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  • Writer's pictureMatt Beaney


Updated: Jan 9, 2020


We often don’t realise our weakness until we face an unexpected challenge. All the while we are in our routines, we can be under the illusion that we are strong. However, the ‘giants’ that we face reveal our spiritual emptiness as we dissolve into ‘dismay and terror’. Do you have an empty bag? What I mean by this is, have you neglected to store God’s word in your heart so as to have resources to fight the challenges that come our way?

Prior to David’s confrontation with Goliath we read,

‘Then he took his staff in his hand, chose five smooth stones from the stream, put them in the pouch of his shepherd’s bag and, with his sling in his hand, approached the Philistine’ (1 Samuel 17:40).

If we are to face the various giants in our lives, we must habitually be filling our bag with stones, by learning from God’s word, and filling our sling, that is using God’s word in ways that give us victory. This week’s devotionals will be around this theme.



(Please ensure that you’ve read the introduction)

If we have not, like David, collected the ‘stones’ (See 1 Sam. 17:40) of God’s truth and put them in our hearts, we will having nothing to ’sling’ at the lies of the enemy and the challenges that come our way. This is the condition in which we find Israel’s king and army.

1 SAMUEL 17:4-11.  ‘A champion named Goliath, who was from Gath, came out of the Philistine camp. His height was six cubits and a span. He had a bronze helmet on his head and wore a coat of scale armour of bronze weighing five thousand shekels;  on his legs he wore bronze greaves, and a bronze javelin was slung on his back.  His spear shaft was like a weaver’s rod, and its iron point weighed six hundred shekels. His shield bearer went ahead of him. Goliath stood and shouted to the ranks of Israel, “Why do you come out and line up for battle? Am I not a Philistine, and are you not the servants of Saul? Choose a man and have him come down to me.  If he is able to fight and kill me, we will become your subjects; but if I overcome him and kill him, you will become our subjects and serve us.”  Then the Philistine said, “This day I defy the armies of Israel! Give me a man and let us fight each other.”  On hearing the Philistine’s words, Saul and all the Israelites were dismayed and terrified.’

God’s people were in a poor state.

They were weak in faith. They didn’t have confidence in God and so were ‘dismayed and terrified’. Our lives are determined by what fills our vision: in this account the enemy’s strength fills their vision rather than the greatness of God.

What we focus on gets magnified!

Our hearts and minds are like computer search engines; if you search on-line for a pair of trainers or a holiday… you will become increasingly bombarded with advertising and videos about your interest. Likewise, what we give our attention to will fill our hearts. If focussed correctly, we will be filled with faith, hope, love and joy. However, if directed poorly, we will be overwhelmed with sin, passivity, fear, materialism...

It’s become very common that people will ‘watch a film’ whilst also looking at something else - social media or shopping - on a second screen. Some even have a third screen! This is very poor focussing. To be gripped and moved by a film, one must focus.

The principle of focus can be applied across our lives. To be inspired by God we must focus on Him, this can happen throughout the day, but it’s vital to have periods where our attention is completely upon Him. Another way of putting it is, when do you set aside un-interrupted time to focus on ‘collecting the stones’ from God’s word?


Each day we must fill our bag and sling with God’s word, so as to face life and its challenges with joy and faith. Last week we talked about the importance of developing good habits for the spiritual life. A vital habit to develop in this regard, is to choose a time (preferably first-thing in the morning, although this time may not be possible for everyone) to devote to being with God with complete focus.

To keep things very simple, this week, I want to focus on one application - scripture memorisation and meditation on one text.

Psalm 56:3-4. When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise— in God I trust and am not afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?

i) Meditate for a few minutes on Psalm 56:3-4 (or another text of your choosing)

Biblical meditation is to prayerfully read, repeatedly, a section of the bible and pray, worship and respond as God leads. Here are a few questions you could use to aid you in meditating:

  1. GOSPEL- What does this text say about salvation through Jesus?

  2. UP- What does this text say about God – His worth, character, attributes, will, promises…?

  3. IN- What does this text say about the church and how we are to relate?

  4. OUT- What does this text say about non-believers and our mission?

  5. RESPONSE – Is there anything you want to pray, worship God about, do, ask forgiveness for, ask God to help you to change…?

ii) Memorise Psalm 56:3-4 (or another text of your choosing)

