Someone who was involved in prison ministry wrote this
observation in 2000: “More than ever before in American history,
we are witnessing the near-death of conscience.
An incident in an Indiana prison brought this home to me.
I stuck out my hand to shake that of a young inmate about
20, and he immediately smacked my hand away.
In many years of visiting prisons, I had never before
encountered such direct and immediate hostility from a complete
stranger. For obvious reasons, prisoners are
rarely cheerful, but I saw in this youth’s eyes, a chilling
hardness that I had never encountered before.
And since then, I have seen this same hardness in the eyes of
many more inmates, particularly younger ones.
I asked an assistant warden, who was a believer, what was
happening. ‘This place has greatly changed,’
he replied. ‘Ten years ago, I could talk to
these kids about right and wrong. Now, they
don’t even know what I’m talking about.” He
said that older prisoners were demanding protection from the
newly arrived 19 and 20 year olds, an ominous reversal.
Historically, young inmates needed protection from older
cons. The horrifying truth is that now we
have bred a generation with unformed consciences [who have no
sensitivity towards anyone else and see violence as their only
option]” (Coleson in Larson-Elshof). This is
what happens in culture where God and His Word are being left
out of the picture!
But what can happen when God and His Word are in the picture?
Well, that brings us to the great text that we read today
dealing with David and his battle against the Philistine giant
named Goliath. Let’s look now at 2 Sam.
17:32: “Then David said to Saul, ‘Let no man’s heart fail
because of him; your servant will go and fight with this
Philistine.’ And Saul said to David, ‘You are
not able to go up against this Philistine to fight with him, for
you are but a youth, and he a man of war from his youth.”
So we see that Saul tells David, “You are but a youth!”
But, in reality, what a youth David was!
With God on his side, and God’s Word in his heart, David
had a conscience that was tuned into God’s frequency.
And when one is attuned to that frequency, mighty things
can happen! We are honoring our Seniors
today, and I hope that they will be heroes in our culture, just
as David was in his. Their lives will
certainly be tested by new Goliaths, giants that we may just
vaguely imagine at this time, but we certainly hope that their
consciences will be attuned to God’s frequency and mighty things
will happen through them as well. Let’s look
at eight characteristics about David that they, and we older
folks as well, can imitate.
The first characteristic is that David was a youth who believed
in God. “Beliefs are important.
This is the starting point. One cannot
achieve what he or she does not believe.
Young David achieved because he believed!
‘This is the victory that overcomes the world, even our faith’
(I John 5:4). This was the victory that
overcame in David’s world, even the victory of faith” (Bailey)!
You know, David learned early in life to believe in God.
In chapter 16:18, one of Saul’s servants gave this
description of David: “Look , I have seen a son of Jesse the
Bethlehemite, who is skillful in playing, a mighty man of valor,
a man of war, prudent in speech, and a handsome person; and the
Lord is with him.” David was already
manifesting his belief in God to the point that others could see
that the Lord was with him. Oh, Seniors, have
this kind of belief in God. Don’t believe the
liars that say: “Our world just self-evolved”, that say: “There
is no universal truth anymore!”, and that say: “God is dead; He
does not exist!” Let’s have the kind of
faith, perception, and understanding that David did.
“He knew that God’s finger continually touches the lives
of men, that God constantly rules over the universe and the
affairs of nations, [and that God’s strength is always
available, no matter what the circumstances]” (Bailey).
“David believed that he could do what God enabled him to
do. He realized that without God, he was
nothing” (Bailey). We, as Christians, share
this great belief with David. Without Christ,
we can do nothing (John 15:5), but with the Messiah, we can do
all things because He strengthens us (Phil. 4:13).
David was a youth who believed in God.
He was but a youth, but what a youth he was!
Next, David was a youth who saw situations as God did.
It is interesting that David was being obedient to his
father when he first met Goliath. We cannot
honor our parents, as the New Testament commands in Eph. 6:4, if
we disobey them. When Israel’s soldiers heard
Goliath’s challenge, they were “dreadfully afraid” (v. 24).
They saw a giant, a champion, an experienced warrior, and
an obstacle to Israel ’s advancement. Then we
see that David began to ask around, “What would happen if
someone challenged Goliath?” And listen
carefully to David’s words in v. 26: “And what shall be done
for the man who kills this Philistine and takes away the
reproach from Israel ? For who is this
uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the
living God?” Did you catch what David saw?
He saw someone who was reproaching God’s nation, someone
who was a pagan, someone who was speaking out against God’s
armies, someone was challenging the living God!
What a contrast between the soldier’s view and David’s
view. You see, David was seeing the situation
from God’s perspective! They saw an obstacle,
but David saw an opportunity! They looked at
Goliath with earthly glasses, but David looked at this foe with
heavenly glasses. Oh, brethren, too often we
view our situations with earthly glasses!
Back in 1891, two men decided to begin a Bible college—one was a
writer and the other was a preacher. They
agreed that it would not be a preacher training school, but a
school where students would study the Bible daily as they
prepared for other vocations. The school
began in 1891 with seven boys and grew to 17 the next year.
