Goliath!

Massive rhinoceros standing on grass


We are fearful. Our hearts are heavy. We face real issues. There are legitimate threats – perhaps monumental threats.

This is the current reality worldwide. The threat is pandemic. The fear is pandemic.

We tremble at the face of genuine risk.

How do we go on?


Goliath was an obviously formidable opponent. One look. One listen. That’s all it took to accept defeat. That’s how it was for Israel’s army because they couldn’t see past the giant to see their God (1 Samuel17:4-11).


We stand before Goliath


Do we shrink in defeat
        or do we rise with confidence in the LORD of hosts?


David called God the “LORD of hosts” (1 Samuel17:45). This is like calling Him the God of armies. Israel was often defeated and they were ready for a victory. They were held captive as slave laborers for over 400 years. They wandered their way to the promised land for 40 years – 40 years longer than it should’ve taken! They survived at least two multiple year famines, endured numerous battles, were overtaken by the Philistines who became their rival, and were led by misguided authority figures over and over again.

Yet David knew God could and would make His people victorious. He knew God is the God of armies who cannot be defeated. So, he stepped forward from among the line of fearful soldiers to accept the challenge of Goliath.

This is not to say the soldiers were cowards or irrational. Limb for limb, Goliath truly was unbeatable. He stood 9 feet 9 inches tall wearing a bronze coat of armor weighing 125 pounds. Bronze also shielded his legs and head and he touted an expertly crafted spear finished with a 15-pound iron point. He was also ready with a warrior’s javelin. An opponent’s first strike would probably be unproductive because most of his body was protected by his shield bearer. If Israel’s army wasn’t terrified enough, Goliath added the challenge of pinning the entire battle to a single one-on-one bout. One man against Goliath. 

Israel’s soldiers were probably strong and courageous in a typical battle, but they were not strong and courageous in their faith. And without faith, our fears are subject to the winds of circumstance. We who are God’s people do not need to be driven by fear because He saved us and He's with us.


But now, this is what the Lord says—
he who created you, Jacob, he who formed you, Israel:
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze.
For I am the
Lord your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior;

Isaiah 43:1-3a


Isaiah prophesied about rebuke but also promise, about woe but also victory, about judgment but also comfort. And he prophesied about everlasting deliverance for His people.

We read very real stories in the Bible. Stories about fear and courage. Here are four truths from four such stories. The first two help us care for ourselves when we face danger and difficulty.

God is powerful and in control

Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand (Isaiah 41:10).

In Numbers 12-13, we read that Moses sent twelve men, one from each tribe of Israel, to explore the land God promised to Israel. They were to confirm its abundant viability for living and assess the challenge they would face in taking possession of it from the inhabitants. We know the story. Joshua and Caleb were ready to take the land but the other ten men were already defeated. These were durable men. They survived a 40-day expedition to examine the land.

They must have debated their decisions during their journey back. We do that, don’t we? We consider the facts and we draw conclusions that affect the way we live. We sift through recommendations and erect our walls. In many situations, this is the right way to respond, and some of us really do need high walls. But when we make decisions, be sure to allow truth and hope to influence them, not fear.

Joshua and Caleb were scared just like the other ten men, but they didn’t let fear undermine their reliance on God’s promise. Here’s what Moses said to Joshua:

Be strong and courageous,
for you must go with this people into the land
that the
Lord swore to their ancestors to give them,
and you must divide it among them as their inheritance.

The
Lord himself goes before you and will be with you;
he will never leave you nor forsake you.
Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.

Deuteronomy 31:7-8


Moses said this for all Israel to hear because all Israel, including the ten explorers, needed to hear it. They needed to hear that their God is greater than any and all nations and that they could rely on Him to keep His promise. He is in control.


We need to discern the truth

If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. (James 1:5).

It seems that misinformation often accompanies difficulty and tragedy. In these situations, people naturally express themselves emotionally, yet sometimes under the pretense of truth and authority. Sometimes this alleged truth is not even founded. And we may unsuspectingly buy into faulty information. We may also dream up false truth of our own.

