The Philistines had ruled Israel comfortably for several years until King Saul’s son, Jonathan and his armor-bearer, initiated a victorious battle against them, under the guidance and auspices of God at Michmash (1 Samuel 14). Approximately 27 years later, the Philistines had fully recovered and were seeking revenge for their humiliating defeat at Michmash.
In 1 Samuel 17, the Philistines quite likely were suspicious of the strength of the Israeli army that had last defeated them. But they had an asset that they knew the Israelites did not have, and that was one or a handful of giants. Instead of taking on the whole army and running the risk of being defeated, they demanded a one-on-one representative or champion-to-champion combat in which they were sure of victory. “Divide and conquer” is not only a universal strategy in all walks of life, it is also a winning spiritual strategy of the Devil. If he can succeed in isolating us as Christians, or making us feel isolated, then we lose much of the strength that is gained from unity. Let us remember that we are part of the Body of Christ, and close ranks against the enemy of our souls at all times.
What the Philistines did not know was that God had departed from the King of Israel, and that both he and his army were demoralized. Saul was the closest to a giant in size in the Israeli army. If anyone could physically stand against Goliath, it would have been Saul. But the story of God’s people is about God fighting for them as the condition for their victory. Without the benefit of the Spirit of the Lord, Saul was hiding like everyone else.
Though anointed to be king of Israel, David continued to supervise the tending of his father’s sheep. But by the time he confronted Goliath, he had already distinguished himself. 1 Samuel 16:14-23 tells how an evil spirit from God tormented Saul and upon the most glowing recommendation possible (verse 18), David was retained by Saul to play on his lyre, and became one of his armor bearers. David still maintained a supervisory role over his father’s flock of sheep, even as he lived for days at a time in the King’s palace. He was aware that one day, he would become the king. With how much can God trust us? Does even the smallest promotion “fly to our head”? God demands that we be faithful, loyal and connected to Him in “little”, as a condition for being saddled with greater responsibilities and privileges.
David’s encounter with Goliath was a direct result of his righteous indignation. He knew that God was with him. We are not told, but I suspect that it was after he was anointed that he killed the lion and the bear. His fortitude of character kept him level-headed, and prevented him from trying to usurp authority. He would later declare that he would never put forth his hand to harm the Lord’s anointed in reference to the rejected King Saul. But since no one including King Saul would defend the Name of God, David confidently and eagerly ran to Goliath in the Name of the Lord and miraculously killed the giant, just as he had miraculously killed the lion and the bear. God stands ready to partner with us in all our battles, but we have to fight. Each victory will help us some other to win. And even on the occasions when He tells us to stand still and watch Him work, we are to praise and worship Him while we “stand still” (2 Chronicles 20:17-22).
Remember to visit RBC’s Our Daily Bread Devotional today at www.ODB.org