We all know David as Israel's beloved king and Psalmist, a man who slew a battle-scarred giant using a slingshot when he was younger. Yes, we know David to be a man mighty in war and in praise to the Lord.
One of the most important times in the life of David, however, is a time not many of us know and understand: a time when he tended his father's flock as a young shepherd boy. During this time, he's had his adventures too.
In this article we'll take a look at one of the most fascinating events in young David's life: the time when he encountered ferocious animals preying upon his flock -- the bear and the lion.
What can we learn from it? Let's take a quick look at that.
When the Godly shepherd boy met the mighty beasts
Nowadays, children are taught that bears and lions are ferocious animals that can kill. Children today see such animals from a distance, in wild parks or in cages in the zoo.
David, however, didn't see such beasts from afar or inside a cage. He saw them face to face and at a distance even zookeepers would never want to be in: up close and personal.
"But David said to Saul, "Your servant used to keep his father's sheep, and when a lion or a bear came and took a lamb out of the flock, I went out after it and struck it, and delivered the lamb from its mouth; and when it arose against me, I caught it by its beard, and struck and killed it. Your servant has killed both lion and bear; and this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, seeing he has defied the armies of the living God."" (1 Samuel 17:34-36)
David had dangerous encounters with the bear and the lion while taking care of his father's sheep. Did he run away? He did not; instead, he slew them to protect his flock.
As a young man, David did what no normal kid or teenager can do without a gun or similar firearm. He only had a slingshot and likely his shepherd's stick.
But He had God with Him.
Now what can we learn from David's encounter with these beasts? Here are a few.
1) There will always be predators preying on the flock
Sheep will always be a target for various predators, and shepherds will do well to know this. Young David's experience tells this to us.
What's more, predators don't care if there's a shepherd or not, or if the shepherd is young or not. They will simply come. That's just how it is.
The church today should know that, and must vigilantly keep watch over the flock.
2) Shepherds must be willing and ready to face those that try to kill the flock
Shepherds -- pastors and others -- must be ready and willing to come and confront every single thing that tries to take the flock away from God. This is non-negotiable.
Jesus Himself had sharp words for those who simply allowed sin in the church without confronting it:
"I know your works, and where you dwell, where Satan's throne is. And you hold fast to My name, and did not deny My faith even in the days in which Antipas was My faithful martyr, who was killed among you, where Satan dwells. But I have a few things against you, because you have there those who hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols, and to commit sexual immorality." (Revelation 2:13-14)
"I know your works, love, service, faith, and your patience; and as for your works, the last are more than the first. Nevertheless I have a few things against you, because you allow that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, to teach and seduce My servants to commit sexual immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols." (Revelation 2: 19-20)
3) Trials such as this prepare us for greater work
We also have to realize that if we want to be prepared for a greater work in God's vineyard, we've got to be willing to face such trials and challenges.
David's encounters with these beasts prepared him for his encounter with Goliath:
"Moreover David said, "The Lord, who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, He will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine."" (see 1 Samuel 17:37)
When we overcome challenges by the help of God, we grow strengthened in our faith in Him. As such, we must never cower in the face of challenges. Rather, we face them head-on, confident in the Lord.