So here I come marching onto the stage shouting: “David defeated Goliath because of his skills, NOT because of his faith in God.” But then here comes David, about to throw-down Goliath, shouting to the crowd: “it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves; for the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give all of you into our hands” (1 Samuel 17:47).
How can I believe it’s David’s skills, and not his faith, that defeats the Giant? Doesn’t it seem like it is the Lord who defeats Goliath? How should we read this speech in light of David’s discussion with Saul in 1 Samuel 17:34–36?
I maintain my belief that it is David’s own abilities that defeats Goliath. This pre-battle speech needs to be read, not as David’s theology, but as circumstantial—it was totally strategic and political. Think about it: He says it is not by weapons that God saves, yet it is by a weapon that David brings Goliath down. This insincerity is a tell that maybe what David is saying needs to be understood as circumstantial strategy.
As a strategy, the speech is brilliant. David is confident he is going to beat the giant. Yet he also knows how the battle looks to the ignorant masses. So he gives a speech that plays on this ignorance, which will ultimately serve Israel well upon his victory. He says, basically, “if I win you will know there is a powerful, invisible God on our side, and you will have no chance against us.” He wins and, sure enough, the Philistines immediately turn and run like scared little children.
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