A few tips:

  1. Include the reference

  2. Read it slowly and carefully x 10

  3. Recall it, without looking as much as possible x10

  4. Do this a few times through the day

  5. Revise regularly

  6. Make it a habit to learn new verses



There's greatness in the 'back and forth' of life

1 Samuel 17:12-15. ‘Now David was the son of an Ephrathite named Jesse, who was from Bethlehem in Judah. Jesse had eight sons, and in Saul’s time he was very old.  Jesse’s three oldest sons had followed Saul to the war: The firstborn was Eliab; the second, Abinadab; and the third, Shammah.  David was the youngest. The three oldest followed Saul, but David went back and forth from Saul to tend his father’s sheep at Bethlehem.’

David ’went back and forth’. Between the normal and exciting but not really involved in the fight. Maybe we are bored with life and look ‘over there’ and see exciting things happening. It’s important that we are patient and faithful. David’s moment will come but in God’s time. Not all going in circles is a curse! There is a time to take dramatic action, but only when we have faith that it is God’s will and not just because we’d like a better or more exciting life. If we can’t cope and serve God in the mundane, our character is not right because most of life is ‘back and forth’! Learn to see your ‘everyday’ as God’s appointment - everyday is important.

True greatness is open to all

1 Samuel 17:16 -20. ‘For forty days the Philistine came forward every morning and evening and took his stand. Now Jesse said to his son David, “Take this ephah of roasted grain and these ten loaves of bread for your brothers and hurry to their camp. Take along these ten cheeses to the commander of their unit. See how your brothers are and bring back some assurance from them. They are with Saul and all the men of Israel in the Valley of Elah, fighting against the Philistines. Early in the morning David left the flock in the care of a shepherd, loaded up and set out, as Jesse had directed. He reached the camp as the army was going out to its battle positions, shouting the war cry.’

David was serving his father in this role. He had been anointed king in chapter 16, but he is prepared to serve. Jesus said,

“You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them.  Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant,  and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all.  For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:42-45).

A serving approach to life is greatness, and puts us in a position for anything further that God wants to accomplish through you.

Greatness comes to those who will hear

1 Samuel 17:21-24.  Israel and the Philistines were drawing up their lines facing each other.  David left his things with the keeper of supplies, ran to the battle lines and asked his brothers how they were.  As he was talking with them, Goliath, the Philistine champion from Gath, stepped out from his lines and shouted his usual defiance, and David heard it. Whenever the Israelites saw the man, they all fled from him in great fear.'

David heard the enemy. Do we hear and see the enemies destructive work. Do we see the lives being wrecked? Do we see the confusion and hatred that he inspires? Do we see the weakness and discouragement of the church and our friends? Are we moved? Godly sorrow and godly anger inspires prayer and action. All of us can be truly great if we will pray. For us, ‘running to the battle lines’ means to pray - to cry out to God for His intervention. No excuses! If you see the situation and are moved, you will run to the line!


We continue to meditate on and memorise Psalm 56:3-4 (or another text of your choice) as set out on Monday.

Psalm 56:3-4. When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise— in God I trust and am not afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?



David has no advantages. He has to overcome many obstacles before he fights Goliath. In David, we are to see that God can use anyone who has a heart for Him. In David, we are to see that great victories are often on the other side of great perseverance. It's too easy to feel the victim and blame others for our inaction, cynicism and faithlessness. David had a unique calling, but we all have purpose in God, and He will give us the grace to win the battles He has for us if we will receive His grace by faith, prayer and action.

David knew that God was on his side

1 Samuel 17:25-26. Now the Israelites had been saying, “Do you see how this man keeps coming out? He comes out to defy Israel. The king will give great wealth to the man who kills him. He will also give him his daughter in marriage and will exempt his family from taxes in Israel.” David asked the men standing near him, “What will be done for the man who kills this Philistine and removes this disgrace from Israel? Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living God?”

It’s easy to say that God loves us, is for us, is Almighty, will give us victory… The devil knows God better than you or I! He can quote theology. The question is, is our theology in our hearts, and will it stand up to the test?

David sees Goliath through the lens of God’s word. He sees someone who is minuscule and unprotected coming against the LORD. Goliath is like the strongest man on earth standing with his back to an approaching Tsunami - he knows that his strength is insignificant in this fight!