Tuition was $3 a month, for the boys who could pay.
Needless to say, David Lipscomb made his living more
through his farm and writing, and James Harding
made his money through his gospel meeting work.
Both men believed strongly in God’s providence and that
He would bless their efforts. They never took
money from the school! In the third class,
was a student named John Armstrong. Armstrong
later became the first president of what we know today as
Harding University . Most people of the world
wouldn’t see much value in those first 25 students from
Nashville just mentioned, but from those students came future
elders, preachers, and Christian college administrators.
Lipscomb, Harding, and Armstrong viewed their situations
as God did. Seniors, try to view the
situations that you must confront from God’s perspective!
David was a youth who saw situations as God did.
He was but a youth, but what a youth he was!
Next, David was a youth who wanted righteousness to prevail.
“David loved God, and he loved God’s people.
It hurt him to see God’s cause suffer. … He could not
[stand] for the armies of God to be defied [and ridiculed by a
pagan]! None of us want to hurt the Lord’s
work today, we must take a stand not to let it be hurt either!
… [Let’s not] be satisfied with just ‘standing against’
things that are wrong, but let’s eagerly ‘stand for’ all things
that are right! … We live in a world and at a
time, when God’s people need to stand up and be counted!
We must not allow God’s work to suffer in any sense if we
can help it. David had this spirit.
He would not let Israel ’s God and God’s armies be
ridiculed and defiled. What could he do?
Very little, some thought. But
‘little’ is ‘much’ if God is in it. God has a
way of multiplying our ‘little,’ doesn’t He? (Bailey)”
Remember what David told Goliath after Goliath cursed God
in verse 45: “You come to me with a sword, 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.” You are coming at me with
weapons, but I’m coming to you in the name of the God of
righteousness, and all the nations will see that His
righteousness will prevail! Someone has
said, “The greatest person is he who chooses the right with
invincible resolution, is he who is most fearless under menace
and frowns, and who relies on truth, on virtue, and on God, is
most unfaltering” (Channing). David was a
youth who wanted righteousness to prevail. He
was but a youth, but what a youth he was!
Next, David was a youth who risked his life for his beliefs.
Deny the providence of God and soon you’ll find yourself
denying the provision of God. “David was
unafraid. Why? Because he
knew that God was with him. He believed that
God would become his partner in the battle, and who could lose
with God as his partner? ‘If God be for
us, who then can be against us’ (Romans 8:31)!
David had undaunted courage. Later
Jonathan told Saul in 1 Samuel 19:5: ‘For [David] took his
life in his hands and killed the Philistine, and the Lord
brought about a great deliverance for all Israel ’”
(Bailey). You see, David not only believed,
but he was willing to put his faith to work.
He not only believed that something needed to be done, but he
stepped forward to do it! Someone has said,
“Faith without works God never regards, and works with faith God
never rewards.” David’s faith was practical;
he didn’t just talk deliverance, he started adding five smooth
stones to his shepherd’s bag and twirling his sling.
Once David began conversation with Goliath, he never
hesitated or turned back. “Why was
David so willing to risk his life for the thing in which he so
confidently believed? The answer is evident:
he had great love for the Lord’s cause [and great confidence
that God would help him]” (Bailey). Young
people, stay in love with God and keep your confidence in Him!
Continue to build your lives upon Him!
“Be so devoted and loyal to Him that you would rather lose your
life than lose your soul. If a thing isn’t
worth dying for, it isn’t worth living for” (Bailey)!
David was a youth who risked his life for his beliefs.
He was but a youth, but what a youth he was!
Next, David was a youth who refused to be discouraged.
David did not escape criticism for his actions, and
neither will you, Seniors. There are four
people in the story who try to discourage David.
We see first of all that his oldest brother, Eliab, did.
Look at verse 28: “Why did you come down here?
And with whom have you left those few sheep in the
wilderness? I know your pride and the
insolence of your heart, for you have come down to see the
battle.” With friends like this, who
needs enemies? Eliab accused David of being
in the wrong place at the wrong time with the wrong motives.
But David knew that he had obeyed his father and his
brother’s criticisms were unfounded. Now look
at verse 30: “Then he turned from him towards another and
said the same thing; and these people answered him as the first
one did.” David gets the same response
from others: “David, you should have just stayed home with your
nice sheep. We’re here to do a man’s job, and
this is no place for a teen!” But their words
didn’t cause David to lose heart. Someone
once said, “Keep away from little people who try to belittle
your ambitions. Small people always do that
…” (Twain in Rowell). Soon David was standing
before King Saul, and we saw how Saul told him earlier that he
was just a youth, and Goliath was an experienced warrior!
David is determined despite Saul's criticism.
Lastly, Goliath adds his insults to David as well: “Why
are you coming at me with sticks? Why I’ll
clobber you, and let the birds and beasts feed on your flesh!”
These were scathing words to intimidate and poke fun at
David. But despite all these criticisms,
“David managed to deal with them and did so without being
arrogant or smart aleck” (Bailey). Paul once
said in 1 Corinthians 16:9: “For a great an effective door
has been opened to me, and there are many adversaries.”
