Now it happened afterward that there was again a battle with the Philistines at Gob. Then Sibbechai the Hushathite killed Saph, who was one of the sons of the giant. Again there was war at Gob with the Philistines, where Elhanan the son of Jaare-Oregim the Bethlehemite killed the brother of Goliath the Gittite, the shaft of whose spear was like a weaver’s beam. Yet again there was war at Gath, where there was a man of great stature, who had six fingers on each hand and six toes on each foot, twenty-four in number; and he also was born to the giant. So when he defied Israel, Jonathan the son of Shimea, David’s brother, killed him. These four were born to the giant in Gath, and fell by the hand of David and by the hand of his servants. (2 Samuel 21:18-22)
It was the twilight of a glorious reign. King David was now older, weaker, and slower. God still loved David, but the people loved him more for the memory of the past than the strength of the present. Yet even in these twilight years, David accomplished more through wisdom than he accomplished before in the strength of youth.
The last sentence of our text tells us that four giants fell by the hand of David and by the hand of his servants. David, of course, built his early career on the slaying of a famous giant. One Goliath is an accomplishment of a lifetime. Yet now, in the twilight years, David killed four more giants despite his age and weakness. How did he do it?
He did it by pouring into particular people. Our text names these men for us: Sibbechai, Elhanan, and Jonathan. These men accomplished heroic deeds when David was finished fighting giants directly. David put something into the life of these four men that made them giant killers. Since David poured into them, he is rightly credited with some of the victory – they fell by the hand of David and by the hand of his servants.
David’s legacy lay not only in what he accomplished, but in what he left behind – a people prepared for victory. David’s triumphs were meaningful not only for himself but for others who learned victory through his teaching and example. Another idea in the text is that even in his old age, David is winning victories for the future. David conquers enemies now so it will be better for Solomon in the future. Our present victory is not only good for us now but it passes something important on to the next generation.
Therefore, the defeat of these four giants is rightly credited to the hand of David and the hand of his servants. David had a role in this through his example, guidance, and influence. It gives us great confidence to know that God doesn’t just have one giant-killer, but through one He will raise up many more. God will continue to raise up leaders when the leaders of the previous generation pass from the scene.
G. Campbell Morgan looked at David’s last years and noticed David’s ability to pass on his victory to others. He observed, “Let those who after long service find themselves waning in strength, be content to abide with the people of God, still shining for them as a lamp, and thus enabling them to carry on the same Divine enterprises. Such action in the last days of life is also great and high service.”
As David grew weaker physically, he stayed strong spiritually and was also strong in wisdom. Instead of isolating himself – highly conscious of his weakness – he poured into others and continued to serve God greatly. Who does God want you to pour into?
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David’s weekly devotional is also translated into German.