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Magazine > Content

Maybe vs. Is

How often do we choose a path of defeat—precisely because we’re trying to win our battles in a worldly way, rather than walk the path God has prepared for us?

by Tony Woodlief


Then David said to the Philistine, "You come to me with a sword, a spear, and 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 taunted. This day the Lord will deliver you up into my hands, and I will strike you down and remove your head from you.” —1 Samuel 17:45-46

There stands the shepherd boy, so incensed at the giant’s curses against Israel’s God that he has volunteered to fight the Philistine warrior himself. There stands David, ushered forth by a king who claims to lead this nation, this army. Young David, allowed forward by his own mocking older brother, who is himself too afraid to face the enemy.

There stands David, clutching only a stick, a sling, and five riverbed stones, eyeing a trained killer nine feet tall, a lifelong soldier armed with razor-sharp weapons, a warmonger who plans to turn a boy into mincemeat.

“I will strike you down and remove your head from you,” says David. That’s quite a bold promise, isn’t it?

Imagine what counsel David would have received, were he surrounded by modern-day public relations professionals: “Promise to do your best. Tell everyone that you’re hoping to pull off a win today, but remind them that you weren’t the one who got us into this predicament. Be sure to do everything King Saul advises, so we can blame him if this doesn’t work out according to plan.”

What a blessing for us that David wasn’t guided by the wisdom of men. He didn’t need to worry about his public image or hedge his bets. He didn’t need the advice of Saul, the once brave king now so insecure, trusting in his army and his armor rather than the God who at one time ordained his rule. Picture David standing in Saul’s tent, garbed in the king’s armor and helmet, a shining sword pushed into his hands. Imagine Saul’s attendants doing their best to prepare this shepherd boy to face a warrior no Israelite soldier has the courage to challenge, secretly expecting that the youth will be slaughtered.

“I cannot go with these,” says David of Saul’s offerings, “for I have not tested them” (1 Sam. 17:39). No matter that the professional soldiers and the king himself recommend battle gear; David is being guided by something mightier than experts and worldly rulers. He is guided by God, yet he gives a common-sense reason for not using Saul’s weapons. He doesn’t say: “No thanks. God has promised me the victory, so I’m just going to walk out there defenseless and wait for a lightning bolt to strike the giant.” David declines Saul’s weapons—including the very sword that might have made his threat to Goliath more credible—because he has not tested them.

What has he tested? The protection and provision of God. “Your servant,” he explains to Saul, “has killed both the lion and the bear; and this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, since he has taunted the armies of the living God” (1 Sam. 17:36).

David knows he doesn’t need the king’s armor, because he holds to what he has tested, which is God’s faithfulness every single time he has defended his flock. What we have the luxury of knowing, having read the chapters to follow, is that God—unbeknownst to David—has simply expanded David’s flock. David the guardian of sheep has been ordained to shepherd something not altogether different: the children of Israel.

And so David walks to the riverbed, where he selects five flight-worthy stones. Then he walks out to face the giant, with his shepherd’s staff in one hand, his time-tested sling in another, and the faith that there is no uncertainty here, for God directs the paths of those who trust Him rather than their own understanding (Prov. 3:5-6).

Notice how very different David’s faith in the living God is, compared to Goliath’s religion. The Philistine has been cursing the people of Israel by his pagan gods. But Goliath’s god is really himself. “You come to me with a sword, a spear, and a javelin,” says David. In other words, he tells Goliath, For all your mocking of this boy who bears only a stick and some stones, for all your invocation of your false gods, you still cling to your weapons of war. “But I come to you,” says David, “in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have taunted.”

Every time I read this passage, it strikes me that in my daily life, I am more like Goliath than David. Sure, I bless my meals in the name of the Lord, and I’ll say things like, “Lord willing, we’ll get this project finished on time.”

But in truth, when I walk onto the field of battle—be it work, or a difficult relationship, or an ongoing temptation—I cling to my own strength, my own skills, my own weapons of war. I hedge my bets and qualify my promises and trust in myself to get the job done. I am like Goliath, invoking the name of a deity I don’t really trust, and faking my way with a lot of bluster and faith in past accomplishments.

What would it be like to live David’s faith? It is at once bold and practical.

David knows he has a fight coming, and that he has to do his part. He doesn’t tempt God by walking into battle unarmed. In fact, he goes out with the weapons he knows best. Even his promise to take Goliath’s head is based on a practical, faith-filled vision of the future. He doesn’t have a sword, but he knows that once God delivers Goliath into his hands, there’s going to be a sword in need of a new owner. I hope for God’s provision, but David trusts in it. In my mind, God’s blessing is a maybe thing. For David, God’s blessing simply is.

