Slaying Giants

David Slays Goliath by Gustave Doré (1866)

David Slays Goliath by Gustave Doré (1866)

1 Samuel 17:8-11 (The Message)
Goliath stood there and called out to the Israelite troops, “Why bother using your whole army? Am I not Philistine enough for you? And you’re all committed to Saul, aren’t you? So pick your best fighter and pit him against me. If he gets the upper hand and kills me, the Philistines will all become your slaves. But if I get the upper hand and kill him, you’ll all become our slaves and serve us. I challenge the troops of Israel this day. Give me a man. Let us fight it out together!” When Saul and his troops heard the Philistine’s challenge, they were terrified and lost all hope.

There was no way that I could go through the book of 1 Samuel without mentioning David and Goliath. It’s one of the first stories children learn about in the Bible. People who’ve never cracked the cover of the Bible have often heard of this encounter between the young man and the giant.

And there are so many ways to look at it. It was meant to show the power of God in David, this newly anointed — but as of yet generally unknown — next king of Israel. I’ve heard this story used as a metaphor for the “little guy” fighting against the government or corporate institutions. It’s the victory of the underdog. It’s the triumph of innocence over arrogance, courage over cowardice, faith over fear. And, of course, there’s the gross-out factor of David picking up Goliath’s massive sword and cutting off Goliath’s head.

But, for many folks, this story is a reminder that what seems most undefeatable to us is perfectly unproblematic for God. The armies of Israel looked at this powerful Philistine warrior, and no one wanted to be the one chosen to confront him. And, seriously, can you blame them? Even if Goliath was not literally nine feet tall, it’s clear that he was an enormous and truly frightening character.

Then little David shows up, takes out his slingshot, grabs a few flat rocks, and walks up to the giant. One stone between the eyes. That’s all it took.

Can’t you just imagine the Israelite warriors watching — with mouths gaping open — as David packs his slingshot back up and walks away?

How much time, I wonder, do we waste worrying about the obstacles in our lives, instead of stepping up, and facing them directly? We worry about so much, and… sometimes… we allow those worries to become deep-seated fears. And those fears? They can incapacitate us.

What is the “Goliath” in your life right now?

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