Encouragement From The Word

On being an underdog

It’s hard not to cheer for an underdog, isn’t it?  That’s what the St. Louis Cardinals are in this year’s World Series.  (Don’t worry, this isn’t about baseball.)

Every competition of every sort typically has an underdog, and people like to see the underdog do well.

The Bible has its share of underdogs.  One of the earliest-recorded tales of an underdog comes in 1 Samuel 17.  In that story, we learn about young David, who would one day be king of Israel, who agrees to fight a massive Philistine named Goliath.

David was a little guy, and Goliath was a big guy.  Goliath was the bully, and David would be his next victim – or so one would think.  But as you read the story, you quickly learn that David has something in his favour.  It certainly wasn’t armour, for David quickly discovered that armour only hindered him.  Instead of armour, he would arm himself with five smooth stones.  Being a young shepherd, he was pretty good with a slingshot, for that is what he used to keep his sheep safe from enemy attacks.  But that’s not really what David had going for him.

No, David had something else – Someone – that his giant enemy lacked:  the blessing of God.  The entire Israelite army couldn’t tackle Goliath, but little David could do it with one well-placed stone between the eyes.

This seems an unlikely tale; you couldn’t be blamed for thinking so.  Nowadays, battles aren’t fought that way.  But then, most who go into battle today don’t have what David had – indeed, it doesn’t even occur to them.

The blessing of God doesn’t apply only to battles between nations; in fact, it doesn’t apply all that often to battles!  But it does make a difference in our day-to-day matters (some of which are, admittedly, battles of another sort).

When you set out to do something, do you seek the blessing of God in so doing?  Put another way, are you thinking, when you go to do something, I wonder what God thinks of this?  Seeking God’s blessing for what you do does not involve either the extreme of being paralyzed for fear of doing something out of God’s will, or the extreme of doing anything you want to do and asking God to bless it.

No, to seek the blessing of God involves, first, being saturated in his Word so that you have a growing picture of what God’s will is, since the Bible is the first place that God in Christ, by the Holy Spirit, reveals his will to humanity.   It also means living in relationship with God so that your primary motive is to please (not appease, but please) God.

Let your guide be the words of the Psalmist:  “Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always” (Psalm 105.4, NIV).  That’s how David slew Goliath, and it’s how you and I can live each moment of every day.