As Christians, we have been thrown into the middle of a war. Each day, we are surrounded by battles, many of which go unseen by others. We have been called to be light to the darkness, to set the captives free. Spiritual warfare happens all around us, its time we take part.
We all face our demons. Our inner thoughts that we keep concealed from the rest of the world. The struggles that we face on a daily basis. The mountains in our path, our giants, our Goliaths.
Throughout the old testament, we find that people face extraordinary challenges and have great successes and great failures. The most well known of these characters is David, a young shepherd boy who triumphs over the foes of Israel and becomes king.
Take a look at 1 Samuel 17, the story of David and Goliath. To put the story in perspective, lets look at some details.
The armies of Israel and Philistines are preparing for battle. They each set up camp on opposing sides of a valley (vs. 3). With a little bit of geography, one can usually guess that in the center of the valley was a brook or creek that separated the two armies.
With a little military knowledge, we can tell that the armies were camped a fair distance apart, up on the sides of the hill. When an army set up camp, it took the high ground, so that, if attacked, they could see the opposing forces coming and that the slope would be another obstacle for the enemy to face before reaching them. How far apart were the armies? Not sure, but if i were to guess, i’d say at liest a mile, if not more.
Now, the Philistines had a champion, Goliath of Gath (vs. 4-7). Basically, a nine and a half foot giant that carried a set of armor that weighed about the same as your average man (somewhere between 125 and 200 pounds). His spear head (not the whole spear) weighed between 15-25 pounds alone, and was traditionally wielded in one hand. He was born and raised a fighter. His sole mission in life was to kill, and he was very good at it.
Each day, for forty days, Goliath would come out and taunt the Israel army, every morning and evening (vs. 16). No man had the courage or strength to stand up to him.
For Goliath to reach shouting distance from the camp, he would have had to start going across the valley, step across the middle and start up the other side. How close if shouting distance? Probably extremely close. To close for personal comfort.
Every day went something like this, the armies of Israel got up, put on their war gear, all their armor, gathered their weapons and headed out of camp to the battle lines. They shouted their war cries (probably a slogan or just shouting at the tops of their lungs), then Goliath would step out from the other side and shout at the armies of Israel, and they would go home fleeing and afraid (vs 21-24).
How often do our lives look like this? Each Sunday morning, we get up and go to church to shout our battle cries, sing our songs of how great God is, then we leave and never actually engage in any type of battles. We dont face our demons, hoping that with a miracle in the next morning that they somehow disappear. How often do we avoid our troubles because we dont want to face them?
This is exactly the same as the Israel forces. They somehow believed that if they went away and slept the night and returned the next morning, that Goliath would somehow disappear. They didnt want to face him, so they ignored him.
We cannot ignore our mountains or our giants. The only way we can get them to go away is to face them head on. To go to battle with them.
So, this scrawny little shepherd kid, David, speaks up and tells the armies of Israel that he will face Goliath in one-to-one combat. What does every one do, laugh at him. His older brother scolds him for being there (vs. 28).
Eventually the Israel King, Saul, hears of this and sends for David. He is probably expecting a great warrior to walk though the tent flap, but when this small shepherd boy walks in, even he tells David to give up (vs. 33).
David recounts the struggles of the past, the lion and bear that were killed to protect his fathers sheep, and tells Saul that God helped him before, God will help him now (vs. 34-37).
To David, Goliath isnt a big deal. He has killed a lion and a bear. Probably before that, a wolf, a coyote, a snake, a spider. Before that, God probably helped him conquer his fear of the dark. Goliath isnt a big obstacle to David, just another stepping stone in life. Another every day struggle.
If we truly trust God, nothing will be that big, because he will give us strength to over come the small obstacles in life first, then continue on to the others.
From a distance, a mountain is a formidable obstacle in life, bus as we continue to approach, we come across sloping hills, when we reach the top, we see that the mountain is that much smaller, so we go to the next. And each step towards the mountain, it gets smaller and smaller because the little victories in life.
This is the same with every struggle in life.
David gained a huge victory for Israel because he didnt allow people to hold him back. He crosses over the stream and approaches the Philistine camp, calling out Goliath. He doesnt rely on his own strength, but on God to help him to victory (vs. 45-47).
We know the rest of the story. He slays Goliath with a sling stone (vs. 50) and then severs the giant head with Goliaths own sword (vs. 51).
I share this because it is a great example of how we should live in life. I challenge each and every one of you to stop hiding behind the doors of a church and confront the darkness in the world. Start by stepping over the threshold.
The church is not the battlefield, it is the camp. There are plenty of images for the church, a hospital, a regrouping site, a command tent. Stop shouting war cries and confront your stuggles with your actions.
God Bless and PEACE