When God called Moses through a burning bush, Moses said he wasn’t good enough. He questioned his value – felt he was a nobody, that he had no credibility. He also doubted his ability to speak. But he learned some valuable lessons as he spoke with God and carried out His request.

Moses learned that God would always be with him and that he would be successful and victorious when he acknowledged that truth. He also learned that God works for us, even when we can’t. We don’t need to fear our next steps and we don’t need to be discouraged when things don’t go our way (which happened over and over for him in his interactions with Pharaoh). We can believe what God tells us in His Word because it is true, and it is even more relevant than what we see happening around us.

With these next two truths, we look beyond ourselves.

We can step into danger

Do not fear, for I am with you, do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand (Isaiah 41:10).

For the sake of ourselves and those around us, we must do more than duck and cover. People need us, especially in difficult times.

Over the years, I have recognized that some of the bravest people in this world are women, especially when a family member is in danger. There is a remarkable woman in Israel’s history named Esther – Queen Esther – who risked her life to save her people Israel. She approached the king without being summoned with two possible outcomes: 1) she would live and save her people, or 2) she would die and save no one. The latter was more likely, but if she didn’t try, every Jew in every province of the kingdom would be executed.

Esther didn’t shy away in fear. She stepped forward into danger. She got word to all the nearby Jews to fast and pray for three days while she and her servants did the same. During those three days, Esther was surely conflicted. She must have played the scene over and over again. How should she walk? What should she wear? Would she find the words? She had to win the king’s favor and she knew the fate of the former queen. But she also replayed the words of her Uncle Mordecai: Maybe she came to her “royal position for such a time as this” (Esther 4:14). So, Esther stepped into danger.

And a final truth, as hard as it may be…

We must remain steadfast as if the road will never end

Remember me when things go well for you, and please do me a favor. Mention me to Pharaoh, and get me out of this prison. I was kidnapped from the land of the Hebrews, and even here I’ve done nothing to deserve being put in this prison” (Genesis 40:14-15).

This is what Joseph said to the chief cupbearer when he knew the cupbearer would resume his position under the king. They were in prison together. Of course, Joseph was in prison wrongfully. But this was the story of his life. When his brothers sold him into slavery, he didn’t make a plea for freedom. He served his master well. When he was accused of attempted rape, he didn’t claim his innocence. He accepted his situation and served God and earned the respect of the prison guard. He remained in prison because the cupbearer didn’t remember him until much later, after which he was set free to serve the king. He earned the king’s respect so much that he eventually became Egypt’s second in command.

Joseph endured a long road. It was so long that his brothers didn't recognize him when they were finally reunited. He journeyed a road that seemed endless. But he never used that as an excuse to stop serving well, to stop respecting his colleagues and superiors, or to abandon the God-honoring values he learned in his youth and throughout his adult years as he grew spiritually. Like the Apostle Paul, he ran the race to win it (1 Corinthians 9:24-27, 2 Timothy 4:7-8).


What if Goliath never goes away? What if he never stops taunting? Will we shrivel in fear or will we step forward with courage? Will we let the circumstances change the way we respond to our God or will we continue to live according to the truths God confirms over and over again? Will we let fear influence our next steps or will we remain in prayer and let the peace of God that transcends all understanding guard our hearts and minds (Philippians 4:4-9)?

Jesus promised: Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid (John 14:27).



The LORD is my light and my salvation—
whom shall I fear?
The LORD is the stronghold of my life—
of whom shall I be afraid?

Psalm 27:1



  
Watch a short kids video version of this post on YouTube.


If you want to know more about how to have a relationship with the God of armies, please email me at authordlv@att.net. He wants to be with you in every difficulty and He wants to give you victory.

Read more blog posts here.

THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.


Comments

  1. I love this, my brother. Sometimes when we are afraid, it's so easy to rely on feelings, but that's when the truth of God's word can be such powerful armor.

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    1. Yes, Jessica. Truth is powerful. May our feelings be anchored in and a response to truth.

