Dare We Kill Giants?
THERE'S A GIANT KILLER IN ALL OF US When it comes to giants, many people think first about the famed story of old, from the pages of Scripture, of David and Goliath. “Then said David to the
THERE’S A GIANT KILLER IN ALL OF US
When it comes to giants, many people think first about the famed story of old, from the pages of Scripture, of David and Goliath.
“Then said David to the Philistine, Thou comest to me with a sword, and with a spear, and with a shield: but I come to thee in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom thou has defied.” (1 Samuel 17:45)
Nearly 600 years showed the type of fierce foes the Philistines could be, and were. They endured against the Israelites all that time, and the stories of their bloody wars and stand offs were recorded in many places throughout the Old Testament.
Here, the Hebrews had been denied the ability to the coasts of the Mediterranean sea. Five aptly placed city-states had been set up there by the Philistines, where serious strongholds had been created. Those cities were, namely, Gaza, Ekron, Ashdod, Gath, and Ashkelon.
Another thing that set the Philistines apart at this time was the fact that they were the only ones able to make use of ancient iron making technology.
“Now there was no smith found throughout all the land of Israel: for the Philistines said, Lest the Hebrews make them swords and spears: But all the Israelites went down to the Philistines, to sharpen every man his share, and his coulter, and his axe, and his mattock. Yet they had a file for the mattocks, and for the coulters, and for the forks, and for the axes, and to sharpen the goads. So it came to pass in the day of battle, that there was neither sword nor spear found in the hand of any of the people that were with Saul and Jonathan: but with Saul and Jonathan his son was there found.” (1 Samuel 13:19-22)
Not By Military Nor Political Might
None of Israel’s Northern tribes had been able to defeat the Philistines, and so the Southern Tribes of Judah also had to deal with them as well. Philistia was eventually overtaken by Babylon’s Nebuchadnezzar, and completely erased and eradicated. However, it still manages to live on today, and goes by the name of “Palestine” or “Palestinian”. It continues to be the fiercest enemy of Israel, even in today’s modern age.
The high point of Israel’s war with the Philistines wasn’t made possible by advancements in military strategy. It did not arrive through brute strength either. No, the turning point in history came as a then-unknown shepherd stepped onto the scene and was furious to hear the giant defy the armies of the Living God. His name was David.
The Philistine champion named Goliath was every bit the giant the Scriptures and ancient texts made him out to be. He towered over all, at roughly 9 feet, 8 inches tall. He wore a suit of bronze armor weighing 126 pounds which, in all likelihood, weighed more than David himself did. The Philistine’s spear was half as long as a fence rail and the spearhead weighed fifteen pounds all by itself. Just to look at him and his equipment struck fear into the hearts of his enemies.
There was no doubt as to the lines that had been drawn. Goliath wanted to go one-on-one with any man from the army of Israel. In fact, he came out every single morning and every single evening to challenge the Israelites, a belligerent act that went on for forty days.
Should any brave Israelite step forward to take the challenge, the end result was also determined. The losing soldier, along with his entire country, would be offered into perpetual slavery to the winning army and their country. The Valley of Elah was the only thing between the two armies. The stakes were high, and the tension even higher.
It was into this very unfamiliar yet brutish setting that David walked that day. A teenager, inexperienced in military vetting, and the youngest of Jesse’s eight sons, he wasn’t even supposed to be in that place. His father had sent him to the fields with food for his elder brothers. It placed him in the camp at the exact time that Goliath made his appearance, shouting insults, and his challenge, towards the Israelite army, once again.
“And the Philistine said, I defy the armies of Israel this day; give me a man, that we may fight together.” (1 Samuel 17:10)
As David listened to the boastful challenge, it was apparent there was no political correctness in him. His immaturity left him tactless and without discretion as well. As such, he was incapable of creating the rationale that would allow him to stand down, hoping for some better option to present itself. He would not join the ranks of soldiers who, at the moment, could do nothing but shake in their armor. He was furious that His God, along with all of God’s people, was being so rudely insulted.
