David was easy to overlook. He came from a large family with older brothers who were quite impressive when they walked into a room. When Samuel, the great prophet and mighty judge, came to eat with David’s family, they didn’t even bother to bring him in from the field. No one expected great things from him. David was left to do the lesser work of tending the sheep and running errands, while his three older brothers served in the army.
Yet it was in the small things that David learned to trust God. He didn’t back down when a bear came after the sheep. He even stood up to and killed a lion! While some would have cowered in fear, David acted, because he trusted God would protect him.
Trust is like a muscle. It is not something you suddenly find within you in the middle of a storm. It is something you build up over time. It comes from knowing who God is and acting in trust based on that relationship.
This is why David could act differently when he heard Goliath’s challenge. The rest of Israel, including King Saul, had the same exact promises that David had learned from the Torah. They knew the same stories of how God rescued them from Egypt. They had heard how the walls of Jericho fell down and the tribes who lived in Canaan were defeated by Joshua and their ancestors. Yet when Goliath came and challenged them, Saul and the rest of the army quaked in fear. They hid in their tents rather than trust God and take on Goliath’s challenge.
David didn’t flinch. Even when his own brothers disrespected him, David continued to call for action by declaring that the majesty and greatness of the living God was at stake (1 Samuel 17:26). When he stood before King Saul, he explained that his confidence was in God and not in his own abilities. When Goliath hurled insults at him and mocked him, David replied:
You come to me with a sword and with a spear and with a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the Lord will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you down and cut off your head. And I will give the dead bodies of the host of the Philistines this day to the birds of the air and to the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel, and that all this assembly may know that the Lord saves not with sword and spear. For the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give you into our hand.
-1 Samuel 17:45-47 ESV, emphasis added
We will not trust God in the big things if we don’t start by trusting Him in the small things. And we will not trust God in the small things if we don’t first know him and have a growing relationship with Him. Trust is not about trying harder in our own strength or trying to believe in the impossible – it is about knowing and resting in the One who is at work in our lives and those around us. It is relying on God to make things happen.
At that time Jesus declared, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
-Matthew 11:25-30 ESV
And what more shall I say? For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets— who through faith conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, were made strong out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight.
-Hebrews 11:32-34 ESV