Matt Chandler Responds to Criticism of ‘David, Goliath and the Gospel’

In the video below Matt Chandler attempts to explain how the gospel runs through the David and Goliath story in a mere 3.5 minutes.

Dr. Eric Hankins raised concerns about Chandler’s interpretive approach in the video in his recent critique of ‘Christ-centered homiletics’.1 However, back in January Mike Riccardi, using Chandler’s explanation in the video as an example, wrote a very thorough and gracious explanation of the problems with such an interpretation.2

Chandler was contacted for a response to Riccardi’s article and he replied.

“Thanks for your encouragement and email.  I read Mike’s critique and agree with most of it.  The issue was having only a few minutes to try and show how a couple of chapters and a ton of history points toward Christ.  I leaned a little too heavy on allegory in the video and could have done a better job of setting things up with more time.  Overall I thought the critique was helpful and brotherly.  Blessing!”3

Chandler’s response is a gracious and godly example of how to respond to criticism. I know I can certainly learn from it. This type of response also paves the way forward toward a more fruitful way in which Christians might seek to understand  each other better.

For what it’s worth…


  1. Eric Hankins. Jason Allen and The Gospel Project.
  2. Mike Riccardi. Preaching Christ from the Old Testament: Interpretation vs. Application.
  3. George Lu. Matt Chandler Responds….Humbly.

tagged as , , , , , in Baptist,Christianity,Church Issues,Culture,Gospel,Southern Baptist,theology

{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

1 John Downey October 22, 2012 at 11:46 am

What? He didn’t just dismiss the critic by calling him a “Hater” or a “Pharisee”. Instead he was humble and teachable. I think he could teach Steven Furtick and Perry Noble a thing or two. I just wish he’d quit showing up at their conferences…but someone has to preach some gospel I suppose.

2 John Strickland October 22, 2012 at 12:44 pm

I took a look at Hankins’ article, and my only thought is that while there is probably some truth in “not letting the pendulum swing too far in either direction,” I’d rather err on the side of giving Jesus more credit in the story than myself.

3 Mark October 22, 2012 at 1:14 pm

John D., I’m with you and I don’t understand him showing up at their conferences; not at all.

John S., I would rather err on that side too. I am also not convinced that Hankins made the case he was trying to make against the Gospel Project nor Chandler and the others.

4 MarieP October 22, 2012 at 9:19 pm

The Bible is a road-map to life because it is the Word of the One who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. I don’t think it’s either-or but both-and. I think Chandler made some false dichotomies. Didn’t Paul say in 1 Cor. 10:11, “Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.” In other words, don’t be like unfaithful Israel. Doesn’t the author of Hebrews 11 lay out for us what faith is by giving us the example of the Old Testament saints, even mentioning David? I don’t understand what Chandler means by “What if the stones miss.” David trusted in God- that was the whole point- God was the hero and not David, that was the whole point! Sure, Jesus is David’s greater Son, but to say that we can’t put ourselves in the place of David honestly sounds similar to the whole “let go and let God” teaching. We have a better covenant, built on better promises! True, Jesus is the true Israel, but we are also called the true circumcision. “Through God we will do valiantly, for it is He who shall tread down our enemies” Psalm 60:12.

As for Riccardi’s article, I think he’s right about disliking the language “shadow and substance” in regards to David and Christ, Perhaps both would be happy with the terminology “type and antitype.” My pastor is currently preaching through Job, and time and time again, he’s brought out that you can’t (or at least shouldn’t) read the book without thinking of Christ, who is the ultimate blameless Man who was despised and rejected by men and who was thought unclean because of the scandal of the cross. I think it was Spurgeon who said that he’d rather see Jesus where He isn’t than to miss Him where He is. But we also are remembering what James admonished us, to remember the patience of Job so we will endure with like faith. It’s both and, not either or.

5 Mark October 23, 2012 at 12:33 pm

Marie, I don’t think Chandler made an absolute statement that the Bible is not at all a road map for life, but he qualified it with the word “primarily.” I think what he means by “What if the stone misses?” is that if certain passages are completely moralized and a certain event does not go your way then you have lost all hope.

I bet if Chandler fleshed this out more that he (and Riccardi) would agree that it is a both/and scenario.

6 Ben February 9, 2013 at 3:06 pm

Why is Chandler so guarded against victory in Jesus?! Of course we don’t take credit for victory over the obstacles of sin but are we not to have faith in Jesus and His grace to overcome anything contrary to the will of God? Did David take credit for victory over Goliath or did he give it to God? It’s really sad that Chandler doesn’t understand victory in Jesus over any mountain of sin. – Mark 11:22-25

7 Mark February 9, 2013 at 4:36 pm

Hi Ben,

I really don’t understand your comment. Would you mind explaining how “Chandler doesn’t understand victory in Jesus over any mountain of sin?”

Thanks for stopping by.

