Encore post: 3 Lessons from a shepherd boy

More Money Than Month is taking a little vacation this week but so as not leave you empty-handed, I thought I’d share with you again some of my favorites from the last year and a half. This one was one of my wife’s favorites. So often we think we aren’t good enough or have made too many mistakes for God to use you but the truth is God specializes in using those with flaws.


One of the most famous stories from the Old Testament is that of David and Goliath. Kids learn that story when they are very young. Let’s step back a few years from that story.

David is the youngest son of Jesse and a simple shepherd. Nothing special. When the prophet Samuel comes to Jesse’s house to anoint the next king of Israel, Jesse doesn’t even call David in from the sheep. But after Samuel rejects Jesse’s other 7 sons, he asks is that all of them? Jesse says well there is David, he is the youngest, but well he’s kind of the runt of the litter so to speak. Couldn’t possibly be him. Jesse calls him in from the fields though and Samuel says that’s it. He’s the one, and Samuel anoints him as the next king.

Pretty good news for David it would seem. But notice what happens next. Does David get a limo ride to the palace and a life on easy street? No, for the next several years David got to keep company with sheep.

Now we move forward a few years. Israel is at war with Philistia. The Philistine champion, Goliath, is 9 feet tall. He has challenged Israel to send forth their champion to fight him and is mocking God and the Israelite’s cowardice. David is taking food to his brothers and overhears what Goliath is saying.

David responds by saying. “Who does this Philistine punk think he is, that he should insult the armies of the living God?”

David proceeds to volunteer to be the one to fight Goliath, takes his sling and nails Goliath between the eyes and kills him.

Great story, so what does this have to do with finances?

I think we can take three lessons from this story.

1. God rarely uses the most talented or the most gifted.

When God wants to create a nation he chooses an elderly infertile couple. He uses a prostitute to protect some Israeli spies.He uses timid Gideon to lead a battle. He uses a persecutor of Christians to write most of the New Testament. He picks a shepherd to take down a giant.

Maybe your finances are a real mess. You look at the decisions you have made and feel God couldn’t use you. Maybe you thought you knew what God had planned for you. But now you don’t see how that could be possible.

God can take your “mess” and use it and you for His glory. He specializes in using the most unlikely people to accomplish His tasks.

2. God can use our apparent setbacks

I wonder what ran through David’s mind those nights as he went back to tending sheep. Did he ever wonder just what God was doing? I thought I was supposed to be king, why is my life filled with smelly sheep?

But do you know what David was doing during those years? He was practicing with that sling. How many rocks, trees, and bushes did he “slay” practicing to be prepared in the event he had to ward off a predator from the sheep. We know from the story he had faced down both lions and bears. God was preparing him with the skills he’d need to face down a giant someday.

We learn many lessons while we are in the midst of financial stress. When things seem hopeless we learn to trust the One who is bigger than our problems. When we are out of answers, we learn to follow the One that is the way, the truth, and the life. When we don’t earn enough, have enough, know enough, we learn that He is enough. What we find is that the lessons we learn in the midst of the storm are the lessons that He wants us to use when we get to the other side.

3. Israel saw the size of the giant, David saw the size of his God.

The Israelites were terrified because all they could see was a 9 foot giant. David wasn’t looking at the giant. His focus was on the size of his God. When all we see is the bleakness of our situation, all we can think of are the What if’s.

  • What if I can’t pay my bills?
  • What if I lose my job?
  • What if they take my house?
  • What if I have to declare bankruptcy?
  • What if I can’t feed my children?

David doesn’t see the “what if” of the situation. He sees the “who is” of the situation. From David’s perspective this isn’t David vs. Goliath. This is God vs. Goliath.

Remember the God we serve is bigger than any debt. The Bible says he owns the cattle on a thousand hills, and Christian finance guru, Larry Burkett, used to say he owns the hills too. God knows what you need. I’m not saying that one prayer, and all your financial problems will go away. Maybe your path will lead through foreclosure or bankruptcy. But is God big enough to walk beside you in the midst and through your financial situation? Is He big enough to take care of you despite what ever you may be facing?

How big is your box?

The problem is we try to make God fit in our little God size box. We set limits on what God can do based on our understanding. But the “God” that fits in our little box is no God at all. God doesn’t live in our little boxes. He can use anybody to do anything at anytime. And most often he chooses to use the most unlikely people to do the most amazing things and it is done in His time and in a way that He gets the glory.

If you are in the midst of a financial storm, I don’t want it to sound like I’m making light of your situation. And I’m not saying that God is a magic genie that will pop out of the lamp and make everything better. Sometimes He tells the wind and the waves “peace, be still” and the storm winds settle. But sometimes though He simply chooses to hold our hand and walk along side us through the storm. And sometimes He picks us up and carries us through the storm.

No matter what may happen though, I can promise that He will never let you go, and sometimes the messes in our lives are the training grounds where He is preparing us to do our greatest works, where we learn to take our focus off the giant in front us and place it on the God who is with us.

What is God preparing you to do?

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