Confessions are tested

1 Samuel 17:27-28. ‘They repeated to him what they had been saying and told him, “This is what will be done for the man who kills him.” When Eliab, David’s oldest brother, heard him speaking with the men, he burned with anger at him and asked, “Why have you come down here? And with whom did you leave those few sheep in the wilderness? I know how conceited you are and how wicked your heart is; you came down only to watch the battle.”

After declaring that God is for him and that he is a part of the ‘armies of the living God’, his confession is tested. Many of us want to win a great victory over ‘giants’ but we cannot even win the battle of faithful prayer, purity, faithfulness, forgiveness… David’s ‘mettle’ is tested by his brother’s vicious attack on him.

Let’s remember that every test is an important test. Every small challenge to our character and integrity is important. How you deal with that relationship challenge is worth doing well.

The tried and tested will grow

1 Samuel 17:29-31. “Now what have I done?” said David. “Can’t I even speak?”  He then turned away to someone else and brought up the same matter, and the men answered him as before. What David said was overheard and reported to Saul, and Saul sent for him.’

David is knocked and is defensive over what his brother says to him. However, He ’turned away to someone else and brought up the same matter’. David persevered in the fight. It’s this perseverance that causes the door to the bigger battle to swing open. David could have gone home, upset, but having done his duty to his father. He could have blamed his frustration on his Father for keeping him at home to look after the sheep; could have blamed his brother for assaulting him; he could blame the state of his life and the nation on the army’s cowardice or Goliath’s greatness…And David would be right, but he would have missed this moment. Of course, you have a lot against you. But you are called to follow Jesus into a life of self-giving love for God and people - don’t give your victories away to bitterness.


We continue to meditate on and memorise Psalm 56:3-4 (or another text of your choice) as set out on Monday. Today, I also encourage you to bring to mind those who have hurt you and to forgive them. David asks, 'What can mortals do to me?' They can do a lot! But if we receive God's love for us, we will be enabled to give it to others who also don't deserve it!

Psalm 56:3-4. When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise— in God I trust and am not afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?



Another obstacle

1 Samuel 17:32-37.  ‘David said to Saul, “Let no one lose heart on account of this Philistine; your servant will go and fight him.” Saul replied, “You are not able to go out against this Philistine and fight him; you are only a young man, and he has been a warrior from his youth.”’

David has to overcome one more obstacle before his fight with Goliath - Saul’s lack of faith in him. Saul had great faith in Goliath! He confessed his superiority but makes no reference to the LORD. David’s training enables him to remain confident in God and victory.

David’s preparation

1 Samuel 17:34. But David said to Saul, “Your servant has been keeping his father’s sheep. When a lion or a bear came and carried off a sheep from the flock,  I went after it, struck it and rescued the sheep from its mouth. When it turned on me, I seized it by its hair, struck it and killed it.  Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, because he has defied the armies of the living God.  The Lord who rescued me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will rescue me from the hand of this Philistine.” Saul said to David, “Go, and the Lord be with you.

David understands that God has been training him through his experiences as a shepherd. The faithfulness required, the bears and lions were the ‘dumbbells’ in his gym. David has grown in confidence through these experiences.

It’s through the lions and bears that one learns to use the stones in our bag (see the blog introduction). It takes practice to adapt to certain physical and mental pursuits. When one first tries to ride a bike, read, write, dance, memorise… we can wonder if we are just not made for such things. Too often we give up and conclude that there’s something wrong with us. No doubt David’s first attempts with a sling would have been disappointing. However, real danger has a way of motivating us! No doubt, the thought of facing a wild beast would have put enthusiasm into his practising!

If you lack the motivation to ‘fill your bag and fill your sling’ (know and use God’s word) it may be because you don’t realise that you have a real enemy and that you are in a real war - you and your friends need you to be trained!

