(March 28, 2023) Brian Bell shares a timely meditation…

David’s encounter with the giant Goliath is recorded in 1 Samuel 17 and must surely be one of the most well-known scriptural records.

Many of us have profited from the life of David and his experience of the Lord and we are familiar with his many encouraging psalms. In revisiting this topic, I offer some thoughts which, while they may not be new, I personally found them beneficial.

A defiant giant  
The scriptural record in 1 Samuel tells us about Goliath’s defiance of God and also of David who alone came to face him. I see Goliath as a type of spiritual opposition – which is still prevalent today! Even manifested through actual people who may say harsh, unkind, even untrue words to us or about us, just as Goliath did with David.

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, the Lord’s word and the Lord’s people.

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 say that he came –
(a) In the right name,
(b) In the right attitude,
(c) With the right weapons.

A different David
As we read the account of ongoing battles with the Philistine giants 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 which enabled David to face Goliath in the valley of Elah seems to have been less bright.

Of course, by this time in his life, David had compromised himself with adultery and the arranged murder of Bathsheba’s husband Uriah. We know from 2 Samuel 11 that ‘the Lord was very displeased with what David had done.’ Now we can be encouraged that David did eventually confess his sin and knew God’s gracious forgiveness, but 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 am 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. William Cowper’s 1779 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 that ‘spark’ of the Holy Spirit within us to be dimmed; we may lose our joy, 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.

A determined giant
David’s encounter with Ishbi-Benob, a descendant of the giants, as recorded in 2 Samuel 21 is possibly not so well known an incident in David’s life experience.

King David was equipped for battle but despite this, his strength and battle prowess were not sufficient to deal with Ishbi-Benob (2 Samuel 21:15). David the giant slayer was in danger of being slain! Fortunately, as verse 17 records, ‘Abishai son of Zeruiah came to David’s rescue; he struck the Philistine down and killed him.’

had been out for revenge, despite David’s previous ‘battle honours’ and his now long past defeat of Goliath. He was determined David would perish (v16).

This speaks to me about our adversary the devil who is also a determined foe. While we may have ‘victories’ to recount, Satan will never cease to press usespecially after some victory experience. I often recount the words of songs… and in writing this little meditation was reminded again of some words from Another Soldier Down made popular by The Issacs –‘The enemy is now in view and daily circles round…’

I often recount the words of songs… and in writing this little meditation was reminded again of some words from Another Soldier Downmade 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 the Lord gives us, as believers we soldiers of Jesus enter into the battlefield of life and faith against whatever tactics the enemy may use in his determination to see another soldier down! Know this!

A delivered David
In the narrative above, we are told how Abishai – a cousin of David’s and a seasoned battle-hardened soldier – came to the king’s aid and slayed Ishbi-Benob. This speaks to me that God will take care of you in the battles of life. I can think of experiences of life which I did not enjoy – which I would describe as ‘battlefield encounters.’ Encounters in which, just like David’s meeting with Ishbi-Benob, even in recent weeks, I was sore pressed and wondered if I would come through. 

I praise the Lord for the ‘Abishais’ He sent to my aid. Men and women who faithfully brought encouragement and upheld me in prayer. I believe one vital purpose of our Christian fellowship is that we should be mixing with others who like Abishai, are seasoned, battle-hardened soldiers of the faith, who are willing and able to come to the aid of those who are hard-pressed in the battle – to quote again from Another Soldier Down ‘…go then with faith stand by his side and lend your strength once more…’

Surely in these days of being sensitive to the Lord and to the needs of others, it’s been a time when the Lord has given us an opportunity to stand with hurting Christians who feel alone, struggling to cope, and lend them strength.

In many cases it not so much what we say, but the fact we take an interest in them. And, to be honest, it is not really about us – even with whatever gifts the Lord has given us – we are merely vessels which the Lord can use for His glory.

We won’t feel we always get this right. But it’s not just about our ability, it’s more about our availability. The Lord, our king, can graciously use us to help Him deliver others – what a privilege!

A dismaying giant
In 1 Samuel 17:11NLT we are told the effect Goliath’s defiance had ‘when Saul and the Israelites heard this [Goliath’s threats] they were terrified and deeply shaken.’ NIV reads ‘dismayed.’

If in your present situation of life and walk of faith, you find yourself facing circumstances which to you feel so difficult, perhaps making you terrified or deeply shaken – know that this is exactly how the enemy wants to make us feel – even if you cannot attach a specific name to what you are facing.

You’ll have noticed I haven’t tried to label every giant we may face by giving them ‘names’ (although I know and respect many who do), but here’s three giants that are relevant in these days of deceit – defiant, determined and dismaying. The deceiving devil, our ‘giant’, often uses these in his ploys to terrify, shake and leave us disappointed in life!

If in your walk of faith the Holy Spirit has helped you through God’s word to sense you are different, perhaps you know the experience of William Cowper above, 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?’

He ended his hymn of humility with a joyous declaration –
‘So shall my walk be close with God,
Calm and serene my frame;
So purer light shall mark the road
That leads me to the Lamb.’

A different future
Dear reader… have you compromised yourself and your witness in some way, even if not in the same way as David?

Take your situation with a penitent heart and prayerful confidence to a loving Lord. He will hear your prayer and is willing to forgive and help!

Abishai means ‘gift of God.’ And if you have such a friend, reach out to that person, lean on them and trust the Lord to defend you and deliver you and refresh you with His gracious Holy Spirit.

Brian Bell is a diaconate member, Christ Church (Congregational) Abbots Cross, Northern Ireland, and a volunteer with Disabled Christians Fellowship Ireland. Brian describes himself as ‘grateful for the privilege and opportunity given me to serve my Lord.’

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