October 12 I Friday
“On hearing the Philistine’s words, Saul and all the Israelites were dismayed and terrified.” —1 Samuel 17:11
David and Goliath is one of the few Bible stories still widely known in secular society, though mainly as a fascinating underdog story. The Philistine champion Goliath issued a challenge for just one Israelite to fight him to the death, and in this way, decide victory for either the Philistines or the Israelites. No Israelite soldier, including King Saul, would accept his challenge, but then David, a young shepherd, arrived on the scene and defeated the giant with just a sling and a stone.
At this point in history, fighting between the Israelites and the Philistines had been commonplace for some time. They had become Israel’s prime enemy during the time of the Judges. The Philistines tried to take Canaan for themselves in the resulting instability after Israel conquered the land, which resulted in several centuries of war. God’s stated intent for Saul as Israel’s first king was that he would deliver Israel “from the hand of the Philistines”
(1 Samuel 9:16), but the Philistines remained a threat to Israel long after Saul’s reign ended. So what went wrong?
In Scripture’s record of three battles where Saul engaged the Philistines, he is characterized by fear. Fear is the emotion we experience when we are faced with something threatening that is bigger and more powerful than us or our resources. Goliath was a literal example of this. He was a giant of a man, perhaps as much as nine feet tall, and arrived on the battlefield each day in incredibly intimidating armour. As 1 Samuel 17:24 says, “Whenever the Israelites saw the man, they all fled from him in great fear.”
Saul was the obvious choice for Israel’s champion. He was not only “a head taller than anyone else” in Israel (1 Samuel 9:2), but he was God’s anointed king, armed with the promise that he would deliver Israel from the Philistines. Saul should have trusted God to do this saving work through him, but God’s promise was totally irrelevant to Saul’s thinking. Saul sent David off to battle with the words, “Go, and the LORD be with you” (1 Samuel 17:37), but had Saul truly believed this for himself, he would have gone himself!
It is easy to sing songs or know spiritual jargon about trusting in the Lord for victory, but what we truly believe is revealed as we face a crisis. Fear is a reality for us all, but as Christians, we are equipped with the greatest resource: not just God with us but God in us! He is bigger and more powerful than any “giants” or trials life may bring our way, so what have we to fear with Him on our side?
Prayer: Almighty God, fear can so easily overwhelm me, but thank You for being greater than any circumstances or struggles I may face. I trust You, Lord, knowing You are with me and in me.