David and Goliath

David said to the Philistine, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the Lord will deliver you into my hands, and I’ll strike you down and cut off your head. This very day I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds and the wild animals, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel. All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves; for the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give all of you into our hands.” ~ 1 Samuel 17:45-47

Once long ago in the land of Israel there was a dad with eight sons. This dad loved his sons and was very proud of them. The three oldest sons: Eliab, Abinadab, and Shammah, went to fight in the army of King Saul. They went to fight their arch rivalry the Philistines.

One morning Jesse goes to the youngest son, David, and gives him the assignment of taking some food to his sons fighting against the dreaded Philistines. David takes the food to his brothers. When he arrives, the armies are about to face off. But instead of the armies clashing in battle, David hears this one warrior challenging the army of Saul. He looks out on the battlefield and sees Goliath standing there in all his warrior regalia. Eight feet tall. Clothed in armor. Bronze helmet. Sword. Javelin. He even has a shield bearer. He tells the army of Saul, (my words) “Let’s settle this the old-fashioned way. You send out your best warrior and we will fight one-on-one. Winner take all.

The Israelites are frozen in fear. Terrified. No one was willing to take on Goliath. Saul even offers some rewards for anyone who is willing to take on Goliath. David hears all this and tells whoever is listening, “I will take him on.” Now understand David is probably around 15 years old. He was a shepherd not a trained soldier. He had no experience in the art of warfare. David’s older brother, Eliab, hears him and is insulted. Tells him to back home. Go back home and take care of those sheep. Saul also hears David’s offer and takes him up on it. Besides none of his other soldiers are willing to take on Goliath. He tries to get David to wear his armor. It doesn’t fit very well and it is way too much for him. David simply goes and gets five smooth stones for his sling.

David walks out on the battlefield. Goliath is insulted. He says, “What is this? Am I a dog that you come to me with sticks.” David takes out his sling. He places one of his rocks inside of it and begins to spin the sling. He lets the sling do its work. The rock hits Goliath right between the eyes. David goes and completes the job with Goliath’s own sword. The Philistines see the defeat of their premier warrior and run for cover. The Israelites see the Philistines running and take out after them.

This is one of the finest stories of the least likely taking on the impossible and winning. At least that is what I thought for many years until I read Malcom Gladwell’s book on David and Goliath. Gladwell unpacks the story with great insight and research. He describes David’s sling as a lethal weapon of ancient warfare. He describes Goliath as suffering from giantism or acromegaly disease. This disease has with it severe nearsightedness and other medical complications as well.

So here I am reading Gladwell’s work getting a little angry. It is like Gladwell is minimizing David’s victory over the giant. Then Gladwell makes one statement that stops me in my tracks. He says, “Giants are not what we think they are.**The same qualities that appear to give them strength are often the sources of great weakness.“ I read those words and thought – Yes! How very true. I have begun to look at giants in my life totally different these days. I have found great value in terms of leaning into God, his grace, mercy and love to help me take on the giant in front of me. They are not as big as they might appear.

Lord Jesus, forgive me for making the giants in my life bigger than they actually are. Give me eyes to see them as you see them. Help me to lean into you to take on the giants of my life. In Jesus name amen.