David & Goliath

David & Goliath

David vs. Goliath: Lessons in Life’s Purpose
By Dr. Betsy Joy B. Tan, Vice President for Academic Affairs


(Delivered during the 26th Annual Awards & Closing Exercises of the Living Word Christian School on March 30, 2015.)                              


“Teach a child how he should live and he will remember it all his life.”  


As parents, what joys did you give up this year to help your son or daughter finish a project, hurdle exams, help them to overcome the stressors in their learning?   As teachers, how many sleepless nights have you had throughout the school year to ascertain that in your teaching, there was always a corresponding learning among your students?


To be sure, for every joy in life, there is pain; for every victory, there has to be sacrifice; for every cause, there has got to be an effect!   Such are relationships in life:  for every stimulus, there is a corresponding response.  Let us explore that road . . .


You are all familiar with the story of David and Goliath, the small David to giant Goliath. In size and stature, Goliath is the symbol of power to David’s powerlessness – the young shepherd in David versus the tall Goliath, as tall as the ceiling where we are today. And yet, it was David who was brave enough to fight the giant – the giant who was too big for any  soldier to subdue. Goliath was also in full armor made of thick brass; but David had nothing to protect himself . . . except a sling and five small stones to fight the tall Goliath.


Thus, even the King was afraid for David. And with the people in their community, the king himself was not at all confident about David’s protection of a sling and five small stones; of his ability to win over the giant. To Goliath, David instead was a joke! But David was not afraid; instead he told the King, “God is with me.”


And with his sling and five small stones, David hit Goliath right where he lost his personal power, right in his forehead!


How many Davids have you met in life?  Among your friends, how many are like David?  Among the people around you, have you identified the Goliaths? You see, for every Goliath, that is how many problems we have around us; the number of challenges that we face every minute of the day – and the corresponding decisions we have to make to solve those problems, to overcome those challenges each day.


Every day, we all face challenges: a difficult lesson, a project with not much time to accomplish it, the lack of money to buy what you need, the failing health of a member of the family, the loss of a loved one.  All these are painful experiences that can make or break us.


But these are also our tests in life: of our personal choices – either to be a David or a Goliath. Like Goliath, do we depend on our physical strength?  Or like David, do we depend on God and the gift of intelligence He has given to us as our strength?  



Indeed, painful experiences lead us to evaluate our strengths – the blessings and love of those who care for us. Painful experiences teach us how to live life; to focus attention on what really matters to us in life. And more significant, painful experiences allow us to reflect on ourselves and our relationship with God – that every hurt, every bruise, every tear is a reminder that God is there for us.


For every pain, life then teaches us that we do have options: ignore the pain, submit to the pain, or resist and survive the pain.  Which way do we go?



I am sure that those who are confident about their relationship with God do not give up, never give up. Instead, with God, every pain is a chance to grow, an opportunity to make things better, to realize that there are other possibilities to learn about life and living.


Like David was to Goliath, he proved that with God, nothing is impossible. An ordinary  shepherd, a nobody to many people, David did not hide but instead showed strong character and conviction, an indestructible faith that he was able to prove to himself that he was more than what people thought of him. He was not a soldier. Neither was he trained to be part of an army; but he knew himself better. He grabbed the opportunity to affirm that desire to show the wonders of God’s work –  if only one commits himself or herself to His will.


The story of David and Goliath is then a great example of how we can conquer our own giants in life, the challenges that come our way. Do we run away and let the giant continue the destruction and fear that it is causing us? Or do we, like David, face these challenges head-on, with a strong Christian faith, and make ourselves an instrument of peace, love and care for others?



Being a David is about being a good Christian. It is about you surrendering your life to God, entrusting everything that comes your way to Him. It is that powerful inner peace that we see in the movie, “Kung Fu Panda” – the assurance that for every problem that comes in life, God is always there to sustain us in His Grace.


Today, your graduation day, you are now in that phase of life which is not only memorable but also a source of pride . . . for yourself, your parents, and your teachers. Today is also a mark of accomplishment, a product of your hard work – the proof that for as long as you do your best, God is always there with you and for you . . . to help you achieve the desires of your heart.


