Serving God or Man?


1 Samuel 17:8
He stood and shouted to the ranks of Israel, “Why have you come out to draw up for battle? Am I not a Philistine, and are you not servants of Saul? Choose a man for yourselves, and let him come down to me.

1 Samuel 17:26
David said to the men who stood by him, “What shall be done for the man who kills this Philistine, and takes away the reproach from Israel? For who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living God?”

1 Samuel 17:47
and that all this assembly may know that the Lord does not save by sword and spear; for the battle is the Lord’s and he will give you into our hand.”

1 Samuel 18:12
Saul was afraid of David, because the Lord was with him but had departed from Saul.


This is the familiar story of David and Goliath but there is something interesting happening behind the scenes. We had seen earlier that Saul was not made new, but simply different during a time in which he experienced the presence of the Spirit. By now, he had long since left that presence and was functioning on his own talents and abilities. This was even noticed by Goliath, who didn’t note that the Israelites were servants of God, but of Saul. 

It’s the young boy David who continually reminds the army that they belong to the living God. He didn’t consider himself a servant of Saul; even though Saul tried to give him his armor. Instead, David declared that God wouldn’t win the battle by using  the tools of war. This was to be the Lord’s battle, and one in which God would be glorified. 

In this declaration we see a transfer of power. The leader who trusted in himself and believed this was his battle to win, became the loser. The Spirit of God departed from Saul, and it became obvious that the Spirit was present with David. All those in the kingdom could see the difference, and the people praised the young man, David. 


What a temptation it is to put our trust in human powers. I doubt that the transfer happened rapidly in Saul’s life, but instead, was a slow journey of distancing himself from God. The problem is that when we create space between ourselves and God, we lose our dependence upon the Lord. We think that we can be functionally self-reliant, and that we can make things happen on our own. That’s when we find ourselves in big trouble, wondering how we are going to solve all of our problems, quickly discovering that we can’t!

The innocence of the young David is something that we are invited to capture. Complete and entire dependence upon our holy God in the midst of our giants is where we need to learn to live. We don’t exist to serve man, but to serve God, and this takes courage in the face of mounting tensions. Along with David we must remember that the battle is the Lord’s. 

While Saul moved away from the Lord, David drew near. The difference was palpable and so we are called to draw near to God. Christ has made this possible through his life, death and resurrection. The invitation remains open for all to take one step closer to our Lord today, serving God and not man. 


Lord, draw me nearer to you this day. Amen. 


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