My faith is more like Saul’s than David’s. Saul tells David: “Go, and may the Lord be with you!” (1 Sam. 17:37), but immediately after invoking God, Saul urges David to take his armor, his mighty sword. Sure, Saul seems to say, The Lord will be with you, but best take these in case He isn’t up to the task. Saul’s faith is a gambler’s faith. It is little better than Goliath’s. It is little different from my own.

How would my life be different, were I to live as if God’s promises are not maybe, but is? How would your life be different? David beat the giant because God was with him, and because he in turn trusted God, rather than the ways of men. How often do we choose a path of defeat, precisely because we are trying to win with man’s ways, rather than walk the path God has prepared for us?

Walk with David’s faith. That is my prayer for myself, for my family, and for you.


Illustrations by Jeff Gregory

Copyright 2015 In Touch Ministries, Inc. All rights reserved. In Touch grants permission to print for personal use only.

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  • August 30, 2013 10:37 AM


    The author makes a great point : we tend to go out to meet our challenges , taking God with us, but making contingency plans and bringing our own weapons , just in case God can't quite manage. Are we kidding ??!! The God who created all the heavens and earth , who promises to always be with us, is able to do anything ! As I am in a season of learning to trust Him more, this article gave me much to think about. Thank you !
  • July 25, 2013 08:40 PM


    Praise God that I fell upon this article. I too feel challenged everyday because I live in my own weak-like-faith by default. It's so hard to know Davids faith. God please lift me up and help me remember your promises and that you are in control. I am unemployed and struggle to persevere in job search and life.
  • July 23, 2013 09:12 AM


    What a blessing and a "boost" your daily lessons give! God has certainly directed this ministry; and through it, many lives. God's strength has kept me sane for this past few years of widowhood, and my precious children abandoning me. His Spirit has held me up. What peace and hope He gives us! Thank you for your part in this ministry.
  • July 22, 2013 10:23 AM


    I too, pray for faith like David had..I've made poor decisions in my life and now am paying for it. I pray God will give me the direction He gave to David, not only that ,but, that I "listen" and OBEY!! I thank God for my salvation and hope in Him alone. Thank you for this enlightening article. May our dear Lord bless you and your family. God bless..
  • July 22, 2013 09:10 AM


    Thank you Dr. Stanley and Intouch ministries for making these articles available. I thank God or your anointing, because I have truly been blessed by Intouch. Please pray for me that I will develop faith like David's. I'm in the midst of a very painful situation that has been going on for a year. I need healing. God bless you and thank you.
  • July 20, 2013 09:38 PM


    Lord thank you for directing me to this article of faith....My hope is in my LORD Jesus and I trust that you will get me through this day which you have given me to find your peace and joy....You my GOD are faithful even though I do not deserve Your many blessings in my life...I am thankful and grateful. May the Holy Spirit that dwells within me guide me and help me to have a willing and obedient spirit to the glory of GOD always so that through this temple your light will shine and draw others to your love and grace. amen
  • July 19, 2013 06:58 PM


    I Thank God at this very moment he is helping me defeat a giant here today. Only through God can I survive at this very moment. God is everything in my life Thank you in Jesus name Amen! The only way to live in this world is with the power in the blood Amen!!!
  • July 19, 2013 06:21 PM


    Amen Amen !!!!!!!!
  • July 09, 2013 04:35 PM


    What a gift this article was for me! Thank you, In Touch Ministries, for your monthly magazine; God has consistently touched my heart and strengthen my faith through the many, insightful articles! "Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us." - Romans 5: 3-5 Amen and Amen!
  • July 09, 2013 04:51 AM


    yes.. this is really my prayer that by the help of the HOLY SPIRIT my faith will also increase.
  • July 07, 2013 05:42 PM


    I pray that I will have the faith like David what a wonderful story. I pray that God will give me the courage and the strength to get through my problem this week I am trusting God that I don't lose my position and that God will change the heart of men I need to get my degree but I pray that they will give me alittle more time to get my BA.
  • July 07, 2013 05:24 PM


    A poignant illustration of my Goliath like faith. I feel very challenged.
  • July 02, 2013 08:32 AM


    I wish I had that kind of faith david had I live a defeated life because I do it my way
  • July 02, 2013 06:10 AM


    Amen Amen !!!!!!!! LORD Give us the Faith and desire to take You with us where ever we go and to rely on You Amen !!!!!!!!!!!!

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