David Wasn’t the Underdog, And Neither Are You

Animaesh Manglik

6 mins

You’ve likely heard the biblical story of David and Goliath. You know the one: a small shepherd boy defeats a giant soldier against all odds. But what if I told you your Sunday school was partially wrong? David wasn’t the powerless underdog we often believe him to be. And when you face giant-sized obstacles in your life, neither are you.

If you are like any normal person, you have faced many obstacles in life. Some are big, and some are small, but they all cause friction, tension and require us to make choices to get through them.

For me, I’ve had multiple obstacles in this past year alone: with the pandemic, our country’s racial tensions, and as a newlywed. As someone who craves community, being physically distanced from people has been a massive mental struggle and an energy suck. Being a non-Black man of color who grew up privileged in the U.S. has caused me significant internal tension. And being a newlywed has brought its own (natural) challenges.

I’m guessing you’ve had some obstacles this past year, too.

Every obstacle requires us to make a choice. That choice depends on perception—how obstructive we perceive that obstacle to be. Something might look small from a distance, but as we approach it, it towers over us. Or maybe we see something towering over us and get so overwhelmed that we do not see the door in the middle that we can just walk through or the way around. Regardless of the obstacle, God wants to be with us in it—and sometimes He’s even already equipped us to overcome it.

Back to David and Goliath. It’s a story commonly applied to sports, business, and many other everyday situations to describe something that is smaller, weaker, or not as experienced triumphing over something that is bigger. As the story goes, the Israelites were in the middle of a war against their arch-enemies, the Philistines. Before a battle, the Philistines would send out their champion, Goliath, to taunt the Israelites. He was a towering figure (over nine feet tall) and well known for his deadly victories.

He would say, “Choose a man and have him come down to me. If he is able to fight and kill me, we will become your subjects; but if I overcome him and kill him, you will become our subjects and serve us” (1 Samuel 17:9). So the stakes were high, and none of the Israelite soldiers were brave enough to face him. That is, except David, who wasn’t even a soldier at all. He was the Israelite shepherd boy who we often think of as defeating the powerful Goliath with just his will and honor.

But that’s not entirely true. I do not think David was as weak and powerless as we sometimes assume him to be. And if you feel like you’re facing a giant right now, you might not be as much of an underdog as you think either.

David was indeed a shepherd, but as a shepherd, he had a ton of experience fighting off and killing dangerous, huge animals. In fact, David had killed both a lion and a bear while protecting his flocks. Yeah, David’s kind of a badass.

The Bible says David used a slingshot to defeat Goliath. This is true, but David also relied on his God-given intelligence. Goliath was more disarmed and stunned by the slingshot. The actual kill shot came from David’s spear, which he was able to use when he ran closer to Goliath and stabbed him. He came with a plan for victory. He knew his gifts and recognized that hand-to-hand combat would not have been the most viable option, so he structured a plan that would allow him to defeat the giant without getting harmed himself.

Lastly, David was backed up. Not too long before this, an angel had decreed David the next king of Israel. Ultimately, David had God on his side, which means even the most terrifying of giants is nothing to fear.

My point is, David’s status as an underdog was just a perception. And Goliath’s unstoppability was also just a perception. In reality, God sometimes allows for obstacles so we can get stronger and get over the perception. God cares about empowering us to believe in ourselves in the same way He believes in us. And to remember that when He is on our side, we are capable of overcoming anything.

Just like David, God has given us past experiences to get through new obstacles. Whatever obstacle is in front of you, there have been things in your past that prepared you for that moment. Lean into them.

Just like David, you can have a plan of attack. You do not always have to go full-frontal attack on an obstacle ahead of you. Sometimes you can aim and shoot from far away, disarming the obstacle. The best outcomes out of those have come when I plan ahead of time, utilize my strengths appropriately, and ask God for wisdom, knowing he’ll guide me.

And lastly, just like David, you do have support. Whether it is family, friends, spouse, or whatever. You have people who want to both come alongside you and back you. And if you don’t feel like you can identify with true support from any of the examples listed above, know that you have God—the ultimate strength on your side. Through faith, you also have the people who follow Him.

People at Crossroads are literally here for you. Not just hypothetical, well-wishing pleasantries. Literal, tangible support. We have a team of people who, if you need to talk about anything, are here for you. Click the chat button on to start. God really is for you, and we’re here to help connect you.

Process, journal or discuss the themes of this article - here's a few questions to get the ball rolling...

David Wasn’t the Underdog, And Neither Are You

  1. What stands out to you most about this article? Why that?

  2. Where are you facing a struggle that seems way too big for you to overcome?

  3. What’s your experience like relying on God to back you up and help you rise to a challenge?

  4. How can you try something in this article to change your perspective that maybe you are stronger than you think. Pick one practical way, and make a plan to try it this week. Forward this article to a friend to help hold you to it

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Animaesh Manglik
Meet the author

Animaesh Manglik

I live my life following the three B’s. Boxing, Bourbon, and the Bible.

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