Duty to God
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The Old Testament account of David's decisive battle with Goliath may be one of the most familiar and, perhaps, misread moments found in the scriptures.
For many, the story of the boy who defeated the towering Philistine champion with nothing but his sling and a single stone still stands as the ultimate underdog tale. "It's a 'David vs. Goliath' match up" has become the predictable cliché for any sports contest or political campaign that pits a seemingly weak team or candidate against an opponent that appears vastly superior.
But a closer reading of the story of David and Goliath (found in 1 Samuel 17:4-51) reveals that this biblical duel between the dutiful youth and the menacing giant was anything but a mismatch. In fact, had Goliath been able to peer past the myth of his own invincibility, he would have recognized in David a formidable and dangerous foe.
Yes, David was young — but he was also proven and intrepid. Long before Goliath challenged the armies of Israel, David had slain both a lion and a bear in defense of his father's flocks.
The young man was also prepared. He had become a master of his own weaponry. He declined Saul's enticements to use the king's unfamiliar armor and sword in battle. Instead, he carefully selected five smooth stones from a brook that fit perfectly in a trusted sling that he had learned to swing with lethal precision. Given his sling's capacity to strike surgically from a distance, David actually arrived for battle armed with technology that was superior to Goliath's massive sword, spear and shield.
Most important, David was on the Lord's errand when he faced his opponent. The boy knew his cause. He knew he was performing his duty to God. When Saul questioned David's decision to fight Goliath, he simply replied:
"The Lord that delivered me out of the paw of the lion, and out of the paw of the bear, he will deliver me out of the hand of this Philistine.
"And Saul said unto David, Go, and the Lord be with thee."
In the end, the battle between David and Goliath was pointedly brief. With the Lord's help, David needed but one stone to topple the terrible giant.
Could it have transpired any other way? No. Again, the youth arrived for the fight well prepared — and he enjoyed the priceless companionship of the Lord. He could not lose.
David's modern-day counterparts — the young men of the Church — face their own Goliaths. And, as in the days of ancient Israel, they live in perilous times. There are enemies that stomp about, giant-like, in the form of drugs, alcohol, pornography, violence, apathy, financial worries and broken families. But faithful Aaronic Priesthood holders can emerge the victors when they are prepared and discover, learn and live their sacred duty to God.
Last year, the Church introduced a revised Duty to God program. Through its now familiar pattern of "Learn-Act-and Share," this inspired program is helping young men better realize their eternal relationship with their Heavenly Father. They are becoming better prepared to triumph over the "Goliaths" that will surely try to block their paths. The Duty to God program has become a trusted sling. A proven spiritual weapon.
In his April 2010 general conference address, President Henry B. Eyring, first counselor in the First Presidency, called the Duty to God program a valuable resource designed to help the young men of the Church become proven and fearless priesthood men.
"It is a powerful tool," he said. "It will strengthen the testimonies of young men and their relationship with God. It will help them learn and want to fulfill their priesthood duties. It will strengthen their relationships with their parents, among quorum members and with their leaders."
Brother David L. Beck, the Young Men general president, has declared that there is an urgency for young men to fulfill their duty to God.
"As you fulfill your duty to God, you will be a force for good at all times and in every circumstance. Your righteous example and your faithful priesthood service will be a powerful way to invite all who know you to come unto Christ.
"In their most critical time, the Nephites looked to a young man, Mormon, for leadership and inspiration (see Mormon 2:1-2). Today, we look to you to be a great strength to the Church and a force for good on the earth. This is what the Lord expects.
"I testify that you will feel your heart changing as you become a faithful priesthood man. You will seek to be completely clean and administer the sacrament worthily. You will treat every young woman with kindness and respect. You will honor your parents. You will avoid offending the Spirit in what you think, say or do. You will come to know the Lord, whom you serve, and you will ever strive to be like Him.
"I testify that your faithful service in the Aaronic Priesthood will change the lives of those you serve. There are people who need your priesthood service. Your family needs you. Your quorum needs you. The Church needs you. The world needs you" (April 2010 general conference; Ensign, May 2010).