On the fields of the valley of Elah stood two men. On one side of the valley stood a teenager, carrying a sack full of rocks and a leather sling. On the other side of the valley towered a giant of a man in full battle armor holding a 15 pound spear like it was a toothpick. The teenager had spent the last few years tending his father’s sheep and playing the harp for a deranged dictator. The giant had been impaling seasoned warriors since the teenager was in diapers. On paper, this fight looked like the biggest mismatch in history. On paper, it appeared that the giant Goliath would easily crush the teenager (David) faster than you can say “Philistine.” On paper, this is how it looks in the first few verses of 1 Samuel 17.
David vs. Goliath, from a physical perspective makes David a 1,000,000 to 1 longshot. However, if you handicap the fight in this way, you will make a massive miscalculation. The fight in 1 Samuel 17 is not David vs. Goliath, it is Goliath vs. God. This fight is indeed a mismatch, but in this fight, Goliath is the underdog. In fact, he is such an underdog that David has total confidence in His victory. In 1 Samuel 17:46 David says to Goliath before the fight begins, “This day the Lord will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you down and cut off your head.” Once the talking stopped and the fighting started, this is exactly what happened. David threw one rock at Goliath, knocking him unconscious and allowing David to walk over and kill the giant with the big man’s own sword.
As a Christian reading this story today, we begin to apply the truth of this passage to our own lives. There are a few applications that we can garner from this passage:
Application #1: A picture of Christ’s victory over sin. One possible application for Christians is to see David’s victory over Goliath as an Old Testament pre-cursor to the kind of victory that Jesus wins for His followers. David was the representative of Israel fighting against Goliath, the representative of the Philistines. David’s victory is credited to Israel’s account even though the rest of Israel did not do anything to take Goliath down. In a similar way, Jesus is the representative of the faithful fighting against death and hell and His victory on Golgotha and in the garden tomb is credited to our account even though we did not/could not earn it. Through this lens, Christians apply the story by better understanding Christ’s victory over sin and death.
Application #2: Hope for us as we fight the “Giant” issues in our lives. A second possible application from this story has to do with us realizing that God is larger than the giant issues in our lives as well. Knowing this, we can have confidence as we try to tackle the giant obstacle of struggle with sin, a broken relationship, disease, etc. Through this lens, Christians apply the story by slinging the stones of truth and right perspective against our metaphorical giants.
While I see truth in both of these applications, there is an inherent struggle with application #2. What happens when the giant doesn’t fall? What happens as a Christian when you confront a struggle with sin, but the temptation doesn’t die? What happens as a Christian when you work to restore a broken relationship, but the distance still remains, and the pain does not quickly go away? What happens as a Christian when you face the giant of being single when you want to be married, or being childless when you want many children, and regardless of how hard you try, the giant still remains, and you still hurt? What happens when the giants don’t fall?
Answering this question is extremely important, because most of us will spend some time as Christians slinging stones at giants that just won’t fall. How do you wrestle with this notion and with this application? I really want to know. Please feel free to comment as we begin this dialogue. This Sunday at Wildwood in our 9:30 and 10:50 services, I will be probing these questions as we wrap up our short series on the early days of King David’s life. Come Sunday to hear my thoughts . . . but until then, what do YOU think?