Writings & Publications
Today’s Goliaths and God’s Davids
Among the Bible stories we’re most familiar with and that we love to tell to our children, the story of David and Goliath must be among the Top Ten.
Of course, God intended it to be much more than just a captivating children’s Bible story. In truth it is a powerful account of His saving deeds among His chosen people leading to the defeat of a strong enemy. At the beginning of this new year, 2006, let’s pause a moment to reflect on the significance of this story of God’s salvation amid the loud and intimidating voices of today’s Goliaths.
All over the world many including Christians live in fear anticipating what they see as a certain fate. We’d have to be deaf not to hear the taunts and threats of today’s Goliaths. Some of the time we are away, hiding in the trenches sharing our anxieties with one another. And we even use certain prophetic passages in the Bible in support of our fear-filled discussions about the latest boasts and threats against our peace and well-being as God’s people. Like the Israelites in Saul’s army trembling with fear as the Philistine hero, Goliath, daily handed down the challenge to the Israelites to send their own champion to do combat with him, we who call ourselves “believers” tremble in the trenches whenever we hear the Goliaths of today.
Doubtless at some time in recent years all of us have allowed our minds to think the worst as far as the future of our nation or world is concerned. We’ve listened to today’s Goliaths – individuals who have assumed for themselves and their cause an authority over the nations as they pump out their threatening invectives through the different media channels, eager to fill our eyes and ears with their latest pronouncements.
Of course, we can’t close our minds to the reality that these Goliaths seek every opportunity to combine their terror-inducing words with despicable, destructive actions that leave normal, sane human beings from whatever background and tradition wondering if such people can even be called “human.”
What then is a biblical and Christian response to the taunts of today’s Goliaths? I’m not talking about how our political leaders must respond to the potential evils arising from their taunts and boasts. Rather how are we as God’s people, to respond?
From the account in 1 Samuel 17, God shows us two responses: Saul’s and David’s. The human, carnal response—Saul’s response to outfit David with suitable armour for the contest; and the godly, spiritual response—David’s bold response rooted in his sincere trust in God. Do we not still find these two vastly different responses among believers today?
Do we not also find those who boast in being mature in the faith in reality following the example of David’s brothers who scorned their younger brother’s courage and simplicity of trust in God? We are told by such “believers” that we need much more than faith when confronted by the dire circumstances of life, that talking about trusting in God is overly simplistic talk and unrealistic. In their view, it’s not realistic to focus on such biblical strategies as intercession when we hear the arrogant boasts of today’s loud-mouthed Goliaths. As if those who follow in David’s footsteps are immature and naïve!
How naïve was young David when he spoke the following words to King Saul: “Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, because he has defied the armies of the living God. The LORD who delivered me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine”? (1 Sam.17:36-37a) These weren’t words of a naïve youngster but of a young man who had already tasted and experienced God’s help when his sheep were attacked by their natural enemies—predators out for the kill.
It was hardly David’s immaturity that led him to make such a bold statement. It was his genuine trust in a living and all-powerful God whom he knew could fell the giant, Goliath, in an instant. This word of truth combined with David’s proven experience of God’s ways led him to say to his Goliath: “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 hand you over to me, and I’ll strike you down and cut off your head. Today I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds of the air and the beasts of the earth, 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 Sam.17:45-47)
Our calling may not be to go out to engage in face to face combat with one or more terrorizing Goliaths. Rather we are called to fight together using the same weapon that David used: his faith in his great God. We are called to be Davids – to see with David the true nature of the conflict raging in our present world, and as a spiritual army of Davids to respond with David’s faith in David’s God, knowing that the same God who was with David on the battle-field against his Goliath is also with us and through us will silence the threats of present-day Goliaths.
What then are we ordinary people to do? Firstly, like for the ancient Israelites, we must put off our faith in our nations’ military superior weapons and expertise to silence and defeat today’s Goliaths. Let’s open our eyes and realise that we will never, ever win the real war—for the hearts of men and women around the world—through any human solution, even the most well-meaning efforts planned and carried out even by Christians.
As with David, we need spiritual perception that sees behind the verbosity of today’s Goliaths to discern the spiritual forces that are our real enemy. (In case we need reminding, read again 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 and Ephesians 6:10-12.) It’s imperative that we unite together as God’s Davids and fight today’s Goliaths and their armies with the same spiritual weapons that have served God’s people well down through the ages. Otherwise instead of being overcomers, we’ll be overcome!
Secondly, we must set our hearts on knowing the most important truth of all—who our God is and what He is doing and will do in our world. (And it isn’t to spread democracy among the nations as if democracy is the key to international harmony and peace!) The real key to David’s victory over his Goliath was that He knew his God—not theoretically but experientially.
So instead of feeding our fears by digesting more and more media coverage on the pronouncements of today’s Goliaths, let’s feed our faith by discovering more of God’s awesomeness and glory by reading His Word. There we will find fresh courage for living in today’s world as we are reminded of God’s great saving acts in the history of His chosen people from the very beginning of time. We cannot possibly read such accounts and come away imagining that God’s enemies today will somehow gain the upper hand.
Thirdly, we must take our stand in God’s presence on behalf of these Goliaths and their followers. Using the weapon of intercession, especially when you pray alone in our prayer closets, can leave us feeling totally weak—armed with just a sling and a few small stones for fighting the great Goliaths of today. Feeling so powerless in contrast to the seeming super-power of those who strut around on the world’s stage making sure we are terrorised by their threats.
Whereas they themselves—like the New Testament Saul who breathed out his fiery threats against the early Jewish Christians—are in such desperate need of God’s mercy. If we know God as the God of mercy and grace—isn’t that the truth?—should we not also be pleading with Him to have mercy and show His kindness both to the Goliaths themselves and also to those aligned with them?
And lastly, we must keep pressing on with our primary task—to tell all peoples everywhere by every means possible about the ONE, true God, and the ONE name by which all men must be saved (Acts 4:12). To declare to the nations that knowing and putting their trust in God’s Prince of peace—JESUS—is their ONE and only hope to experience true peace and freedom.
When we stand as God’s Davids in Jesus’ name against today’s Goliaths, we may be just as confident as David was that God will direct the spiritual stones shot from our seemingly powerless intercessory slings to knock down these Goliaths and all they stand for. In Jesus’ name,we have certain and eternal victory, but not of an instantaneous victory or a victory without suffering. In Jesus’ name means that as with David who went forth in God’s holy name supported by God’s jealous honour for His name, so in our going out against our Goliaths we have the hidden though real support of the LORD of the heavenly armies. I wouldn’t want to be on the other side, would you?
Rev. Graham M. Roberts
Equip & Encourage International
January 16, 2006