The story of David and the giant is one of the most dramatic faith stories of the Bible. Even people who do not know the Bible, know about David and Goliath. Maybe they do not even understand half the story, but they know about the little guy and the giant.
After his anointing as the new king of Israel, when the old prophet Samuel visited David and his family in Bethlehem and anointed the youngest to everybody’s great surprise, David is sent to the front of an Israel-Philistine war to take supplies to his brothers. Ancient battles were sometimes determined by a fight between two strong men. The fate of the whole battle was then dependant on the outcome of that fight and both sides submitted to the outcome. There is no doubt that Saul should have been the strong man on Israel’s side. The Philistines chose Goliath.
From a human standpoint, Goliath had the size and strength to defeat almost anyone. He stood almost three meters tall. His protective battle-dress was weighed about thirty-five kilograms. The spear he used in battle was almost eight meters long, with its head alone weighing seven kilograms.
Our giants of the modern world make big noise. They put up a show to stir and stew anxiety, so that we are bound by…fear! Same old, same old!
When the Israelites saw Goliath they ran away in terror . . . David said to Saul, ‘Your Majesty, no one should be afraid of this Philistine! I will go and fight him.’ (1Samuel 17:24, 32)
Without faith, it would have been impossible for David to have defeated such a foe!
We can see ourselves in the valley of Elah, between pagan, godless damnation on the one side and fear and defeatism on the other. The Israelites were David’s people – they are the church. They are supposed to know better.
Just imagine the image of a valley with a narrow-flowing creek at the bottom, the young David on his knees gathering his pebbles in full view of two mighty armies who seems to watch the ant approach the crushing boot. David is exposed, so exposed it makes him an object of scorn.
David’s ridiculous vulnerability brings him closer to the giant than he could ever have come, had he been in full armour and battle dress. The giant has already decided that this is a given in his favour and acts accordingly, postponing that moment of I-told-you-so head-on victory, humiliating all Israel once and for all a little longer to relish the sweet taste of an easy conquest.
The valley of Elah is a witches’ brew of hatred, fear, arrogance and defeatism that has been raging for weeks. It is volatile and lethal. David has a fresh approach, ignoring the armour, the talk and the impasse of an ancient battle that could tilt to either side in a wink. Goliath had all the makings of a giant, relying on his giant-ness. Saul is not a small man. Remember he was head and shoulders above his countrymen. (1 Samuel 9:2). He should not have been afraid.
Bible stories are good children’s stories. This is one of the most famous ones. But Bibles stories grow and deepen as we turn into adults. They need to be revisited and read again with the prompting of the Holy Spirit.
Do not neglect the stories. The stories of the Bible are inexhaustible. They provide life-principles to live a triumphant life. God will speak in the stories. They are all recorded for your benefit.
Stories develop imagination. For us Christians it is important to acquire a God-ordained imagination in contrast to a Goliath-dominated imagination.
When David arrived at the scene where Goliath presented the threat to the Israelite army, he was disregarded and seen as insignificant by the same base judgment of society that made Goliath great. David was met with scorn by his brothers. Their time in the presence of Goliath changed them so much that they could not even appreciate an act of kindness from their father.
Giant-staring shaped their thinking.
David entered the valley with his God-dominated, miracle-orientated imagination shaped by shepherding and worshiping. His thinking about God was shaped by hours alone in the fields in the presence of the God whose ”voice” was more real than the lion’s roar and the grunt of the bear. His mind was focussed. He did not need reminding.
David is alone. Not one of the soldiers of Israel walked into that valley with him.
We are also alone in the valley to face the giant. In the end we have God and the word of our testimony. We are mostly alone when we face our giant – in the valley – feeling ill-equipped.
He knelt by the stream and selected five stones (1 Samuel 17:50).
David had to kneel although the Bible does not say it. Kneeling is a powerful image in this situation. The giant could have finished him off right there, but his arrogance and pride would not have allowed him to take advantage of David’s vulnerability while kneeling, He is a soldier after all. He will meet his enemy head on, not like a coward killing a boy on his knees.
David is a rookie. He does not know the terrain; he does not know how to fight. He is not a soldier and he has never been on a battlefield before. Kneeling was a very inappropriate thing to do. It is not battle-field behaviour. It gives no perspective, no strategic oversight of the situation. While kneeling he cannot run or duck or hide. According to the experts,
he is unable to see the big picture.
Goliath mocks this action of David. He does not know what David is doing. He thinks he is picking up sticks (1 Samuel 17:43). His cursing keeps him busy. He provides the noise in his own ears but also in the ears of David, calling on the full range of Philistine gods to finish David off.
Saul is worried. David proved too small to wear the king’s armour. It is an honour that the king would be willing to fit him into his very own battle dress. David couldn’t move in it. It made him awkward. He walks into the battle unprepared and unequipped. He walked away from the “experts” – all the advice, training workshops, borrowed armour. He could only fight with what he knew. He walks into the fight authentically and personally, shaped by the fear of God and not the fear of Goliath.
Surrounded by cursing arrogance and demoralizing fear, David had only one way open to him – God’s way. Unhurried, calm on the road to victory – seeing the invisible, believing the impossible.
Do your feel surrounded by arrogance and fear from the Right and the Left? Kneel by the brook in full view of political, social and economic screaming voices. God will provide the stones and the accuracy with which to slay the giant.
But first David speaks. Words are a unit of energy actually creating reality.
The curses of the giant, the mocking and the provocation are all contained and drowned in a prophetic word of victory.
Then David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with a sword, with a spear, and with a javelin. But I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the Lord will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you and take your head from you. And this day I will give the carcasses of the camp of the Philistines to the birds of the air and the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel. Then all this assembly shall know that the Lord does not save with sword and spear; for the battle is the Lord’s, and He will give you into our hands.” (1 Samuel 17:45-47)
The miracle is declared. The authority and sovereignty of God is stated. David’s imagination is alive and active building the image of total victory. He sees a humiliating defeat of his enemies and an involuntary acknowledgement of the power of the true God. And then…
This is heart-stopping drama.
David runs towards the giant (1 Samuel 17:48). His brothers feel embarrassed by his cheeky, youthful bravado. Saul jumps up to witness a suicidal attempt by his young musician to meet this frightening devil of a man.
Goliath is stunned. The moment has no precedent. Nothing like this has ever happened. He looks down on David in disbelief as David swings the sling and one stone finds a perfect target – one little pebble directed by the Lord of heaven’s host.
Goliath slumps to the ground and the prophecy plays out, exactly as it was spoken.
Prayer-saturated imagination made holy history on an ancient battlefield that day. It is three thousand years later and we stand with our sling in our hands, stones from the brook where we knelt down and the Word of the Most High in our mouths. Around us the Philistines are chanting and the Israelites cower in fear. We feel awkward in the armour of the experts. We are alone and undressed for battle, but we kneel in the Name of the Creator-God. Sing the song of Moses.
“Who is like You, O Lord, among the gods? Who is like You, glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders? (Exodus 15:11)
‘O Lord God, You have begun to show Your servant Your greatness and Your mighty hand, for what god is there in heaven or on earth who can do anything like Your works and Your mighty deeds? (Deuteronomy 3:24)
“There is no one like the God of Jeshurun, Who rides the heavens to help you, And in His excellency on the clouds. (Deuteronomy 33:26)
Speak the Word and swing the sling. Success is guaranteed.