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    2. I feel in my spirit that this global crisis is opening the way for the anti-christ to make it to the world stage as he will offer himself as the "savior" of the world. Remember that according to scripture once he makes himself known to the world the rapture will happen. So pray and ask God to count you worthy to be raptured and not be left behind for the Great Tribulation. Take care of yourself.

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    3. Thank you for reading and commenting. Many things must happen before Jesus comes for us at the beginning of the Tribulation period: elevated deception, national and worldwide disputes and wars, famine, disease, and more. Jesus may come soon or maybe even after our lifetimes. But we can let faith and hope determine our steps and how we serve God, which should be our focus. We receive eternal life only through faith in the death of Jesus as payment for our sins and through acknowledgement of Him as Lord. This is a gift of God's grace. We are worthy only through the worthiness and blood of Jesus.

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  2. Such a critical message in these uncertain times! Joshua is one of those heroes we always see doing the right thing, from bringing back evidence of the splendors of the promised land to reminding the people to be strong and courageous.

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    1. Joshua didn't lose focus on God's promise, even after seeing the giants in the land. We can maintain hope and peace as we sort through the issues of our day. Thank you for your comment, Candice.

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  3. We may be facing Goliath's of various kinds. Yet we can be comforted in knowing God is with us and He will take us through the trials. Great message.

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    1. Thank you, Melissa. Yes, various Goliaths, and some of us may be facing multiple Goliaths! God promised He will never leave us and He will be our strength.

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  4. This reminds me of how God talks about the behemoth and the leviathan in the Book of Job. They are mighty beings that he has created. While he challenges Job about humankind cannot control them, God can. So with his help we can beat so many of the Goliaths we face. And when we can’t - God can and will! So we can draw comfort in knowing that God is mighty and in control. We can rest in his protection and provision. He will walk us through whatever we face.

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    1. This is so true, Anne. We can't beat the Goliaths we face. We need to let God deal with them as we trust and take comfort in Him. Our God is mightier than the behemoth and the leviathan, and even mightier than the enemies we cannot see, both physically and spiritually. God is with us.

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  5. This pandemic might be the biggest Goliath many of us may face. In the end, I think the world will be a very different place too. This situation will either strengthen faith or cause some to turn away. But, our God is bigger than any Goliath and I trust Him in the midst of this battle. Thanks Stephen for the inspiring post.

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    1. This is big, Yvonne. It's the biggest pandemic in certain ways of all my 26 years working for our local health department. Praise God that He is bigger than any Goliath and He is in control. May we trust Him increasingly through this and afterwards.

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  6. So helpful, Stephen. Our choices are always faith or fear. And though we may fear for a moment, our good God "arms us with strength and keeps our way secure." Psalm 18:32
    Thank you for this good word.

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    1. Thank you, Pam. We have the strength of the LORD of Hosts, the God of Armies, so we are secure and we have hope.

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  7. Thank you for bringing together so many promises and heroes of the faith, Stephen. The God of armies is OUR God. As surely as he was with Esther, David, and Moses, he is with us. Like them we must watch out for information spread by well-intentioned but emotional people. We must hold fast to the God of armies and his promises to protect us, to go before us, and even to usher us safely into his arms. Thank you for this!

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    1. Yes, the God of armies has promised us our eternal security and to fight our battles here on earth. We can rely on the truth of His Word because He is sovereign, able, true, and trustworthy. Praise God for His protection and deliverance.

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  8. I loved this, Stephen! How we need both God's Word and bringing back to remembrance all that God has done! He is able! He is the LORD of hosts! You walked us through this step by step. Thank you for this powerful and inspiring message. Just what I needed today.

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    1. I'm glad you were encouraged and inspired. There are so many stories of what God has done for His people. We follow a powerful and present God.

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  9. Powerful message, Stephen. This is a powerful reflection for us all, "because they couldn’t see past the giant to see their God." I always want to recognize the Lord of hosts and the God of armies and to really see my God in the face of any fear, pandemic...whatever the giant is at the time. Thank you!

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    1. We see giants throughout our lifetimes, don't we. And, just like it is in the stories we read in His Word, He stands with us and He is real and mighty. And He loves us. We don't need to fear the giant.

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