The Surprising Advantage of Being an “Underdog”

Are you facing a challenge of some type? If so, should you feel bad about being the underdog? It’s likely you should not …

There are advantages to being an underdog. We’re forced to be creative and innovative. We break out of that limitation to potentially rise to a new level.

The Perfect Touchstone

The almost 3000-year-old account of David and Goliath is the perfect underdog touchstone. The ginormous Philistine arrogantly presumed how the contest would be played. He had no way of knowing what was coming at him!

Even more, he was absolutely clueless about who he was dealing with.

David was clearly seen by everyone as the quintessential underdog. But he operated in the sphere of his genius and shocked everyone. And we can too.

I’m developing an appreciation for the research and observations of Malcolm Gladwell, a journalist with The New Yorker, best-selling author, and popular speaker.

I’m currently working through Gladwell’s David and Goliath. This Ted Talk video will give you the core message …

A skilled slinger under God

Gladwell says that ancient armies had 3 types of warriors: armed men on horseback or in chariots (cavalry), foot soldiers (infantry), and projectile warriors (archers and slingers).

Slingers had a simple weapon, a leather pouch attached on two sides with a rope. They would put a lead ball or rock into the pouch, swinging it in widening circles with great speed. The projectile would then be sent toward its target by releasing one end of the rope.

Amazingly, this was a devastating weapon. The Romans had a special tool for removing an embedded projectile in a soldier’s body!

An experienced slinger could injure or kill a target up to two-hundred yards away. Slingers are described as being accurate within a “hairs breadth” in the Old Testament book of Judges.

A ballistics expert with the Israeli Defense Force has done the math and says the rock coming from David’s sling was moving at about 35 meters per second. This is the stopping power of a bullet from a .45 caliber handgun.

Goliath is hit in his exposed forehead and falls to the ground, knocked unconscious if not killed. David then runs to him and uses the giant’s own sword to sever his head.

But there’s more. The deeper, core genius of David was his spirituality.

advantage of being an underdog

David and Goliath by Michelangelo, on the Sistine Chapel ceiling

David’s real genius

But that stone was really riding on the higher energy of …

  • David’s connection and covenant relationship with God.
  • His faithful lifestyle of intimate worship.
  • The personal victories he was building upon in his private life (he killed the lion and the bear while watching his father’s sheep).

You see, the backdrop of David’s young life to that point is what positioned him for that day. This is vital. It was his personal experience and the person he was becoming.

This can’t help but surface a question … was David really an underdog?

He appeared to be on the face of it. But think about it. He was in a covenant relationship with the Creator of all things! We know he was a person after God’s own heart. He was connected to something way bigger than himself.

Goliath was the underdog.

Actually, he wasn’t even an underdog. Goliath was doomed in the eyes of God. And David was the only one on either side of the battle line who knew it.

God’s on the side of the “Underdogs”

Even so, God partners with those whom the world thinks are underdogs, the nobodies.

Jesus says to us … “But seek His kingdom, and these things will be added to you. Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has chosen gladly to give you the kingdom” (Luke 12:31-32 NASB).

The Apostle Paul understood that God chooses the "base" things of the world for his purpose.

“God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, and the base things of the world and the despised God chosen, the things that are not, so that He might nullify the things that are.” (1 Corinthians 1:27-28 NASB)

This New Testament word translated nullify means to make void, to do away with, a complete ceasing.

Goliath was made void! He was done away with. His mouth and intimidation were made to cease. Not just temporarily. But completely and permanently! The entire Philistine army then fled from the Israelites.

Is there something that needs to be cut off from your life?

Let’s think about it … what needs to be nullified in our lives, or in the world around us?

  • Is it something relationally?
  • Is it in the realm of finances or business?
  • Is there a challenge in the areas of physical or mental/emotional well-being?
  • Is there an impact you desire to make?

If we feel intimidated or overwhelmed about something, let’s start allowing hope to rise within. Like David, let’s go deeper, develop our internal state, and discover hidden keys to execute a surprising victory!

And let’s learn that our experiences and faithfulness we are building into our lives on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis, will serve us well as the backdrop of future victories!

he will direct your paths

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths” (Proverbs 3:5-6 NKJV). 


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