The Fighting Man Named David

Bible Book: Hebrews  11 : 32
Subject: Enemies; Sin, Overcoming; Redemption
Series: Unlikely Heros

We have been looking at a list of biblical figures that are found in Hebrews 11:32. There the Bible says, “And what shall I more say? For the time would fail me to tell of Gedeon, and of Barak, and of Samson, and of Jephthae; of David also, and Samuel, and of the prophets.”

The title of our series is “Unlikely Heroes,” and so far, we have focused on the first name in the listing as we studied “The Fearful Man Named Gideon.” We looked at the second name in the listing as we studied “The Feeble Man Named Barak.” We looked at the third name in this listing as we studied “The Fleshly Man Named Samson.” And last week, we looked at the fourth name in the listing as we studied “The Forgotten Man Named Jephthah.”

Today, we’re looking at the fifth name in this listing, and it is the name David. David is without a doubt the most familiar of the names listed in our text. Fausset’s Bible Dictionary says, “His outer life is narrated in the histories of Samuel, Kings, and Chronicles; his inner life is unfolded by himself in the Psalms. He was the youngest of the eight sons of Jesse of Bethlehem (1 Samuel 16:11), and the great grandson of Ruth and Boaz.”

Fausset goes on to tell us that David was born, according to the common chronology, in 1085 B.C. He began to reign over the tribe of Judah when he was 30 years of age in 1055 B.C.; seven years and six months later, in 1048 B.C., he began to reign over all Israel. He died in 1015 B.C. at the age of 70.

John McClintock and James Strong said that David, whose name means “affectionate or beloved,” was “the second but most prominent of the line of Jewish kings. The prominence of this personage in the Old Testament history as well as in the Christian economy requires a full treatment of the subject here.” But as the writer of our verse in Hebrews 11 says, “the time would fail me to tell of … David.”

You see, out of the six men that are mentioned by name in our foundational text in Hebrews 11:32, there is more recorded in the Biblical narrative about David than any of the others. And there are a number of prominent features and facts in David’s life. For example, when we think of David, we remember his early beginnings as a shepherd in the pasture. We remember his courage and skillful use of the sling in his conflict with Goliath, the giant of Gath. We remember his musical ability with the harp, and how that ability brought him to the court of King Saul to play for him and calm his nerves with music. We remember his strong friendship with Saul’s son Jonathan. We remember him as a fugitive from the jealous wrath of Saul. We remember him as a psalmist who poured out his emotions and spiritual struggles in his poems and prayers. We remember him as the prominent king in Jewish history.

With such an extensive record in the Word of God, it is difficult to confine our thoughts to one aspect of David’s life in order to view him as an unlikely hero. But to me, one of the things that keeps coming to the surface in David’s life is his involvement in conflict. In fact, the thing that is repeatedly said of David from the time of his youth to the time of his old age is that he was “a man of war.”

When David was first called to play his harp for Saul…

(1 Samuel 16:17-19) And Saul said unto his servants, Provide me now a man that can play well, and bring him to me. {18} Then answered one of the servants, and said, Behold, I have seen a son of Jesse the Bethlehemite, that is cunning in playing, and a mighty valiant man, and a man of war, and prudent in matters, and a comely person, and the LORD is with him. {19} Wherefore Saul sent messengers unto Jesse, and said, Send me David thy son, which is with the sheep.

When David had fled from his son Absalom…

(2 Samuel 17:7-8) And Hushai said unto Absalom, The counsel that Ahithophel hath given is not good at this time. {8} For, said Hushai, thou knowest thy father and his men, that they be mighty men, and they be chafed in their minds, as a bear robbed of her whelps in the field: and thy father is a man of war, and will not lodge with the people.

God would not allow David to build the temple because he was “a man of war”…

(1 Chronicles 28:2-3) Then David the king stood up upon his feet, and said, Hear me, my brethren, and my people: As for me, I had in mine heart to build an house of rest for the ark of the covenant of the LORD, and for the footstool of our God, and had made ready for the building: {3} But God said unto me, Thou shalt not build an house for my name, because thou hast been a man of war, and hast shed blood.

Because of this prominent aspect of his life, we’re highlighting him as “The Fighting Man Named David.”

I read about Stan Mikita, who was a professional hockey star. Stan used to get into a lot of fights during games. He stopped when his eight-year-old daughter asked a very grown-up question: “How can you score goals when you’re always in the penalty box, Daddy?”

