Introduction: In many situations we need context to properly
understand something. The Bible provides a historical context for our
world-view. We know that problems exist for two reasons: Satan, and
our decision to choose him over God. We know that God will, because
of His love and unselfishness, end sin, death, and sorrow. We know
that God works with His followers to bring great victories over evil.
We know that those who forget history are bound to repeat the errors
of the past. Let’s dig into our study of history in the Bible so we
will have a historical context for the problems we face today! A note
to readers. I’ve decided, after some consideration, to change from
the NIV to the English Standard Version (ESV) of the Bible.
- David and Goliath
- Read 1 Samuel 17:1-2. Who is the aggressor? Who started
the problem? (The Philistines were gathered in territory
“which belongs to Judah.”)
- Read 1 Samuel 17:3. If you know something about military
strategy, what is the problem here? (Whichever side goes
down its mountain and attacks the other mountain has a
serious strategic disadvantage.)
- Read 1 Samuel 17:4 and 1 Samuel 17:8-9. How did the
Philistines intend to overcome this strategic stalemate?
- Read 1 Samuel 17:11. The Philistines have a great idea?
Why don’t the men of Israel agree?
- Read 1 Samuel 17:16, 20, 23-24. David’s father sent him to
bring food to his older brothers who were soldiers and to
bring back a report on how they were doing. What report
would you be putting together in your mind if you were
- How would you explain the “war cry” of verse 20 and
the fear and fleeing of verse 21?
- Read 1 Samuel 17:26. How would you characterize David’s
attitude about this situation?
- Read 1 Samuel 17:28. What attitude does David’s oldest
brother have about David’s attitude? (David is
presumptuous. David is criticizing men who are much more
important than him. He just came to see people get
- Read 1 Samuel 17:32-33. Is David all talk and no action?
- What is a military expert’s analysis of David’s
chances against Goliath?
- Read 1 Samuel 17:36-37. What changes the opinion of King
Saul, the military expert?
- Why would Saul agree to this? Isn’t he putting the
entire nation at risk? See 1 Samuel 17:9. (It must
have been David’s past experiences in relying on
- Read 1 Samuel 17:38-39. Is Saul exercising common sense?
Is David exercising common sense? Who has the better
- Why is common sense needed when David is depending on
- Read 1 Samuel 17:40. What would you say about David’s
common sense if you did not know the end of the story?
- What do you conclude from the statement that David’s
“sling was in his hand?” (Goliath could not see it.)
- Read 1 Samuel 17:42-43. What is Goliath’s evaluation of
David’s common sense? (Notice that Goliath mentions the
staff, but not the sling.)
- Is Goliath invoking the supernatural?
- Read 1 Samuel 17:45. On what is David depending for his
victory? (God! He comes “in the name of the Lord of
- Read 1 Samuel 17:46-47. Let’s concentrate on verse 47.
David just said that he would cut off Goliath’s head. Why
does he then say that God does not save with sword and
spear? (David’s prediction about the future looks a little
ridiculous to any bystander. This boy against a giant?
That is why David tells the audience (“this assembly”)
that it is the supernatural that will win the battle.)
- Read 1 Samuel 17:49-50. Could any of the soldiers in the
army of Israel have done what David did?
- Since they did not, what made David special?
- How much of David’s confidence came from his past
experience, and how much came from trusting in the
Lord? Would David have trusted God even if he had not
previously killed lions and bears?
- How did David approach the original lion or
bear that he killed?
- In a sense, David’s sling was like bringing a gun to
a knife fight. Look again at 1 Samuel 17:50. What
does this say about the optics of this victory? (This
reveals that the normal observer of the day would
think a sword was a more potent weapon.)
- What is the lesson for us today? Should we want to build
up our faith by defeating lions and bears so that we can
move on to giants?
- What is the equivalent problem in your life? Are your
problems non-lethal? Should you desire more problems
so that you can have faith when larger problems come?
- Consider encountering problems, could David have
simply ignored this problem? Could he have returned
home with the report that the entire army was a bunch
of cowards? Or, God’s soldiers had too much common
sense? (It was David’s problem because it was David’s
Lord who was being impugned.)
- Are you someone who complains about others, but is
unwilling to tackle the problem yourself?
- Do you know people who just complain?
- David Compared
- Read Hebrews 11:32-33. Up to this point, Hebrews 11
recounts the heroes of the Old Testament. People like
David who, through faith, “conquered kingdoms” and
“stopped the mouths of lions.” What does this history tell
us is the result of having faith in God?
- Read Hebrews 11:35-36. What history does this suggest for
- Read Hebrews 11:37-38. Let’s assume that Hebrews was
written before David was born (it was not), and he had
read this chapter. Would he believe, based on this
history, that he might die by the sword of Goliath?
- How do you explain the difference between victors
like David and victims like those described in verses
37 & 38?
- Read Hebrews 11:39-40. When the Bible refers to “all
these,” does it mean both the victors and the victims?
- What does history teach us with regard to the
problems that we face? Will we be victors or victims?
- Look again at Hebrews 11:35. What do you think is meant by
“refusing to accept release?” (I think it means refusing
to recant faith in Jesus.)
- If you face death, like David, or accept continued
torture, which of the two has the greatest faith?
(They are both faith heroes.)
- Re-read Hebrews 11:40. What is the universal promise made
to victors and victims in this life? (God has provided
something better for us.)
- On what basis does God decide who kills lions and who is
eaten by lions?
- Should the answer to this question matter? (It
certainly makes a difference now, but it will not
make a difference in the light of eternity!)
- Friend, are you willing to be a victor or a victim by
faith in God alone? Why not ask the Holy Spirit, right
now, to aid you in developing that kind of faith?
- Next week: The Bible and Prophecy.