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The Goliath in Your Life

Journey far enough down the road of life and you will encounter obstacles or challenges that appear to be insurmountable—mountains that are just too steep to climb. Israel encountered one of those roadblocks while under the leadership of Saul, its defunct king (1 Samuel 17:1-54). The challenge was embodied in Goliath, a champion in the Philistine army (17:4). We all remember well how young David rose to the challenge and destroyed that God-defying heathen.

The apostle Paul told us that “whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope” (Romans 15:4). Our learning may not be the sole purpose of the OT scriptures, but it is certainly a solemn purpose! A reading and ingesting of the OT writings promotes patience (an abiding under the loads of life) and comfort (a lending of encouragement from a God who is close at hand). These two virtues in turn bring hope (a confident expectation) to the heart.

Since the episode involving Goliath was made part of the biblical record, we can therefore assume he represents or symbolizes an obstacle or challenge from which the people of God can learn and be encouraged. If there is a Goliath in you life, dear friend, there is much to be learned from this Philistine giant.

So, what does Goliath represent to you and me? First, it goes without saying that Goliath represents the mortal enemy who sets himself against all that is God-related. He is the opposition—formidable opposition! In fact, his very name means “one who treads down” other men. It is noteworthy that Goliath touched upon two distinct themes while addressing the armies of Israel—death and servitude (17:8-10). Goliath was asking for one man to fight him to the death. When he said, “Give me a man, that we may fight together’ (17:10), he was saying in essence, “Send out Saul!” Saul turned out to be a no show. The proposed outcome of this one-on-one battle would be servitude (17:9). The death of one would result in the servitude of many. Goliath teaches us that Satan—our mortal enemy and that of the gospel—is perfectly willing to bring into servitude that which he does not (or cannot) ultimately destroy.

Secondly, he represents intimidation. The scriptures paint for us the picture of a colossus. At “six cubits and a span” he stood between nine and ten feet in height. The plethora of protective brass armor from head to foot created the illusion of invincibility. For offensive weaponry, his six-hundred-shekel iron spearhead was a sledgehammer on steroids, equating to roughly fifteen pounds! The reaction of Saul and all Israel to the words that proceeded from the giant’s mouth is recorded for us: “They were dismayed, and greatly afraid” (17:11). Total intimidation was indeed the order of the day.

But consider this question: Was intimidation in and of itself the real problem? I think not! At various points in our Christian walk, each of us has encountered some challenge or form of opposition that has caused feelings of intimidation at first blush. No, the real problem with Saul and his army was prolonged intimidation. We are told that Goliath issued his challenge twice a day (morning and evening) for forty days (17:11). Basic math tells me this infidel issued eighty challenges over the course of a month and a half. And not once during this time is there the first mention of prayer or praise being directed toward the living God by the people of God. Intimidation can be our friend if it drives us to the throne of grace. It can, however, wreck our lives if all we do is prolong our focus on the magnitude of our problem.

Thirdly, Goliath represents revelation. God often designs tough situations to reveal something of his own power and glory through his servants. In the previous chapter, Samuel had anointed David to be the next king of Israel, so that “the Spirit of the Lord came upon David” and “departed from Saul” (16:13-14). God had now set the providential stage to reveal to all Israel the favor with which he had graced this young man, and to demonstrate for the ages to come what a man filled with faith and the Holy Ghost can accomplish against insurmountable odds! David was simply a man who understood the God-honoring cause at hand (17:29), and gave himself to it.

Is there a Goliath in your life? Has the enemy raised his ugly head to create fear and intimidation within you? If so, remember that the real danger is prolonged intimidation that can ultimately destroy our resolve to fight the good fight of faith. Consider also that the Author and Finisher of our faith may have set the stage to reveal his power and glory through you as you trust him and continue to walk in obedience. The Goliath in your life may well be the steppingstone to the next level of your experience with the living God.

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