I had the privilege this past week of having lunch and spending some time with the preacher and commentator John Phillips. And I asked Dr. Phillips what other preachers besides Stephen Olford had made an early impact on his life. And he told me about a man in his home community who had been both a strong political activist and a boxer. This man went to an evangelistic tent meeting one night for the sole purpose of intimidating the man who was preaching, but he ended up getting saved. But Dr. Phillips said that after he was saved and started preaching, this man didn’t give up his prize fighting because it was the source of his livelihood. The brethren were blessed by the strong evangelistic preaching of this young convert, but they were baffled about how to deal with this continued element in his life. One of the brethren decided to go to the boxing match one day, and he asked the man if he could pray with him before the fight. The man agreed and the older brother proceeded to ask God to give the young man strength and victory in the match. And he continued by asking God to help him bash the other fellow’s face in. Well, when the prayer was over, the young man said indignantly, “You can’t pray that way!” And the older brother said, “If you can live that way, then I can pray that way.” And that convinced the young man to give up his fighting, and he became mightily used of God.

While fighting was not fitting for that fellow, it seems to have been an inescapable part of David’s life.

The McClintock and Strong Encyclopedia says that “David’s life may be divided into the three following portions…

I. His youth before his introduction to the court of Saul. (The Shepherd Years)

II. His relations with Saul. (The Saul Years)

III. His reign.” (The Sovereign Years)

And in each of these segments of his life, there was a critical conflict and a formidable foe that David faced. I remember hearing Dr. Adrian Rogers preach about the infernal foe – the devil, and the external foe – the world, and the internal foe – the flesh. And in many ways, the three opponents that David faced mirror these three that Dr. Rogers referred to.

In his youth, he faced the conflict with the infernal foe. David had fought one lion as he watched over his father’s sheep, but now he faced one like our adversary the devil, who as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour (1 Peter 5:8). He faced the giant named Goliath. And then, as his reputation began to grow and overshadow that of Saul, he began to feel the jealousy and hostility of the external foe, the king whose name was Saul. Later, after he had become king of Israel, David encountered the internal foe and he fell to the power of his own fleshly lusts in the situation with Bathsheba. Now let’s consider these three critical conflicts in David’s life in a more particular way.

I. David Faced An Enormous Opponent Named Goliath

A. Notice The Description Of This Giant

(1 Samuel 17:4) And there went out a champion out of the camp of the Philistines, named Goliath, of Gath, whose height was six cubits and a span.

1. He Was A Middle Man

Adam Clarke said…

Our word “champion” comes from campus, the field. “Champion is he, properly, who fights in the field; i.e., in camps,” a man well skilled in arms, strong, brave, and patriotic. But this is the meaning of the original (iysh ‎‎habeenayim)‎: a middle man, the man between two; that is, the man who undertakes to settle the disputes between two armies or nations. So our ancient champions settled disputes between contending parties by what was termed camp fight; hence, the campio or champion.

2. He Was A Massive Man

If we use eighteen inches as the standard equivalent of a cubit, and nine inches as the standard equivalent of a span then Goliath was nine feet, nine inches tall.

B. Notice The Declarations Of This Giant

1. He Spoke Terrifying Words

(1 Samuel 17:11) When Saul and all Israel heard those words of the Philistine, they were dismayed, and greatly afraid.

They were “dismayed” which means they were broken down by violence, by confusion and fear; they were abolished and beaten down, and discouraged in their spirit. They were “greatly afraid” which means that they were completely and vehemently dreading the terrible thing that was sure to happen.

2. He Spoke Threatening Words

(1 Samuel 17:43-44) And the Philistine said unto David, Am I a dog, that thou comest to me with staves? And the Philistine cursed David by his gods. {44} And the Philistine said to David, Come to me, and I will give thy flesh unto the fowls of the air, and to the beasts of the field.

C. Notice The Defeat Of This Giant

1. David Believed God

(1 Samuel 17:45-47) Then said David to the Philistine, Thou comest to me with a sword, and with a spear, and with a shield: but I come to thee in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom thou hast defied. {46} This day will the LORD deliver thee into mine hand; and I will smite thee, and take thine head from thee; and I will give the carcases of the host of the Philistines this day unto the fowls of the air, and to the wild beasts of the earth; that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel. {47} And all this assembly shall know that the LORD saveth not with sword and spear: for the battle is the Lord's, and he will give you into our hands.

2. David Beat Goliath

(1 Samuel 17:48-51) And it came to pass, when the Philistine arose, and came and drew nigh to meet David, that David hasted, and ran toward the army to meet the Philistine. {49} And David put his hand in his bag, and took thence a stone, and slang it, and smote the Philistine in his forehead, that the stone sunk into his forehead; and he fell upon his face to the earth. {50} So David prevailed over the Philistine with a sling and with a stone, and smote the Philistine, and slew him; but there was no sword in the hand of David. {51} Therefore David ran, and stood upon the Philistine, and took his sword, and drew it out of the sheath thereof, and slew him, and cut off his head therewith. And when the Philistines saw their champion was dead, they fled.

