Running to Battle
If you haven’t read the story of David and Goliath lately, check it out (for the kids, take a look at Veggie Tales’ engaging animated version). What an incredible story! Let me set the stage:
At this time in Israel’s history, their great enemies were the Philistines, a warring people with whom they frequently fought. On this particular day, the two armies once again find themselves lined up for battle. In fact, they have been standing ready for battle on opposite sides of the Valley of Elah for 40 days. In the days of this type of combat, a common practice was to engage in a battle of champions, with both sides agreeing to award victory and defeat to the entire armies, based on the winner of a fight between the two chosen warriors. If you ever saw the movie “Troy,” you will have some idea of the scene.
On Israel’s side, you have…well no one. There is no champion. Instead, there is an entire army of battle-hardened soldiers, along with their mighty king (who was said to stand head and shoulders above the men of Israel), shaking in their armor, listening day after day to the pagan taunts of the Philistine champion. But before you look down on the men of Israel and scorn them for their cowardice, take a look at the monster standing at the battle line. HE IS OVER NINE FEET TALL!!! I live down in LSU country, alma mater of the great Shaquille O’Neal. Try to imagine yourself standing in front of Shaq, who stands officially at 7’1”. Look up – that’s big, a full foot taller than me, a man of slightly taller than average height. Now, picture Shaq standing in front of Goliath. Shaq is looking way up – at least two feet! He’s standing up somewhere between the belly and the armpits of this ogre. And talk about “swolt up,” Goliath’s armor weighed 125 pounds, and he wore it with the ease of a linebacker in his football pads. Will no one fight this guy? Of course not!
Enter David, younger brother of three of Saul’s finest. He leaves his regular duties of tending the sheep to bring food to his brothers and bring back word of their hopeful safety to their dad back home. David searches through the ranks for his brothers. There is a nervous energy, and he wonders what could be wrong, when there is not a single sign of harm on anyone. Then he hears the booming voice of the pagan champion, mocking the army of God’s people, and defying God in the process. David is shocked. Shocked not only by the champion’s jeering, but even more so by the apparent willingness of the army of Israel to stand, listen, and do nothing. And in the midst of all the tough, full grown soldiers, the little brother from Bethlehem speaks up in reply, “Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living God?” His brothers hear about him running off his mouth about fighting Goliath, and they are furious.
King Saul gets word, and has the shepherd boy brought into his royal battle tent. Keep in mind, David might be as old as 15 or 16, perhaps younger. For whatever reason, faith or cowardice or blind stupidity, Saul agrees to send David out to be the champion of Israel. He decks him out in his own gear, but David quickly decides to shed the armor and the weapons of war. A sling and five smooth stones will do just fine, thanks. You see, Saul may have proclaimed David the champion of Israel, but David knew the LORD was the Champion of Israel. So out he goes, calmly marching out beyond the edge of camp to face Goliath and inform him of his impending date with death, at the hands of the LORD Almighty. Of course, Goliath is provoked to the rage of his life, seeing this as the ultimate mockery to his unbeatable prowess in battle. The next thing that happens is what I recently discovered, and just had to share with you:
The young teenager, armed with nothing more than his clothes and a few rocks, seeing not the lurking, enraged giant, but the power and might of the Living God, RUNS TO THE BATTLE LINE TO DESTROY HIS ENEMY. He doesn’t just stand there, waiting and praying. He doesn’t walk along, waiting for God’s lightning bolt of power to transform him like He-Man holding aloft his sword. He doesn’t close his eyes and grit his teeth, wondering what he has gotten himself into, and how God could possibly get him through it. He charges. He goes after Goliath with all his speed and strength, equipped with the unmatched power of faith in God. And he KNOWS he is running to victory. And he flings one stone. And he hits his target, the vulnerable spot above the giant’s eyes that is uncovered by his great bronze helmet. And the giant falls dead. And the shepherd boy of mighty faith pulls out the giant’s own sword to cut off the head of the fallen mocker. And he urges the army of God to rush forth and fight like the army of God, to destroy their enemies.
I have used enough words to tell you this great story of faith and God’s power, so I will simply say this. How do you face the giants in your life? Those challenges that keep you down and intimidate you and convince you that they are the champions on the hilltop of your life. Do you hold back in fear? Do you close your eyes and wait for them to annihilate you? Do you offer a shaky prayer of desperation, doubting even God can pull you through this one? Or do you set your eyes on the power of God and run in His strength to stand in victory over the seemingly unbeatable foe? I can’t speak for you, but David I am not. Lord, give me the faith to experience your mighty power of victory.