David’s question makes it all too plain what was going on in his mind:
“And David spake to the men that stood by him, saying, What shall be done to the man that killeth this Philistine, and taketh away the reproach from Israel? For who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?” (1 Samuel 17:26)
David’s elder brother wasted no time in putting the small boy in his place. He himself has been a soldier in Israel’s army for many years. He had been taught the ways of battle. His training assured him that caution, patience, and reserve were the tactics that would pay off in the long run. David only became angrier still at what he perceived as a kind of cop-out.
“And David said, What Have I now done? Is there not a cause?” (1 Samuel 17:29)
Tales of this boldness David held with regard to this Philistine eventually made their way to King Saul. After some convincing by David himself, the King reluctantly agreed to let the young man fight the giant. King Saul tried to offer him the best protection available, even offering David his own armor, but it didn’t fit him.
It looked like a fool’s mission, David, going out across the Valley with not even so much as a weapon in his possession. No armor to fend off an incoming attack. All he had was his trusted slingshot and five smooth stones he had gathered for just this occasion. If ever there was a suicide mission, with the fate of Israel strong in tow, this appeared to be it.
But David knew something no one else there seemed to know. And it showed in the words, which he may or may not have chosen carefully:
“Then said David to the Philistine, Thou comest to me with a sword, and with a spear, and with a shield: but I come to thee in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, who thou hast defied.” (1 Samuel 17:45)
Some Things Never Change
That day, Israel’s army thought it best to stand back and stand down. David knew, even in his young heart, that it was time to step out instead. In fact, as believers, we are still called to step out, knowing that are true “fight” is never with an opposing foe of flesh and blood…
“(For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;)” (2 Corinthians 10:4).
C.T. Studd was a missionary from years long past, who traveled to India, Africa, and China, carrying the Word of God. He said, “Some want to live within the sound of church or chapel bell; I want to run a rescue shop within a yard of hell.”
There were some important facts about the scene as it unfolded that day in front of David. Some facts worth mentioning.
- The soldiers of the Army of Israel had experience, yet they had absolutely no enthusiasm for the battle with the Philistine. On the other hand, David had no experience in battle at all, yet he was excited about giving God a vessel to use to defeat this enemy!
- In Saul’s defensive armor, David couldn’t function at all. But being defensive was the last thing on David’s mind, as he planned a full offensive onslaught against Goliath.
- To the fleshly eye, the weapons held by the Philistines were impressive, and struck fear in the hearts of the soldiers. However, David knew that his weapon – the Name of the Lord – was far more powerful and righteous!
Others Follow David’s Lead
It was almost as if Paul was looking back to this account when he wrote,
“Are ye so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?” (Galatians 3:3).
Interestingly enough, once David killed Goliath, other giant-killers arose! Four, in particular, were killed by those associated with David.
“These four were born to the giant in Gath, and fell by the hand of David, and by the hand of his servants.” (2 Samuel 21:22).
Zeruiah’s son, Abishai, killed Ishbi-benob, who possessed a spear that was said to weigh 300 shekels (just over 64 pounds). The giant’s name, being translated, means “to settle”.
Sibbechai, the Hushathite, killed Sippai, a name that meant “to limit”.
Elhanan, son of the Bethlehemite Jair, killed Goliath’s brother, Lahmi, whose name means “to consume”. His spear was said to be like a weaver’s beam.
Jonathan, David’s brother, son of Shimeah, killed a giant who had six fingers on each hand, and six toes on each foot and was, without a doubt, a truly overwhelming enemy presence.
Just The Facts
On the day that David arrived in the army camp, the entire army of Israel was hunkered down, waiting for a move of God. The fact was, God didn’t move until David moved first!
Sometimes the success of a battle depends on someone who is brave enough to face the facts, and step out anyway.
Not to us, O Lord, not to us,
But to Your name be the glory
Because of Your love and your faithfulness!