1 Samuel Bible

Prepare for Leadership When you are Not in Leadership

Today we continue our study through the story of David from the Bible to learn about what it means to be a faithful young leader serving God and the leader above you.
Preparation for Battle
In yesterday’s post we saw David anointed to become king of Israel, David returned to his flock of sheep, and then Saul called David to become his musician to help sooth Saul’s troubled spirit. (There was a lot that happened in 1 Samuel 16.)

Today we are studying chapter 17 of 1 Samuel to continue our study of the life of David before he became king. Through this study we will learn about leadership and what it means to be a faithful follower of God under another leader even though you feel you have been called to do something great.

So, if you need to, give 1 Samuel 17 a read. 

In chapter 17 of 1 Samuel we see why God has chosen David to be king. The Philistines (who are the enemies of David’s country of Israel) are encroaching on Israelite territory. Goliath (the giant warrior of the Philistines) steps on the battlefield in front of the entire Israelite army and challenges one man to come out and fight him.

Five years have passed since David was anointed to become king in 1 Samuel 16. During those five years, David has been a shepherd in the fields and serving as Saul’s musician.

In this chapter, we begin to see David’s bravery and courage. David is simply delivering a basket of roasted grain and ten loaves of bread to his three brothers who all serve in the Israelite army.

If we study this passage closely we notice that even though David is not a man of war, everything he is doing as a shepherd is preparing him for what he was about to face: a giant.

The Zondervan Handbook to the Bible describes how David is being prepared for what he was about to face:

David’s time in the hills alone with the sheep has added faith to courage—and given him deadly accuracy with the sling. The giant doesn’t stand a chance. Once again God is shown as his people’s protector: all he requires from them is trust and courage to obey.[1]

I believe there is a significant lesson we can learn from this story about how David prepares to lead as king even though he is not in leadership role currently.

What David did as a shepherd prepared him to conquer Goliath (v. 34-35).

Because David had fulfilled his duty and faithfully done his job as a shepherd he had the preparation and experience to fight Goliath. It would have been easy for David to think, “I won’t try very hard at being a shepherd because this is not important. But when I become king I will step up and do what needs to be done.”

Does David react this way?

David was courageous and faithful in defending and fighting for his sheep. David displayed the same courage to defend his sheep for God as he did to fight against men for God. In David’s eyes, defending sheep and fighting Philistines are both important because they are both done for God.

David gets his confidence to take on Goliath from God and his experience (v. 36).

In verses 34-37 David tells Saul about how he has already faithfully defended his sheep from lions and bears when he describes that he is going “do it to this pagan Philistine, too” (v. 36). David has defeated lions and bears, and because he has that experience, he is going to defeat this Philistine “too.” I believe that we can make the association that David has seen those lions and bears to be opposing his God, so he killed them. Just as those lions and bears opposed him in his faithful work of defending his sheep, he is going to defeat this Philistine who opposes his God.

Question: What can we do today (when not in leadership) to prepare ourselves for the Goliath we have not yet faced (when we have the opportunity for leadership)?

[1] Zondervan Handbook to the Bible, pg. 261-262

By Christopher L. Scott

Christopher L. Scott serves as senior pastor at Lakeview Missionary Church in Moses Lake, Washington. Through his writing ministry more than 250,000 copies of his articles, devotions, and tracts are distributed each month through Christian publishers. Learn more at