Why Can’t I See God Working?

David has killed Goliath. The battle we have deeply anticipated over the previous four weeks got so little attention. The victorious blow has come and gone. Now, we see the aftermath of the battle God won for His own glory. There is no doubt David was insufficient to fight the battle, let alone win. God is David’s and Israel’s deliverer in the story. That’s the whole point. The battle was the Lord’s.

Have you ever been in a circumstance that you don’t see or feel God moving, working, or claiming victory? God is always working all things together. God is omnipresent, omniscient, and omnipotent. I heard from someone just recently that they don’t see God moving or working. I’ve been there. Why, if God is always working all things together, every aspect of every battle, do we not see Him working? Let’s read about the chaotic aftermath of God’s battle between David and Goliath together.

1 Samuel 17:51-58

Then David ran and stood over the Philistine and took his sword and drew it out of its sheath and killed him, and cut off his head with it. When the Philistines saw that their champion was dead, they fled.

The men of Israel and Judah arose and shouted and pursued the Philistines as far as the valley, and to the gates of Ekron. And the slain Philistines lay along the way to Shaaraim, even to Gath and Ekron. The sons of Israel returned from chasing the Philistines and plundered their camps. Then David took the Philistine’s head and brought it to Jerusalem, but he put his weapons in his tent.

Now when Saul saw David going out against the Philistine, he said to Abner the commander of the army, “Abner, whose son is this young man?”

And Abner said, “By your life, O king, I do not know.”

The king said, “You inquire whose son the youth is.”

So when David returned from killing the Philistine, Abner took him and brought him before Saul with the Philistine’s head in his hand.

Saul said to him, “Whose son are you, young man?” And David answered, “I am the son of your servant Jesse the Bethlehemite.”

Aftermath (v. 51-54)

Then David ran and stood over the Philistine and took his sword and drew it out of its sheath and killed him, and cut off his head with it. When the Philistines saw that their champion was dead, they fled.

In verse 50, we saw David hit Goliath with the stone, killing him. Here, in verse 51, we read about David taking Goliath’s sword, killing him again, and decapitating him. God had already given David victory. There was no doubt God is His people’s only deliverer who doesn’t need human weapons. David was entirely insufficient. David didn’t simply leave the battle field. Killing Goliath once wasn’t enough. David killed the brute a second time and collected his head as a trophy. When the Philistines realized their champion was dead, they retreated.

The men of Israel and Judah arose and shouted and pursued the Philistines as far as the valley, and to the gates of Ekron. And the slain Philistines lay along the way to Shaaraim, even to Gath and Ekron. The sons of Israel returned from chasing the Philistines and plundered their camps. Then David took the Philistine’s head and brought it to Jerusalem, but he put his weapons in his tent.

The Israelite army made good on David’s threat in verses 46 and 47,

This day the Lord will deliver you up into my hands, and I will strike you down and remove your head from you. And I will give the dead bodies of the army of the Philistines this day to the birds of the sky and the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel, and that all this assembly may know that the Lord does not deliver by sword or by spear; for the battle is the Lord’s and He will give you into our hands.

There is a God. Despite all of Israel’s inability, God delivered the nation. He did not deliver the nation by human means or methods. There is no mistake—God did this. He owns the battle as He owns every battle. He is the one who works all things together.

Recognition (v. 55-58)

Now when Saul saw David going out against the Philistine, he said to Abner the commander of the army, “Abner, whose son is this young man?”
And Abner said, “By your life, O king, I do not know.”
The king said, “You inquire whose son the youth is.”
So when David returned from killing the Philistine, Abner took him and brought him before Saul with the Philistine’s head in his hand.
Saul said to him, “Whose son are you, young man?” And David answered, “I am the son of your servant Jesse the Bethlehemite.”

Samuel describes King Saul’s reactions concurrent to the battle we read about last week. Even though Saul had fit his armor on David (v. 38), the man who played the harp for him in his court (16:19), he does not recognize David either as David goes out to meet the giant or as he brings the trophy before Saul. The text does not tell us why Saul does not recognize David. We could probably dream up many reasons if we want to. Saul asks David whose son he is. David answers.

What has David’s message been through the Goliath discourse? God owns the battle. God is working all things together for His glory. Are you really so shallow as to think life is about you beating your giants. I will fight so that you may recognize God and God’s work in this process. In the aftermath, God’s name is just as absent from people’s lips as it was when David first walked into the camp. Saul, particularly, shifted his focus from Goliath to David. In the coming chapters, David will become Saul’s new Goliath—the new threat that must be overcome. David saw God, even in the midst of the giant, because He was following God—seeking first His kingdom and righteousness. Saul does not recognize God, even when God did an unmistakable work, because he is following after his own desires, victories, power, and self-identity as we will see in the coming chapters. That is the difference between following after God and following after self, even using human religion to our own ends.

Why don’t so many people, even religious people or self-proclaimed Christians, see God at work? I submit that it is a matter of perspective. The person who is really seeking first God’s kingdom and righteousness will recognize God even in the midst of the giant. The person who is self-centered will not recognize God even in the aftermath of blatant victory. If we don’t see God working or feel Him moving, it’s because we are not focused on Him. Yet in my experience, people who don’t see how God is working usually find a way to blame others. Friends, we are not so powerful to be able to keep God from working. He is working all things together, as we have seen in this discourse, even our own unrighteousness, sin, insufficiency, and inability for His glory and the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.

To be on God’s team I must leave my own. I cannot serve two masters.

Throughout his life, David will continue to feel as though he is one of few who actually follow after God. After he reforms Israel’s music ministry later in his life, he will write a song for the choir director,

The fool has said in his heart, “There is no God.”

They are corrupt, they have committed abominable deeds;

There is no one who does good.

The Lord has looked down from heaven upon the sons of men

To see if there are any who understand,

Who seek after God.

They have all turned aside, together they have become corrupt;

There is no one who does good, not even one.

Do all the workers of wickedness not know,

Who eat up my people as they eat bread,

And do not call upon the Lord?

There they are in great dread,

For God is with the righteous generation.

You would put to shame the counsel of the afflicted,

But the Lord is his refuge.

Oh, that the salvation of Israel would come out of Zion!

When the Lord restores His captive people,

Jacob will rejoice, Israel will be glad.

Psalm 14

David’s psalm matches his experience in this part of God’s story, even down to having his counsel put to shame. David resolves, even though Israel didn’t get it, to seek refuge in the Lord. Those who don’t recognize God, even those who are in some way religious, are in great dread. David’s psalm indicates that only God can give His people eyes to see. Only God can restore His captive people. God’s salvation would come out of Zion. In 1,000 years from David and Goliath, Jesus will come to give spiritual sight to the blind. Paul will quote from David’s psalm to make the very same point David has tried to make throughout this discourse. You can’t seek God. You can’t be righteous. God is our only deliverer and He does not use human religiosity to deliver the people He has chosen for Himself. We are unable to contribute to our salvation. All we can do is earn death. Eternal life is God’s gift (summary of Paul’s argument in Romans 3-6).

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