“The LORD who delivered me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.” Saul said to David, “Go, and the LORD be with you.”
1 Samuel 17:37 | NIV | Other Versions | Context
If we talk about the giants in the Bible, it’s easy to refer to Goliath the Philistine in one of the more famous stories in the Bible. Indeed, the Philistines had oftenbeen referred to as physically imposing and impressive, and throughout the history of many patriarchs of Israel, such as Abraham, Isaac, Samson, Samuel and Saul, the Philistines were often regarded as archenemies of the Israelites and there were numerous conflicts and skirmishes between the two peoples. Goliath was perhaps one of the most famous giants in the Bible. Well, he certainly wasn’t as tall as a skyscrapper, but he was taller and bigger than normal – His height was six cubits and a span [1 Samuel 17:4]. In the Bible, there are many more instances of ‘giants’ – tall and big people. Some of them were Philistines [2 Sam 21:15–22, 1 Chron 20:4–8], and there were the Amorites, whom Amos described whose height was like the height of the cedars, and he was as strong as the oaks [Amos 2:9]. The Amorites were also one of the people groups that were spied on when Moses sent 12 spies to Canaan [Num 13:29], and they reported that all the people whom we saw in it are men of great stature [Num 13:32]. In general, giants cause fear. Of course, it is frightening to see an antagonistic person who’s twice your height and four times broader. You know for a fact that he is strong and powerful. In this study, however, we will compare the Spiritual Giants to the Physical Giants using the case study of small and young David defeating the giant Goliath so easily.
Analysis: The faith of David
The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear – David was a young shepherd – we know that’s basically what he does; protect his sheep from the ravenous predators like bears and lions. He was a young lad, probably slight in size when compared to his elder brothers, not lest to compare him with the likes of the Philistines. I cannot pretend to understand how difficult it is to kill bears and lions; but surely killing a far bigger and stronger man would be a different case altogether. The entire process of David killing Goliath was nothing short of amazing. A single shot and that was all it took. Was it possible? Yes, certainly, but if you do the physics, the amount of force required for such a shot to be fatal would be amazing. The interference of a supernatural power cannot be ignored. David may be small, much smaller than Goliath physically. Goliath may seem like a mountain. But David’s faith was insurmountable. David was a spiritual giant, and that’s the only kind of giant that matters in the kingdom of God.
David was a shepherd, a young lad, and he wasn’t even supposed to be at the battlefield. Yet before he stepped into the battlefield, when he was still guarding his flocks, before Samuel had anointed him, he was certainly already a spiritual giant. You don’t have to be up there in society to be a spiritual giant. You don’t have to be a church leader or spiritual leader to become a spiritual giant. You don’t have to be in church or to be amongst Christians to be a spiritual giant. As long as you have faith in God, and you act in accordance to the word of God as led by your faith in him, then even if you’re in jail, even if you are among people who mock you and persecute you, you will be a spiritual giant.
Analysis: The (lack of) faith of Saul
Saul said to David, “Go, and the LORD be with you.” – there was nothing to lose for Saul. At that moment, Goliath was terrifying his people, and formed a great threat. Saul had advised David not to go, [1 Sam 17:33], for he is still a boy – and whether you are talking in terms of warfare, or morality, or simply common sense, Saul was duty-bound to stop David from going. He had tried once, and since David was insistent on going, Saul had allowed him to go. I very much doubt that Saul had really believed that David would be capable of defeating Goliath. I think it was a move of desperation by Saul – he was so afraid, and he had nothing to lose by sending David, and since the boy wanted to die, he can go ahead and try. At this point, Saul had already turned away from God – “I will not go back with you. You have rejected the word of the Lord, and the Lord has rejected you as king over Israel!” [1 Sam 15:26] – and even as he told David, the Lord be with you, he probably didn’t mean for David to be victorious.
As much as David’s faith in God was extraordinary – indeed, it must have seemed foolish to everyone around him that he was so confident of defeating the Philistine; Saul’s faith was ordinary. In other words, his faith was lacking, his faith had failed him, and he was so overwhelmed in fear that he could not believe. David, despite being a no-name shepherd and a youth, looked down upon by all his brothers and not regarded by Saul, had faith, and was a spiritual giant among people with huge physicality and personalities. And Saul, as much as he wielded worldly authority as King, as much as he was a giant in terms of status and fame, he was merely a dying sprout in terms of his faith. And Goliath, as much as he was big – 9 feet tall! (depending on your version and translation) – I am not even 5 feet tall, yes, very short I know, and hence somebody 9 feet tall is most certainly a giant to me. But as much as he was big and physically imposing, that was all he was – a physical giant. Spiritually, he was nothing.
And when it boils down to it, Spiritual Giants > Physical Giants. David defeating Goliath was a big proof of it. Spiritual Giants will often be regarded as foolish to the people around them. For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing [1 Cor 1:18]. Let us learn from David, let us hold on to our faith wherever we go, and fear of nothing when we meet with physical giants, because the God that is with us is certainly far bigger than the threat before us.