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Dr. Paul J. Dean Christian Blog and Commentary

Duke-Butler: What does it Mean When Goliath Beats David?

  • Dr. Paul J. Dean

    Dr. Paul Dean is a pastor, cultural commentator, and author. He serves as a Regional Mentor with the International Association of Biblical Counselors, speaks at several conferences throughout the year, and provides training for ministers and churches on a regular basis. Paul resides in the Upstate of South Carolina with his wife and three children.

  • 2010 Apr 07
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For basketball fans, this year's NCAA Men's National Championship was an incredible game on many fronts. It was a hard-fought battle that came down to the last shot as time ran out. Win or lose; one shot; who could hope for a better scenario? The bigger story line was the fact that Butler University, a small school that no one gave a chance was in the championship game going against one of basketball's elite schools, Duke University. Duke has been in ten national championship games, eight under their current coach, and his teams have won four of them. When it was obvious as the semi-finals drew to a close that Butler and Duke would square off, Clark Kellogg, the former Ohio State basketball great and now CBS announcer, dubbed the match-up a "David and Goliath" situation.

Now, people all over the country were on the David/Butler bandwagon. The story intensifies as everyone likes the underdog and everyone literally hates Duke. Add to that the Hoosiers factor. If you've seen the movie Hoosiers, you know it's based on Milan High School winning the 1954 Indiana state basketball championship. They weren't supposed to be there let alone win; but they did as Bobby Plump hit a last second shot and history was made. Better still, Plump went on to play for none other than Butler University. And incredibly, this year's championship game was played in Indiana less than six miles from Butler's campus. It was Hoosiers mania all over again. Everyone felt Butler was destined to win. Put all that together and you have the most lopsided cheering base for a final game ever as most of the 71,000 screaming fans in the arena were cheering for Butler/David to beat Duke/Goliath.

But then something odd happened; it unfolded just like Hoosiers in the sense that it came down to the last shot; Butler superstar Gordon Hayward grabbed a rebound on a missed free throw, drove to mid-court and shot as time ran out. The ball hit the back board square, fell to the rim, and . . . bounced out. Game over: Butler loses. David loses. Goliath wins. How could that be?

Well, the truth is in this world Goliath almost always wins. The point to the real David and Goliath story is that in some situations, it's humanly impossible for David to win and Goliath to lose. We need God's help and without it we have no hope. We need God to deliver us from sin, Satan, and death. No human work, power, religious act, or anything else can deliver us from sin's power. We're dead in sin and dead we'll stay unless God delivers us with His mighty and gracious hand (Eph. 2:1-4).

Further, when Satan and his power overwhelm us, we can have David's attitude if we know who fights our battles: God. When Goliath stood against Israel, David asked a faith-filled question: "Who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God" (1 Sam. 17:26)? Though Satan defies God's people and mockers tear down God's truth, we can have great confidence knowing we're on the winning side: the army of the living God! Who are those who come against God? They're nothing.

But think about it; the David and Goliath account tells us that we Christians can't affect the world and God's kingdom advance apart from God's power. So often we try to do God's work in our own strength and either end up failing or doing nothing more than putting earthly power on display. In his own strength, David was no match for Goliath - a giant of a man. But, when he was warned not to fight Goliath he said, "The Lord, who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, He will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine" (v. 37). The battle was not his but the Lord's. Our battle is the Lord's also. We are kingdom citizens waging war through prayer and gospel influence. It is God who works powerfully in those things as we keep our focus on the right battle, the right weapons, and the right victor: God Himself. After Goliath chided him, David affirmed again: "You come to me with a sword, 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" (v. 45).

What about our influence in the political-civil-social arena, the church-growth arena, and every area of our personal lives? Again, we can't advance God's cause with carnal weapons and methods. When we're viewed as "Davids" with no earthly power and then use spiritual weapons (2 Cor. 10:3-5), "Then all this assembly shall know that the Lord does not save with sword and spear; for the battle is the Lord's, and He will give you into our hands" (v. 47). Re-read that verse . . . we have to think about our purpose in all that we do. Is it merely to get what we want or even to advance the gospel only? No! We want the great assemblies of the world to know that God does not save with sword or spear like Allah for example. "‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,' says the Lord of hosts" (Zech. 4:6).

David declares why it is that he will in fact defeat Goliath: "that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel" (v. 46). This is the reason the church appears as a David in the face of the Goliath power of the world; that the world may know there is a God in the midst of Israel, us, God's people. Even now multiple forces are seeking to defeat God's true church. But, when God's people give up earthly pleasure and power for gospel advance; when God's people seek the kingdom and not what the world offers; when God's people find peace in Him and not in favorable circumstances; the world will know that God is real.

An earthly Duke will usually beat an earthly Butler. But, a spiritual Goliath will never defeat a spiritual David if that David is in Christ. In fact, it is David as king who points to Christ as King of kings and Lord of lords and it is in Christ that we have the power of an indestructible life (Heb. 7:16).

Dr. Paul Dean invites you to discover more about yourself, God, and others . . . and develop a Christian worldview. Dr. Dean is a pastor, cultural commentator, and author. Receive a FREE commentary and learn more at www.trueworldview.com.