Overcoming Giants

Today’s reading is 1 Samuel 17.

Often times, you and I find ourselves daunted by gargantuan difficulties that stand in our way. We can only accomplish so much on our own before we find ourselves overcome with fear and sorrow at tasks we alone are incapable of overcoming. Such was the case for the Israelite army after encountering the rather infamously gargantuan Goliath.

Saul, anointed first king of the nation of Israel in 1 Samuel 10, has brought a tremendous fight to the Philistine forces for the sake of defeating those who would oppose God’s chosen people. But after sinning and openly disobeying God’s commands by sparing the tainted possessions of the Amalekites for their own purposes, the Spirit of the Lord has left Saul’s sinful heart. Now, when a tremendous hulking soldier personally raises a challenge to the Israelite army, offering a one-on-one fight where the winner’s army takes the loser’s as slaves, their king Saul sets an example for his people by being filled only with terror and despair. Unopposed and full of brash confidence, Goliath hurls insults and challenges at Israel’s army for forty days, while they can only cower in fear and wail at their complete inability to defeat such a prime soldier.

It’s not difficult to look back and find periods in our own lives where without coming to the Lord and relying on Him, we were paralyzed by fear or burdened by self-pity to the point where we could do nothing on our own. But rather than focusing on the despair invoked upon those who are without the Lord, let’s look rather at the contrast this chapter also provides: the assurance and confidence of those who know the Lord is with them. In our passage, we see it in the form of David: a young man from Bethlehem, sent from his usual duty of watching sheep to deliver grain to his older brothers serving Saul. This scrappy young man hears Goliath’s taunting in passing and is taken aback at how his fellow Israelites have not risen to this challenge when God’s people are being defied.

Throughout this passage, the focus of David’s speech shows clear intention: without a speck of doubt in his mind, the Lord is in charge of this situation. As those around him speak in matters of the flesh, David focuses on matters of the Lord. While the armies of Israel cry out in verse 25 how this Philistine “has come up to defy Israel”, David says instead that he has “defied the armies of the Living God.” While the soldiers speak of reward for “the man who kills him” being enriched and gifted monetarily, David asks of “the man who kills this Philistine and takes away the reproach of from Israel,” focusing on the riches of God’s blessing. Without doubt and without fear, this boy rises up to the challenge Goliath provides, knowing “the Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.” (1 Samuel 12:37) You can almost hear Eye Of The Tiger playing in your head as you read this passage.

And with great confidence, standing face to face with this towering soldier hurling threats of death and curses at God, David coolly declares the battle belongs to the Lord, and loudly and confidently proclaims that victory will be earned in his name. And David, without hesitation or error, as if guided by the Lord, strikes down his opponent in one swift blow. It’s incredible: without showing the slightest bit of doubt, without even considering how he could possibly fail with the Lord on his side, without a moment’s hesitation in facing Israel’s foes and striking them down, David lives out his faith in the Lord confidently and loudly. When the overwhelming task in front of him stares him down with murderous intent, David remains steady in his confidence in the Lord, knowing He is in control.

In this young shepherd, we see incredible accomplishments being done in the Lord’s name without a moment of doubt in Him. The Lord is with each and every one of us: when we struggle with evils and sin that threaten to cut us down, we can be confident and boastful, not in our own capabilities, but in the amazing God we serve that has been, and never will be, overcome. I am reminded of a line from one of my favorite worship songs:

I will not boast in anything,
No gifts, no power, no wisdom
But I will boast in Jesus Christ,
His death and resurrection.

We know we can be confident, not in our own intelligence and power, for those are as fleeting and momentary and we are. But we know we can boast in a Lord and Savior more powerful and more wonderful than anything else. Jeremiah 9:23 calls us to be proud and boastful in our Lord: “Let him who boasts boast in this, that he understand and knows me, that I am the Lord who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth.” Be proud and boastful today of this steadfast and righteous Lord of ours that we belong to! I pray for opportunities for you and I to be confident in our Lord, declaring loudly and proudly all that he has done for you and I.

Ross B.