His booming voice echoed across the valley. Their hearts leapt within them as they stood in rank, trembling with fear. How were they going to get out of this mess? Would it ever end? They were cornered and the Philistines could sense their despair. All the other battles they had fought and won no longer mattered. No one could face a giant the size of Goliath.
Choose one of your men, he taunted. “‘…Have him come down and face me. If he’s able to fight and kill me, we’ll become your slaves. But if I win and kill him, you will become our slaves and serve us.’ Goliath continued, ‘This very day I dare the soldiers of Israel to send a man down to fight against me’” (1 Samuel 17:8-9, NIrV).
It had been forty days. Forty impossibly long, incredibly harrowing days. Like an overtightened string on a violin, the Israelites felt the tension and the pressure mounting. The barbs and insults had worked their way into their weary souls. They were weak. Feeling like utter failures, their thoughts turned toward home. Their wives and children, their young men, their families, all destined to return to slavery. It was a strangely familiar story, one that generations before them had managed to escape. Was this their future now? What could they do?
In the midst of their worrying and pacing, a young boy slipped into their camp to deliver food to his older brothers before returning to the fields with the sheep. Someday, he thought, looking with pride at the camp in the distance. Someday I’ll be old enough to fight. He flexed his muscles and gritted his teeth. It was hard to be the younger brother, picking up the meaningless tasks while his older brothers did the ‘important’ work.
A voice ripped through his thoughts stopping him cold. He’d never heard taunting like this before. Curious, he entered into the chaos of the terrified Israelites, searching for his brothers.
As he overheard the conversations of frightened soldiers, a heaviness settled on David’s chest. Where had the men’s courage gone? Who was this enemy who had the audacity to bring shame upon his people? Suddenly he knew what he must do.
“I’ll fight the giant,” he stood and declared. He couldn’t let his people lose hope because of one Philistine, even if he was nine feet tall. His own words sounded strange like they were coming from someone else. But no, something deep within him knew this was what he must do.
“The Lord saved me from the paw of the lion. He saved me from the paw of the bear. And he’ll save me from the powerful hand of this Philistine too” (1 Samuel 17:37, NIrV).
He wasn’t sure where the words came from, only that he believed them.
His brothers burned with anger. They tried to talk him out of it; they tried to protect him, but he was not deterred. Alone, he went to face the giant.
His fingers rubbed the smooth stones as he looked into Goliath’s eyes. Something told him his words were just as important as his aim. He squinted, undaunted by the giant’s cutting smears. He squared his shoulders, raised his head and said evenly, “…You are coming to fight against me with a sword, a spear and a javelin. But I’m coming against you in the name of the Lord who rules over all. He is the God of the armies of Israel. He’s the one you have dared to fight against” (1 Samuel 17:45, NIrV).
As the rest of the Israelites held their breath, David carried the weight of the future of God’s people. He was one man confident in the power of God to conquer the enemy.
The stone released and flew through the air, sinking squarely into Goliath’s forehead. In the blink of an eye, the giant sunk to the ground with a massive thud. No one could believe what had just happened. After all those days of fear, it was suddenly all over. God’s people were victorious because of what He had done through David, through the courageous faith of one willing heart.
Twenty-eight generations later, there was another man who faced another battle, with the weight of the world in the balance. One who gave His life to conquer slavery of the soul—for you and for me. Jesus, alone on the cross, “…suffered the things we should have suffered. He took on himself the pain that should have been ours. But we thought God was punishing him. We thought God was wounding him and making him suffer. But the servant was pierced because we had sinned. He was crushed because we had done what was evil. He was punished to make us whole again. His wounds have healed us” (Isaiah 53:4-5, NIrV).
Just as the Israelites became victors through the triumph of David, we are also victorious through the triumph of Christ over death. Our Savior entered into the battle for us, allowing us access to the conquest. His humility means we, too, share in the victory.
You and I, we are just like those soldiers standing in rank, melting in fear of our enemy, terrified of what we lack. The weight of sin threatens to overwhelm us. We simply can’t win the battle for our soul in our own strength. We’ll never be good enough, smart enough, strong enough, brave enough.
Yet, just when we feel like we can’t possibly go one more step, He gathers us in His arms and whispers, You don’t have to carry this heavy load. Let me give you rest because I’ve come to give you life. Death or life—I won’t let either one separate us. Accept my grace, because my power is strongest in you when you feel the weakest (Matthew 11:28, John 10:10, Romans 8:38, 2 Corinthians 12:9).
May we reach out to the One who fights and wins the battle for us. May we pattern our days according to the humility Christ modeled for us. And may we claim freedom because Jesus conquered the enemy, inviting us to join Him in the dance of victory.
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