As we work through 1 Samuel in Sunday School with Explore the Bible, several weeks ago we reached what some would consider a very familiar passage. If you are a person that grew up going to church, I am confident that you were taught the story of David and Goliath. David was a small hero that approached the big bad warrior Goliath and defeated him with merely a stone and a slingshot.
The beautiful thing about Scripture is that no matter how familiar you are with a passage of Scripture, there is always something more to learn from the passage. This week, I focused our class on the significance of the armor used by both David and Goliath, and I finished with this image. Let me share with you how we got to a picture of a man with a snake in his mouth and nose.
David's Armor - Faith in the Lord
The description of a warrior's armor is a rare occurrence in the Bible. On the surface, the fact that King Saul offered David his own armor seems like a noble offer. Here we have the King willing to provide royal protection for his brave servant. It would appear that the King would look good in the eyes of his people and the Philistines by dressing his warrior with royal armor.
On the side of humor, it also seems silly to see the young David being dressed in the heavy royal armor of the King that was selected because he was a head taller than all the other grown men.
However, there are also several other takeaways from this exchange between David and Goliath. By David stepping up to accept the challenge of Goliath to battle the bravest warrior in all of Israel, it means that King Saul spent 40 days not accepting that challenge. King Saul had refused to stand up for his people.
It is also a testimony to where King Saul placed his faith in protection. He viewed David's best chance for survival through man made armor, rather than through faith that the Lord had called David to have victory over the Philistines. We see quite the contrast as David taunts Goliath prior to their battle, seeing David clearly has confidence that the Lord has called him to protect God's people.
Goliath's Armor - The Scales of the Serpent
When we first hear about Goliath in 1 Samuel 17, he is described as "a champion named Goliath, from Gath...He was nine feet, nine inches tall and wore a bronze helmet and bronze scale armor that weighed 125 pounds. There was bronze armor on his shins, and a bronze sword was slung between his shoulders. His spear shaft was like a weaver's beam, and the iron point of his spear weighed 15 pounds" (1 Samuel 17:4-7).
Upon being anointed by Samuel in 1 Samuel 16, David's first public rise to prominence is in his epic battle against Goliath.
The battle between a man of God and a serpent is not a new story for the Bible reader. In the garden, the very first controversy, the very first battle was between Adam and a serpent. In Genesis 3, the cunning serpent questions the sufficiency of God's goodness and protection to His people by asking, "Did God really say, 'You can't eat from any tree in the garden?'" (Genesis 3:1). Adam and Eve began to question God's purpose for the parameters set for them and ultimately began to believe they knew better than God how to determine what was best for them. The consequences of this leap into sin is still impacting humanity today.
Fortunately God provided a glimmer of hope to His creation. In Genesis 3:15, we see God's grace and love in His reaction to man's sin while speaking to the serpent, "I will put hostility between you and the woman, and between you and woman, and between your seed and her seed. He will strike your head, and you will strike his heel" (Genesis 3:15).
God's people at that point began looking for the seed of man that will one day be born and strike the head of the serpent, defeating sin and redeeming mankind.
Saul had a similar battle in his first moments as king of Israel. In 1 Samuel 11, the Bible documents Saul's victory over Nahash. Nahash is the Hebrew word for serpent. Nahash's goal in 1 Samuel 11 was to humiliate God's people. We hear that Saul defeated Nahash as they "slaughtered them until the heat of the day" (1 Samuel 11:11).
David is a Prototype of Jesus
Just like Adam versus the serpent, and Saul versus Nahash, David versus Goliath is a prototype of Jesus. After Jesus was baptized in Matthew 3, we see the first story of his ministry on earth is to be led into the wilderness to be tempted by the Devil. After fasting for 40 days and 40 nights, Satan approached Jesus and began to tempt him. Just as the serpent had tempted Adam and Eve in Genesis 3. Unlike Adam and Saul, who eventually failed to be the rescuer, and like David, Jesus was able to have faith in Scripture and trust in the LORD to overcome the temptations provided by Satan. David's victory over Goliath, is a prototype of what Jesus will eventually do in the wilderness against Satan!
Oh, if only our struggle with sin were as easy to see as a speaking serpent, or a 9 feet 9 inch tall giant, or even Satan himself!! Unfortunately, we struggle with sins that are less noticeable both to ourselves and to those around us.
How neat it would be if sin were as visibly present as Pinocchio's nose - that his nose grew every time he lied. As ugly as sin is. We may not be able to see the effects of sin in our lives, but God can. In 1 Samuel 16, the LORD says to Samuel, "Do not look at his appearance or his stature, because I have rejected him. Man does not see what the LORD sees, for man sees what is visible, but the LORD sees the heart" (1 Samuel 16:7).
For those of us in Christ, we can take comfort that Jesus has taken the punishment for our sins, and we are seen through the lens of Jesus and His perfection when God looks at us. Jesus engages and helps to purify our hearts, taking away layers of sin that have been built blocking us from fellowship with God.