Courage like David’s for Modern Times
THESE are days fraught with peril. Well were they foretold as “critical times hard to deal with.” To deal with them adequately takes courage. And what is courage? Courage has been defined as “mental or moral strength enabling one to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty firmly and resolutely.”—2 Tim. 3:1.
It takes courage to be honest in business when one’s competitors are dishonest. It takes courage to admit having made a mistake. And in particular does it take courage these days to swim against the current of public opinion with its mad chase for pleasure and wealth and with its low moral standards. To keep on doing what you know is right, to have the determination to live by one’s convictions in spite of what others may do—well, it takes courage.
There is precious little of this kind of courage in the world today. There is, however, much of what often passes for courage, namely, physical recklessness. But there is a big difference between the two. Courage is based on principles; physical daring is based on physical strength, on emotion or even on ulterior motives. A prize fighter has physical daring; he is in there fighting for fame or money. Many a soldier in combat, inflamed with the passion to kill, or confident because of superior military equipment, may display daring. But courage is not based on superior physical power. It is mental or moral strength that comes from devotion to principles.
The Bible gives us many examples of the kind of courage we need in these modern times. Among the more noteworthy of these is the example of courage furnished by David the giant killer. When a mere lad entrusted with his father’s flocks he manifested remarkable courage in protecting them from the wild beasts. As he himself told King Saul of it: “Your servant became a shepherd of his father among the flock, and there came a lion, and also a bear, and each carried off a sheep from the drove. And I went out after it and struck it down and made the rescue from its mouth. When it began rising against me, I grabbed hold of its beard and struck it down and put it to death. Both the lion and the bear your servant struck down.” Certainly that took courage!—1 Sam. 17:34-36.
While still a lad, some seventeen years or so of age, David faced Goliath, the giant nine feet nine inches high, who for days had immobilized the entire army of Israel through fear and who kept taunting them day after day. David with rare courage approached this giant calmly and fearlessly, hurling defiance at him and setting the issue squarely before him: “You are coming to me with a sword and with a spear and with a javelin, but I am coming to you with the name of Jehovah of armies, the God of the battle lines of Israel, whom you have taunted. This day Jehovah will surrender you into my hand, and I shall certainly strike you down and remove your head off you; . . . and people of all the earth will know that there exists a God belonging to Israel.” Then, with a shepherd’s sling and one of the smoothest stones he could find, he ran toward the giant, slung his sling and with a stone from it felled the giant. What a display of courage that was!—1 Sam. 17:45-50.
David continued as a man of courage. In going out to battle he so inspired the men with him that the women of Israel were able to sing: “Saul has struck down his thousands, and David his tens of thousands.” As a result of this King Saul became insanely jealous and envious of David and repeatedly sought to kill him, causing David eventually to flee to the cave of Adullam, where his brothers and the entire house of his father as well as hundreds of men who had grievances joined him. There, though hunted like a wild beast by King Saul and his soldiers, David kept up his courage. Of this he gave repeated proof, as when on two occasions he had Saul within his power and yet refused to take the life of the man who was determined to take David’s own life.—1 Sam. 18:7; 22:1, 2.
Upon becoming king, David extended the boundaries of his nation to their God-ordained limits by means of military conquests. And that this fighting was a matter of courage can be seen from the fact that repeatedly David inquired of Jehovah as to his moving into battle, showing that he was being guided by the divine will and not merely love of conquest.
Wherein lay the secret of David’s courage? First of all, it lay with his great faith in Jehovah: “Jehovah, who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, he it is who will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.” Contributing also to his courage was his love of righteousness: “The wicked do flee when there is no pursuer, but the righteous are like a young lion that is confident.” And further, love for Jehovah God and for his own people gave David courage: “There is no fear in love, but perfect love throws fear outside, because fear exercises a restraint.” Yes, faith in Jehovah God, love of righteousness and love of God and neighbor may be said to account for David’s remarkable courage.—1 Sam. 17:37; Prov. 28:1; 1 John 4:18.
To have courage like David’s for these modern times requires the same three basic qualities. Faith in Jehovah God will give you the courage of your convictions: that you do not need to imitate the dishonest practices of your competitors in order to provide for yourself properly. Love of righteousness will give you the strength to admit a mistake. And love for God and your fellowman will give you the courage to swim against the tide and seek to do what will please God and what is for the highest welfare of those with whom you associate, even though they may not always appreciate that fact.
To acquire this Davidlike courage for modern times you will need to study God’s Word. It alone can give you the needed faith, the essential appreciation of what is righteous and love of God and neighbor.