It’s as if it was written specifically about me. When Paul wrote in Romans 7:15 “I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate.” There is a war, and a battle within our hearts. With anger and forgiveness, pride and compassion, with lust and love. My own inabilities have only showed me how much more I need a savior. I need redeeming. The Bible says that “All have fallen short of the glory of God.”
I’ve battled for a long time with my heart. There is a desire to look at women. Whether as I pass by a Victoria Secret window at the mall, or on my computer at home. It’s something I’ve struggled with for most of my life. I always heard of people receiving Jesus and quitting smoking that very day. Someones whole mindset and desires changing the instant they made the choice to follow God, but I’ve never felt that. For me there is a constant war between right and wrong. An everyday battle consisting of choices and actions. Times where doing what is right comes easy, and times where I go to war. My heart is feeble and prone to wander. Though I want to do what’s right, I often find myself full of regret. How can a heart so weak find success in the battles ahead?
Sun Tzu the famed writer and Military General wrote, “Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win.” Preparation wins battles & planning wins wars. If you have found yourself in the midst of a battle, like myself, then this series is for you. By taking a look at one of the greatest, most short lived, and most successful battles in history we can better understand how to win the war that rages inside of all of us. It’s the classic story of David and Goliath.
This is part 1 of 3 in “The Art Of War.”
First we see a clear depiction of the battle scene…
“Now the Philistines gathered their armies together to battle, and were gathered together at Sochoh, which belongs to Judah; they encamped between Sochoh and Azekah, in Ephes Dammim. And Saul and the men of Israel were gathered together, and they encamped in the Valley of Elah, and drew up in battle array against the Philistines. The Philistines stood on a mountain on one side, and Israel stood on a mountain on the other side, with a valley between them.”
Imagine a large-scale, Lord of the Rings style, massive battle about to take place. The Philistines have invaded the land promised to Israel by God. Both armies standing mountain to mountain and a valley between them. Israel is strong and ready to defend the land God has blessed them with. But… Then Goliath steps out form the midst of the Philistine soldiers.
“And a champion went out from the camp of the Philistines, named Goliath, from Gath, whose height was six cubits and a span. He had a bronze helmet on his head, and he was armed with a coat of mail, and the weight of the coat was five thousand shekels of bronze. And he had bronze armor on his legs and a bronze javelin between his shoulders. Now the staff of his spear was like a weaver’s beam, and his iron spearhead weighed six hundred shekels; and a shield-bearer went before him.”
Here the Hebrew word for “champion” means a middle man. Someone who stood between two armies and fought as a representative of their army. Goliath as the Philistine representative was one big braddah. At least eight feet tall, armor that weighed somewhere near 150 pounds, and giant muscles able to carry the weight. The manliest man that ever did man. He then spoke out across the valley…
“Then he stood and cried out to the armies of Israel, and said to them, “Why have you come out to line up for battle? Am I not a Philistine, and you the servants of Saul? Choose a man for yourselves, and let him come down to me. If he is able to fight with me and kill me, then we will be your servants. But if I prevail against him and kill him, then you shall be our servants and serve us.” And the Philistine said, “I defy the armies of Israel this day; give me a man, that we may fight together.”
“Then he stood.” Not simply to speak, but as an act of defiance. If to kneel is to give respect, then here standing was to proclaim authority. Then Goliath speaks. He tells the army of Israel to send one soldier over to battle him and whoever wins claims victory for their army. But he doesn’t just stop there, he says, “I defy the armies of Israel.” He spits on their military power, and the one true God who has brought them countless victories in the past. “Cheeeehuuuu it’s about to go down! UFC 001. Let’s go!” But wait… Check out the response from the great army of Israel.
“When Saul and all Israel heard these words of the Philistine, they were dismayed and greatly afraid… And the Philistine drew near and presented himself forty days morning and evening.”
Goliath performed a powerful Haka. Strutted his ripped body and sounded his war cry across the valley successfully evoking fear into the hearts of Israel. Not just the into the soldiers, but even in the King of Israel. Saul was chosen to be king because He looked like a king. He stood a foot taller than any other man in Israel. Saul would be the logical choice to send into battle, but even he was struck with fear. Day after day Goliath taunted and mocked the Israelite army. It must have been a disheartening scene. An army full of battle tested soldiers, but not one would stand up and fight. So we see the situation at hand as our hero joins in.
