In a regular series of unique observations, Phil Greenslade, a tutor and author at CWR, gives us the low down on who’s who in the Bible and how their stories are relevant to our lives today. To catch up on previous articles click here.
Our world today seems to be obsessed with measurements and scientific facts. Some of our best selling books contain nothing but details of nature and records of human achievements. Our computers have an apparently infinite ability to store, analyse and reproduce data that would take a million lifetimes to read.
In the midst of this insatiable thirst for information, the story of David reminds us that there are some things which are beyond the capacity of humankind to measure. When Samuel was told by God to anoint one of Jesse’s sons to become king, he fell into the same trap of relying on his physical senses and measuring whoever came before him.
This is not the one
The first son was called Eliab, which in Hebrew means, ‘whose father is God’. Eliab was the oldest, he had the right name, and when Samuel saw his height and physical appearance, he thought, ‘Surely this is the man the Lord has chosen!’ (1 Sam 16:6, TLB). God’s response to Samuel is instructive and helps reveal to us the true nature and perfect judgment of an all-seeing God: ‘Don’t judge by a person’s face or height, for this is not the one.
I don’t make decisions the way you do! Men judge by outward appearance, but I look at a man’s thoughts and intentions.’ (1 Sam 16:7, TLB)
Eventually after seven sons had passed before Samuel, the prophet asked Jesse if he had any more sons. It is interesting that even though Samuel had invited Jesse and his sons to the sacrifice, David had been overlooked as he was too young and only useful enough to watch the sheep. However, David was the Lord’s choice and he was anointed by Samuel.
This is reminiscent of the prophecy and life of Jesus for ‘in our eyes there was no attractiveness at all, nothing to make us want him.
We despised him and rejected him … and we didn’t care’ (Isa 53:2–3, TLB).
‘The same stone that was rejected by the builders has become the Cornerstone, the most honoured and important part of the building’ (1 Pet 2:7, TLB).
People measured Jesus as an ignorant carpenter and David as an insignificant shepherd boy: but both were anointed and empowered by the almighty, invisible God.
A tall man defying a giant God
Soon after his anointing by Samuel, we are presented with perhaps the most famous story of David’s life, when he defeated Goliath as reported in 1 Sam 17. Again we have a picture of people looking only at external appearances. The whole Israeli army including king Saul looked at the giant Goliath and were terrified. David brought supplies to his brothers who were in the army and simply saw a tall man defying a giant God. When David voiced his thoughts, most of his fellow countrymen saw a small weak boy and despised him. Saul recognised the invisible but powerful anointing of God upon David and allowed him to fight Goliath.
David’s shout to Goliath reveals the falsehood of scientific measurement. Goliath was a physical giant with a huge sword and spear but little David with only a few stones possessed the immeasurable power of a mighty God. David cried out:
‘I come to you in the name of the Lord … [God] works without regard to human means! He will give you to us!’ (1 Sam 17:45,47, TLB).
If we are to be mature believers we need to measure people and situations according to the invisible spiritual dimensions that can only be seen by eyes of faith. We too may seem insignificant and powerless according to the world’s measuring systems, but the truth is that the same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead now lives in us (Rom 8:11).
With God on our side we can overcome both our own inadequacies and every form of opposition because we come against them in the name of the Lord, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ (2 Cor 2:14).