When the words that David spoke were heard, they repeated them before Saul; and he sent for him. David said to Saul, “Let no one’s heart fail because of him; your servant will go and fight with this Philistine.” (1 Samuel 17:31-32)
In yesterday’s reading, Samuel learns that God looks on the heart – here David speaks of the heart. His brother accuses him of having evil in his heart (vs. 18)
Translation footnotes have vs. 32 as literally in Hebrew – “Let not the heart of a man fall upon him.”
In 1 Samuel’s picture of David, “heart” is a repeated theme. He is selected by God because, as the Lord tells Samuel, he is a man after his (God’s) heart and then when he goes to anoint the next king the Lord again says this to him.
Here, David speaks of the hearts of this fellow Israelites – perhaps his own as well. Some translations suggest that the one whose heart is failing at the challenge of Goliath is Saul rather than Israel generally.
How do we cultivate a heart like David’s – that faces challenge without failing? How do we confront challenge without fear, without surrendering?
Perhaps the answer lies in the earlier assertion that David is “a man after his own heart.” To be after God’s heart is to have heart that wants what God wants, that loves as God loves, that is transformed by the desires of God and therefore – as David says here- need neither fear nor fail.
Lord, give me a heart after your own heart. Make my heart anew today into a heart like David’s that can face the world without fearing, without failing, because it wants what you want and loves what you love. In the name of the one whose heart was yours, Jesus, the Christ. Amen.