She sits quietly—and alone—on the second pew from the front, the same place she sits every Sunday…looking down mostly, her glasses perched on her the tip of her nose. She looks up occasionally and makes eye contact; her eyes are sad, longing for peace, for a change. The pastor begins. She opens her Bible and follows along as the passage is read. The story is well known: David and Goliath, one of her favorites, 1 Samuel 17.
The Israelites are preparing to battle the Philistines; the only thing separating them is the valley. The Philistines have their champion, Goliath. He is impressive: standing at about nine feet, clothed in bronze armor weighing over 100 pounds, a bronze helmet on his head, bronze shin guards to protect his shins, and his javelin on his shoulders. He is strong and ready for battle.
“Choose a man for yourselves, and let him come down.” He taunts the Israelites, challenging them to come, to fight, and to defend themselves.
His words do not incite bravery, only fear. Saul and his men fear for their lives. They stand intimidated, fearful, faithless…overcome by the “bigness” of the enemy in their midst. Although they are the children of God and have seen God’s provision, protection, and rescue in battles past, they do not remember.
Fear often paralyzes our faith.
The story washes over her like a refreshing waterfall; she remembers that the story does not end with Goliath. She faces many Goliaths in her life—a recently buried a loved one, finances swirling the drain, a family member fighting addiction, income that barely pays the bills, and loneliness. She wonders, Lord, are you there?
1 Samuel 17:12 starts with “Now David.” The story shifts; God is revealing His plan. David enters the story, a boy who has been prepared through his everyday life to take on the likes of Goliath. He does not fear. He believes. He knows that the God who has given him the wisdom, strength, and skill to face lions and bears will not leave him now, even as he faces this “uncircumcised Philistine,” this enemy who dares to taunt God’s people.
“The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, He will deliver me from the hand of the Philistine.” (1 Sam. 17:37)
Goliath curses as David approaches with his sling and stones. “Am I a dog that you come to me with sticks? He cursed David, by his gods.” Goliath does not take David seriously. David does not even wear the battle armor of his people. He knows what Goliath does not: he is not going to battle in his own strength. Instead, the future King of Israel is going to battle the way the Lord trained him—with a sling in hand and the Omnipotent God at his side.
“You come to me with a sword, and a spear, and a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, who you have taunted.” (1 Sam. 17:45)
Like the woman in the pew, what Goliaths are you facing? Doubt, fear, financial crisis, family struggles, marriage challenges, addiction, joblessness, loneliness, sin? Are you paralyzed with fear as you look at what you face? Have you forgotten the goodness, the greatness, the timeliness, and the mercy of our God? Are you facing the battles in your strength…or in His?
Goliath does not get the last word. His taunting does not last. He is DEFEATED.
Like the Israelites who saw David defeat Goliath, we are reminded that our God is greater than anything we face. With Him, we can overcome all obstacles. Like David, we are reminded that God uses different aspects of our lives to train us to meet the challenges and the trials that will come. We are reminded to remember the faithfulness of God in the past, knowing that He is the same. He has not changed. Just as He has seen us through tough times in the past, He will see us through again.