As I said in Killing Giants part 1, I love looking at the Old Testament stories with a fresh set of eyes. While most of us have read the story of David and Goliath, we tend to only focus on the young shepherd boy who defeats the giant Goliath with a slingshot and a smooth stone. Don’t get me wrong, I also love a story where the good guys win. Yet there is so much more for us to consider in the larger story.
So, the soldiers in the Israelite Army have been camped for 40 days in a square off with the soldiers in the Philistine Army. The problem is that the Philistines have a secret weapon named Goliath. Every day in the morning and evening Goliath comes forward and in his booming voice challenges the Israelites to send one man to fight him. The winner’s army gets to rule the losers, and the Israelites are terrified and run in fear back to their camp…at this point in the story they have done this 80 times.
At this point in the story David is sent by his father to the Israelite Army camp to see how his brothers are doing and to bring them supplies. David is the youngest in his family, and his day job is watching over his father’s flock of sheep…and I am guessing that he was excited to have the opportunity to witness his brothers and the other soldiers in battle. He arrives just in time to see the Israelite soldiers readying themselves for battle…think Braveheart at the Field of Sterling. Like every young boy David is intrigued with all that is taking place and dropped the supplies and ran out to the battlefield with the soldiers. Just as he was about to ask his brothers how they were doing, and to watch them as they faced the enemy, he saw Goliath come stomping out and bellow his usual defiance. Then with what had to be shock, he watched the Israelite soldiers turn tail and run.
As David was milling around the soldiers back at the camp he overheard some of the soldiers saying that Saul had sweetened the pot for any man that could defeat Goliath. David being curious asked, “what will be done for the man who defeats the Philistine?”
Remember, David was just a boy, and he may have been a little naïve when he then asked, “who is this uncircumcised Philistine that defies the armies of the living God?” He might have been young and naïve, but can’t you feel a sense of strength rising up in your gut right now? In this young shepherd boy there is something so
Isn’t this what we all want to be like? When we are faced with a difficult situation…some injustice…an enemy that threatens us or those we love…courage rises up and we want to take action. David cannot believe what he is seeing and hearing, and the warrior heart in him is rising up and he asked the question that every one of those soldiers should have been asking.
What happens next is what happens to us all too often. When David’s older brother Eliab hears his little brother, who is just a shepherd, asking that question “he burned with anger at David.” John Eldredge writes that “our families are like Kryptonite, and too often rob us of our strength.”
It is pretty obvious that Eliab is feeling vulnerable because his little brother, who isn’t even old enough to be in the army, is asking the question that shines a light directly on his own fear. Brene Brown says that “when we feel shame and vulnerability we armor up in an effort to deflect it.” In this case Eliab attacks David’s motive for being there. “Why have you come here, and who did you leave those few sheep in the wilderness with? I know how conceited you are, and how wicked you heart is.” Ouch! That is just plain cruel.
Photo by Daniel Burka on Unsplash
I am guessing that at some point in your life you have been in both David’s and Eliab’s shoes. What do you do when you feel vulnerable? I know I have played the part of Eliab far too many times. Something happens that causes me to feel vulnerable, and shame moves in like a thick fog. I quickly slip on the armor that I learned to use growing up in a home that was very sarcastic, critical, cynical, and cruel. In that moment if I can return the shame to them, then I can hopefully lessen the amount of shame I am feeling. You may relate to my armor, if not, I am certain that you have your own well-worn armor that has seemingly worked for you.
What about when you are on the other end…in David’s shoes? On those occasions when I am on the receiving end of shame (which is another Giant we face), I often shrink back and question my strength and motives. In an effort to get out from under the shame that is being hurled at me, I often run and hide. I acquiesce.
Photo by Alexei Scutari on Unsplash
This is why it is so important to know who God says you are and to choose every day to live out of that identity. The Scriptures tell us that through the work of Christ, we have become the Beloved Sons of God. We have been adopted into God’s family…He chose us, and He loves us. When you and I live out of that identity and stop living out of all of the other identities that we have been given, or have been spoken over us, we can face the Giants in our lives with confidence.
In Killing Giants part 3 we will take a closer look at how David was able to ignore his brothers’ hurtful words and do to Goliath what none of the Israelite soldiers were able or willing to do.