II. David Faced An Envious Opponent Named Saul

A. Let’s Consider David And The Revelation Of This Conflict

1. Notice The Jealous Attitude Of Saul

Saul was not in the best frame of mind to begin with…

(1 Samuel 16:14) But the spirit of the LORD departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the LORD troubled him.

But then…

(1 Samuel 18:7-9) And the women answered one another as they played, and said, Saul hath slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands. {8} And Saul was very wroth, and the saying displeased him; and he said, They have ascribed unto David ten thousands, and to me they have ascribed but thousands: and what can he have more but the kingdom? {9} And Saul eyed David from that day and forward.

eyed – Hebrew 5770. 'avan, aw-van'; denom. from H5869; to watch (with jealousy):--eye.

2. Notice The Javelin Attacks Of Saul

(1 Samuel 18:10-11) And it came to pass on the morrow, that the evil spirit from God came upon Saul, and he prophesied in the midst of the house: and David played with his hand, as at other times: and there was a javelin in Saul's hand. {11} And Saul cast the javelin; for he said, I will smite David even to the wall with it. And David avoided out of his presence twice.

(1 Samuel 19:9-10) And the evil spirit from the LORD was upon Saul, as he sat in his house with his javelin in his hand: and David played with his hand. {10} And Saul sought to smite David even to the wall with the javelin; but he slipped away out of Saul's presence, and he smote the javelin into the wall: and David fled, and escaped that night.

B. Let’s Consider David And His Reaction To This Conflict

1. He Reacted In A Prudent Way

(1 Samuel 18:14-15) And David behaved himself wisely in all his ways; and the LORD was with him. {15} Wherefore when Saul saw that he behaved himself very wisely, he was afraid of him.

wisely – Hebrew 7919. sakal, saw-kal'; a prim. root; to be (caus. make or act) circumspect and hence intelligent:--consider, expert, instruct, prosper, (deal) prudent (-ly), (give) skill (-ful), have good success, teach, (have, make to) understand (-ing), wisdom, (be, behave self, consider, make) wise (-ly), guide wittingly.

2. He Reacted In A Patient Way

There were two occasions when David had an opportunity to kill Saul, but he would not touch God’s anointed. The first time he said…

(1 Samuel 24:11) Moreover, my father, see, yea, see the skirt of thy robe in my hand: for in that I cut off the skirt of thy robe, and killed thee not, know thou and see that there is neither evil nor transgression in mine hand, and I have not sinned against thee; yet thou huntest my soul to take it.

Here’s what happened the second time…

(1 Samuel 26:7-11) So David and Abishai came to the people by night: and, behold, Saul lay sleeping within the trench, and his spear stuck in the ground at his bolster: but Abner and the people lay round about him. {8} Then said Abishai to David, God hath delivered thine enemy into thine hand this day: now therefore let me smite him, I pray thee, with the spear even to the earth at once, and I will not smite him the second time. {9} And David said to Abishai, Destroy him not: for who can stretch forth his hand against the LORD'S anointed, and be guiltless? {10} David said furthermore, As the LORD liveth, the LORD shall smite him; or his day shall come to die; or he shall descend into battle, and perish. {11} The LORD forbid that I should stretch forth mine hand against the LORD'S anointed: but, I pray thee, take thou now the spear that is at his bolster, and the cruse of water, and let us go.

C. Let’s Consider David And The Resolution In This Conflict

1. We See The End Of The Former King

(1 Samuel 31:1-6) Now the Philistines fought against Israel: and the men of Israel fled from before the Philistines, and fell down slain in mount Gilboa. {2} And the Philistines followed hard upon Saul and upon his sons; and the Philistines slew Jonathan, and Abinadab, and Melchishua, Saul's sons. {3} And the battle went sore against Saul, and the archers hit him; and he was sore wounded of the archers. {4} Then said Saul unto his armourbearer, Draw thy sword, and thrust me through therewith; lest these uncircumcised come and thrust me through, and abuse me. But his armourbearer would not; for he was sore afraid. Therefore Saul took a sword, and fell upon it. {5} And when his armourbearer saw that Saul was dead, he fell likewise upon his sword, and died with him. {6} So Saul died, and his three sons, and his armourbearer, and all his men, that same day together.

2. We See The Exaltation Of The Future King

(2 Samuel 2:4) And the men of Judah came, and there they anointed David king over the house of Judah. And they told David, saying, That the men of Jabeshgilead were they that buried Saul.

III. David Faced An Effective Opponent Named David

Have you ever heard the statement that you are your own worst enemy? Amidst all the victories of David’s life, the main battle that he lost was with his strongest opponent – himself!

Cf. (1 Kings 15:5) Because David did that which was right in the eyes of the LORD, and turned not aside from any thing that he commanded him all the days of his life, save only in the matter of Uriah the Hittite.

