The story of David and Goliath in 1 Samuel 17 is one of the best known of all the stories in the Bible. Being so familiar, however, we often miss what it is talking about. As I studied the passage this week, here are 11 giant lessons I learned.
This battle was unnecessary. It should have been resolved much earlier (1 Samuel 14). The battle against the Philistines could have been won decisively by the Israelite army except for an edict which Saul foolishly declares forbidding any of his soldiers food before evening. The weariness of the soldiers due to their hunger keeps them from fighting well as the day drags on. Further, the extra time it takes to properly prepare food for this famished army of Israelites cost Saul and his men the window of opportunity for a decisive and final victory over the Philistines.
Both fear (11, 24) and faith (52) are contagious. Be selective who you listen to. On the one hand, Goliath intimidated Israel twice a day for 40 days. As time went on, people began to believe the message—we have no chance against the giant. Fear spread throughout the camp and infected everyone. On the other hand, when David cut off Goliath’s head, his victory inspired the army. They chased the Philistines all the way back to the cities.
A giant’s chief weapon is intimidation (1-11). Intimidation is the major challenge when we face giants. When they intimidate us, we get tongue-tied. We lose our train of thought. We forget how to pray. We focus on the odds against us. We think of all the reasons we are doomed to fail. We forget whom we represent, and we stand there with our knees knocking.
If you tolerate a giant, he will take more and more of your territory (25). Verse 25 contains a curious question, “Have you seen this man who has come up?” Goliath had now crossed the ravine at the base of the valley and is coming up Israel’s side. If you tolerate a Goliath, he’ll take over your territory. He’ll move into your camp. He’ll take your thoughts that normally ought to be on God, and he’ll focus them on himself. We can’t afford to tolerate giants; we have to kill them.
Others may criticize you for tackling a giant (28) or tell you “it can’t be done” (33). There is a Civil War legend that tells of a confused soldier who put on the Confederate gray coat, and the Union blue trousers. From his appearance it was impossible to tell where his sympathies were. So when he went into battle he got shot at from both sides! The Federals shot him in the coat, and the Confederates shot him in the seat of the pants!
While we expect the enemy to shoot at us, there are times when our “friends” and “supporters” will also take shots at us. If we take a stand for faith or want to do something for God, we may embarrass those who are sitting on the sidelines doing nothing. Whether they are intimidated by the enemy or merely comfortable, they may not take kindly to our desires for change.
God uses little tests to prepare us for bigger battles (34-37). God brings small tasks into our lives to prepare us for larger assignments. He brings small challenges and enemies to get us ready for greater ones. We need to remember what God did in the past because it will give us confidence for the future. Too often, we remember the defeats and forget the victories. We remember what we should forget and forget what we should remember.
Keep the giant in perspective (36-37). Having fought a lion and a bear, David saw Goliath as just one more predator. If God delivered him from those, what’s one more?
Don’t rely on other’s weapons. Use ones you have confidence in (38-40). Don’t put on someone else’s armor. Don’t rely on other people’s faith. Don’t rely on their weapons. Study, prepare, learn, and develop confidence in your own resources and weapons. God provides unique techniques for unique people.
Keep your focus on God, not the giant (41-47). No matter how big the giant might be, God is greater.
When God is on your side, you are never outnumbered (45). David had a sling and five stones against a heavily armed giant. On the one hand, he had no chance. On the other hand, he did not put his trust in his weapons; he put his trust in God.
Deal with giants decisively (48-51). Don’t tolerate giants of worry, fear, intimidation, and sin. Put them to death. If you don’t, they will continue to plague you.