Photo credit: David and Goliath by Christopher Rodrigues, 2016, Poughkeepsie, NY
One of my favorite bible stories is written in 1 Samuel 17, it is perhaps the most animated war scene in the bible and I have painted many triumphant mental images of David slaying the giant with nothing more than a sling and a stone. As I reread the story, I found fresh insight for slaying giants in my own life. So here’s the scene:
The children of Israel, their king and his warriors showed up for a battle against the Philistines and they did everything but fight for forty days. Every morning, both sides deliberately put on their armor, reassured themselves that their weapons were in place, then stood on separate hills and watched each other, drawing battle lines, making war noises, throwing threats and insults across the Valley of Elah, but never exchanging an arrow or a spear, no swords swinging against armor or heads…for forty days!
The Philistines were perhaps more boisterous because they stared down and jeered at their opponents from behind their ten feet champion, Goliath. We don’t have to think too hard to come up with the kind of insults thrown at Israel, there is some indication of Goliath’s threatening stance in the chapter. I imagine him letting out a well-rehearsed, fear-inducing spew of fighting words every single day: “I dare you to challenge me!” “You will never beat me, I am going to beat you and then I am going to make you my slave!” or “I own you, you are no match for me, if you think Egypt was bad for your ancestors, watch what I am going to do to you!” (note: these are all my words, as you can see I have fought some mental giants myself). What was worst though, is that by defying Israel, Goliath defied Yahweh (God) (verses 25 and 46). To defy is ‘to challenge to do something considered impossible; to confront with assured power of resistance’. Goliath dared to suggest to the descendants of the Red Sea crossing Israel, that it was impossible to beat him and that he was too powerful to be defeated. He played a good mental game which kept the Israelites afraid and quickly losing hope.
Even though they put on a good show of getting ready for battle daily, the giant only had to show up to shut them up. Well, they didn’t quite shut up, they stopped talking back to the enemy and began to tell each other and anyone who would listen how big and scary this giant was. They went so far as to insult anyone who dared question why they did not stand up to the lies; why for forty days, why they got ‘dressed up’ to fight but did not. I could be wrong, but I have a feeling that this self-styled ‘champion’ giant, had gained his reputation by winning his battles through intimidation and that he perhaps never had to actually fight anyone because all of his previous opponents let him win by default, they gave in to his impressive appearance and colorful his résumé of unverified feats and hurtful taunts.
So if I should paint this scenario in 2017, it is us getting up every morning and facing the one particular goal, challenge or struggle (or all three) that we have come to live with for a while. We have lived in such close proximity to it, that we expect it show up and taunt us almost daily. In response, instead of speaking to the mountain (Matthew 21:21), we talk about it, watch it loom larger and more threatening; we walk around it, fully aware of its ability intimidate us into submission, to quench our confidence and rob us of our would-be accomplishments.
It is not that we don’t want to fight. In fact we may even get dressed for battle every morning in prayer, read our bibles and walk out of our prayer hour with the reassurance that we have the sword of the spirit which is the word of Yahweh available to us. But at some point the giant shows up and we forget that we are armed and ready for this battle. Or we become convinced that the weapons we wield might be ineffective against this giant. The enemy feeds on our insecurities, and often convinces us that we are no match for our giants and therefore have to live in fear or defeat.
But we have in this story, the example of David – a young man who dared to act and end these 40 days of sparring. (Just as a note, in the bible, the number 40 signifies a period of trial/testing or judgment). He got some pushback for it too; he was chided by his own brother who stood among the non-fighting warriors, and who mistook David’s confidence in Yahweh for conceit (BIG Difference). As ridiculous as David appeared, running up to and challenging a fully armed giant, he was not just confident in his sling skills, he knew he was in the right place at the right time, he was there for a purpose and he knew that Yahweh was with him.
What we need to know is that the skills and the gifts we possess are enough and that we are powerful when backed by the mighty name of Yahweh. When you have been sent, or ordained to do and to be…you must go even if others doubt and criticize you. In fact, like David, do not waste time arguing with critics while the enemy threatens your life or fear sets out to stifle your dreams. Know that your past battles prepared you for this moment and if you go forward, then you will prevail.
Other people spoke to David too, they told him in almost reverent disbelief of the impressive prize reserved for the giant-slayer. Like this young man, you and I have been told of the great potential we have and the promises that come with accomplishing our goals, whether it is starting a business, overcoming fear and doubt, giving up a habit that has held us back, or standing up to the institutions that tell us we are too small to make an impact in with our ideas and plans.
You have a gift! You have ‘sling’ skills that that even a ‘sword wielding giant’ will not be able to compete with. So do not compare your gift with others, or try to accomplish your goals the way others have. David was not ready to wear a bronze armor that weighed more than he did. His faith and skill was enough, and his actions would embolden others to fight and win their battles. Your faith moves will inspire others like you to charge at their purpose and slay their giants, even as they go through their time of testing.
So today, stop walking around your giant! Stop negotiating deals with the enemy, he will always demand more! Don’t let the size of your challenge and the length of your struggle convince you that you do not have the power to win. Run up to it! Meaning, approach your goals in faith and be determined that the circumstances which stand between you and your purpose will no longer defy you and Your KING for days or years. Write that book, record the song, start your business; don’t just think about it, apply for the job, sign up for the classes or join the ministry; dare to love and to forgive. Whatever your goal is, go after and conquer it! David ran up to his giant…and slayed! You can do it!