One thory of homiletics holds that in the development of a sermon one should take a passage and develop an exegetical outline, then a homiletical outline based upon the exegesis. In seminary I've been introduced to a third step: the development of a theological outline after the exegetical and prior to the homiletical. In developing a sermon on I Sam 17 (David and Goliath) I found that the theological outline seriously reoriented my thinking about the meaning of the passage and its application to a modern audience. In the past, without a theological outline, my homiletical outline looked something like this: Proposition: You can conquer the giants in your life. How? I. By having a servants heart. (David refers to himself as a servant frequently in the passage) II. By having the proper preparation to face the giants of life. (David was prepared experientially by God when he fought the lion and the bear. David also prepared himself by rejecting Saul's armor and choosing the stones and sling) III. By exercising faith in the Lord. (David states several times that God will win the battle, not David) Now that is a decent sermon. I have found the essential points of the sermon in the writings of great preachers. There is no heresy there. However, when we evaluate the theological meaning of I Sam 17 in its context we see the passage in a different way. The sermon above takes David as an example of a godly person and says "follow David's example." But the passage in its context is the culmination of the consequence of Israel's earlier unspiritual demand for a king and the result of getting Saul as their king. Saul started off good, but by I Sam 17, God's spirit is removed from him, he is rejected by God, and he is completely intimidated and ineffectual as a warrior king for Israel. Onto the scene comes David, the new king. Is he impressive? Hardly. He is too small, too young, too inexperienced. The Isrealite army mostly ignores him, his brothers reject him, and Saul doesn't think he has a chance. But he gets his weapons, goes out in God's name and in God's power and slays Goliath. He wins by spiritual means, not physical ones. Afterward, Israel begins to accept him. The story is not so much about us trying to be like David. He is not an example to us, per se because the author of the story is not presenting David as an example. Rather it is showing David to be the deliverer-king that God promised. In applying the story, the point is not that we need to be like David, but that we are like Israel. We make bad choices and go down roads that lead to failure. What we need is a new king, like David. This new king may not be impressive in the eyes of most people, he may even be rejected by his brethren, but he comes to do God's will God's way and he provides victory for us. The King we need is Jesus, the seed of David. This take on the story reflects the theological meaning of the passage in its context. It applies the context of the author to the present audience and, I think, does so more accurately than my above referenced sermon. I plan to preach the sermon I am developing from this on Sunday AM. Any feedback, comments, or further thoughts would be welcome.