Like in a typical sermon, I want to make three points from our Samuel reading today. First, God prioritizes the heart. I will just let God’s words to Samuel teach us about priorities: “The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7). As a pastor, I can never emphasize enough the fact only God’s opinion truly matters. It is good news that God values something which is not simply a product of genes or our social environment. God celebrates those who value goodness.
Secondly, we need to come to grips with the fact that God is in control of demons. We see several times the emphasis that the spirit afflicting Saul is “an evil spirit from God” (1 Samuel 16:14,16). We must be careful with that word “from”. It is enough to say, whatever God’s relationship is with evil spirits that God opposes evil spirits, yet is also sovereign over them. I am inclined to simply say in this situation that God gave the evil spirit wishing to afflict Saul permission. Most importantly, I insist that God does not do evil, but God is also not in a power struggle with evil, for He is Lord over all that is good and bad.
Third, God alone provides the greatest victories. David defeats Goliath because David fights “In the name of the Lord Almighty” (1 Samuel 17:45). That means God’s power and authority on David is the reason for this unlikely victory, not David’s courage. Sure, David is courageous, but God’s name is the cause of David’s courage, not his own skill or will power. We do well to remember this when we hear someone tells us to conquer “goliaths” in our lives. We certainly should take courage to do what pleases God, but this story doesn’t give us a blank check to try the insurmountable either. David and Goliath’s battle is not about behavior first and foremost, but about the strength God gives those that know Him. Before you think about conquering anything, focus your attention on knowing the name and character of God.