Expectations & Hopes Meditations: 18. Do Giants Exist?
1 Sam 17:26 David asked the men standing near him, “What will be done for the man who kills this Philistine and removes this disgrace from Israel? Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living God?”
Whereas yesterday we did an overview of David’s time before becoming king, now we focus on one particular episode of that time – the killing of Goliath. Let’s remind ourselves of the basics of the story:
- The Philistines gather about 15 miles west of Bethlehem near the Philistine border (1 Sam 17:1). Israel go out to meet them (v.2)
- The Philistines had a champion named Goliath, a giant of a man in armour who came out each day and challenged Israel to send someone against him (v.4-10).
- Israel were dismayed by this and the two armies faced each other on hillsides on opposite sides of the valley for 40 days while this continued (v.11,16).
- David was sent by his father with supplies for his brothers (v.17-20).
- When David arrived and saw the ‘giant’ he wondered what would be done for the man who takes down Goliath. This annoys his brothers, but he is taken to Saul and reassures him that he can take him (v.23-37).
- Saul dresses him in armour but he puts it off and goes and kills Goliath with his sling (v.38-50)
Israel’s Expectation: Now those are the basics of the story, but it is David’s attitude behind these facts that are the important thing, his expectations of this situation. Before we look at him we should perhaps observe the expectations of the rest of the army of Israel. When Goliath first appeared, they were “dismayed and terrified” (v.11). They allowed his size to immobilise them and, indeed, whenever he came they “all ran from him in great fear” (v.24) Whenever I read this story I find myself marvelling as to why Saul didn’t just send ten of his best men to take this ‘giant’ down, and I suspect the answer is the same mind set that so often prevailed among kings and generals for centuries, that war was to be carried out in gentlemanly style. There is nothing gentlemanly about war. It is the last resort of sinful men. But my suggestion does give a clue on how to take down ‘giants’. Israel’s expectation? To be killed by the giant.
David’s Expectation: But back to David. Listen to his words. First: “What will be done for the man who kills this Philistine and removes this disgrace from Israel? Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living God?” (v.26) Note first of all, “this Philistine” not ‘this giant’. Then, “this uncircumcised Philistine”. Everyone else sees a giant. David just sees him as another enemy of God. That is emphasised by his second reference which implies, “who is this character who has no relationship with the living God like we do?”
When Saul calls him to come and account for his words, and he assures him he can handle it, he concludes, “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.” (v.37) David is confident in his relationship with the Lord. He knows what the Lord has enabled him to do in the past and his expectation is that the Lord will do the same now.
Finally as he approaches Goliath and Goliath mocks him, David delivers the following declaration: “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.” (v.45-47) Brilliant! Wonderful! What an incredible young believer! i.e. this is God’s battle because you attack His people and so He will hand you over to me. You are dead meat! End of story. Let’s get on with it! And he slays him with his sling.
Giants? Now I have titled this particular study, “Do giants exist?” because it is all about expectations and David did not see this Philistine as a ‘giant’. Looking up ‘giant’, the first definition given by Goggle is “an imaginary or mythical being of human form but superhuman size” and only later as “of very great size or force”. A giant, I want to suggest, is anyone or anything we consider to be much bigger than us that has greater power than we have and is a threat to us – and so often, therefore, is worthy of our fear.
All about Perspective: The lesson of this story screams at us, “It’s all about perspective!” David just saw another enemy of God to be taken down by God through him. He had a godly perspective. Saul and the army of Israel had a godless perspective – they gave no thought to God and just saw themselves confronted by a problem far bigger than themselves, and so seriously scary. When Israel’s spies first came back from checking out the Promised Land, they declared, “they are stronger than we are,” (Num 13:31) and “The people are stronger and taller than we are.” (Deut 1:28) [Indeed they went on to suggest there were giants in the Land – Num 13:33] Both references remind us that these were godless excuses. The Lord had told them He was giving them the land but all they could do was focus on the problems to be overcome. They forgot Him.
Our Giants? What are the ‘giants’ in your ‘land’, your life? What are the things that we permit to dominate our thinking and limit our walk with Christ and our spiritual growth? Whatever they are, it is just a matter of perspective. Does God want these things to prevail in your life? No, He doesn’t! He has adopted us and made us part of His family with all of His resources available to us, A ‘giant’ can be anything that dominates our thinking, the sort of things I’ve referred to before – relational breakdowns, rebellious children, unbelieving members of close family, failures, financial difficulties, health problems; all of these sorts of things can blight our lives if we let them and cause anxiety within us.
Towards an Answer: So the first step in the answer: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Phil 4:6,7) It is a promise – peace – but it is conditional on us expressing our relationship with the Lord in prayer. A short while later Paul was to say, “I can do everything through him who gives me strength.” (Phil 4:13) and elsewhere he said, “God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.” (2 Cor 9:8) The apostle Peter said the same thing: “His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.” (2 Pet 1:3)
Will we believe these promises of God, will we get a right godly perspective? Oh, I mentioned a clue to help above – you are not alone; you are part of the body of Christ. Find a godly person with whom you can share your heart and your burden and let them bless you. Don’t let the ‘giant’ prevail!