“The Lord who rescued me from the claws of the lion and the bear will rescue me from this [giant]!” 1 Samuel 17:37
Many of us are familiar with the story of David and Goliath. Even those of us who didn’t grow up around church know something of the underdog David and his miraculous victory over the champion of the Philistine army. But as we look closely at David’s reasoning for going into the valley to fight the giant, we see that he already had developed a deep faith in God. The times of quiet solitude as a shepherd must have been used to pray and develop a relationship of trust with the Creator.
In the moment of crisis – when the lions and the bears attacked – David no doubt reacted to save his own life and spare his sheep. But by the time he arrived in the Israelite camp to visit his brothers he was giving God the credit for his victory against the wild animals. More than that, David saw his past adversity through the lens of faith: those close calls had prepared him for the greater challenge of fighting Goliath.
Faith is built by daily trust in God. This is true of us on a personal level, and as a congregation. Individuals and families experience hard times in life all the time. To say these things happen “for” us is not to negate that they also happen “to” us: job loss, family breakdown, illness, death are all part of the suffering of our broken world. David’s faith acts like a “corrective lens” allowing him to see these things in the light of his relationship of faith with God: “The Lord who rescued me…”
When life doesn’t break us, it’s only by God’s grace and kindness. Beyond simple survival, David saw the hardships of his life as preparation for growth in faith and for the challenges that would come.
Later in David’s life, he would write that he trusted God was with him even in a valley dark as death (see Psalm 23)! David’s faith grew to the point that even death was not outside God’s caring presence.