You’ve probably heard the story of David and Goliath. For 40 days Goliath came out in the morning and again at night to taunt Israel. For 40 days the fear built amongst the armies of Israel. For 40 days this army looked at each other with fear in their eyes hoping that someone else would take on the challenge. And then David shows up and decides he’ll take on Goliath.
You probably know that David was a shepherd, that he was the youngest of all his brothers, and that the only reason he’s even here at the battle lines was to bring his older brothers a snack. David is an unproven young man (militarily speaking). So why isn’t David afraid?
I think that all the reasons we think David SHOULD be afraid are exactly why he isn’t.
- David was a shepherd. Unqualified right? Should he be afraid? Well, David tells us in this story that he regularly fights bears and lions with his bare hands to rescue sheep. So the shepherd thing is actually in his favor.
- But he’s the youngest brother. Exactly. Probably too young to know what a scary situation this is. David has that youthful naîvete that makes him a prime candidate for taking on a giant.
- David isn’t supposed to even be here though. Yep. I wonder if David was able to do what he did because he had just showed up and heard Goliath for the first time. The rest of the army had heard Goliath about 80 times by now. For David – it was the first time. While the rest of the army has passed around the fear flu, David hasn’t spent one minute sitting around talking about how big this guy is or how desperate the situation must be. He hasn’t heard Goliath bark out his taunts 79 other times. David doesn’t mess around – he hears the challenge, and then he goes after Goliath right away.
I think sometimes we give our fears too much credit. We sit around with other people who are also afraid and we talk together about how big and scary our dreams are. We overstate the risks. We invent doomsday scenarios. We wait and we wait and the fear grows until eventually we are paralyzed.
I’m trying to do things differently these days. I’m trying to be quicker. Fear is contagious. But it’s also slow. Courage sprints off the line and leaves fear in the dust.
Ultimately David’s courage and his lack of fear came from his confidence in God’s provision. But I promise that if David had spent as much time waiting as the rest of the army had – he never would have slayed that giant.
I suppose it’s important to say that it’s obviously wise to consult others and to gather as much information as possible before we make decisions and go for it. But it’s probably also true that it’s possible that we’ll never be done gathering information. At some point we better move or pretty soon we’ll catch the fear bug as well.
Finally, fear isn’t the only thing that’s contagious. Courage is too. More on that tomorrow.