Jewelers often place gems on deep black velvet to highlight their beauty. With no light of its own, that background lets the jewels’ luster take center stage. But few would deny the cloth itself has a kind of loveliness, too. In our greatest challenges, relying on God instead of ourselves can prove as glorious as placing a diamond on velvet. When we let Him shine, He’ll turn our battles into triumphs fit for the history books.
1 Sam. 17:1-58; Esther 4:1-17
Though separated by time and geography, David and Esther are both remembered for setting aside personal safety concerns and taking action to preserve God’s people.
Never underestimate what trusting God can accomplish.
- Courage can be defined as the strength to do something frightening or risky. In 1 Sam. 17:4-11, the giant Goliath taunts the Israelites and challenges them to one-on-one combat. Examine all the layers of intimidation. Besides the obvious physical danger, what risks may have caused the men to be “dismayed and very fearful”? Is something challenging you right now? Ask God to help you recognize a problem you need courage to face.
- Goliath has frightened “all the men of Israel,” who recognize the risks and run away (1 Sam. 17:24). But David calls Goliath a “disgrace,” who “has dared to defy the armies of the living God” (1 Sam. 17:26). What sets David apart? Identify his primary concern, based on these words.
- Consider the role that motivation plays. David’s courage is fed by a desire to defend God’s honor. But he also notices the reward for killing Goliath. Do you find his interest in Saul’s offer selfish? In 1 Sam. 17:25-27, what is suggested about how God might use reward in our lives? List a scripture or two showing He often informs us of blessings that will result from our positive behavior.
- A reward might be extra incentive, but what is the true foundation of David’s courage (1 Sam. 17:34-37)? Do you have similar experiences of God’s faithfulness that could give you the courage to face your challenge? List a few.
When we let God shine, He’ll turn our battles into triumphs fit for the history books.
A DIFFERENT STORY
Six centuries after David’s victory over Goliath, Esther’s courage saves the Jews from another deadly enemy.
- When Haman decrees their destruction, all the Jews mourn, and Queen Esther herself is “seized by great fear” (Est. 4:1-4). Compare her situation (including the suggestion by her cousin and guardian Mordecai) to that of David on the battlefield. In what ways did it require courage? Consider not just the physical risks.
- Esther’s concern for her own well-being is clearly a factor in her decision (Est. 4:13-14). Yet Scripture presents her as a great heroine of Jewish history. Both her story and David’s show that rewards and self-interest aren’t necessarily shameful motivations for courageous acts. But they shouldn’t be our main focus. What else do you think fueled Esther’s courage?
- Define honor in your own words. In these two stories about David and Esther, what part does honor play? Do you think it’s a frivolous idea, or one related to godliness? Explain your reasoning.
Misplaced courage is dangerous. But when we listen to the Lord, He will guide us to take the right risks.
- Challenges are often complex, and God alone sees the big picture; only He can anticipate the ripple effect of our actions. So we may need courage to fight for Him, ourselves, or others. While it’s unlikely we’ll be called upon to save a nation, having trust in God—and wisdom to take risks He approves—could even save a few lives.
When we listen to the Lord, He will guide us to take the right risks.
Consider how this study applies to your life.
When was the last time you needed courage? Life-defining challenges might arise only once or twice in a decade. But daily life has many smaller moments that demand bravery, and the Bible helps us. It offers: practical guidance for making right choices in seemingly insignificant matters (e.g., Proverbs); role models who, while very human, acted with great honor (such as David and Esther); and reminders that blessing follows obedience (like the Beatitudes in Matt. 5:3-12). Recalling memorized verses helps us to act with courage.
- Think of a split-second choice you had to make about acting in a godly way. Did awareness of risk pull you in the wrong direction? Or did something else—trust in God’s protection? His Word in your heart? His indwelling Spirit?—lead you to the right response? Pray, rejoicing in God or asking for His strength to fill you next time.
- A godly response in daily challenges is important, but hypervigilance is counterproductive—it indicates we’re focused on our power, not God’s. Before facing Goliath, David said, “The battle is the Lord’s” (1 Sam. 17:47). Remember that you, too, can yield to the Holy Spirit, whose power will help you fight your “giants” (Luke 12:12).
- Discouragement can paralyze us, leading to spiritual stagnation. But in fighting the good fight, we choose honorable causes. Then courage based on faith brings blessing and even deeper trust as we see God work. Let His glory radiate from you whenever you’re challenged. You’ll be dazzled by the Lord—as will everyone else.