1 Samuel 17:32 “Master,” said David, “don’t give up hope. I’m ready to go and fight this Philistine.”
In 1 Samuel 17, we learn about David and Goliath. A well known story, with a well known ending, but lets take a moment to dig a little deeper into what the real giant was for the army that stood helpless against the Philistines.
1 Samuel 17:1-7 Now the Philistines gathered their forces for war and assembled at Socoh in Judah. They pitched camp at Ephes Dammim, between Socoh and Asekah. Saul and the Israelites assembled and camped in the Valley of Elah and drew up their battle line to meet the Philistines. The Philistines occupied one hill and the Israelites another, with the valley between them.
A champion named Goliath, who was from Gath, came out of the Philistine camp. He was over nine feet tall. He had a bronzes helmet on his head and wore a coat of scale armor of bronze weighing five thousand shekels; on his legs he wore bronze greaves, and a bronze javelin was slung on his back. His spear shaft was like a weaver’s rod, and its iron pint weight six hundred shekels. His shield bearer went ahead of him.
It was not necessarily the giant Philistine that made the Israelites feel hopeless about their victory, it was their attitude towards the giant. To the Israelites, it looked like there was no way to beat the giant. Not only did they have this huge valley between themselves and the enemy, but the enemy was absolutely enormous. Can you imagine what he must have looked like; based on the description we are given in the Bible? I would have definitely cowered in fear at the sight of this monstrosity of a person!
But still, knowing the facts, the Israelites longed for victory. The problem was that they couldn’t envision victory, while their eyes were focused on the problem.
The problem named Goliath.
The fear that Goliath created in them, caused their attitude to be one of defeat before the battle ever actually took place.
1 Samuel 17:8-11 Goliath stood and shouted to the ranks of Israel, “Why do you come out and line up for battle? Am I not a Philistine, and are you not the servants of Saul? Choose a man and have him come down to me. If he is able to fight and kill me, we will become your subjects; but if I overcome him and kill him, you will become our subjects and serve us. Then the Philistine said, “This day I defy the ranks of Israel! Give me a man and let us fight each other. One hearing the Philistine’s words, Saul and all the Israelites were dismayed and terrified. “
There was no joy in the hearts of the Israelites after hearing what Goliath had to say. Their defeat not only seemed imminent, but someone would have to die, and then they would be servants. I would imagine their fear not only stemmed from the potential of immediate loss of life, but also from imagining how horrible and tortuous daily life would be as a servant of the Philistines. Their fears were overwhelming, the situation seemed hopeless, and so they stayed helplessly in the shadows of that fear.
Their attitude was not one focused on God. They didn’t think to call out to God for help. They didn’t think to ask for, and expect, a miracle. Their eyes were focused on the giant, not on the God that had always been there for them.
In many ways, we are the same way. We find ourselves in a difficult position, faced with hardship and misfortune regardless of which way we turn, and instead of looking to the One that could make a difference, we look at the problem and all the reasons why we cannot fight that battle. We search within our own knowledge base for answers. We look to friends for advice. We seek out family members for support. We look to co-workers for sympathy. We look to lawyers for justice.
But – we don’t look to God – until we have exhausted every other avenue.
Victory is not merely defeating the enemy, or issue in our life. Victory is actually learning to live a life of joy, even when the Philistines are still looming off in the distance.
Victory is the ability to sustain a feeling of happiness in your heart, no matter how much life is raging around you. A feeling of competence and strength, even if your capabilities seem to pale in comparison to your giant.
Victory is seeing the good in the bad, and overcoming a problem, but most importantly, victory is being able to achieve joy in Christ, whether or not earthly victory is gained or the problem is resolved.
1 Samuel 17:22- David left his things with the keeper of supplies, ran to the battle lines and greeted his brothers. As he was talking with them, Goliath, the Philistine champion from Gath, stepped out from his lines and shouted his usual defiance, and David heard it. When the Israelites saw the man, they all ran from him in great fear. Now the Israelites had been saying, “Do you see how this man keeps coming out? He comes out to defy Israel. The king will give great wealth to the man who kills him. He will also give him his daughter in marriage and will exempt his father’s family from taxes in Israel. David asked the men standing near him, “What will be done for the man who kills this Philistine and removes from disgrace? Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living God?”
One thing that stands out to me about this passage, is that David “ran to the battle lines”. David did not look at the battle line from a distance; measure the distance that he would have to run; contemplate specific rock throwing moves; consider where he might be able to hide; weigh all the positives against the negatives; or try to determine all the what-if scenarios and come up with solutions ahead of time.
No – David just trusted God, believed in His purpose, and stepped forward in confidence. He knew without a shadow of a doubt that His God was bigger than any giant, and therefore He felt equipped, emotionally and physically to fight the giant.
So many times, our giants keep us cowering in the shadows, just like all those Israelites did who saw the giant as something that could not be defeated.
Even if the giant is something that we are capable of overcoming, we still often remain in fear because we neglect to see the possibility of victory as we are focused on the possibility of defeat. We look around for help, instead of looking up for help, and as a result, our eyes cannot focus on victory.
We want to be able to see realistic answers for our problems, instead of being willing to allow God us to show us the supernatural ways that He can work. We want to see to believe, instead of believe, and then see His miracles.
Many times, even when we know that God is in control and that He will be with us as we face the battle, we still hesitate to move forward. Our fears become stronger than our faith. We typically do not want to get that close to our giant, much less run towards it! But victory can only happen when we move forward, fully trusting that God is leading the way.
Whatever your giant is today, God is bigger. God is more powerful. God already knows the outcome. God has equipped you to fight it. It is our job to believe in Him enough to be able to envision the victory.
Is your attitude one that believes those truths?
Are you willing to run towards the battle line, fully trusting God, or at a minimum, start taking some baby steps towards the victory that God has waiting for you?
Hope against hope, meaning maintaining hope in God when the harshness of reality makes things seem hopeless, will bring us close enough to God to feel His presence, through the peace that comes when we least expect it.