Choose a man for yourselves, and let him come down to me. 9 If he is able to fight with me and kill me, then we will be your servants. But if I prevail against him and kill him, then you shall be our servants and serve us.” 10 And the Philistine said, “I defy the ranks of Israel this day. Give me a man, that we may fight together.” 11 When Saul and all Israel heard these words of the Philistine, they were dismayed and greatly afraid.
1 Samuel 17:8-11
When it comes to the story of David and Goliath, I grew up hearing inspirational sermons and Bible stories about how Goliath stood for obstacles in my life, and that I was David. And the gifts and talents I had were like the five smooth stones David had, and that if I just put my trust in God and use the gifts He’s given me, I can face the giants in my life.
This is the view I carried into my adult life. It wasn’t until about ten years ago that I ever thought of the story of David and Goliath as a picture of the gospel. The Christian publisher I worked for at the time came out with a brand new Sunday school curriculum that set out to show how the entire Bible pointed to Jesus.
A pastor named Matt Chandler preached the story of David and Goliath in our weekly chapel, and then we editors got to meet with him and talk about this new curriculum.
Matt talked about how we aren’t meant to see ourselves as David. If we are anyone in the story, we are the the men of Israel cowering in their tents in fear of Goliath (1 Sam 17:25).
Which makes David a picture, not of ourselves, but Jesus. Who went against Satan not as a warrior in armor but as One who “emptied himself, taking the form of a servant” (Phil. 2:7).
The point of the story isn’t that God has given us five smooth stones with which we can “face the giants” in our life. God has given his son. Who stood against the enemy on our behalf. Who is our representative. Our champion. And because He prevailed, we can come out of hiding.
By the way, since Matt preached that sermon in our Lifeway chapel, it’s become a touchstone for defining the difference between a Christ-centered understanding of Scripture and a man-centered view of Scripture. This clip is from the documentary American Gospel. It’s a movie worth watching.