I love the Old Testament stories, especially when I read them with a new set of eyes. Take for instance the story of David & Goliath. Most of us have read the story or have at least heard of the young shepherd boy who defeated the giant Goliath with just a slingshot and a smooth stone. It is easy to focus on the ending of that story…we all love to see the underdog win, at least I do. Yet there is so much more in the story that that is helpful to look at.
How did they get there? Why wasn’t the Israelite Army able to defeat Goliath in the first place? What can we learn by looking at the back story?
The story starts with the Israelite Army in a standoff with the Philistine Army in the Valley of Elah. They had each set-up camp across the valley from each other. In many ways it looked like any other standoff, however, the Philistines had a secret weapon that the Israelites didn’t know what to do with. Goliath was a freak of nature. He stood over nine feet tall, all of his armor weighed somewhere around 125 lbs. The tip of his spear alone weight 15 lbs. and he apparently had a very intimidating “booming voice” that struck fear in the hearts of the Israelite Army.
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Here is the crazy part of the story…every day for 40 days in the morning and in the afternoon, Goliath would walk out toward the Israelites and bellow the same thing; “why do you come out and line up for battle if you are not going to fight?” That is a fair question if you ask me. His proposition was that the Israelites send out man to fight him…whoever wins, their army will rule the other. And every time (80 according the story) the Israelite Army were dismayed and frightened and would run like cowards back to their camp.
I can just see these guys getting all of their armor on in the morning, gathering around their commanding officer and yelling war cries. Think pregame in the NFL. Pounding on each others shoulder pads, grunting, hopping up and down, and then every one of them leans in and puts their hands on top of the others and in unison shouts “Let’s Go!” They then run out to the battle line ready to fight only to see Goliath. They look at each other and wonder who will take the challenge, but no one will. So, they run back to their camp shaking in their boots…only to repeat the same thing
I don’t know about you, but when I read this part of the story I am frustrated at those soldiers. Come on guys, this is what you are trained to do. Are you kidding me right now? However, like every story in the Bible, this one has something to teach us. It strikes me that we live our lives a lot like those soldiers.
On any given day you and I don’t encounter 9’ tall men in full armor taunting us to enter into battle with him. We do however face our own Giants. It could be a strained relationship with our spouse. Every day we make a plan to confront the situation and work out the problem. We go over the game plan, rehearse what we are going to say, get ourselves psyched up. Then we here that intimidating voice that bellows “you don’t have what it takes, or nothing is ever going to change”. Fear grips us, and we retreat, again. It could be a boss that is treating you with disrespect, or a diagnosis that has you reeling, or an addiction that has had you pinned down for decades.
I know for me, I have spent my whole life fearing the Giant of rejection. As a young boy I received many messages that I was not enough, not wanted, and uninvited. It didn’t seem to matter how many times I was reminded that I am loved by God, my family and many friends, I would hear that bellowing voice telling me that I was not enough, and I would run away from whatever I thought would put me in jeopardy of being rejected.
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What was it about Saul’s army, and what is it about us, that allows fear to cripple us and send us running for cover?
Regardless of the battles that the soldiers had won prior to facing Goliath, they did not believe that they were equipped to go up against him. Hmm, that sounds a little too close for comfort. So many of the battles that you and face seem too challenging, even though we have had other victories. In this particular battle we don’t feel strong enough, or capable enough to be victorious. Fear keeps us from even trying in many of our daily situations.
Like the soldiers in the Israelite army, even though we know the promises of God, we often don’t live like we believe them. Here are just a few of the promises God gives to His Beloved children;
- Philippians 4:17…” I can do all things in Christ who strengthens me.”
- Matthew 19:26…Jesus said…” with people it is impossible, but with God, all things are possible.”
- Romans 8:31…” if God is for us, who can be against us?”
- Mark 11:24…” all things for which you pray and ask, believe that you will receive them, and they will be granted to you.”
Pretty clear, right? No matter what Giants you and I are facing, we can trust who God says He is, what He has promised, and as we will see in Killing Giants part 2, we need to believe that we are who God says we are, and that He has been preparing us for the battles we will face. We need to take a step of faith…stop running and face our enemy. Claim the victory that is already ours in Christ.