The Leader: David’s Mighty Men—Slay Giants
By Joel Hilliker
When King Saul ruled Israel, the nation suffered from a shameful lack of faith. David, a teenager, visited the army on the battlefront and saw Israel’s soldiers—who should have been filled with faith and valor—cowering before a Philistine warrior (1 Samuel 17:24). Saul offered a great reward to anyone who would step up and fight Goliath, but no one would (verse 25). Saul wouldn’t even consider fighting the giant himself.
Why were these men so shamefully fearful? It was primarily because of Saul’s poor leadership!
Young David had a totally different spirit. “And David spake to the men that stood by him, saying, What shall be done to the man that killeth this Philistine, and taketh away the reproach from Israel? for who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?” (verse 26). Later David asked, “Is there not a cause?” (verse 29). Can’t you all see there’s a good reason to fight? We need to take this Philistine on!
David displayed amazing faith and courage. He personally stepped up and killed the giant who had brought reproach on Israel.
God later replaced Saul’s weak leadership with David’s faith-filled leadership. This change in government brought a transformation in Israel’s military.
Toward the end of David’s reign, when he was an old man, there was another battle with the Philistines (2 Samuel 21:15). This army had more giants like Goliath: “And Ishbibenob, which was of the sons of the giant, the weight of whose spear weighed three hundred shekels of brass in weight, he being girded with a new sword, thought to have slain David” (verse 16). This huge man was like the ancient battlefield equivalent of a tank. But what happened? “But Abishai the son of Zeruiah succoured [David], and smote the Philistine, and killed him. Then the men of David sware unto him, saying, Thou shalt go no more out with us to battle, that thou quench not the light of Israel” (verse 17).
These soldiers under David were valiant—a stark contrast to what they had been under King Saul’s leadership.
David’s men wanted to protect their king to ensure that “the light of Israel” would not be quenched. What a superb attitude! They could have defected at some point during his reign, like when he committed adultery and murder. Instead, they were sterling examples of virtue and loyalty to a king who made mistakes but repented and who, most importantly, was the man God ordained and continued to support as king. Those men knew that staying loyal to David was following God.
“And it came to pass after this, that there was again a battle with the Philistines at Gob: then Sibbechai the Hushathite slew Saph, which was of the sons of the giant” (verse 18). Sibbechai was yet another giant-killer cast in David’s mold.
“And there was again a battle in Gob with the Philistines, where Elhanan the son of Jaare-oregim, a Bethlehemite, slew the brother of Goliath the Gittite, the staff of whose spear was like a weaver’s beam” (verse 19). Elhanan too followed in David’s giant-slaying footsteps. Verses 20-22 describe another of David’s mighty men killing a huge, fearsome giant.
These men killed giants just as David did! David’s army of giant-killers represents the epitome of God’s government! These men didn’t run from giants. What changed from the cowardice and timidity they displayed under Saul? They followed David’s example of faith! In so doing, they grew in their love for God.
Would you stand up and fight the way these men did? Will you unify around God’s leader today the way those men rallied around David? We must “follow the faith” of the man God is using.
It’s not enough that a nation or a Church has a great leader. Everybody under him must be great! We all need to be giant-killers! God makes that possible for every one of us. There can be no breakdown in any link. This towering lesson can not only make you a conqueror but can create an army of conquerors!
By Gerald Flurry