He was big and bad to the bone. Goliath, the Philistine champion, may well have been 9.5 feet tall, and he intimidated and terrorized people every chance he got—especially God’s people. Every morning and night for forty days he strutted in front of the Israelite army and yelled threats at them. On one of those days, David was talking to some of the men of Israel, and when he saw Goliath, he said, "What shall be done for the man who kills this Philistine and takes away the reproach from Israel? For who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?" (1 Samuel 17:26 NKJV).
Ferocious bully that he was, Goliath was an uncircumcised Philistine. Israelite men were circumcised, which signified and sealed a covenant between them and God. The Philistines were a pagan nation who neither feared God nor made covenant with Him through circumcision. David knew this 9.5 feet bully was not protected by a covenant with God, so defeating the brute would be a walk in the park, for the promises of God were backing David. King Saul reluctantly agreed to the confrontation between David and Goliath, but insisted the young shepherd boy wear the king’s armor, helmet, and coat of mail (a protective garment of linked metal rings or plates).
What happened next was almost comical… So Saul clothed David with his armor, and he put a bronze helmet on his head; he also clothed him with a coat of mail. David fastened his sword to his armor and tried to walk, for he had not tested them. And David said to Saul, "I cannot walk with these, for I have not tested them." So David took them off (1 Samuel 17:38-39).
I don’t know how much Saul’s coat of mail weighed, but Goliath’s weighed 125 pounds. It was probably like little kids playing dress-up in their parent’s clothing. I cannot walk with these, for I have not tested them, David said. Smart young man! He would stand on the promises of God and the strength and confidence he had in God, rather than the armor and get-up that had brought King Saul through many victories.
What defense did David use against Goliath? Then he took his staff in his hand; and he chose for himself five smooth stones from the brook, and put them in a shepherd's bag, in a pouch which he had, and his sling was in his hand. And he drew near to the Philistine (1 Samuel 17:40). Not much heavy artillery there, or was it?
David used that which he was familiar with, a weapon he knew worked when he encountered wild animals while tending sheep. The sling was much more than a plastic Fisher-Price toy with rubber straps attached. It was actually a highly effective weapon of war used by armies, and David used it against predators. It had a leather pouch with two longs cords attached, and either a rock or lead ball that was aimed at the subject. The stopping power of the rock fired from David’s sling was almost equal to that of a .45 caliber handgun! It was incredibly devastating. He very skillfully aimed at Goliath’s most vulnerable spot, right between his eyes, and the rest is history (David and Goliath, Malcolm Gladwell, 2013).
All of us have Goliaths in our lives—overpowering, fearsome situations that grip our hearts with alarm or anxiety. Our enemy the devil knows exactly what our weak areas are, and at an opportune time of vulnerability he sends just the right Goliath into our lives to bring us to a place of discouragement, despair, and defeat. What is the Goliath tormenting you morning and night—fear of failure or death? Perhaps you struggle with constantly being afraid of man. Or maybe your Goliath whispers that you’re going to die, or that a loved one will never surrender to Christ. Maybe your Goliath tells you that you are destined to a life of defeat.
When we look to unfamiliar sources of defense against our Goliaths, we lose the battle. The world’s ways of dealing with forces that challenge our faith will not take us to a place of victory over Goliath. When we rely on human resources to defeat the spiritual enemies in our lives, it’s like David putting Saul’s armor on to go to war. It didn’t fit, and it wouldn’t work. I cannot walk with these, for I have not tested them, David remarked. In fact, the only sure way of defeating the enemy’s attacks against us are to use the weapons we are most familiar with as Christians--the Word of God and the power of God through prayer.
When faced with a sudden or intense fear or overwhelming situations, I have learned to say the words of David to the Goliath I am up against, "You come to me with a sword, with a spear, and with a javelin. But I come to you in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied,” (1 Samuel 17:45).
Use the weapon you know will work. Be familiar with the Word of God and let it be your defense against the sudden ambushes of Satan. We can laugh in the face of the devil and declare, the LORD does not save with sword and spear; for the battle is the LORD's, and He will give you into our hands." (vs. 47).
© 2022, Chris Werre