And Jesse begat David the king; and David the king begat Solomon of her that had been the wife of Urias; Matthew 1:6
It might be an understatement to say King David’s “claim to fame” was his dramatic, almost theatrical slaying of Goliath, the giant from Gath. Most Bible readers associate young David with this amazing feat as his “coming out” moment. This one central feat that would define him for the remainder of his life – the impossible odds of an ill-equipped, strapping youth who, depending totally on his Lord, confronts and beheads the infamous and revered Philistine warrior on the battlefield.
But in retrospect, is the perception truly accurate that the biggest giant King David ever faced was Goliath? Were there other Goliaths he faced in life, and if so, were they greater in magnitude, demanded a deeper well of inner strength to overcome, and perhaps defined his life more deeply?
Unbeknownst to him, David would face many formidable situations on the horizon of his life. We will look at four other giants he had to confront and defeat in his life – Treachery & Conspiracy, Tragic Personal Loss, Pride & Arrogance, and Guilt & Shame.
The Goliath of Treachery & Conspiracy
Yea, mine own familiar friend, in whom I trusted, which did eat of my bread, hath lifted up his heel against me. Psalms 41:9
There are perhaps no deeper, more penetrating, and more hurtful wounds than those coming from trusted confidants or from those you trust and have direct access into the inner, sacred sanctums of your heart – loved ones, family, trusted friends, and authority figures, tops the list. This giant was no stranger to David and the first one he confronted before the famous giant of Gath. It first surfaced amongst those most familiar to him, his own family.
We get a glimpse that David was not well-liked and even disparaged by at least his oldest brother. Eliab. David’s oldest brother should have been his best friend and champion, instead, he felt threatened by the next King of Israel being his youngest brother (I Sam 17:28). Apparently, his behavior toward him was not surprising (I Sam 17:29). King Saul was the next source of attack against the future young king:
And Saul cast the javelin; for he said, I will smite David even to the wall with it. And David avoided out of his presence twice. 1 Samuel 18:11
And Saul said, I will give him her, that she may be a snare to him, and that the hand of the Philistines may be against him. Wherefore Saul said to David, Thou shalt this day be my son in law in the one of the twain. 1 Samuel 18:21
And Saul spake to Jonathan his son, and to all his servants, that they should kill David. 1 Samuel 19:1
Here is the next leader of Israel running for his life from a mad, dethroned king. Though it all David “acted wisely” and retain his integrity and dignity while being unjustly attacked and running like a fugitive.
The Goliath of Great Personal Loss
And the king was much moved, and went up to the chamber over the gate, and wept: and as he went, thus he said, O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! would God I had died for thee, O Absalom, my son, my son! 2 Samuel 18:33
It is said that nothing in life is more debilitating to a person’s mind, body, soul, and spirit than the loss or serious illness of a loved one. The saying is: “It should not happen this way. It should be the other way around!”. The weight of great personal loss has far and lasting effects. This leads us to the next giant King David faced, the Goliath of loss and heartbreak over the death of two of his children, his first son, and his son, Absalom.
His birth was not timely, he was never given a name, and he never lived to assume the throne of Israel he was destined to inherit as the king’s first-born son. Nevertheless, his father loved him and grieved over his premature death:
David, therefore, besought God for the child; and David fasted, and went in, and lay all night upon the earth. And the elders of his house arose, and went to him, to raise him up from the earth: but he would not, neither did he eat bread with them. 2 Samuel 12:16-17
The loss of a child is a heavy weight to bear. Even for kings of the earth. But this was not the last of his experience with the heartbreak of losing a child. Absalom was a beautiful child from birth. His visage had the look of royalty, and his hair was something to behold. He had it all, good looks, prestige, opportunity, intelligence, charisma, and the skillful wit to influence the masses towards his political leanings (2Sam 15:6). In the end though, it all worked against him because rebellion entered his heart. And it cost Absalom his life.
Nevertheless, this did not stop his father from loving him. His death was still a crushing blow.
And the king commanded Joab and Abishai and Ittai, saying, Deal gently for my sake with the young man, even with Absalom. And all the people heard when the king gave all the captains charge concerning Absalom. 2 Samuel 18:5
No matter what dishonorable things a child may do, no matter how they may fail to live up to their potential, at the end of the day they are still our child. The king felt the same way. Though Absalom did many despicable things in his life, they did not turn his father’s love away from him. Absalom’s death was a crushing giant King David had to face.
