In reading the story of David the careful student cannot fail to be impressed by the significant fact that David was at home, engaged in caring for his father's sheep, when the call came to him to go to wider fields of usefulness. No work could have been more humble or apparently farther removed from all opportunity for active aggression against the enemies of his people, and a lad of even less mettle than David possessed might with seeming justice have rebelled when his brethren started out for the battle without him. There is no record, however, that he did anything but continue at his appointed task without a protest; and that he was faithful to it is plainly shown by his words before King Saul later on. Surely, one described as a mere youth, whose understanding of God's power and ever-presence was sufficient to deliver his flock from "out of the paw of the lion, and out of the paw of the bear," was preeminently fitted for something greater than the peaceful occupation of tending sheep on sunny hillsides. We realize this clearly, and perhaps— who knows?—he realized it, too; but the point to be considered here is emphatically and solely this, he did his duty.
The simple narrative grows suddenly absorbing as we discern its deeper meaning and see that it is not merely the story of a dead-and-gone king of Israel, but of a condition of thought as old as his own ancient Judean hills. For "there is no new thing under the sun," and others beside David may have felt it unjust at times to be compelled to stay and feed "those few sheep in the wilderness," when they yearned to be with their brethren in the thick of the battle. It is so hard to be willing just to wait! But our dear Leader has reminded us that it is God who "owns each waiting hour" (Miscellaneous Writings, p. 389). And it must ever comfort us to remember that it was the lessons learned in those very "waiting" hours which enabled David to do the fighting later on.
When I first came into Christian Science I dreamed wonderful dreams of what I was going to do to help awaken "a weary world, asleep and bound." I was ready, then and there, to leave my few sheep (with never a thought as to what was to become of them), to forsake the commonplace, homely duties which had been mine so long, and run with eager footsteps after those who had already gone out against Goliath. But divine Love knew better than I what was good for me. I had not yet proved my shepherd's sling. Instead of fighting Goliath picturesquely, with the eyes of all Israel upon me, I had to go back into the wilderness and fight, alone with God, a much more formidable foe,—my own ambitious, proud, impatient self, with its army of false beliefs. David had to smite the lion and the bear before he could smite the Philistine; and the errors of belief in materia medica and false theology must be overcome in consciousness before we are ready to take our dauntless stand against the greater Goliath of belief in matter. David met the Philistine armed only with his sling, "in the name of the Lord of hosts." In refutation of the testimony of the material senses the "five smooth stones" proved indeed an adequate defense against the gigantic claim of life in matter. On that stately battlefield the understanding of Mind was arrayed against the belief in matter, as it is to-day. The spiritual idea went out against the material; it confronted the mortal of human imagination, weighed down by its useless armor of centuries of false education, and that sacred conflict ended, as it must ever end, in error destroying itself. For we find it was with Goliath's own sword,—his faith in materiality,—that the death-blow was finally given.