What happened in the Valley of Elah that proved that David was a man after God’s own heart?
We’re going to continue our study of the faith of King David, trying to understand how he who was an adulterer and murderer could be described in the Bible as a man after God’s own heart. We will be looking at three examples from King David’s life which demonstrate that he did indeed have a deep relationship with God.
The first example occurred when David was a teenager. The event took place in the Valley of Elah.
Those of you who are familiar with biblical geography will recognize that name immediately. It is the site where David confronted the Philistine giant named Goliath. The Israelite army was located on high bluffs over on one side. Then there was the Valley of Elah in between, and over on the opposite bluffs was where the Philistine army was located.
When David arrived on the scene, the two armies had been camped facing each other for a period of 40 days. Each day the Philistine giant, Goliath, would come down into the valley and taunt the Israelites, daring any of them to come out and fight him, and promising that if they could kill him the whole Philistine army would surrender. But, King Saul and all his men were terrified of the giant, and no one would accept his challenge. That is, no one until David arrived on the scene.
David had walked from Bethlehem to deliver food to three older brothers who were soldiers in King Saul’s army. When David heard the giant’s taunt, he was bewildered by the fact that no one was willing to take him on. David cried out, “Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should taunt the armies of the living God?”
David immediately went to King Saul and requested permission to confront Goliath, but Saul refused. He said David was too young and too inexperienced in warfare. David responded by pointing out that he had killed both a lion and a bear while protecting his sheep. He then declared, “The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, he will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.”
Saul then agreed for David to go, but first he clad him with armor. The resulting scene must have been absolutely hilarious, for young David was so burdened down by the heavy armor that he could hardly walk! David decided to cast the armor aside and get five smooth stones from the creek bed.
I’ve been to the Valley of Elah many times, and because I’ve been there many times I know how hard it is to find five smooth stones, because over the years tens of thousands of tourists have come and walked up and down the river bed and picked up about every smooth stone you can find. In fact, I don’t even know why there are any stones left.
David picked five really smooth stones. Then what he did was take his shepherd’s bag, pulled out his sling, and put the five stones in the bag. He then went forth confidently to meet Goliath.
David came running at Goliath with a slingshot in his hand, and when Goliath saw him he said, “What am I, a dog, that you should come at me like this?” That’s when the young teenager made his famous declaration, “You come 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.” Then David declared, “The battle is the Lord’s, and He will give you into my hands.”
David took one of his smooth stones from his shepherd’s pouch and he put it inside of his sling. He began to swing it around his head, then he threw the stone. It hit Goliath right in the center of his forehead. Goliath fell on the ground dead. David went over and took Goliath’s huge sword and chopped his head off. And, at that, the Israelites cheered and attacked and chased the Philistines all the way back to their coastal cities, killing many of them along the way.
The contest with Goliath revealed that David had a deep, intimate relationship with the Lord and a great trust in Him.
The in the third part of this study of the faith of King David, we will look at the second of three examples from King David’s life which demonstrate that he had a deep relationship with God.