In 1 Corinthians 16:13, the fourth challenge that Paul gave men towards the end of the 1 Corinthians letter was to “be strong!” I think of the hours many of us spend in the gym becoming strong. Is that what Paul meant here? Think about it. If Goliath was living today, he would be the perfect example of what the world considers strength to be. The Dude was 9’ 9” and very athletic. His coat of arms weighed 125 lbs. and his javelin weighed 15 lbs.! Let me assure you if Goliath lived today, he would be on ESPN daily. The whole Israelite army was absolutely terrified of him! He is the epitome of what comes to mind when we think of being strong.
However, this is not what God means as “be strong.” Samuel, the great Judge in the OT, kept making the same mistake as we do. First, he selected Saul who is described in 1 Samuel 9:2 as handsome a young man as could be found anywhere in Israel, and he was a head taller than anyone else. Saul was a very physically strong imposing young man. However, he ended up a “dud.” Then, God told Samuel to go to the house of Jesse and stated that one of his sons would be the next King. Samuel was obedient. He traveled to Bethlehem and invited Jesse and his sons to a sacrifice. Here’s what happened. 1 Samuel 16 states 6 When Jesse and his sons arrived, Samuel saw Eliab and thought, “Surely the Lord’s anointed stands here before the Lord.” 7 But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” If God had not intervened, Samuel would have made the same mistake again. He would have chosen based on physical appearance and charisma not what God was looking for. God made it clear how he judged strength. He looks at things totally different. “People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” Jesse paraded each of his sons in front of Samuel but God did not anoint any of them. Finally, Jesse had to fetch his youngest son who was a shepherd and was out with the sheep. Surprising to everyone, he was the one God was looking for. Why? Act 13 22 God testified concerning David: ‘I have found David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do. Wow! It ends up that strength to God and leadership is all about the heart not the physical appearance. Hey, let me ask you a question. Don’t we all have the tendency of making a similar judgment as Samuel. Our self-talk keeps us from being what God wants us to be and do because we compare ourselves to others, and we simply don’t feel we match up well. God says for us to give Him our hearts and see things through his eyes.
As we know, this little shepherd boy and the mighty Goliath ended up on a battlefield mano a mano. Goliath laughed at this little shepherd boy and mocked him. However, he did not recognize who he was dealing with. David’s heart was full of God and God had given Him His strength. 2 Timothy 1 7 for God gave us a spirit not of fear (cowardice) but of power and love and self-control. 1 Sam. 17 45 Then David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with a sword and with a spear and with a javelin, but I (David) come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. 46 This day the Lord will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you down and cut off your head… 47 and that all this assembly may know that the Lord saves not with sword and spear. Then, David with a simple sling shot and a smooth rock, slayed the Giant.
So, it ends up that true strength comes from faith and a heart given over to God. Please don’t keep making the same mistake as Samuel. As Ephesians 6 verse 10 states, Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Amen!