They answered, “Have the ark of the god of Israel moved to Gath.” So they moved the ark of the God of Israel. But after they had moved it, the Lord’s hand was against that city, throwing it into a great panic.
1 Samuel 5:8,9
From Our “Here”…
Reading the all-too-familiar story of David and Goliath, it’s natural to put ourselves squarely in David’s sandals. Lessons about faith and bravery and just plain gumption all seem to reside in that young shepherd. But a closer look at Goliath offers lessons as well.
Goliath was well over 9 feet tall. He was strong enough to wield a spear with a 15-pound spearhead and wear armor weighing more than 125 pounds. His size and strength, though gold on the battlefield, were also his downfall. Blinded by his own prodigious physicality, Goliath was no match for an Israelite teen who lived in faithful obedience to the all-powerful Creator.
It’s tempting to think Goliath suffered from spiritual ignorance and that the poor behemoth never had a chance to get on the right side of the battle between good and evil. Not so.
David confronts Goliath in 1 Samuel 17, but 1 Samuel 4-6 offers some of the backstory on the longstanding conflict between the Philistines and Israel. About 40 years before David and Goliath met in the Valley of Elah, the Philistines and the Israelites went head to head. The Philistines defeated Israel so soundly they were able to steal the ark of the covenant.
The Philistines thought they had won the cosmic lottery. Now the Israelite God would join their gods in bringing them victory and prosperity. But during the seven months they kept the ark, their land and people experienced devastation. One of the chief cities that took the brunt of God’s judgment was none other than Gath, Goliath’s hometown.
Goliath would have grown up hearing the stories from the old timers who had survived the devastation. The people of Gath could not have soon forgotten that death and plague and rats had stalked their town when they desecrated God’s ark.
Later, on Elah’s battlefield that fateful day, Goliath called out curses against the very God who had defeated his forbears. In David, he only saw an Israelite stripling swinging a sling while the giant held a spear that could split a tree. Seconds later, he couldn’t see anything at all.
...To God’s “There”
Daily, we are wise to pray that we will not be blinded by our own perceived abilities. That we will, instead, seek out and joyfully accept God’s guidance and empowerment. That we will get on the same side of life as those amazing, if unassuming, men and women of God who have discovered the true Source of abundant living.
From that position of daily reliance, we find the courage and strength to be public witnesses to the truth even when the enemies of the gospel in our culture may appear as Goliaths.
Making the Leap
Can you exercise the faith of David and believe God for His empowerment as you commit to taking the gospel to the ends of the earth? Don’t let the pride of Goliath blind you to your need to rely on God, and don’t allow the “Goliaths” of today’s culture to shout down your message.