All of us at some time or another face difficulties, hardships, trials, and attacks. These could be outward things like disease, rejection, betrayal, death of a loved one, or loss of a job. Many times it can be an inner battle with discouragement, depression, lust, unfaithfulness, or loneliness. I often refer to these things as giants. Giants are anything that seeks to destroy or diminish the life God desires you to have and live.
Rarely do we get to choose our giants, though the things we do or believe often put us into direct contact with them and their damaging impact on our lives. We all can, however, choose to face our giants, and our ultimate success is in how we face them.
As a red-blooded American male, I have a strong tendency to pull myself up by my bootstraps- I can do it, and do it on my own. And as much as I want to believe in my omnicompetence, it just doesn’t work that way in facing most of my giants. Why? Because God didn’t design us to live in isolation- to face our serious issues on our own head of steam.
God designed us to deal with our “stuff” with Him and other people as an integral part of the solution. After David was anointed king by the prophet Samuel, I am sure that he spent a lot of time talking to God and thinking about how that was all going to come about. Think about it- God had just told David he was going to be king of Israel- no small task. What about us? Our task is just as great- God has called us to make disciples and influence the world around us for Christ. So like David we have a divine job given to us by God. Also, like David we often have giants to face that want to prevent us from getting that job done.
So what did David do? First, he really in his heart knew who God was and he knew that that above all else God was faithful, loving, and merciful. David knew he would make mistakes along the way, and yet he knew that every shortcoming would be made up for by God’s power. He was totally focused on what God had called him to do and he knew the battle with Goliath was his first faith step as king.
I Samuel 17 is a gold mine of David’s key to victory over giants. First, he saw things in their true perspective- Goliath was a professional warrior with the best gear in the world, and David was an obedient shepherd for his father Jesse and also God. He sets the true tone of what the battle is about- it isn’t about David’s fame or ego- it is about God’s glory. In verse 17:45 David says, “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.”
Goliath didn’t know what he didn’t know- that he came to a fight outmatched and outgunned. He didn’t see it that way; the Philistine army didn’t see it that way; and the Israelites didn’t see it that way. And King Saul probably thought the only way he could get a win out of this situation was for all the Israelites to become so angry at David’s death they would rise out of the trenches and take their rage out on the Philistines. Whereas Goliath was smug to the point of arrogance about his abilities, David was so confident in God’s abilities that his statements were completely off the scale- seemingly bordering on lunacy. And it probably caused no end of mocking laughter on the Philistine side and groans of worry on the Israelite side.
However David wasn’t done, there was one more message that he had for everyone- both Philistines and Israelites- the battle was God’s. “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.” (vs. 47). David showed that he was totally relying on God and his countrymen to accomplish the victory that God was unfolding in the Valley of Elah.
Each of us faces a Valley of Elah- a place where our giant is standing there taunting us and mocking us. If David had gone out in his own strength for his own glory, history would have had a very different turn. Because he saw God as his strength and trusted God to use His power, David not only had faith and trust in God, but his faith and trust covered over that which was lacking by his own countrymen.
Imagine the stilled silence as Goliath collapsed to the earth in a heap. Even more, imagine a 17-year-old youth pulling the huge sword out of Goliath’s scabbard and then impaling him through his heart killing him. Still reeling in shock, David made sure that everyone knew his and God’s enemy was totally defeated by cutting off Goliath’s head. The Philistines were still rubbing their eyes in confusion- did they just see what they just saw? And imagine the stillness, so quiet that they could hear the drops of blood dripping out of Goliath’s freshly severed head onto the dirt at David’s feet. Their eyes widening in shock as a youth lifted his grisly prize and shook it at his enemies, a testament to the mighty power of God. And the Philistines ran, terrified. Israel, with a shout, slaughtered their enemy all the way to their fortified cities and looted their camp.
David didn’t stop when Goliath hit the dirt; he wasn’t dead yet. So David had to make sure he was dead stabbing him in his heart until he died. That wasn’t enough- everyone had to know that his giant was dead- so David cut off his head. Gruesome- without a doubt! But our giants are nothing to play patty cake with. We have to be just as ruthless and complete as David was. God wants the victory over our giants (sin, death, disease, etc.) to be total and complete just as David’s was. That means we have to fight to the finish! We have to use God’s strength and not our own! And we have to have people to help us make sure that not only is the battle finished once and for all, but that the victory is properly celebrated!
Jesus began celebrating His victory over sin, Satan, and death while still bleeding on the cross with these words to a repentant thief, “Today you shall be with me in Paradise.” Paul describes this victory in Colossians 2:13-15 like this: “He (Jesus) made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.” God desires that His Son triumph over the giants in your life; it is His glory to make a spectacle of your true enemies. So trust in a loving, grace-filled Almighty God, and by obedience and faith don’t stop until your enemy is truly defeated, and include the body of Christ (the Church) in the entire process- both in the fight and the celebration.