But the king covered his face, and the king cried with a loud voice, O my son Absalom, O Absalom, my son, my son! 2 Samuel 19:4
The Goliath of Pride & Arrogance
And David said unto Gad, I am in a great strait: let me fall now into the hand of the LORD; for very great are his mercies: but let me not fall into the hand of man. 1 Chronicles 21:13
It was a mistake King David knew he should have never made when he commanded – “Joab, go and number all the soldiers in the army of Israel. Just would like to know how big and powerful our military strength and capabilities are. You know, it’s just an ego thing”. Numbers. Numbers in spiritual matters are oftentimes nothing but ego. Before you click out of this blog, wait and see what God has to say about it. And the best place to start is The Book of Acts and how numbers were emphasized. The thing is, they weren’t. Here are examples:
And in those days Peter stood up in the midst of the disciples, and said, (the number of names together were about an hundred and twenty,) Acts 1:15
Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. Acts 2:41
Howbeit many of them which heard the word believed; and the number of the men was about five thousand. Acts 4:4
And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied. And all the men were about twelve. Acts 19:6-7
When Luke recorded the actual numbers of people added to the church (water and spirit birth – which is how God adds to His church), he was not specific. Maybe God is saying something here. Sure, numbers indicate growth, and everyone wants to see God’s church grow. But only the Lord knows the heart and knows who really has set their heart to the things of God and keeps it there. Keeping count of souls is God’s business and it can become a sin. It did for King David.
Did he feel that familiar, unsettling tinge of remorse in the gut like he felt the day he summoned his beautiful neighbor over to his palace for some “private” time together? The Lord only knows. One thing is for sure, this blunder would take more than just the lives of two people (Uriah and a newborn) as visited by the next giant. At the end of the mayhem of God’s wrath, the King’s pride and arrogance were responsible for the death of 70,000 men. That is a heavy weight to bear. It is said that pride is the original sin and is the root of all evil that spawns more and more iniquity. The giant of pride and arrogance is a giant most of us must confront in life.
Now we save the best (or depending on how you look at it), the worst giant for last. And that is the giant of guilt and shame.
The Goliath of Guilt & Shame
And Nathan said to David, Thou art the man. 2 Samuel 12:7
Thou art the man – POW. Four words that none of us would want to hear, especially from the God of Creation through the mouthpiece of his prophet. Those words still sting, even though directed at someone else. Upon hearing them, David had about 200 milliseconds to process what Nathan was communicating and provide the right response. And the response he would give set the stage for his future and this giant’s ultimate defeat.
Most Bible readers are familiar with the sins Nathan exposed here in David’s life. The sins of murder, adultery, the blasphemy of God’s name, and the military code breach of a superior deliberately setting up a subordinate in a compromising situation. In essence, King David failed politically, militarily, personally, and spiritually. In essence, he failed in every aspect of life one can possibly fail in. A total failure you might say.
But before we drop the curtain of shame and guilt over King David’s life and write him off as a non-entity and someone God could never use again, let’s wait and see how the story ends before making that judgment. We need to look and see what God had to say about the situation. Why? Because only God knows the history. And only God truly knows your history. Does this matter? Oh, yes, it matters immensely. And it mattered to King David. So, let’s take a look at his history and the context surrounding 2 Samuel 12:7.
The sins Nathan revealed in King David’s life are recorded in 2 Samuel chapter 11. These events occurred near the very end of his life during a time of personal weakness. God is a God of patterns and looks at things from a big perspective. And one interesting aspect of God’s judgment is that he compares it to a balance – an interplay between two opposing weights. And the Lord’s weights of justice and judgment are perfectly balanced. He hates balances that are skewed and unjust (Pro 11:1, 16:11, 20:23).
What does this mean? It means when God is forced to pronounce judgment in a situation, He takes everything into consideration before making an ultimate decision. It is simply what a just judge does and is the basis of our judicial system. The dynamics of mercy and judgment are the key aspects of God’s order of justice and judgment. With this in mind let’s visit the “weight” already resting on the right-hand side of King David’s life scale with some real-life Biblical examples:
Committed to Prayer, Worship & Thanksgiving – cannot forget this one. King David was a man of prayer and worship. So much is recorded in the Bible of this man’s predisposition to praise the Lord, worship God whenever and wherever he was and devoted himself to pouring out his heart to God in prayer. King David is the only one recorded in the Bible who is known as “a man after God’s own heart”. He also had a thankful heart and understood where he came from and where God’s blessings had taken him.
