Friday, June 27, 2008

David and Goliath

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An Israelite father sent his young son David to a battlefield to check on his brothers who served there. As he arrived, home team soldiers formed ranks against the enemy.

A very rag-tag army, with only two swords, readied to fight oppressive Philistines. King Saul and his son alone had weapons because the oppressive Philistines didn’t allow blacksmith shops in Israel. Would I even crawl out of my tent to face an enemy if I only had a garden tool to defend country and self?

Despite Israel’s poor armory, soldiers left camp “shouting the war cry” (1 Samuel 17:20). David heard the rallying call and listened to stories about a defiant, tree-trunk giant, a champion Philistine who maligned God every day. Over nine feet tall, he’d bullied for 40 days, morning and evening.

David expected retaliation from his fellow Israelites, those brave soldiers he looked up to, but on that dewy morning, giant Goliath again bellowed threats and the entire army “ran from him in great fear” (1 Samuel 17:24).

Every day the same scene repeated itself. Israel’s soldiers gave battle whoops, thunderstorms making idle threats, but the army barometer read “low morale.” Who would rescue Israel?

That’s when Victory-Maker-God called a sturdy shepherd boy to carry out his purpose. David enlisted, and his bravery directed the soldiers back to their real champion against evil — God.

Although handy with a slingshot, the homemade tool and the shepherd boy’s skill were only a small part of the later success of routing enemies. David made a speech to Goliath that revealed his heart-set. He said, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty . . . whom you have defied.”

Goliath never ever taunted Israel again. His bravado fell with a thud, and God required Goliath to pay the wages for his sins. His enemy cohorts fled, too. On previous mornings, despite King Saul and all the Israelites being “dismayed and terrified” (17:11), the soldiers lined up and faced their enemies with homemade weapons and a battle cry.

Granted, not much changed, but they did show up each day. I think of the many people who get up each morning in poverty, sickness, or worse, and nothing ever seems to change. For those, remember that God sent a boy and a slingshot to shore up Israel’s faith in God. A seemingly small rescuer is often God’s way of helping out.

God is a courage grower. Whenever we face difficulties, he can change fear to faith and lift hope as a battlefield banner. God, of massive proportions, can rout doubt and our daily giants.

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