Embrace the Full Story

Feb 21 / Kyle Norman

But David when back and forth from Saul to tend his father’s sheep at Bethlehem. (1st Samuel 17:15)

The story of David’s battle with Goliath is one of the epic tales of scripture. We know it well. David defeats Goliath and emerges as one of the premier heroes of the Bible. From that moment on we read a lot about David. He is described as the person after God’s own heart, the mighty king, a valiant warrior, and an inspired poet. In fact, so important is David to God’s work in the world that the Bible refers to him close to one thousand times.

But this isn’t the full story.

When we first meet David, he isn’t the strong and mighty warrior. He is but the youngest child of a humble shepherd. His brothers, handsome and mighty, tower over him; they are the ones in whom greatness lies. In the first stories, David is often overlooked. When the prophet Samuel comes to anoint the future king, for example, David isn’t even invited to the gathering (1 Samuel 16:11). He is left in the fields to tend the flocks. This happens again when the Philistines attack Israel. While others go forward to battle, to do great things for their families, their nation, and their God, David is left behind with the animals. I wonder if David ever felt dismissed or disregarded?

Do you ever feel like David? Do you ever feel ignored, forgotten, insignificant? I know I do. In a world that glamourizes the rich, the powerful, and the successful, I often view myself as less than others. My imperfections stare at me. Other people make the life of faith seem so easy, so effortless, so uncomplicated.

I, on the other hand, often struggle in prayer; I have questions about my faith, and at times, God feels distant. If I am being honest, there are times when I feel alone and cast aside; there are times where I question whether God could possibly use someone as small as me.

But this isn’t the full story. It’s not David’s full story, and neither is it ours.

The description of David’s life amid the animals is easy to dismiss. We tend to skip over it in favor of where the action lies. Yet it is here, in these silent fields, where God does God’s most important work. This unseen place, where David stands alone, is where God prepares David for what he will face. Although David may feel forgotten or ignored, God’s hand moved upon him and within him.

It is only because of David’s time tending the animals that he was prepared to defeat Goliath. David says, “When a lion or bear came and carried off the sheep of the flock, I went after it, struck it and rescued the sheep from its mouth.” (1 Samuel 17:34). Make no mistake, David’s defeat over Goliath does not occur on the battlefield. The victory is won in the place of quiet preparation, where God seemed to move unseen. It is in the fields that David is prepared to overcome the gigantic obstacle that he will eventually face.

We all face struggles and obstacles. Some may seem small and inconsequential; others may appear like giants before us. The temptation is to feel that we lack the sufficient power and strength to combat all that we face. But this is not the full story. God is with us. God never abandons us, or forgets us. God never judges us insignificant to his plan. In the quiet spaces of our lives, when we feel forgotten and left to the side, God is equipping us to face our obstacles, and to battle our struggles. 

Kyle Norman

Reverend Dr. Kyle Norman is the Rector of the Anglican Parish of Holy Cross in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. He has a doctorate in Spiritual Formation and is often asked to write or speak on the nature of Christian community, and the role of Spiritual disciplines in Christian life. His particular interest is how spiritual formation is rooted in our understanding of baptism. His personal blog can be found at www.revkylenoman.ca