Choose Your Mountainside

At the beginning of 1 Samuel 17, we have two armies on two mountains facing each other across a valley. I wonder if you recall the last time we saw this scene, of two mountains and opposing forces? It was in Deuteronomy 27 and Moses was instructing the Israelites to stand on two mountains and declare blessings and curses. The Israelites in 1 Samuel had chosen to go their own way and were facing destruction and slavery at the hands of the Philistines. The man-mountain Goliath was shouting out insults and challenges that no-one dared answer.

I wondered why Saul would let David fight when he was just a boy and not a single one of the brave men in Saul’s army – including Jonathan who had seen God’s might in action just a couple of chapters earlier – would face Goliath. Why was Saul persuaded to let this weak boy face the champion of the Philistines?

It had to be God. There is no rhyme or reason for it otherwise. There’s no shred of ‘common sense’ in this scene. A shepherd boy brings food for his big brothers, a musician that Saul had let soothe his ill temper and somehow the king and the army are persuaded to let him face the monster not one of them would face.

I mentioned the mountains of curse and blessing earlier. Saul was in the valley. The Israelite army was in the valley. They’d stepped off the mountain of blessing when they rejected God in favour of a king. (1 Samuel 8:7) But there were a few still standing on the mountain of God’s blessing, a few determined to follow the Lord and His ways. David was one of them. David wasn’t insulted for himself, he wasn’t in the army; he was enraged at the insult to the armies of the Living God. And he knew the One in whom his trust was placed:

37 The Eternal One, who saved me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear, will save me from the hand of this Philistine.

1 Samuel 17:37

His words persuaded Saul. Those simple words of confidence persuaded the king to put the future of all the Israelites in the hands of this boy. They tried to deck David out in armour because that was the limit of their vision. David knew his trust wasn’t in armour or a sword but in God. He had just his sling and 5 carefully chosen stones of ideal weight and shape gathered from a stream where the Hand of God had shaped them over centuries for just this day. And he went confident that God was the One in control.

David: 45 …I come armed with the name of the Eternal One… 46 This very day, the Eternal One will give you into my hands. I will strike you down and cut off your head, … Then all the land will know the True God is with Israel, 47 and all of those gathered here will know that the Eternal One does not save by sword and spear. The battle is the Eternal One’s…

1 Samuel 17:45-47

Sometimes we just can’t see a way, it seems just too much for us to deal with. In those times, like David, we have to remember what God has done in the past, remember His promises and His faithfulness and choose to stand firm on the mountain of blessing.


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