By: Patty Joyce
A few weeks ago, as I was driving home from doing some errands, I noticed something zigzagging in the sky in front of me. As I carefully looked up, I saw a very large bird, possibly a crow, and a small bird no bigger than a sparrow. The smaller bird was fiercely chasing the larger.
This image made me think of the Bible story of David and Goliath. Regardless of how we were raised, we most likely heard this tale about a huge giant and a small teenage boy. I believe it’s time to revisit 1 Samuel 17 for a bit of history that bears repeating.
This epic event took place in the Valley of Elah, which is believed to be the length of three football fields. The Philistine army was camped at one hill of the valley, while the Israelites were camped on the opposite hill. A forty-day standoff had been going on with each side waiting for a soldier from the other side to begin the battle. Because of the steep walls of the Valley of Elah, the first soldier to rush down the valley and up the steep cliffs would be at a disadvantage at the beginning of the battle, and that army would probably suffer great casualties. Each morning and evening, Goliath, a Philistine champion, would step out of rank and taunt the Israelites about who would attempt to fight him.
David had been attending his sheep at the time. Upon returning home, his father, Jesse, told him to take supplies to his brothers who were fighting the Philistines. When David arrived at the battleground, he found that no soldier had come forward to fight Goliath. He convinced his brothers and King Saul that he would fight the giant and the Lord would deliver this Philistine into his hands the same way he delivered the paw of the lion and bear into David’s hands. David descended the hill and approached the Philistine:
"You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the LORD Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the LORD will deliver you into my hands, and I'll strike you down and cut off your head. This very day I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds and the wild animals, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel. All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the LORD saves; for the battle is the LORD's, and he will give all of you into our hands.” 1 Samuel 17:45-47 NIV
As we look at the historical account of David and Goliath, we can see many parallels in our own lives. We each have, or had, giants facing us with taunts of addiction, discrimination, fear, guilt, uncertainly, rejection, unforgiveness, and the list goes on. These giants can come in many forms and may lay dormant until they are awakened by a javelin of ugly words that cut deep, or a spear of betrayal that we never saw coming, or a sword that has severed a long-time relationship. Our own well-hidden Goliaths can cause us to cower at the thought of another unsuccessful interview, or waiting for the latest test results. It could even be, like my own giant, giving up unhealthy eating habits.
Giants can be situations, like driving on the interstate, which I experienced. I had spent a Friday night at my daughter’s babysitting, and I wanted to get home before 8 am on Saturday morning. My choices were to take the longer route home or the dreaded interstate. Leaving at 7 am and it being a Saturday, I thought I might avoid any rush-hour traffic, so I chose the interstate. It would still take thirty to forty minutes, but I would be home in time. As I approached the 4-lane gigantic cement strip, I could feel the anxiety beginning in my stomach. I knew if it reached my head, I would start hyperventilating and cause an accident. Being a believer, I started speaking the name Jesus out loud and continued until I exited the interstate. The Name above all names kept my anxiety in check, and since then, I have made several trips on an interstate and even drove through Atlanta!
David didn’t have a Bible or concordance directing him to scriptures on courage or overcoming fear. I wonder if he silently recited one of his psalms as he ran toward nine feet of solid brass with only five smooth stones in his pouch. But, more importantly, he believed that the Living God would deliver the Philistines into the hands of Israel, and with a shepherd’s sling and one smooth stone, the Lord Almighty did!
Our God is the same as David’s – living and just a name away. We are blessed that our powerful Sword of the Spirit is accessible with comfort, compassion, conviction, and wisdom in times of need as we face life’s battles, such as:
Addiction – “The sting of death is sin, and the power of the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through the Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Corinthians 15:56-57 NIV
Discrimination – “At the present time your plenty will supply what they need, so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need. Then there will be equality, as it is written, ‘He who gathered much did not have much, and he who gathered little did not have too little.’” 2 Corinthians 8:14-15 NIV
Fear – “There is no fear in love. But, perfect love drives out fear because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. We love because he first loved us.” 1 John 4:18-19 NIV
Guilt – “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.” Romans 8:1-2 NIV
Uncertainty – “Have no fear of sudden disaster or of the ruin that overtakes the wicked, for the Lord will be your confidence and keep your foot from being snared.” Proverbs 3:25-26 NIV
Rejection – “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” Psalm 139:13-14 NIV
Unforgiveness – “Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, ‘Lord, how many times should I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?’ Jesus answered, ‘I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.’” Matthew 18:21-22 NIV
My current Goliath is one I thought I could defeat on my own. However, I have found I need all five stones – the armor of God, confession, community, prayer, and one that is etched with, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13 NKJV) May you also take a moment to acknowledge before God the Goliath(s) in your life, and then remember, with me, the places God brings us to, are also the places He will bring us out from.