Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?” And the people answered him in this manner, saying, “So shall it be done for the man who kills him.” Now Eliab his oldest brother heard when he spoke to the men; and Eliab’s anger was aroused against David, and he said, “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.” And David said, “What have I done now? Is there not a cause?” (1 Samuel 17:26-29)
David Fought For A Cause
When the Philistines gathered their armies together to battle against Saul and the men of Israel, a great champion named Goliath went out from the camp of the Philistines calling for a champion from Israel to fight him. Goliath was a giant of a man standing over nine feet tall wearing a coat of mail weighing 125 pounds. He was a terrifying image of battle-hardened killing machine few men if any could fight against. For forty days, every morning and evening, the Philistine champion strutted in front of the Israelite army. Dwelling in Bethlehem of Judah was a man named Jesse who had eight sons. Three of his sons were part of King Saul’s army that stood against the Philistines. His youngest son David tended the sheep and took provisions to his brothers. Early one morning, David took the provisions of roasted grain, ten loaves of bread and ten cuts of cheese for his brothers and the captain of the thousand. As he talked with his brothers, Goliath stood before the army of Israel and challenged the fearful men who fled before him. The champion of the Philistines had put great fear in the hearts of the army including Saul. There was a reward offered to any man who would fight the giant including great riches, the hand of King Saul’s daughter and exempt the warrior’s father from taxes in Israel but no one would fight Goliath. None of these things impressed the young shepherd who wanted to know who was going to kill the man who defied the army of God and brought reproach upon the nation of Israel. David had no interest in the carnal rewards of killing a man who stood against the army of Israel. He wanted to know who would stop the uncircumcised from his defiance of the true and living God. No one answered. David’s older brother, Eliab, chastised his younger brother for being prideful and was angry against him. What Eliab could not see and the army of Israel failed to understand was there was a cause standing before larger than the nine-foot giant called Goliath.
David saw immediately the problem and sought to set things in order. For forty days Goliath had defied and defiled that army of Jehovah God and out of fear no man moved near to fight the champion. Saul was struck with dread and fear and became a weak leader. The only one who understood the cause of the Lord was the young shepherd boy who walked into the valley of Elah to stand before the giant. King Saul recognized the youth of David was no match for a hardened warrior like Goliath but the king was looking on the outside. Somewhere along the way Saul had lost his faith in the power of God who delivered Israel from bondage by His mighty hand, brought the people through the Red Sea and conquered all armies that stood before them. Canaan was overrun through the power of God to defeat all enemies and if Saul would have trusted in the will of the Lord, Goliath would have been dead long ago. It took a young boy from Bethlehem to show the army of God there was something to fight for. The reward was not the cause. What David saw was the vindication of righteousness against a force that dared stand against the army of God. No army in the world could defeat the nation of Israel because God was their king, their warrior, and their deliverer. Looking at the giant Goliath brought fear to the hearts of the mighty warriors but David saw Goliath for what he was. The champion of the Philistines was not so huge he was unable to be defeated; David saw the giant for what he really was: an incredibly large target that could not be missed. No matter the size or disposition of Goliath, the Lord God was larger, more powerful and His will would be done. Reassured, David stood before the giant and defeated him with a stone from the brook. God won a great victory that day because David fought for a cause.
The church of Christ stands in the valley of Elah being opposed with the giants of worldliness, sensuality, religious error, false doctrine, apathy and a host of Goliaths that paralyze the hearts of the faithful to do nothing. What made the story of the Philistines and Israel tragic was it made the people of God do nothing and that is where they met their defeat. From its beginning, the church has faced persecution. What defined the New Testament church is they did not stand idly by and shrink back in fear. Luke describes how the people of God were scattered abroad preaching the word during the persecution of Saul of Tarsus. This pattern of courage is necessary for the church to thrive in a world filled with a disregard for Biblical authority, lack of respect for righteousness and a denial of the one true God. Accepting the carnal appetites of the world makes the church more like the Philistines instead of the nation of God’s people. Allowing the entertainment philosophy of modern religion to guide the decisions of the local church will only prevent the purpose of the church. David understood there was a cause and he fought for the cause. The church must awaken to remind itself of its cause and that cause is Christ crucified. Anything less than the gospel of Jesus Christ denies the purpose of the death of God’s Son. Denominationalism must be opposed, rank denial of clear Biblical teachings on adultery, fornication, homosexuality, marriage, and divorce must be defined by truth and the social gospels of immodesty, drinking and carnality must be stood against if the church is to survive. Eliab and others became ineffective through fear and allowed Goliath to oppose the army of God. David had the courage to walk into the valley and defy the enemy of the Lord. Victory can only be found when the church has the courage to remember the cause and to take the actions to purpose the cause in the local work. As soldiers of Christ, the church is a battle-ready army not standing but fighting for the banner of truth and cause of righteousness – no matter the cost.