A Promise of Reward
Author: F. Duane Lindsey
Week of November 16, 2014
1 Samuel 17:1-37
The youngest son of Jesse may have had abilities that qualified him for service in the court of Saul; but could he demonstrate the fearless military leadership needed to shelter Israel from its aggressive neighbors? A Philistine intrusion into the Valley of Elah (located in the fertile foothills between the coastal plain where the Philistines dwelt and the mountainous heartland of Judah) gave David an unexpected opportunity to demonstrate his military prowess.
Single combats between selected warriors often decided battles in ancient times (cf. 2 Sam. 2:12-17). The Philistines had a hero well-suited for such conflict. Goliath was nearly ten feet tall, was protected by a bronze helmet and armor weighing about 125 pounds, and wielded a huge spear with an iron point that weighed over fifteen pounds.
As a reward to motivate an Israelite warrior to face Goliath, Saul promised great wealth, the hand of his daughter in marriage, and a family tax exemption to anyone who would kill Goliath.
David, returning from a leave from Saul’s court to tend his father’s sheep, appraised the situation and regarded the Philistine champion’s challenge as defiance against the God of Israel. David convinced Saul that “the Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine” (1 Sam. 17:37). David’s motivation was not personal reward but the honor and glory of the Lord God of Israel.
Consider this: God has promised Christians a number of specific rewards, or victor’s crowns (cf. 1 Thes. 2:19; 2 Tim. 4:8). However, our service in spiritual warfare for Jesus Christ should not be motivated by reward but by love for Him and a desire to bring honor and glory to God. After all, like the twenty-four elders, believers in heaven will not keep their rewards but will “lay their crowns before the throne” as an act of praise to the Lord God who is worthy “to receive glory and honor and power” (Rev. 4:10-11).