The showdown between David and Goliath has many relevant parallels to the youth of the Church today. In many ways Goliath represents the temptations and trials of the world. He also represents the demands of the world that we must meet. The author of the text goes on to illustrate Goliath as a manifestation of the world: his equipment is listed as six items, he is six cubits (and a span) tall, his spearhead weighs six hundred shekels (1 Samuel 17:4-7).
The number six is a number that represents deficit, imperfection, or a falling short of completion. We see this number used in the Book of Revelation in a set of three representing man without God (Revelation 13:18). The Lord created Adam and Eve on the sixth day, but recognized His work as being finished on the seventh day (Genesis 2:1-3). (Alonzo Gaskill, The Lost Language of Symbolism: An Essential Guide for Recognizing and Interpreting Symbols of the Gospel, Salt Lake City, Ut., Deseret Book,p. 122-123 see also Bullinger, Number in Scripture: Its Supernatural Design and Spiritual Significance. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Kregel Publications , 1967).
The Philistines and Goliath challenge the Israelites for forty days (1 Samuel 17:16). The number forty oftentimes represents mortality and the trials of life. We all must face our Goliaths in mortality. David was prepared for his experience through his confrontation with a lion and a bear. I asked the youth, “what lion and bear experiences are you having that will prepare you to face the world?”
We had a discussion on the value of education in preparing to meet the demands of the world. President Gordon B. Hinckley stated:
You are moving into the most competitive age the world has ever known. All around you is competition. You need all the education you can get. Sacrifice a car; sacrifice anything that is needed to be sacrificed to qualify yourselves to do the work of the world. That world will in large measure pay you what it thinks you are worth, and your worth will increase as you gain education and proficiency in your chosen field. (italics added, A Prophet’s Counsel and Prayer for Youth, Ensign, Jan. 2001 see: http://bit.ly/wwyG6o ).
Another truth that resonated with the youth is the idea that one person standing up for something really can make a difference. Even David’s brother Eliab didn’t really think David could have made a difference (1 Samuel 17:28), but it didn’t matter because David knew he could. David had experience enough that he knew the Lord would back him up. It was through his partnership with the Lord that David found his strength. By meeting the lions and bears of our youth we can gain experience and trust in the Lord as we continue along our journey to face greater challenges.