“Now David was the son of that Ephrathite of Bethlehem Judah, whose name was Jesse, and who had eight sons. And the man was old, advanced in years, in the days of Saul. The three oldest sons of Jesse had gone to follow Saul to the battle. The names of his three sons who went to the battle were Eliab the firstborn, next to him Abinadab, and the third Shammah. David was the youngest. And the three oldest followed Saul. But David occasionally went and returned from Saul to feed his father’s sheep at Bethlehem.”
David our protagonist for this series, steps onto the scene. The youngest of eight, with the three oldest brothers in the army. David was familiar with Saul as he would play music to help ease Saul’s anger from time to time. He was a beast at da ukulele! If only… David played the harp and very well. So David the shepherd, is sent on a mission by his father Jesse.
“Then Jesse said to his son David, “Take now for your brothers an ephah of this dried grain and these ten loaves, and run to your brothers at the camp. And carry these ten cheeses to the captain of their thousand, and see how your brothers fare, and bring back news of them.” Now Saul and they and all the men of Israel were in the Valley of Elah, fighting with the Philistines. o David rose early in the morning, left the sheep with a keeper, and took the things and went as Jesse had commanded him. And he came to the camp as the army was going out to the fight and shouting for the battle. For Israel and the Philistines had drawn up in battle array, army against army. And David left his supplies in the hand of the supply keeper, ran to the army, and came and greeted his brothers. Then as he talked with them, there was the champion, the Philistine of Gath, Goliath by name, coming up from the armies of the Philistines; and he spoke according to the same words. So David heard them. And all the men of Israel, when they saw the man, fled from him and were dreadfully afraid.”
Unlike modern armies, soldiers in ancient armies had to provide their own rations and were expected to help provide for others. Jesse caring for his sons, sends food and seeks good news. David makes sure his sheep are well taken care of, and sets off to bring supply to his family at war. When he arrived, David left his supplies in the proper place, then ran off to see the great army of Israel in battle. But to his dismay this was not the scene he had envisioned. He sees and hears Goliath trash talking Israel, and finds that not one man was willing to take on the Philistine soldier.
“So the men of Israel said, “Have you seen this man who has come up? Surely he has come up to defy Israel; and it shall be that the man who kills him the king will enrich with great riches, will give him his daughter, and give his father’s house exemption from taxes in Israel.”
King Saul was so desperate to get through this situation, was willing to give out a cash prize, his own daughter in marriage, and exemption from taxes! (Tax season is near… wouldn’t this be nice…) After hearing of this mediocre tactic by Saul, David speaks up.
“Then David spoke to the men who stood by him, saying, “What shall be done for the man who kills this Philistine and takes away the reproach from Israel? For who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?” And the people answered him in this manner, saying, “So shall it be done for the man who kills him.”
While the soldiers focused on the danger, death, or material prizes. David focused on the reputation of Israel as a nation and the honor of the living God. He saw the problem in spiritual terms not in material terms.
When the men of Israel said, “This man,” David said, “This uncircumcised Philistine.” When the men of Israel said, “Surely he has come up to defy Israel,” David said, “That he should defy the armies of the living God.” When the men of Israel said, “The man who kills him,” David said, “The man who kills this Philistine and takes away the reproach from Israel.” David saw things from the Lord’s perspective, but the men of Israel saw things only from man’s perspective.
While all of Israel cowered in fear David was close to his God, and was spiritually ready. He was already thinking differently than the rest of Israel. The whole Israelite army is cowering in fear of Goliath, and they forget God’s promise that “This will be your land for you and your descendants.” They forget the red sea that destroyed the Egyptian army, the walls of Jericho, and their all powerful God who chose them as a nation. Don’t forget all the great things God has done in you. Hold onto those special moments.
I hold onto one night driving home from a Wednesday night service. It was a long time ago when we lived in Pāʻia. I was riding in the back of a truck coming down Baldwin avenue at night. I could see all of the stars. I could feel the cold air with each deep breath, and the wind rushing by my face. I remember being amazed of all that God had created. He was reminding me that each breathe was special, and that he had filled my lungs with life. I felt so much joy that I was smiling ear to ear for no apparent reason at all.
Is your heart ready for Battle? Are you getting into the word? Are you praying to God, or has the devil blocked your heart from remembering all that God has done for you? Have you forgotten the God that has loved you since before you were born? He want's the best for you, and is there beside you.
David understood his Father in heaven. Enough so that any fear of Goliath would be unfounded. Don’t go into battle unprepared. Be ready. Take that Bible out and read it! Get on your knees and pule. Seek God, get to know him, and understand that he can conquer any giant that attempts to defy you!
This is part 1 of 3 in a series through 1 Samuel 17 titled “The Art Of War”.
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