The song “Can’t Give Up Now” embodies the determination demonstrated by the shepherd David in 1 Samuel 17.
“There will be mountains
That I will have to climb
And there will be battles
That I will have to fight
But victory or defeat
It’s up to me to decide
But how can I expect to win
If I never try?
“I just can’t give up now
I’ve come too far from where
I started from
Nobody told me
The road would be easy
And I don’t believe He’s brought me this far
To leave me.”1
David encountered Goliath in the path of faithful obedience. He had not journeyed to the camp of the army of Israel because he was tired of keeping his father’s flocks. His father told him, “Take this ephah of roasted grain and these ten loaves of bread to your brothers and hurry to the camp. Take along these ten cheeses to the commander of their unit. See how your brothers are and bring back some assurance from them” (1 Sam. 17:17, 18).
Honoring Jesse, David began his journey to the Valley of Elah, where King Saul and the army of Israel were confronted by the boastful challenge of the Philistine giant Goliath.
David’s experience was similar to that of Joseph, son of Jacob, centuries before. Both of them were sent by their aged fathers to where their older brothers were engaged in business. Both Joseph and David were teens when they faithfully carried out their fathers’ instructions. Both journeys were life-changing and set them up for future greatness.
Nothing that true followers of God encounter is small or insignificant. It is wise to heed the counsel given us by the Holy Spirit through the apostle Paul: “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God” (1 Cor. 10:31). We cannot see how God will lead us to future greatness through humble obedience, but we too can be blessed according to His holy will.
Despite the fact that David was on the path of obedience, his way was not without opposition. The Christian life is a battle and a march. The apostle Paul encouraged believers to prepare for the battle. “Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes” (Eph. 6:11).
The opposition began just where it does for many believers—in the family. Eliab, David’s oldest brother, rebuked him for asking about Goliath’s defiance of Israel’s army. He 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” (1 Sam. 17:28).
David did not defend himself, for he was on God’s mission. Wrote Ellen White: “The armies of Israel were in peril, and David had been directed by an angel to save his people.”2
Eliab was jealous. Ellen White writes of David’s brothers: “Their jealousy had been aroused as they saw David honored above them, and they did not regard him with the respect and love due to his integrity and brotherly tenderness.”3
David moved on, asking the same question of other soldiers. Eventually King Saul sent for the brave youth. David made his declaration: “Your servant will go and fight him” (verse 32).
Sadly, David’s faith was not encouraged by the king. In fact, Saul rebuffed the youth. “You are not able to go against this Philistine and fight him” (verse 33).
Even though Saul was king of Israel and commander of its army, David did not yield his faith in God under Saul’s blast of doubt and discouragement. David stated the basis for his faith, outlining his victories against the lion and the bear through the power of God. He knew that the same Lord who had delivered him from those fierce animals would also save him from the hand of the Philistine.
Seeing that David would not be turned aside, Saul told him to go. Even so, his mind was still on the ways of humanity, and, in the words of Ellen White, “command was given to clothe the youth in the king’s own armor. The heavy helmet of brass was put upon his head, and the coat of mail was placed upon his body; the monarch’s sword was at his side.”4
With all this protection at his disposal, why didn’t Saul fight Goliath himself? Doubt and fear had taken the place of faith in God. While David spoke in faith of victory over Goliath, Saul could voice only doubt and discouragement. “Without faith it is impossible to please God” (Heb. 11:6).
David found that the monarch’s armor and weaponry hindered him, so he returned to take them off. “The first thought in the minds of the anxious spectators was that David had decided not to risk his life in meeting an antagonist in so unequal an encounter,” wrote Ellen White. “But this was far from the thought of the brave young man.”5 David’s faith in God’s ability to give him the victory was unshaken and grew even bolder.
Before final victory, there came fresh insults and opposition. But young David knew that the Lord had not brought him thus far to leave him. In response to Goliath’s insults and threats, David declared his faith in God. “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” (1 Sam. 17:45).
According to David’s bold, unconquerable faith, it was done. In a stunning victory that shocked everyone, David, armed only with faith, a sling, and a stone, slew Goliath.
Yes, we love to read about the defeat of the towering Goliath by David. But do we realize that this epic fight also represents the deliverances he gained over doubt, distrust, family pressure, and misguided kingly advice? Victory is not an accident, but the result of persistent and diligent effort in the strength of Christ.
Between Paul’s listing of troubles and trials (tribulation, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, peril and sword), powers and circumstances (death, life, angels, principalities, powers, things present, things to come, height, depth, or any other created being), he sounds forth this bold declaration of encouragement: “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us” (Rom. 8:37). Nothing, he states, “will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (verse 39).
Patricia J. Smith lives in Pioneer, Louisiana, is a second-generation Seventh-day Adventist, and loves to share God’s love through her writing.