Saturday, October 23, 2010
For forty days, twice a day every day, he swaggered out and shouted to the four winds. Had he grown tired of battle? Was he frustrated because no worthy opponent had come forward thus far?
""Why have you come out to line up for battle? Am I not a Philistine, and you the servants of Saul? Choose a man for yourselves, and let him come down to me. If he is able to fight with me and kill me, then we will be your servants. But if I prevail against him and kill him, then you shall be our servants and serve us." And the Philistine said, "I defy the armies of Israel this day; give me a man, that we may fight together!" (1 Samuel 17: 8-10)
This was the Goliath of Gath... the splendor of the Philistine army. Ten feet tall, weighing in at over 400 pounds. His armor alone weighed at least 200 pounds with its bronze helmet, coat of mail, leg armor and bronze javelin. His spear was as large as a tree branch.
Everyday he created a stir among the chosen people. No one would dare go up alone against this megalith. He was more mighty and powerful than any of them. Good grief! His biceps probably measured 2 feet in diameter! With his armor, he weighed at least one third of a ton! Anybody would be a fool to try and take him on alone. The Israeli soldiers spoke in frightened whispers of his size and might.
Goliath was defiant and intimidating. He was cocksure of himself and knew he had no equal. He was the largest of the giants, taller, more muscular, more mighty. In a land of giants, he was the champion.
The army of Israel was terrified of him. When he came into battle, they would scatter and flee in horror.
He thirsted for battle! He was anxious to fight and kill... to destroy his enemy.
The two armies were camped out on mountaintops with a valley between. The valley of Elah in Ephes Dammim, meaning the edge of blood. Israel was camped between Sohkoh and Azekah. In Hebrew, the word Sohkoh means 'hedge' and Azekah means 'a field dug over, broken up."
So Israel was entrenched outside their hedge, between it and the broken ground leading to ephes Dammim, the edge of blood.
Israel was at a standstill... unsure of their fate... unable to defeat their own fear, much less overcome the army and giants standing in front of them. They had forgotten their past and the victories that God had given.
Except for David. The young shepherd. The least of his brothers. David figured that if with God’s help, he could defeat a Lion coming at him with all his fierce muscle and weight and 20 razor sharp talons, then one ugly giant was a pushover.
King Saul, hearing of David's boldness, and desperate for some solution to his dilemma, called David to his side. King Saul offered his own personal armor to David. David tried it on and couldn’t move. This was the armor of a man, a warrior king. It didn’t fit. He hadn’t tested it. Hadn’t proved it.
He didn’t need it.
David was clad in the armor of God. With him, it was tried and true. He had spent years in the field perfecting it. Singing praises to the Lord, spending time with Him. Fighting off the bears and lions that would come against him. He was comfortable in this God armor. It fit well and he trusted it. He had taken it’s measure. It was reliable.
Goliath issued this challenge to Israel twice daily... "One on one combat! Winner takes all!"
Today would be his final challenge!
Except it wasn’t one on one. This giant’s shield bearer went before him. He carried a shield and a sword. He was a giant also. He had to be a giant. He carried the shield and sword to protect Goliath. If he was a normal sized man, what was he gonna protect? Goliath's kneecaps?
He’s there to ward off attackers so that the Goliath has room to throw his deadly spear. The giant of Gath needs a giant of a body guard!
Here is young David, alone with a slingshot and five river stones. Up against two grizzly grouchy bullying giants!
Goliath is almost insulted that his only opponent is a boy. One with no armor and no weapon, at that. Practically naked before him with no protection. He’s taking David’s measure. Goliath is using the wrong measuring stick.
He didn't consider that God had already taken David's measure.
Here is the young Israelite without any visible means of defeating this armor clad, battle seasoned, oversized warrior.
But the battle is over before it ever starts as these bold and defiant words explode from David’s mouth!
“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 Lords and He will give you into our hands.”
With that exclamation of faith, David races towards Goliath, swinging his loaded sling. With the hedge behind him and the broken ground before him, he almost flies towards the edge of blood. Towards the enemy of his people and of his God.
If Goliath was cocksure of his own might and fighting prowess, David was even more confident in his God's ability to conquer any enemy.
With one throw from his sling, David knocked Goliath out with a stone. The giant fell unconscious to the ground. His insulting tongue stilled. His powerful body was rendered limp and useless.
David took the sword from the champion of the Philistines and before the amazed eyes of the two armies, he cut off the head of his enemy Goliath.
The completely demoralized Philistines ran away like frightened children. If one Israelite boy without any visible armor or weapon could defeat their champion, what could the entire Israelite army do against them? What would the God of Israel do with them?
They were totally defeated.
If the Israelites had forgotten all that God had done for them, David’s faith and miraculous victory reminded them. Once Goliath was dead, Israel marched forward and defeated the Philistines.
We all have giants that come against us. Finances, Family problems, Work, Sickness, Death, Divorce, Disappointments. Just like a giant Goliath, they don’t come one on one. They hit you from all directions.
We have everyday giants. We have monumental life altering giants. They all come from the same place. The devil doesn’t fight fair. He sends his sword bearing shield bearer before him to trick us, confuse us, distract us and keep us from focusing. The little things. We think we can handle it. Then BAM! He shows up with deadly force!. The thing that get us right in the heart. His javelin or spear. We lose our job. We lose a loved one. We have a life threatening illness. We’ve been double teamed. and we could so easily be struck down, but for the Armor of God.
Paul tells us to put on the armor of God... He never once told us to take it off. In Romans 13: 12 he calls it the “armor of light”. Unapproachable Light.
When you are wearing this armor, you are not only protected, but you stand out as a victorious warrior!
Our armor is our faith. It is our sure knowledge of the faithfulness of God.
Life events take our spiritual measure. Like David, before we go into our daily battle, we should make sure we have a good fit. We should remind ourselves of the times that God has come through for us in the past and that He will do it again now.
Don’t try to enter into a battle wearing some body else’s faith. We’re each given a measure. It is formed and forged just for us. We need to test it and try it and become so accustomed to it that it fits us like our own skin.
Like the Israelites, we tend to forget how God has provided and been victorious in our past. We need something to remind us.
David took Goliath’s armor and kept it. In my imagination I see it standing in a focal point in his home. A daily reminder of how God came through for him and for Israel.
There are many times in the Bible when it is mentioned that the Israelites made a marker , set up stones, as a reminder of what God had done at a particular time or place.
I have several items in my home that are reminders to me of what God has done in my life. A bowl of seashells on my coffee table. A Santa Claus figurine holding a sign with the word "JOY". A photograph of a beach at sunrise. These are all reminders of the huge things God has done in my life and of His promises.
The next time you go into battle, be prepared. As your enemy takes your measure, race toward him or it with the sure knowledge that God is with you and has gone before you.
Call to mind what God has done in your past and trust Him for what He is doing in the present. When the victory is won give Him the glory! Then just in case you're forgetful like the Israelites, make a note of your victories. Keep a reminder, something visible, as a reminder of how God did a miracle in your life.
And give Him the glory!