|Vol. 2, No. 4||Page 10||April 2000|
Goliath Fought the Giant
A book was written by Jonathan Swift, entitled Gulliver’s Travels. In that book, the central character, Gulliver, traveled to different lands; each land provided him with a different perspective. In one land Gulliver found himself surrounded by people who were, from his perspective, very small. These people, at first, feared Gulliver because from their perspective, he was a giant.
Gulliver’s travels also carried him to a land where he was kept as a pet by a little girl who, from his perspective, was a giant. The little girl was enthralled by what she saw as a tiny little man.
Gulliver was huge and small; a giant and a tiny little man, yet Gulliver himself had not changed at all. He was the same size when he appeared to be a giant as when he appeared to be tiny. It was not Gulliver who changed, rather the world around him changed. Through all of this change Gulliver maintained his dignity, compassion and strength of character. Before the book ends, it is clear that Gulliver was a giant and a force to be reckoned with regardless of his perceived size.
Perspective is a very important thing. When we think of David’s battle with Goliath, we often think of the “little man” battling against the “odds” and emerging victorious. But things are not always as they appear to be. Based solely on appearances, Goliath was a mighty foe.
“And there went out a champion out of the camp of the Philistines, named Goliath, of Gath, whose height was six cubits and a span. And he had an helmet of brass upon his head, and he was armed with a coat of mail; and the weight of the coat was five thousand shekels of brass. And he had greaves of brass upon his legs, and a target of brass between his shoulders. And the staff of his spear was like a weaver’s beam; and his spear’s head weighed six hundred shekels of iron: and one bearing a shield went before him” (1 Samuel 17:4-7).
The coat of mail weighed 125 lbs.; and the shaft of his spear, 17 lbs. This takes no account of the weight of the bronze helmet, the bronze javelin, and the greaves of brass. In all his armour probably weighed in the neighborhood of 200 lbs. His height, allowing about 18” for a cubit, would have been over nine feet. (Coffman, James Burton, Commentary on First Samuel, [A.C.U. Press: Abilene Christian University: Abilene, Texas], p. 200.)The shear bulk of the man and the mass of his weapons were all that the army of Israel could focus on as Goliath stood in the valley thundering forth his challenge.
When considering appearances, David was not nearly as impressive as Goliath was. After rejecting Saul’s armor, David approached Goliath with only the weapons of a shepherd. It is likely that all present saw this battle as one-sided, with David having little chance of victory. From Saul’s perspective, David was completely outclassed. “And Saul said to David, Thou art not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him: for thou art but a youth, and he a man of war from his youth” (1 Samuel 17:33). From Goliath’s perspective David was a little, insignificant foe and Goliath was actually insulted by his challenge. “And when the Philistine looked about, and saw David, he disdained him: for he was but a youth, and ruddy, and of a fair countenance” (1 Samuel 17:42).
Some may have thought David to be foolish for throwing his life away by facing certain death at the hands of Goliath. There may have been some grudging admiration for David’s willingness to do battle. But David had an entirely different perspective on this battle.
“Thy servant slew both the lion and the bear: and this uncircumcised Philistine shall be as one of them, seeing he hath defied the armies of the living God. David said moreover, The Lord that delivered me out of the paw of the lion, and out of the paw of the bear, he will deliver me out of the hand of this Philistine. And Saul said unto David, Go, and the Lord be with thee” (1 Samuel 17:36-37).David did not enter this battle with any feelings of inadequacy, nor, did he entertain the possibility of losing. The perspective of everyone present allowed for no outcome other than the giant Goliath killing little David. David, however, walked into a battle which he knew he would win. There was no doubt in the mind of David for he knew that Jehovah would deliver him.
Things are not always as they seem. Two men faced each other in the valley that day. One was a physical giant great in stature and small in faith. The other was a spiritual giant small in stature and great in faith. It was Goliath who faced a true giant on that day. It was Goliath who was overmatched from the beginning. It was Goliath who faced certain doom. This is what David knew. This was the proper perspective, therefore, David could state with absolute confidence,
“. . . Thou comest to me with a sword, and with a spear, and with a shield: but I come to thee in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom thou hast defied. This day will the Lord deliver thee into mine hand; and I will smite thee, and take thine head from thee; and I will give the carcases of the host of the Philistines this day unto the fowls of the air, and to the wild beasts of the earth; that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel. And all this assembly shall know that the Lord saveth not with sword and spear: for the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give you into our hands” (1 Samuel 17:45-47).When the battle was over there were a lot of surprised soldiers, both Philistine and Israelite. David was not surprised, for all that had happened was that which he knew would happen from the beginning.
“And it came to pass, when the Philistine arose, and came and drew nigh to meet David, that David hasted, and ran toward the army to meet the Philistine. And David put his hand in his bag, and took thence a stone, and slang it, and smote the Philistine in his forehead, that the stone sunk into his forehead; and he fell upon his face to the earth. So David prevailed over the Philistine with a sling and with a stone, and smote the Philistine, and slew him; but there was no sword in the hand of David. Therefore David ran, and stood upon the Philistine, and took his sword, and drew it out of the sheath thereof, and slew him, and cut off his head therewith. And when the Philistines saw their champion was dead, they fled” (1 Samuel 17:48-51).You may say, “No matter how you look at it David won the battle so what difference does our perspective on this event make?” It makes a great deal of difference in how we approach the giants in our lives. Giants come in many forms. Sometimes the scorn of non-Christian family members can be a giant source of discouragement. The shortcomings of a cherished brother or sister in Christ may cast a huge stumbling block in our path. It may be that we allow our past sins, which we have repented of and God has forgiven, to wear on our minds causing us to be insecure in our salvation. These and other giant problems stand boldly in our path thundering forth their challenge. They must be confronted and dealt with, but how are we going to approach the battle?
If, from our perspective, the problems that we face are invincible giants, we will do as the Israelite army did. We will cower on the hill letting our problems issue their challenges day after day without confronting them in battle. If we have the courage to do battle yet, from our perspective we are just “little people” battling against the “odds,” we will lose. We must fight from David’s perspective, with confidence, for God is on our side.
In the battles of life, Christians have the advantage.
Temptations cannot overrun the defenses of godly people, nor withstand
our attack. The only way that temptation wins is when Christians surrender.
“There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God
is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able;
but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be
able to bear it” (1 Corinthians 10:13). Temptations and problems are not
giants that cannot be overcome. Not only is the way of escape provided,
but God will, with certainty, deliver his faithful children. “The Lord
knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the
unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished” (2 Peter 2:9). This
means that we can enter the battles of life knowing full well that victory
will be ours as long as we remain faithful.
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