defending his father’s sheep. These battles in private prepared David for triumphing over Goliath in public. I wonder if David’s thought was: What’s the difference between fighting something trying to kill you and someone trying to kill you? If God’s on your side, you win.
David’s present consideration of God’s past faithfulness made all the difference for his future.
#7 – Combat how you’ve been trained v.38-40
So the king says fine, you can fight. Maybe the king thought he was generous offering David his armor, but David wasn’t used to wearing it. He could barely walk let alone wage war. The lion and bear had been killed with a sling and stones, not armor and swords. David hadn’t learned how to use those tools yet. He did know how to use the sling with stones, however, and that was enough. He didn’t have to wait until he was awarded competency in the latest and greatest before he was effective.We don't have to wait until we are awarded competency in the latest and greatest before we are effective in fulfilling God's purpose for our lives. Click To Tweet
#8 – Confidently trust God v.45-47
I read a quote by Abraham Lincoln today, “The probability that we may fail in the struggle ought not to deter us from the support of a cause we believe to be just.” (“Just” being synonymous with “right.”)
Except in this case, David knew the real odds – defying God equals sure doom. We don’t have to be afraid of fighting against forces already doomed. And yet…
it’s one thing to say and another to hang onto when you’re staring at a 9-foot giant towering over everyone, wearing bronze armor that weighs more than you do, hefting a spear with a tip as heavy as two gallons of milk, and marching behind his shield bearer.
Picture David the shepherd boy, perhaps 15 yrs old, approaching this seasoned warrior giant. Goliath starts his usual insults, ramps them up several notches when he sees who’s coming, and then David utters these words that gave me chills:
“You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the LORD Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the LORD will hand you over to me, and I’ll strike you down and cut off your head. Today I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds of the air and the beasts of the earth, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel. All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the LORD saves; for the battle is the LORD’s, and he will give all of you into our hands.”
#9 – Conquer the enemy!
It’s the rubber meeting the road that’s so stinking hard. Because, as I read somewhere, our beliefs are functionally on display at any given moment. And I battle to do what I say I believe. And sometimes I get it right and sometimes I end up with road rash.
This particular story ends with a happily ever after for David and that is the ultimate case for every single one of God’s children. It’s right to honestly assess our situation and that means playing it all the way out to our eventual ultimate happy ending.
Which of the 9 C’s helps you most? What right thing will you ponder? If it’s helpful, I designed a notecard especially for this purpose. CLICK HERE to download your free .pdf. (Check out previous posts HERE and HERE to print your “true” and “noble” notecards.)
You can expect to receive encouragement from me twice more this year:
- Nov 30 – This Friday you will receive a link (only good for 24hrs) to the daily Keys for Kids devotional I wrote called “Not Beyond Repair” offering hope to anyone who’s felt like maybe this time they’ve screwed up so bad God isn’t interested in them anymore. (Spoiler alert: not true!)
- Dec 22 – You will receive a link to (in)courage’s daily devotional I wrote called “No Gift-Giving Gusto Required” offering the weary and just-trying-to-keep-it-together some much needed relief (and I’m raising my hand first). I’m SUPER EXCITED to share this with you!