Cartoon of the shepherd boy David hitting a bear with a shepherd's staff

Secret Preparation

Although the mention is very short, I have always been fascinated by the fact that a shepherd boy, David, could kill both a lion and bear with his bare hands.  I think of people who have been mauled or killed by both of these animals, and the terror they still strike with campers and African villagers.  Our family recently had a black bear tear away a steel clasp to a power box on the outside of our cabin because he detected honey inside the cinderblock wall.  That mangled steel convinced me I should do my best never to confront a bear.

I imagine that David’s encounters with these predators snatching sheep did not leave him time to contemplate his chances of survival.  Instead, he acted immediately and instinctually.  It was probably only afterwards that he was able to grasp the improbability of his ability to kill such powerful and formidable beasts.  His only conclusion would have to be that he had supernatural assistance to prompt him to confront versus running, and to attack with the physical strength to overpower.  God gave David two opportunities to trust in the Lord’s anointing and partnership – the lion and the bear – and both battles took place where no one was watching.

At the time David was shepherding, I’m certain it never occurred to him that he would become a mighty warrior in the king’s army by killing a 10-foot giant armed to the teeth.  The fact is that he could not have done so without the specific training and experience God gave him in private.  He probably didn’t even think of it as training, yet it was nevertheless so impactful that he didn’t require the cheering-on of men, nor was he susceptible to men’s skepticism and criticism.  The anointing of the Holy Spirit in power was essential to his trust in God and His power to overcome.

David’s example causes me to ponder what the Lord wants to do in the lives of believers in secret preparation for today’s adversaries.  Most of us look at public displays of success, believing our contributions should be on the same scale without understanding how the Lord has prepared them in the private, secret place.  If we miss the necessity of doing the latter, the former will discourage us, as our seeming ineptitude becomes glaringly obvious.

Significantly, the power, stamina, and direction for the exploits of God cannot be accomplished apart from the power of the Holy Spirit manifested in our lives.  Whereas receiving the Holy Spirit was an exclusive act of God in David’s time, receiving Him now happens as John the Baptist described.  “I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me comes One who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” (Matthew 3:11)  John is describing two baptisms, the second one originating from Jesus (not man) with God-power.  The amazing blessing is that receiving the Holy Spirit from Jesus is as simple as genuinely desiring and asking.  In Luke 11:11-13 Jesus said, “Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? 12 Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? 13 If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”

The importance of our alone-time with God cannot be overstated.  That is where He teaches and instructs.  That is also where He gives us the opportunity to test what we have learned, and prove His faithfulness.  We usually don’t know where His training is ultimately leading, but if we are faithful to do the work, we will find ourselves worthy of being on the frontlines in the specific area for which He has called and equipped us.  How glorious would it be to operate in such confidence of God’s partnership and power that fear would have no place, and we could not be dissuaded by any giants, obstacles, or naysayers in our path!  It all awaits our willingness to spend time in secret preparation with no agenda but that of our wise and faithful God.

The image, “Young David”, is adapted from the image set “DAVID, THE LION AND THE BEAR” by Richard Gunther used under CC BY 4.0. “Young David” is licensed under CC BY 4.0 by Ray Mitchell.


  1. Phil on May 28, 2024 at 10:14 am

    So good!