If we could go and ask David about his greatest fight (and his greatest failure), what do you suppose he would say to us? With a sad honesty…

A. He Might Tell Us About His Situation (2 Samuel 11)

1. There Were Some Carnal Aspects In David’s Situation (2 Samuel 11:1-5)

2. There Were Some Compounded Aspects In David’s Situation

David added deception to defilement. The Catholics have enumerated what they call the seven deadly or mortal sins, and they include: Lust, Gluttony, Greed, Sloth, Wrath, Envy, and Pride. And in this chapter, David commits almost all of them.

B. He Might Tell Us About His Sermon (2 Samuel 12)

There have been a number of times that someone has come to me after a service and said, “Preacher, that sermon was for me.” While it would have been more difficult to embrace the sermon that Nathan preached that day, it was undeniably preached just for David.

1. There Was A Stirring Comparison In That Sermon vs. 1-6

2. There Was A Sudden Confrontation In That Sermon vs. 7-13

C. He Might Tell Us About His Sin (Psalm 51)

This bloody stain upon David’s record is seen from a factual and historical perspective in 2 Samuel 11-12, but the feelings and heart of David about this situation are revealed in Psalm 51. As the remorse of his adulterous affair with Bathsheba and the murder of her husband Uriah prevails upon his conscience, God ultimately brings David to the point where he embraces and confronts his sin, three times calling it “my sin” (Psalm 51:2,3,9).

1. He Described The Consciousness Of His Sin

The onset of this consciousness was when sin had become “exceeding sinful” to David (Romans 7:13). This must have come on that decisive day when the prophet Nathan came before the guilty king and said, “Thou art the man” (2 Samuel 12:7). Then there was the ongoing consciousness when he said, “My sin is ever before me” (vs. 3).

2. He Desired The Cleansing Of His Sin

He discerned the filth of his sin as he requested that God “wash” (vs. 2, 7), and “cleanse” him (vs. 2), “purge” him (vs. 7), and “create” within him “a clean heart” (vs. 10). He desired the forgiveness of his sin as he cried, “Have mercy upon me ... blot out my transgressions” (vs. 1).

Sin had taken its toll on David’s spiritual well being. David’s own sin had robbed him of his joy so that he said to the Lord, “Make me to hear joy and gladness; that the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice” (vs. 8), and “Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation” (vs. 12). Sin had eradicated praise in his life so that he says in verse 14, “Deliver me from bloodguiltiness ... and my tongue shall sing aloud of thy righteousness.” He petitions God to “open ... my lips; and my mouth shall show forth thy praise” (vs. 15). The heartbeat of David in verses 16-19 reminds us further that when sin is divinely dealt with, it is no longer us wanting our own way, but we desire again the perfect pleasure of the God of our salvation.

I believe the turning point for David was when he said, “I acknowledge my transgressions” (vs. 3). It is said that confession is good for the soul, and David could attest to that. What a blessing to know that if I confess my sin, and that if you confess your sin, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9)!

Illustration: In a San Diego courtroom two men were on trial for robbery. The prosecuting attorney was examining a witness to the crime when he asked the following sequence of questions. “Were you at the scene when the robbery took place?” “Yes,” was the reply. “And did you observe the two robbers?” Again, the witness nodded, “Yes.” The attorney then turned up the heat of his intensity and boomed out his last question. “Are these two men present in court today?” There was no need for the witness to answer, because the two defendants raised their hands. Although these two crooks might seem a little confused, they do represent a good spiritual truth. We start our journey toward God when we confess our sins and acknowledge our guilt. (From the September 1991 issue of Reader’s Digest)

The Fighting Man and the Failing Man became the Forgiven Man.


Lester Roloff used to sing, “It’s a battlefield, brother, not a recreation room. It’s a fight and not a game...”

And the songwriter was absolutely correct. The spiritual walk inevitably involves the spiritual warfare. And our faith experience is a fighting experience.

Oh, it’s not as if we are literally taking up weapons against this world. But there is a spiritual battle that we are engaged in. And there is the potential for victory or defeat, and the outcome depends upon our trust in God and how we follow Him.

Was David an unlikely hero? Definitely! Who would have expected a boy in his late teens to kill a giant? The odds were against David both in this situation and as he faced the jealous wrath of his king. Yet, he emerged victorious in both of these engagements.

In fact, Thomas Hunter Weir said that “One reason for the high position David held in the popular estimation was no doubt his almost uninterrupted success.” (International Standard Bible Encyclopedia)

And the Bible says in 1 Kings 15:5 that “David did that which was right in the eyes of the LORD, and turned not aside from any thing that he commanded him all the days of his life, save only in the matter of Uriah the Hittite.”

One flaw and one failure and one defeat. Could God use David after he had committed adultery and murder? David was certainly an unlikely hero at this point, but God used David in further ways even after his great defeat.

And if God can use someone like David, He can use someone like you.