You and your children have probably heard the story of David and Goliath used to talk about trusting God and courage, but did you know it is also a great story about being ready when God has a good deed prepared for you or your children to do in service to Him? Although we rarely mention it, the story also illustrates the importance of discovering, developing and using the gifts God has given each of your children to serve Him.
Found in 1 Samuel 17, the story tells us that before his battle with Goliath, David was a shepherd. In David’s time, shepherds needed to protect their sheep from predators like lions and bears. In fact, David had to protect his flock from both at one point. Since guns hadn’t been invented yet and hand to hand combat with a lion probably wouldn’t end well for the shepherd, shepherds were slingers.
Slingers learned to use a sling and stones so well that an excellent slinger could release a stone from a sling so that it hit its target with the force of a bullet! Many armies at that time had entire units of slingers. Of course, to reach the level of skill and accuracy needed, a slinger had to put in hours and hours of practice. Since shepherding is generally not the most exciting of jobs, David probably had plenty of time to practice slinging. To have already defeated a lion and a bear, indicates David was a great slinger (even if God did put a little extra something in it for Goliath).
Although David might have had the natural talent to become a great slinger, he wouldn’t have become one without practice. It also didn’t matter how great of a slinger he was, if he did not trust God enough to use his slinging to take on Goliath, he would not have been a part of the story.
It’s often tempting when we have been given a gift by God, to not take the time and effort to develop it to its fullest. Without that hard work, when God has a good work He wants our kids to do using that gift, they may not be ready. While God may use someone else to accomplish His purposes, your child will have missed out on an important opportunity to serve God.
To help your children understand how much practice David needed to be ready to serve God in fighting Goliath, you can mimic the challenge. Take a small scrap of pliable leather. Cut it into a sling sized oval and punch a hole on each end. String a long, thin leather strip through each end, making the final length of both strips equal. For safety, use ping pong balls instead of rocks. Set up a target. Can your kids hit the target? What about from a distance? Obviously, a rock would be difficult to compare exactly to a ping pong ball, but it should give them a rough idea. If they get lucky and hit the target on the first try, point out that slingers needed to hit certain areas for the stone to do enough damage. Can they hit a very small area on the target accurately, from a distance?
Afterwards, point out that David also practiced his music as a shepherd, playing the lyre. He was good enough, that he was asked to move into the palace to play music to soothe King Saul. That gave David an opportunity to observe the duties of a king and learn how to be a king himself (or often what not to do as king) many years before he actually became one.
Talk with your children about their gifts from God. Help them identify at least some of them. Encourage them to develop them so they will be ready to use them for serving God when they have an opportunity. Help them find ways they can use their gift to serve God now. Who knows, you may be raising a child like David – who God wants to use to do something critically important to the Kingdom!