The story of David and Goliath is told in I Samuel 17: 1-58.

Israel was at war with the Philistines and both armies had gathered on hills overlooking the Valley of Elah. As the Israeli army was preparing for battle, a giant named Goliath came forward to challenge the army of Israel. The challenge boiled down to one warrior from each side, battling to the death, with the winning side making slaves of the losing side.

David, the youngest son of Jesse, had three brothers in the Israeli army, and went down to see the battle and take some food to his brothers. Young David had just come from watching his father’s sheep and was amazed that no one was willing to take the challenge:

…for who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God? (I Samuel 17: 26)

David could see that no one else was rising to the challenge, so he let it be known that this was a terrible embarrassment on the part of Israel. The word got to King Saul and David was brought before him and immediately recruited to fight the Giant. Saul tried to equip him with the best armor, but it didn’t fit the small boy. Instead, David equipped himself with a staff, five stones and a sling.

The Giant was insulted and accused the Israeli’s of sending out a dog to do a man’s job:

… Thou comest to me with a sword, and with a spear, and with a shield: but I come to thee in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom thou hast defied.

(I Samuel 17:45)

David took the initiative when no one else would stand for what was right. With his sling and the skill of a shepherd honed in protecting his flocks in the wilds, David hurled a fatal stone to the forhead of the Giant. God blessed David that day and made a tremendous example out of him, one that even the world talks about some 3000 years later.

David could have come up with many reasons why he couldn’t fight such a formidable foe. He could have said that it was someone else’s problem; after all, he wasn’t even in the army. But instead, David’s initiative allowed God to show himself strong on behalf of Israel.

For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him. (II Chronicles 16:9)

God is looking for opportunities to show himself strong on our behalf, but first we must decide to get involved and pursue what is right. Standing for what is right almost always involves taking a chance, but if God is for us, who can be against us?


Here are five “I will” principles whose practice will help incorporate the character quality of initiative into our lives (write these on a poster, board or overhead transparence).

1. I will do what is right before being told.
2. I will not put off until tomorrow the things I can do today.
3. I will contribute to the success of the whole team.
4. I will be a part of the solution rather than the problem.
5. I will look for ways to help others.

Closing #1: Let’s dialog about it with one another.

  • Shift the group into small discussion groups of 3-4.
  • Encourage groups to list the hindrances in their own lives to practicing initiative. .
  • Ask groups to share their feelings with the whole group.

Closing #2: Let’s close in silent prayer, ask God:

  • To forgive you for things in your life that cause you to focus on yourself instead of the needs that are around you.
  • To show you how to practice initiative in your life.
  • To make you aware of opportunities to grow in this character quality.

INITIATIVE– A Five-Minute Study

Faith Committee, Character Council of Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky


Contributed by Craig E. Beckley
Teacher, Moores Hill, Indiana

August 26, 2001


This material is published by the Faith Committee of the Character Council of Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky. Reproduction and Adaptation is encouraged.