Goliath looked down on the Israelites with contempt. ‘We Philistines,’ he mused, ‘have already conquered the Moabites, and this little nation is just the next obstacle in our path.’ He was totally unaware that there was another factor to be taken into account: he was confronting not just another little nation but God’s covenant people.
David understood. He bore the covenant mark of circumcision in his body. He had an advantage over everyone else, regardless of their prowess or prestige. He was one of the people of God.
Doubtless, as Goliath prepared to go out each morning, he looked at his ten-foot reflection in his mirror, adjusted his ton of armour and admired his impressive physique. ‘What a marvellous specimen I am! Now let’s go out and shake up those Israelites again.’
But David didn’t see Goliath as the giant saw himself. As this hulking figure strutted out to display his might and roar out his challenge, David remained totally unimpressed. Turning to his brothers, he asked, ‘Who is this uncircumcised Philistine?’ Whatever Goliath’s strengths were, he was a heathen: God wasn’t with him.
David had a big view of God by which he measured everything else. He had seen enough of God’s handiwork to cut everything else down to size. ‘This is God’s battle; we’re God’s army. We have God’s covenant promises. Goliath may be an awesome foe, but he must fall before the living God.’
Like the Israelites, many of us see our Goliaths before we see God. We cower before the enemy, certain of defeat, and think that we must somehow try to bring God into the situation to help us scrape together at least a few small blessings before catastrophe strikes.
I once heard a story about a man named Bhakt Singh. Someone had told him of an unforgettable sight – Mount Everest at the break of dawn. So, in a state of high expectation, he joined some others who were also eager to see this phenomenon. They set out early one morning while it was still dark and arrived at the viewing point, where they waited for the sunrise.
Dawn broke. There was the mountain. Everyone gazed at it and made appropriate noises of wonder and awe. Everyone, that is, except Bhakt Singh. As the others began to leave, he turned to the guide and shared his disappointment. ‘Wait here for about twenty minutes,’ replied the guide. So while the rest of the party made their way back down, he stayed on.
After a short time, the early morning mist in the valley began to clear. Suddenly the view became more distinct. Then it seemed as though the whole mountain took a gigantic step forward, revealing itself in all its towering majesty and splendour. The sight was overwhelming. Bhakt Singh later said, ‘There are twenty people somewhere in the world who believe they saw Mount Everest at dawn. I have to testify that they really didn’t see it at all.’
There are a lot of people today who say, ‘We know the Lord,’ but whenever some problem, some Goliath, looms up, it’s too much for them to handle. Why wasn’t David intimidated by Goliath? Because he’d seen something: Goliath was mighty, but God was mightier. David had such a view of this covenant-keeping God that he had no difficulty in believing that an uncircumcised Philistine must fall before him.
Paul prayed for the churches ‘… that the glorious Father may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better … that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe’ (Eph. 1:17-19).
We must not simply learn the jargon, praising the view when all we’ve seen is a cloud-obscured mountain, leaving us to wonder what else there is to experience. No. Like Paul, we must get on our knees and pray, ‘Lord, open our eyes to see what you’re really like.’ Then God can reveal to us his glory; then we will be changed people and then all our Goliaths will have to step aside.
‘Outward appearance, outward armour and outward adversity are giants that threaten every growing Christian. David overcame these “giants” just as much as he conquered Goliath. The secret to David’s success was that he saw giants versus God, not giants versus David! May that be our perspective as well.’
David R. Reid