Let us consider the David and Goliath story for a moment. What is the main point of the story? Are we to conquer our own Giants of Fear and Doubt just like David did? Is courageous faith the main point of the story? Such a summary neglects the main point of the Bible: the Person and Work of Jesus Christ. Therefore, it must be reformed.
Ok, so the main point of the story must be: trust in Jesus. Jesus is the Messiah, the Anointed one, and the ultimate New Testament fulfillment of the storyline of 1 Samuel which reveals the value of a righteous, victorious, King-Deliverer. David was this king temporarily. Jesus is this King permanently. We should identify with the cowering Israelite soldiers in need of an anointed Messiah, someone who could conquer the towering grim reaper of condemnation and death who was facing us. Jesus is our Savior in an even greater way than David was the savior of Israel. Trust in Jesus. Yes, this is certainly the main point of the story. If nothing else is said about David and Goliath, this must be said. Without this point, the David and Goliath story misses its mark. Jesus is clearly the ultimate King-Deliverer of whom David was an anticipating shadow.
But then, what do we do with Hebrews chapter 11 verse 32. And what more shall I say? For time would fail me to tell of Gidoen, Barak, Samson, Jepthah, of David…..who through faith conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, obtained promises…
The author is clearly telling us to follow in the footsteps of these men, to imitate their faith. Oh no! Doesn’t this take us right back to our first point–be like David? Have faith like David? But isn’t this just Old Testament moralism that neglects the primary purpose of the Scriptures of pointing to Jesus?
Here is an attempt at a solution. The New Testament is very clear on several points that help us in interpreting the Old Testament.
1. Jesus is the ultimate point of the Bible. Trusting in Jesus as our Savior must be the ultimate goal of Old Testament interpretation. David defeated Goliath means trust in Jesus.
2. There are no works of faith or righteousness that we add to the finished work of Christ. David defeated Goliath doesn’t mean that you and Jesus save you together. Jesus paid it all.
3. In union with Christ we should strive to reflect his power over sin and Satan in our daily life. David defeated Goliath means that Jesus defeated your greatest enemy on your behalf and in Him you can fight against spiritual enemies in your life. We do this as he empowers us by his Spirit, as he works in us to will and to work for his glory. In other words, it’s not wrong to want to be like David, but a better way of saying it would be–seeing David defeat Goliath should make you Trust in Jesus and trusting in Jesus should make you want to be like Jesus in your daily life. The “being like” doesn’t save you. The “trusting” doesn’t negate the value of “being like.”
Another way of describing this interpretation would be the phrase multiple fulfillment. There are actually a number of examples of this interpretation in the New Testament.
Jesus is the new temple, but in Christ we are a temple of the Holy Spirit.
Jesus is the final, complete sacrifice, but in Christ we are to offer our bodies as living sacrifices of worship to God.
Jesus is the only priest we need, but in Christ we are a priesthood of believers.
Jesus is the author and perfecter of our faith, but in Christ we are to have faith until the end.
Jesus bears the only cross of our judgment and condemnation before God, but in Christ we are to take up our crosses and live for his glory.
This does not mean Jesus + our righteousness = salvation. There is a primary and a reflective fulfillment here. Jesus is the primary fulfillment. He is the main point. But His glory is extended further as he continues to accomplish His work, through His Spirit, in His bride, the church. It is no surprise, since we are united to Him, indwelt by His Spirit, and His witness in the world, that our calling takes its definition in reflecting Him.
In saving us, His person and work are unrepeatable and complete. In our calling, we reflect Him and in so doing continue to reveal His fulfillment of the Old Testament which anticipated the person and Work, and ongoing work, of the great King-Deliverer, Jesus Christ.
Trying to be like David without trusting in Jesus is legalism, and hopeless. Trying to trust in Jesus without becoming like Jesus, and therefore like David in his better moments, is impossible, and unbiblical. Trusting in Jesus for all of salvation, and seeking to be like him in grateful worship, is the right answer to our Bible question.