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Lions and Bears

Bible Reading

1 Samuel 17:32-37

New International Version (NIV)

32 David said to Saul, “Let no one lose heart on account of this Philistine; your servant will go and fight him.”

33 Saul replied, “You are not able to go out against this Philistine and fight him; you are only a young man, and he has been a warrior from his youth.”

34 But David said to Saul, “Your servant has been keeping his father’s sheep. When a lion or a bear came and carried off a sheep from the flock, 35 I went after it, struck it and rescued the sheep from its mouth. When it turned on me, I seized it by its hair, struck it and killed it. 36 Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, because he has defied the armies of the living God. 37 The Lord who rescued me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will rescue me from the hand of this Philistine.”

Saul said to David, “Go, and the Lord be with you.”

What Does it Mean?

This is the prelude to what is a very well-known Bible story, a story loved by children and adults alike – the story of David and Goliath. The giant Philistine Goliath had been taunting the armies of Israel, and had the Israelites quaking in terror. 1 Samuel 17 tells the whole story.

We know that David was to go on to be one of Israel’s greatest kings, and that he would be later known as a “man after God’s own heart”, but at this point he was still a young man, albeit anointed by Samuel as future king, and still at the beck and call of his father. But David was no ordinary young man. Whilst the Israelite army fled from the Philistine giant in great fear (1 Samuel 17:24), David questioned, “Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living God?” (1 Samuel 17:26b).

David was both brave and bold. As he said to Saul in our reading above, he had fought lions and bears off in order to save his father’s sheep, and he was confident in the saving power of the Lord to protect him in taking on the giant Goliath.

David trusted the Lord to keep him safe – he believed in the power and might of his God, and he was rewarded for his faith in that he was able to slay the giant who had held the Israelites captive in fear for forty days.

David’s faith was based on trust and truth – he knew that he could trust his God for his safety, because God had protected him from the jaws of lions and bears. I imagine that he would not have expressed such confidence in accepting the Philistine’s challenge had his faith in God not already been tested with lions and bears.

We might not have to face actual lions and bears in our lives, but we will be faced with challenges that will test our faith and teach us to trust in the saving power of our God. Often, the “lions and bears” that we face are, like David’s real lions and bears, stepping stones of preparation, preparing us to face even bigger challenges and obstacles with the same bold, courageous certainty that David confronted Goliath.

Ponder Points

What have your personal lions and bears been? In what ways do you think these things have deepened your trust and faith in the saving power of God?

How much stronger do you feel for having faced your personal lions and bears? Do you feel better able to confront problems and obstacles in your life because of them?


God knows what’s coming, and He’s constantly training you so that you can come through the storms still standing firm and trusting in Him.

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