If you talk about the Old Testament and King David with most adults, the psalms are likely forefront in their mind as David is credited with writing most of them. Many people have a favorite psalm or a story about how they found it helpful to meditate on this poet and musician’s words during a time of challenge or about how David’s words of joy and praise express their hearts in times of happiness and gratitude.
But it is the future king’s battle with a giant, a young David armed only with a slingshot and five smooth stones, that has currently captured my children’s imaginations.
My son’s eyes grow wide behind the frames of his glasses, his small face expressing first worry and then awe as David who was “only a boy” (1 Samuel 17:35) faces Goliath, a far larger and bigger foe, who by all rights should have bested him. But, what happens? Despite all logic and reason and expectations? David wins!
Children live in an adult world, a world where it often isn’t easy to be the little guy (or the little girl). The world tells our children “no” and “it is impossible.” And yet here is David, a little guy with humble defenses (because I know I’d certainly hope for more than a slingshot and five rocks when up against a fearsome warrior who towers above me) showing us that when God is on our side, great things can happen and we don’t need to be afraid.
For my children, David facing the fearsome giant is an exciting story, but I hope they take away from this hero’s story more than a thrilling tale of victory in a battle against impossible odds and expectations.
Was David a defeater of giants? Yes, but David’s life also gives me an example to use with my children about how we can trust God, even when things look bleak and impossible, even when we really mess up. Because my kids mess up. Their dad and I mess up. None of us is perfect or blameless.
And here is David, a sinner just like us, making mistakes, being human despite being a good king, despite victory over giants. David messes up. In fact, when we read the Bible we might even be a little shocked because at times, David seems a long way from the boy with a handful of stones who trusted God even in the face of a mighty enemy.
In the midst of the praises and thanksgiving, some of the psalms are laments – the words of the broken hearted. How many of us have had times where, despite the good work we’ve already seen in our lives, despite the moments of bravery and trust, we face our obstacles broken hearted, with the fear that we have been abandoned? We wonder if this time we are alone? If this time we are forgotten? Do we face the giant on our own?
Sometimes the “giants” in our lives are not as big as they first appear:
- a disagreement with a family member or a friend
- a check book that just won’t balance
- frustration at work or with a coworker
and those things, with the grace of time and perspective, don’t loom so large in our lives in the big picture.
But sometimes the obstacles are mightier and our “giants” take on other, even scarier forms. As much as I’d like to protect them, it is likely my children will grow up and face things like
and the hunger and hurts of a broken world. Someday my kids might wrestle with the feeling that they are facing these giants alone, that they are forgotten, too small, insignificant, or have made too many mistakes.
God never forgets and we do not face our giants alone.
As a parent and as a Christian, when I am feeling lost, David’s words reach out from the past and remind me that a faithful, mighty, loving God is on my side, there for me – and for my children – today and always.
What do I want my children to know about David, the king, the poet, the hero, the young boy up against a giant? I want my kids to know that God can use us, even if all we have are the stones in our pockets, even if we have really messed up.
I want my children to know, to believe right down to their core, that God is as faithful to us when we doubt, stumble, and feel lost as He is when we are brave and steadfast. God doesn’t waver.
He has plans for them and the lesson I hope they carry into the uncertainties of adulthood, the lesson that this grown up sometimes needs to remember herself, is that He is on their side even when the problems before them appear large.
We do not face our giants, our challenges, alone. The Lord is on our side. That’s what I hope my children learn from David, a hero of the Bible, and hopefully also from their father and mother and our humble imperfect example.
Learn more about David and 24 other heroes of the Old Testament in a brand new devotional and activity download pack – Old Testament Heroes!