Monday, July 28, 2008

New revelations on an old story...

The story of David and Goliath is one of those that most of us have known since we were wee little. And if you’re like me, when you come to a story you’ve heard thousands of times, it’s really, really hard to actually pay attention to it

But somehow, this story keeps coming to my attention here and there the last few weeks, and each time I realize something that, if it's not new, has been so long since I thought about it that it may as well be.

The first thing that struck me recently, was that Goliath was not the “big problem” that David was facing. He was merely the face of the problem.

To realize what the real problem was, you have to go back to the beginning of the story. Why was David being sent to the battle lines to begin with? He was being sent because his three oldest brothers – along with the rest of the fighting men of Israel – were at the battle front. Let’s think about their background. Saul was the king of Israel at this time, but he was the first king. It couldn’t have been too many years since the days of the judges, when Israel was continuously overrun and made slaves, and then set free again and again and again.

Since Saul had become king, he had continuously been fighting the Philistines, and the people of Israel knew all too well what would happen to them if the Philistines conquered them. They’d become nothing more than slaves again.

Jesse was understandably concerned about what was going on at the battle lines, both regarding his sons and regarding the fate of Israel. So when David went to the battle lines and discovered that Goliath was there and that all the men of Israel were cowering, he knew that it was more than just a giant facing them. It was a lifetime of slavery for the entire nation facing them. That’s why Goliath worded the challenge the way he did.

And what did David see? He saw that out of all of the men of Israel, he was the only one who believed that God was greater than Goliath. If I had been him, I would have walked away, trusting that God would somehow look out for me as my country was overrun, because I trusted in Him. It wouldn’t have occurred to me that my trust in my God was enough to save my country.

Yet that’s what David did.

Let’s move on.

We all know what happened next, and how the story goes. How David went before Saul and offered to go fight him. How Saul was flabbergasted that his young shepherd-harpist wanted to fight the giant. (I really can’t blame him... how many harpist-warriors do you know?)

But here’s the next thing that jumped out at me. What did David repeatedly call Goliath? He called him an “uncircumcised Philistine.”

For the first time, I realized how significant this is. It tells us why David was willing to fight him.

We must remember that circumcision was the symbol of a covenant – the covenant that God made with His people, to protect them and provide for them and guide them.

So David’s willingness to fight Goliath wasn’t because he was extraordinarily brave and courageous. It wasn’t because he’d been anointed as the future king of Israel.

It was simply because he saw things as they truly were. It didn’t matter that Goliath was a giant of a man with scores of victories under his belt, or that he represented the people who were determined to make Israel their slaves. What mattered was that Goliath was not part of God’s covenant and not under God’s protection. And he, David, knew that he was. He’d seen God’s faithfulness in the past, and he had no doubt that God would continue to be faithful to His promises.

Which highlights the one other thing that David knew.

He knew His God.

That’s all there really is to this amazing story. That in all of Israel, there was one man who knew His God. One man who, because of that, was able to see things for what they truly were. And that’s all God needed to save His people.

1 comments:

  • annie says:
    Monday, July 28, 2008

    :D So true. Knowing God. I just yesterday started studying that spirit. The spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord. I know it's a big one, and God keeps bringing this same theme of knowing Him up again and again.

    "Those who know their God will be strong and do great exploits ..."

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