I recently read through the account of David and Goliath in 1 Samuel 17. I’ve read this account a number of times over the years, but this time I decided to camp on it a while and spend more time with it because I felt there must be something more to draw from this story than David throwing rocks at a big bully. For me, the account of David and Goliath has always been one of those Old Testament stories that I’ve rushed through without really giving it a second glance. I guess I’ve viewed it as an end in itself. I’ve always considered it a story that showcases David’s faith and trust in God to deliver him and Israel from the pagan Philistine army, and it is that.
We hear David make incredible statements like, “You come to me with a sword and with a spear and with 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 defied.” and our own faith gets stirred up and we want to go out into our world and start slaying the giants in our lives to the glory of God. There is certainly nothing wrong with that. In fact, that’s a good thing. When David arrives at the Israelite’s camp, we hear him ask the question, “For who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?” and we want to jump out of our seat and yell, “You tell ‘em David!!” All of this serves to stir up both our sense of justice and our own zeal to see God glorified.
While these are good and noble things, there is more going on with David and Goliath that we need to explore. I think the original writer of the story would want us to come away from it with something more than viewing it as a good motivational story with a good ending (unless your name is Goliath) and a good moral lesson. There’s more happening in this account that deserves our full attention and has direct implications for me and you right now, in the 21st century. In fact, the gospel implications of the tale of David and Goliath are timeless and significant.
In the Bible, David is a type of Christ. Simply stated, that means that many of the things in David’s life foreshadowed Jesus in some way. Even many of the things David said have direct bearing to Jesus. My intention isn’t to explain all of the ways that David typified Christ, but I simply want to remind you that David was a type of Christ and when we think about the encounter that David had with Goliath in those terms, the story takes on new dimensions. Let me explain.
First, David was the only one facing Goliath. When David walked down into that valley and was face to face with Goliath, the rest of the nation of Israel was safely on the mountain behind him. This means that David represented all Israel when he faced down Goliath. Because he represented the entire nation, the outcome of this battle affected everyone in Israel. If David wins, all Israel wins because of him. If David loses, all Israel loses. Put another way, if David wins, all of God’s people win because of him. At that moment in history, David represented all of God’s people, Israel. Israel did nothing that contributed to the outcome of this battle, but their fate was completely wrapped up in their representative, David.
Second, as the representative of God’s people, David went before them to secure the outcome. He went before them through that scary valley and cleared the way for them to follow. He removed the obstacle that had paralyzed them in fear and once removed, the people of God were freed to advance and follow him.
Now, fast-forward to today and consider the gospel implications of what David did and how what he did points to the work of Christ for us. As our Great High Priest, Jesus is our representative who went before us into heaven, making access possible and securing the way for us. Check it out:
Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. (Hebrews 10:19-22)
And then there’s this:
Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Hebrews 4:14-16)
This is huge! David represented Israel when he fought Goliath and went before them to secure their victory against the Philistines. But Jesus went before us into heaven, securing, by his death and resurrection, our ultimate victory and removing death’s powerful sting, guaranteeing salvation for all who repent and believe (1 Corinthians 15:20-24)! As if that alone weren’t enough, the same power that God exerted in raising Christ from the dead, is at work in us, guaranteeing our inheritance (Ephesians 1:19-20). David’s battle with Goliath forshadowed Jesus, our Great High Priest and our representative who went before us, guaranteeing the outcome of the battle and ensuring our inheritance.