Young people, undoubtedly, God is going to open some
great doors for you in the future, but be warned, there will be
adversaries as well. Refuse to be discouraged
by them: “Through prayerful effort, grim energy, and resolute
courage, move on to better things” (T. Roosevelt)!
David was a youth who refused to be discouraged.
He was but a youth, but what a youth he was!
Next, David was a youth who behaved himself wisely.
King Saul tried giving David his armor, but it was so
bulky that David wisely shed it! David knew
he could weld a sling very accurately, so he capitalized on that
strength! After this battle, we saw in our
reading how David wisely makes a covenant with Jonathan, and we
also see how David does not go around tooting his own horn over
his victory! In 18:5, 14, and 30, the
text says three times that David behaved himself wisely.
How we need young people with this great asset.
Like David, they recognize authority, they know their own
strengths and talents, they chose their friends carefully, and
they remain humble. This habit of David was
something that he continued later in his life.
Perhaps his determination in Psalm 101:2-4 should became
an ideal for all of us as well: “I will behave wisely in a
perfect way. Oh, when will You come to me?
I will walk within my house with a perfect heart.
I will set nothing wicked before my eyes; I hate the work
of those who fall away; it will not cling to me.
A perverse heart shall depart from me; I will not know
wickedness.” Let's make behaving wisely a
priority in our lives. David was a youth who
behaved himself wisely. He was but a youth,
but what a youth he was!
Next, David was a youth who trusted in God's help.
Why was David so confident that he could face Goliath?
He told Saul in verses 36-37: “‘Your servant has
killed both lion and bear, and this uncircumcised Philistine
will be like one of them, seeing he has defied the armies of the
living God.’ Moreover David said, ‘The Lord
who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of
the bear, He will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine!’”
Sometimes we might ask, “What could a backwoods shepherd
know?” Well, David had learned while on the
job that God was his Strength and his Deliverer!
What a great lesson the school of experience had taught
David! David had seen God's deliverance twice
from danger in the past, so he trusted God to deliver Him in
this situation as well. Have we developed
such a trusting relationship with God? Notice
what David tells Goliath as he confronts him in verse 47: “Then
all the assembly shall know that the Lord does not save with
sword or spear; for the battle is the Lord's, and He will give
you into our hands.” David knew that his
strength was in the God of Israel, and he trusted that God would
give him the victory not only over Goliath but also over the
rest of the Philistines! There was a
congregation which was struggling to pay off its mortgage.
A real estate agent prayed to God for his help and
promised that if God would give Him a sale, he would give all
the commission to the church. On Monday, he
got a call from a farmer who wanted to sale his land.
Within two minutes after he hung up the phone, he got a
call from a man wanting to buy a farm. His
sale was made almost immediately, and the agent kept his word.
His commission was the exact amount needed to pay off the
mortgage! Are we trusting in God's help?
David was a youth who trusted in God's help.
He was but a youth, but what a youth he was!
Lastly, David was a youth who handled success well. “When
success turns a man's head, it [often] leaves him looking in the
wrong direction. Success did not turn David's
head, though he was a great success. He had
faced [a tense situation], and he had received great honors, but
his spirit didn't change” (Bailey). We don't
see David riding all over the country singing his own praises.
In fact, we see David returning to his job as the court
musician and continuing to serve the king (18:12).
Perhaps David remained humble because he knew that it was
really God who had guided and delivered him!
Someone has advised: “When you get to the top of mountain, don’t
say: ‘Look what I did!’ Pause for a moment,
look at the scene that surrounds you, and then confess:
‘Awesome, just look at what God has done!’”
David knew that Samuel had anointed him as king, but only God
knew when he should be established. David
waited patiently on the Lord's timing and never sought evil
against Saul. Seniors, if you are successful
in life, follow David's example: don't get the big head, keep
doing your job well, and let the Lord continue to guide your
steps. David was a youth who handled success
well. He was but a youth, but what a youth he
Verse 50 affirms: “So David prevailed over the Philistine
...” David prevailed in other battles as
well. He prevailed in life too!
How could he keep from doing so? He
prevailed because of his great faith and devotion to doing God's
will. Listen to this tribute concerning David
found in 1 Kings 15:5: “David did what was right in the eyes
of the Lord, and had not turned aside from anything that He
commanded him all the days of his life, except in the matter of
Uriah the Hittite.” David did so well
throughout his life because he did so well earlier in his life:
he believed in God, he saw situations as God did, he wanted
righteousness to prevail, he risked his life for his beliefs, he
refused to be discouraged, he behaved wisely, he trusted in
God's help, and he handled success well. Like
David, may our consciences be formed by God's Word, and may God
Himself help us in all our battles! Seniors,
may it be said of you: “They were but youths, but what youths
they were!” As you each go out to face
the Goliaths of your future, may the words of Psalm 199:9ff go
with you: “How can a young man cleanse his way?
By taking heed to Your word. With my
whole heart I have sought You. Oh, let me not
wander from Your commandments! Your word I
have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You.
Blessed are You, O Lord! Teach me Your