Use God’s dress and weapons of war

‘Then Saul dressed David in his own tunic. He put a coat of armour on him and a bronze helmet on his head.  David fastened on his sword over the tunic and tried walking around, because he was not used to them. ‘I cannot go in these,’ he said to Saul, ‘because I am not used to them.’ So he took them off.  Then he took his staff in his hand, chose five smooth stones from the stream, put them in the pouch of his shepherd’s bag and, with his sling in his hand, approached the Philistine.’ (1 Samuel 17:38-40)

Saul tries to dress David in the usual way - but it’s not what David is used to. David has not been trained as a typical soldier. Many try to dress Christians and the church in the ‘weapons of this world’ and too often we fall for it. The emphasis of a Christians dress and weaponry for war include things like:

  • Prayer – If we are not praying we are not fighting! Prayer utilises ‘divine power’.

  • God’s word applied – We pray and live God’s word - this is using our stones and sling.

  • Being filled with the Spirit – We rely on God’s presence for any success.

  • Love – Not violence, not manipulation, not financial gain - serving others is our manner of warfare.

  • Modesty - We don’t ‘dress to impress…flirt to convert…’ Christians put no faith in dress for spiritual success (Let 1 Samuel 16:7 be a warning!).

Paul puts it so well,

‘For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.  We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.’ (2 Corinthians 10:3-5)


We continue to meditate on and memorise Psalm 56:3-4 (or another text of your choice) as set out on Monday.

Psalm 56:3-4. When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise— in God I trust and am not afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?



As we end our meditations in this battle with Goliath, I want us to go away filled with confidence in Jesus. I want to rob you of all self-confidence and replace it with a humility that puts its faith in God and His power.

This fight is too great for you alone

1 Samuel 17:41-44. ‘Meanwhile, the Philistine, with his shield bearer in front of him, kept coming closer to David.  He looked David over and saw that he was little more than a boy, glowing with health and handsome, and he despised him.  He said to David, “Am I a dog, that you come at me with sticks?” And the Philistine cursed David by his gods.  “Come here,” he said, “and I’ll give your flesh to the birds and the wild animals!”’

If we learn anything from David, it’s that God can use weaklings like all of us for His glory. We are ‘dogs with sticks’ in our own strength. As Jesus says,

“Apart from me you can do nothing!” (John 15:5).

In His Name

1 Samuel 17:45-47.  ‘David said to the Philistine, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied.  This day the Lord will deliver you into my hands, and I’ll strike you down and cut off your head. This very day I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds and the wild animals, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel. All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves; for the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give all of you into our hands.”’

I’m amazed at David’s confidence before such an enemy. David’s faith has been developed over the years, but I have no doubt that God was giving David a supernatural gift of faith by the Spirit. Inspired by the Spirit, David can envision Goliath’s defeat and prophesies the outcome of this fight.

If the Spirit is truly at work in us, He will inspire confidence in ‘the name of the Lord Almighty’. As we approach the challenges of life with our eyes on God, rest assured, He will give you the measure of faith needed to see victory.

One for all

1 Samuel 17: 48-53. ‘As the Philistine moved closer to attack him, David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet him.  Reaching into his bag and taking out a stone, he slung it and struck the Philistine on the forehead. The stone sank into his forehead, and he fell facedown on the ground. So David triumphed over the Philistine with a sling and a stone; without a sword in his hand he struck down the Philistine and killed him. David ran and stood over him. He took hold of the Philistine’s sword and drew it from the sheath. After he killed him, he cut off his head with the sword. When the Philistines saw that their hero was dead, they turned and ran. Then the men of Israel and Judah surged forward with a shout and pursued the Philistines to the entrance of Gath and to the gates of Ekron. Their dead were strewn along the Shaaraim road to Gath and Ekron. When the Israelites returned from chasing the Philistines, they plundered their camp.’

This story is a foretelling of the gospel. We were Israel held in bondage through unbelief (1 Sam. 17:11 ). The enemies of sin and the devil were too great for us. However, David's victory was a victory for all the people. Likewise, Jesus’ victory is a victory for all of us. Jesus has taken to the field and won a victory that is credited to our account!

All the victories that we achieve in life stand on Jesus’ victory. If we see anyone become a Christian, if we win a battle over temptation, defeat an addiction, run a ministry area… all of these successes are the power of the cross working in and through us - a big idea but true! It’s Jesus’ death for sin that makes any victory over sin possible.

So, put simply, look to Jesus for salvation and look to Him for all other victories in life.


We continue to meditate on and memorise Psalm 56:3-4 (or another text of your choice) as set out on Monday.

Psalm 56:3-4. When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise— in God I trust and am not afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?

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