But graduation is also a signal for something new in your life, the opening of another window to a new chapter in your life: the new environment in the form of a different classroom, a new batch of classmates, more complicated lessons, and more responsibilities. This is a new window where there will be more and bigger giants; but these are also the same bigger giants that will make you a better David.


To some, it is not easy to transition to a new level in education – from elementary to high school, from high school to college. There are many things about elementary life or high school life that you will be missing. And saying goodbye to your teachers who have embraced and loved you like your parents won’t be easy. The same pain is there when you say goodbye to some friends who have become a part of your life.


But I am also sure that with your faith in God, moving up to the next hierarchy in your education can be a process that you all will learn to embrace; where you can look forward to the many opportunities for you to grow and know more about the world beyond what you have gotten used to. There is then that realization that it is exactly what your education in Living Word has prepared you for: to stand with full confidence in what you can do, with an unwavering trust in God, and with a genuine spirit to learn more about your genuine purpose in life.


Again, congratulations, graduates! You all are still young; you have many years ahead of you. And these are years that are critical in your whole person development as a true Christian – years that will test your values; years that will form your concept of who you are in relation to others; years that will teach you your priorities in life.


What drives you to be good? What motivates you in life? Facebook?  Online games like Clash of Clans? Or getting the newest iPhone 6?


Because society has made man materialistic, the world today has many distractions and temptations. Many have become selfish and self-absorbed; while others have defined success by the wealth that they are able to show off. These are then the Goliaths that we have to overcome.


After all, life is not about what we acquire in terms of money, or gadgets, or houses, or cars. It is about living in a community where you have many friends, many people with whom you can share your blessings. It is about you understanding that you are born into this world for a purpose – and that is, to make use of your talents and skills to be able to serve God and help the people in need in the community.



That is why David was brave enough to face Goliath. Even if he was in his normal everyday clothes, he showed courage. He was not bothered by not having a set of armor, a helmet made of brass, or a sword made of the finest steel. David did not need all those. He had with him his ultimate protection – and that was God. He had a Christian faith so overwhelming and an intention of protecting the people of Israel so genuine, that he did not need any worldly or material things.


David is the great example of how God works in our life; of what we need in our life – the need to develop that strong relationship with God. . . to be able to allow Him to control us in a manner that is in accordance to His will. David was a great example of how – when we have God on our side – blessings, like his victory over Goliath, would just come flowing towards us.



On your graduation day today then, learn more to be thankful to God; to His gift of your parents who have worked hard to send you to school at Living Word. Be inspired by your teachers who have done their best to mold you into young individuals not only with a superior mind; but also with a caring heart and a spirit that shares and serves.



To the parents, please always be there for your children. Be patient, for the hardships that you may go through with your children might just be another Goliath that God calls you to face and overcome as a David. Children look up to us, as role models; they need our guidance; they need to see Christ in us and in the manner by which we provide them the needed love and care. 


Today is also your day, as much as it is to your children and their teachers. Give yourself a pat on the shoulder for the time your children were given to you at birth; to the time when life stopped being only about you and expanded to include your children



To the teachers in Living Word, congratulations! As teachers, I know the pains and struggles you all went through in the cognitive development of your students. The challenge is never easy. But take heart and encouragement from your students who now have learned more not only about your subject but also about life . . . because of you. See your success in how your students have demonstrated their care, love, patience and concern for their fellow classmates – all indicators of how much you have influenced them to be true Christians. Kudos to Living Word Christian School! You are a living testimony of what I have learned from the UBCHEA – ” The heart of Education is the Education of the Heart”. 



“Teach a child how he should live and he will remember it all his life” maybe a daily reminder from Proverbs 22:6; but for us in our daily knowledge work in this Knowledge Age today, it is also a directive for us to stay focused when we teach through our curriculum or in our actions – for it is our character that shapes who we are; our honesty, sincerity, and adherence to high standards define our integrity for the many lives of learners around us! What we teach and what we do cannot be separated from each other . . . for integrity, our honesty to ourselves, cannot be divorced from what we learn and what we do!



To the graduates: never be afraid of what comes ahead of you. Always have faith in God . . . for what you make of the world you want to live in depends on how you are able to share with those around you, God’s blessings of hope, love and care!



Congratulations  . . . for being the David that you have become; for having been taught   how you should live – to remember all your life!