“What could God possibly teach us or offer us as a lesson in the COVID-19 ‘shelter-at-home’ pandemic experience?”
I have heard this question many, many times in the last two months phrased in a variety of ways. I have also heard some decent answers. I cannot fully answer this question, but God will – maybe not now - but some day. I would pose an opportunity for each of you who feel left behind, lonely, or dismissed during the COVID-19 pandemic shelter-at-home experience.
This is an opportunity recommended to you straight from the experience of one of the great heroes and great stories of the Old Testament. David defeating Goliath might teach us a lot about opportunities during the pandemic.
In 1Samuel 17, David the shepherd stepped into Goliath’s arena in the Valley of Elah. From all outward perspectives, David’s chances of defeating Goliath appeared quite slim. Yet, David knew that God had built him for “such a time as this” (to borrow from Mordecai in Esther).
Years prior to the Goliath fight…
When many may have thought that God had left David in the backside of nowhere tending sheep, David practiced his sling.
When many may have felt hurt and offended that they were left by themselves to tend sheep, David killed bears with his growing expertise with his sling and stone.
When many may have viewed their poor state as a sheep herder as being disrespected by their father, David learned to kill lions with the precision and power of his sling.
When many would have sulked and complained at the lack of respect and opportunity in the lonely fields with sheep, David used his time to develop a level and skill with the sling that would allow him to possess unparalleled abilities.
David spent years honing his craft with a sling in the pastures and forests where he watched over the sheep. Not only could David sling a stone with great velocity and accuracy, he could do it well under pressure (after all, when a bear is attacking one’s sheep, there is little time to panic or miss).
While many thought David was going on a suicide mission against Goliath in the Valley of Elah, it was the event for which the shepherd boy was built. Almighty God had given David the opportunity, equipment, skill, and motivation to become a preeminent marksman with a sling. If there had been a National Israeli Professional Sling League, David would have most likely been a perennial all-star and a future hall of famer.
David would have been the Tiger Woods, Roger Federer, Serena Williams, and Usain Bolt of the stone slinging world of the Old Testament age. Only the sovereign God could have the power, foresight, and perfection to prepare a young man so well for a feat that seemed impossible.
While others saw David stepping into the valley of his death, David knew he was climbing to the peak of his greatest victory!
As David moved into the valley to face Goliath, we read in 1Samuel 17:45-46, “Then David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with a sword and with a spear and with 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 defied. This day the Lord will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you down and cut off your head. And I will give the dead bodies of the host of the Philistines this day to the birds of the air and to the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel,”
David had been prepared by God in his skill and in his spirit. God had put David in a place that seemed forgotten that his skill might rise to a level to destroy a giant. And, while in that forgotten field with those “few sheep”, David also came to know his God in a way that made him a man after God’s own heart.
I cannot know what God is doing to prepare you during this seemingly disheartening pandemic. Yet, in Christ, the sovereign God of the universe can take a “shelter at home” and make it a victory in the Valley of Elah for you.
Most likely, when the great victory over Goliath was complete, David could thank God for smelly sheep, green meadows, big bears, ferocious lions, hours of lonely solitude, and plenty of practicing stones.
NOTE: More ideas like this insight on David and Goliath can be considered from Malcolm Gladwell's book "David and Goliath".