8 Ben February 9, 2013 at 5:13 pm

I’m surprised at how Chandler wants to take the Bible reader out of the story of David and Goliath and place it totally on Christ. It seemed to me that Chandler is saying that you’re reading the story wrong to think you’re David in the story and I’m saying that’s exactly how we should read the story. We’re the temples of the Holy Spirit. Christ in us the hope of glory. We’re to see that with faith in God like David had we can overcome our Goliath (satan-sin-and death).

Hope this clarifies, thanks for inquiring.

9 Lawrence March 8, 2014 at 11:08 am

Some do try to force Jesus into stories in a way that is strained. That is NOT the case with David and Goliath. David is perhaps the most obvious and significant type of Christ in all the old testament. He is God’s anointed “son.” Consider the psalms of David, which the apostle Paul calls “the word of Christ” (Col. 3:16). Specifically, David slays the giant by crushing his head and takes his armor in which he trusted. Jesus alludes to this when he explains his ministry as “Binding the strong man, stripping off his armor, and taking his spoils.” I think Chandler’s only mistake here is backing off of the point he made in the video at all.

10 Ben March 8, 2014 at 2:25 pm

Lawrence, do you think we should take ourselves OUT of the story? Nobody’s saying we shouldn’t put Jesus into the story. Chandler’s error is the idea that we don’t have to live with the same faith of David. David’s story is supposed to be our story with the power of Jesus Christ on our side. Jesus never said that His cross substituted our cross. In fact, He said the exact opposite – Luke 9:23. Chandler gives the impression that to pick up our cross in faith and follow Jesus lead, David’s lead, is to misunderstand the Bible.

11 cameron sandel April 9, 2014 at 9:52 pm

Ben, I appreciate your Col 1v27 reference and I affirm and amen that with faith in God we can see victory concerning our giants…but your interpretation of the text seems to make David an inspiration and an example to emulate while Chandler’s interpretation seems to point more so to the imputation of David’s victory on behalf of the Israelites. What I mean is, David was a representative of the entire Israelite army when he stepped out onto that battlefield, as was Goliath a representative of the Philistine army. And as a representative, the spoils of war that David secured would be enjoyed by those He represented. The cowering Israelites and their fearful king who never lifted a stone would all taste victory that day because David fought on their behalf and slew the giant that no one else seemed willing to face. David became their champion-redeemer. Now, knowing I haven’t done doing justice to the human authorial intent, I look past David to the greater David (Jesus) to which he points, who in similar fashion stepped out onto the greatest battlefield to face the giants that we could never defeat on our own (satan-sin-death).

Chandler isn’t saying to take us out of the story, I believe he is putting us in the story where we belong, on the sidelines, with King Saul, with the armies of Israel, desperate for a champion to come and fight on our behalf.

In the words of Tim Keller, “Is this text basically about what I must do, or basically about what he has done? If I read David and Goliath as basically giving me an example, then the story is really about me. I must summons up the faith and the courage to fight the giants in my life. But if I read David and Goliath as basically showing me salvation through Jesus, then the story is really about him.”

If I were to preach this text, I wouldn’t make this Christ application until I spent a good deal of time unpacking the historical-grammatical context and identifying some of the timeless truths and principles addressing courage and fear and faith but at the end of the day, I don’t want to admonish people try harder to be like David, to try harder to be like David, but to come to find rest in the imputed righteousness, victory, liberation, peace, courage, faith that is found int he inexhaustible supply of Christ Jesus, our greater David.

Love to hear your thoughts.

12 Ben April 10, 2014 at 7:49 am

Thanks for your thoughtful response Cameron. As I look back on my initial response, I realize that it was really dumb of me to say what I did about Chandler “not believing in victory over sin.” I understand where you’re coming from with David representing the people as Christ represented us at the cross. My concern is with the definition of imputed righteousness that you bring up – giving the impression that we just sit on the sidelines and aren’t called out along with David. In other words, I believe it’s a both/and interpretation of the story. Certainly we can see David representing Christ but at the same time, we are called to have the faith of David with Christ in us. I feel that Calvinists are dogmatic to a fault trying to take responsibility away from the believer to follow the Holy Spirit into a life of WORKS. God doesn’t just impute us with righteousness at repentance, He imparts righteousness through the Holy Spirit. And if we’re not following the Holy Spirit’s leading into battle, we’re not disciples of Jesus Christ. Christ came as our example of faith to follow. He calls us into a life of works. It’s a wrong application of the story if we want to totally exclude the Christians call to be like David – just as we’re called to be like Christ!

13 Todd October 1, 2014 at 11:08 am

Ben, the faithful following into battle is in the story in verses 52 and 53. After the greatest enemy was defeated, the Israelite army “rose with a shout and pursued the Philistines” (52). Israel plundered the Philistine camp. Our acts of faith and victories in this life come after our Champion defeats our greatest enemy.


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