(April 1, 2021) Brian Bell shares his latest meditation…
David’s encounter with the giant Goliath recorded in 1 Samuel 17 must surely be one of the most well-known scriptural records.
In the United Kingdom, we even had a series of television adverts promoting a particular product which used a caricature of the David and Goliath story while not referring specifically to it.
Many of us have profited from the life of David and his experience of the Lord and we are familiar with his many psalms. In this meditation I offer some thoughts which, while they may not be new, I found it beneficial to revisit.
A Defiant Giant
The scriptural record talks about Goliath’s defiance of the Lord and also of David who came to face him.
I see Goliath as a type of spiritual opposition, which is still prevalent today and may be manifested through actual people… just as Goliath was used.
The apostle Paul tells us we don’t wrestle against flesh and blood but against spiritual wickedness in the heavenly realm (Ephesians 6:12). This tells me ‘flesh and blood’ people are used to be defiant against the Lord’s work, word, and people!
I believe the New Testament letter writers describe this defiance as the ‘spirit of anti-Christ’ – which has been operating in the world for centuries and will continue until the person of the anti-Christ as in Revelation 13 is revealed.
The lesson for us as believers is that we can be sure to face continued defiance if we take a stand on God’s word! Like David in his encounter with Goliath, we must seek to be faithful in our walk and witness and remember it is the Lord’s name which we must seek to avoid taking in vain.
In the encounter with Goliath, I believe David exhibited three ‘Spirit-filled’ characteristics which I will not elaborate on but simply name them here.
David came in the right –
A Different David
There would be ongoing battles with the Philistine giants, such as recorded in 2 Samuel 21. Many years have passed since David’s faith filled encounter with Goliath. He is no longer the energetic young shepherd filled with enthusiasm and the ‘spark’ of what I believe was the Holy Spirit who enabled David to face Goliath seems to have been less bright.
And David had, earlier (2 Samuel 11), compromised himself with adultery and the arranged murder of Bathsheba’s husband Uriah. Now we know that ‘the Lord was very displeased with what David had done’ (v27) and we can be encouraged that he did eventually confess his sin and knew God’s gracious forgiveness – although his sinful actions had other ‘ongoing’ consequences for his remaining life.
It is the same for us as believers today. I still have a ‘sin nature’ and not free from temptation. The words of an old song include this statement ‘If I sin, if I fall, Christ restores me, for he’s only a prayer away.’
That is true… but I believe sin grieves the Holy Spirit as William Cowper’s hymn Oh for a Closer Walk with God says, ‘I hate the sins that made Thee mourn and drove thee from my breast.’
A believer’s sin can cause even that ‘spark’ of the Holy Spirit within us to be dimmed, just as it did in David. He was still God’s child forgiven and restored to fellowship with his Lord… but he was a different David.
If like me, you look back at times when you feel your stand was not always as solid as it should have been, take encouragement from God’s grace, willingness, and ability to forgive our lapses and restore our fellowship with him.
A Determined Giant
David’s 2 Samuel 21 encounter with Ishbi-Benob, a descendant of the giants, is possibly a not so well-known incident in his life experience. We’re told David was equipped for battle but despite this, his strength and battle prowess were not sufficient to deal with Ishbi-Benob. In fact, ‘he had cornered David and was about to kill him, but Abishai son of Zeruiah came to his rescue…’
Ishbi-Benob was out for revenge, he was determined Israel’s king would perish, despite David’s previous ‘battle honours’ and his now long-past defeat of Goliath. This speaks to me about our adversary the devil, the determined foe. While we may have ‘victories’ to recount, he will never cease to press us – especially after some victory experience.
I often recount the words of songs (perhaps regular readers have spotted this tendency of mine) and, in writing this little meditation, was reminded of some words from Another Soldier Down, made popular by The Issacs, – ‘The enemy is now in view and daily circles round…’
We may not be able to say the enemy is in view in a literal sense, yet every day we enter into the battlefield of life and faith against whatever tactics the enemy may use, determined to see another soldier down.
A Delivered David
In the narrative above, we are told how Abishai – a cousin of David’s and a seasoned battle-hardened soldier – comes to David’s aid and slays Ishbi-Benob. This speaks to me that God will take care of you in the battles of life.
Considering my own life experiences that I did not enjoy – which I would describe as ‘battlefield encounters’ in which just like David’s meeting with Ishbi-Benob, I was sore pressed and wondered if I would come through. And I praise God for the Abishai’s he sent to my aid. I say without being condescending, Dr Robert McQuillan has been one of those ‘aids.’
I encourage finding a warrior friend because one purpose of our Christian fellowship is that we should be mixing with others who, like Abishai, are seasoned, battle-hardened soldiers of the faith willing and able to come to the aid of those who are hard-pressed in the battle – to quote again from Another Soldier Down –‘…with faith stand by his side and lend your strength once more…’
Surely in these days of much curtailment and restriction, it’s a time when God is giving us an opportunity – perhaps through a phone, email, or Skype ‘ministry’ – to stand with others and lend them strength as perhaps they’re feeling alone and struggling to cope.
In many cases it’s not so much what we say, but the fact we take an interest in others. It’s not really about us – even with whatever gifts the Lord has given us, we are only vessels which he can use for his glory.
If we make ourselves available, God can graciously use us to help himdeliver others – what a privilege!
A Deliberate Choice!
You’ll notice I haven’t tried to ‘label’ the giants anyone may be facing. But I know and respect many who have chosen to do so… and dared to fight them with Jesus’ help.
If you’re troubled this way, I encourage you to be bold and make such a list. The choice is yours!
- Remember the effect Goliath’s threats and defiance of God’s people? ‘When Saul and the Israelites heard this, they were terrified and deeply shaken’ (1 Samuel 17:11). Don’t you be fearful!
- I challenge you to make a deliberate choice to confidently trust the Easter Saviour… Jesus Christ, the great overcomer.
- John 1:5 says of Jesus, the light in all our darkness… ‘The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.’
- He himself said in John 16:33, ‘I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.’
- If in your present situation of life and walk of faith you find yourself facing circumstances which to you feel so difficult, making you terrified or deeply shaken, this is exactly how the enemy – Satan, ‘your Goliath’ – wants to make you feel. You’re facing defiant, determined devilish giants (I know, I’ve been there! I feel for you).
- But firstly… if you know you have compromised yourself and your witness in some way, even if not in the same way as David, take your situation with a penitent and prayerful confidence to the loving Lord of Calvary who is willing and able to hear your prayer. And if you have ‘an Abishai friend’, reach out to them. Above all, lean on and trust the Lord to deliver you and refresh you with his gracious Holy Spirit.
A Decisive Thought
If in your walk of faith, the Holy Spirit has helped you through, and God’s word has caused you to sense you are now different, perhaps you know the experience of William Cowper who wrote ‘Where is the blessedness I knew when first I saw the Lord, where is that soul refreshing view of Jesus and his word.’
That’s great! Now you can help encourage others. In defeating Goliath, David heartened Israel and the men, previously so frightened, ‘gave a great shout of triumph and rushed after the Philistines, chasing them as far as Gath and the gates of Ekron (I Samuel 17:52).
Brian Bell is a diaconate member, Christ Church (Congregational) Abbots Cross, Northern Ireland, and a volunteer with Disabled Christians Fellowship Ireland. He describes himself as ‘grateful for the privilege and opportunity given me to serve my Lord.’