Lover of the Law (Word of God) – King David’s love for the word of God is unquestionable. Psalm 19 is devoted entirely to the majesty of God’s word. And Psalm 119 (the longest Psalm) references the word of God in every one of its 176 verses.
One writer, George Buttrick, penned a remarkable statement in his book The Parables of Jesus (written in 1928) regarding the importance of motivation behind our actions. In his words:
“Everlastingly the motive of a man’s (person’s) life proclaims his worth”. End of quote.
King David paid a dear price for his sins. His infant son with Bathsheba died. His son Amnon committed a hideous act against his beautiful virgin sister, Tamar. His other son, Absalom, takes the life of Amnon for this deed. And Absalom is killed not long after this for his rebellious acts against his father.
Psalm 51 is the Psalm of repentance following God’s rebuke through the prophet Nathan. In this prayer of repentance, what is the first thing mentioned?
Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions. Psalm 51:1
Mercy. The key to his conquering the giants of his life rests squarely on this – King David had a deep revelation (understanding) of the mercy of God and he believed God was who He said He was. He knew the heart of God is touched and moved by two things; the fear of God and those that hope in his mercy. Let his own words tell us:
The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy. Psalms 103:8
For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him. Psalms 103:11
But the mercy of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear him, and his righteousness unto children’s children; Psalms 103:17
Justice and judgment are the habitation of thy throne: mercy and truth shall go before thy face. Psalms 89:14
His son, Solomon, would also carry on the cornerstone elements of mercy and truth:
Mercy and truth preserve the king: and his throne is upholden by mercy. Proverbs 20:28
This all brings us to the conclusion of the matter. King David has shown us we are not hopeless when the giants of life come across our path in life. And those giants can be conquered by two slayers the Lord has equipped us with.
The Giant Slayers – Mercy & Truth
We’ve all sung the songs and know about the “power of the blood”. But do we know why? The study of the life of King David brings to light two foundational bedrocks that brought the King through life’s tragedies and traumas – God’s mercy and God’s truth (His Word). Without the sinless blood of the Lamb of God, there is no mercy. Mercy cannot exist without blood, the powerful sin-cleansing blood of Calvary. Secondly, God’s word must be believed and not allow doubt to creep in and cloud out the promises given to us in God’s word.
And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, Revelation 1:5
This is how serious God is about sin and how serious He is about his blood.
In summary, we’ve looked at the life of King David. Can we agree that the most formidable and challenging giant David ever faced was not the encounter with the Philistine from Gath? In retrospect, could it be that the real giants in life are not the ones staring you in the face in the noonday sun? But could the real giants we must face and confront be the ones that surface unexpectedly, out of nowhere, and come from events and experiences that we least suspect? Life’s biggest giants are not always physical. The biggest giants we will ever face could be spiritual ones. Those that are hidden and slip by us unaware and silently weave their way into our minds and hearts. Those are the real giants because an enemy that remains invisible is not easily defeated.
Despite the chaotic aftermath of Nathan’s pronouncement against King David, he was able to recover and move ahead in life while retaining his trust, confidence, and love for the God who so vividly expressed His displeasure over his sins. How was he able to do this? By coming to the complete understanding (revelation) and total knowledge that HE WAS FORGIVEN! He knew beyond all doubt that God is a God of mercy, He is who He said He is, and His mercy is effective when it’s believed and acted upon.
What may appear as a “Goliath situation” today could simply be steppingstones for overcoming bigger, more intense, and more formidable giants further down the road of life. Like King David, your best day is yet to come and the faith you nurture on the inside is waiting to be revealed by the God who delights in making your enemies fall dumbstruck at the feet of a people who call God their Lord and Savior and who “hope” in His mercy.
Be Blessed & Merry Christmas 2022!
It is “Merry” because Jesus was born to forgive us and deliver us from our sins. He will if we allow him and believe in him. Amen
Let not mercy and truth forsake thee: bind them about thy neck; write them upon the table of thine heart: Proverbs 3:3
And in mercy shall the throne be established: and he shall sit upon it in truth in the tabernacle of David, judging, and seeking judgment, and hasting righteousness. Isaiah 16:5