There was a man from Gath, a trained warrior and a huge giant – Goliath by name, from the ranks of the Philistines when they were gathered together to fight Israel and Saul’s army. Between them was the valley-of-Elah (valley of Oak /Terebinth trees). And there was a shepherd boy – David, who withstood this giant and killed him. The place of battle was Ephes-Dammim, literally the “border of blood-shed”. We read about this in 1 Sam. 17: 1-58.
Oh, how we love this “story” right from our Sunday-school days! But, actually it’s a real-life event in the history of Israel.
Here is David, sent by his father Jesse, to inquire about the welfare of his brothers; there were three sons of Jesse – Eliab, Abinadab and Shammah . And David was the youngest of eight brothers, a ruddy, good-looking boy (1 Sam. 17:13, 14). His father had given him ten loaves of bread, and some measure (about 16 kg) of roasted grain, and ten cheeses. But when he came to the battle field, his brothers ridiculed him; calling him proud and arrogant. Isn’t that strange! This is the David of whom God testifies that he is a man after God’s own heart. And his name means “Beloved”.
I have come to know that there is more to this battle-event, than meets the eye.
It is Jesus who is revealed throughout! “This is My Beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased” is the witness of God from heaven. Jesus is the bread of life, come down from heaven, sent by the Father. He came to His own brethren – the Jews, but they rejected Him (John 1:11). (except for a remnant of Jews who believed and received Him).
For forty days, the Philistine giant defied the armies of Israel, so much so that the people ran away from him, and were terribly afraid. It signifies the forty days of lent season, before the glorious Resurrection Sunday (Easter).
And the Philistine said, “I defy the armies of Israel this day; give me a man, that we may fight together.” (1 Sam. 17:10). Just one man! That’s what he asked for. Just One Man – that’s what he got. For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man’s (Jesus’) obedience many will be made righteous. (Rom. 5:19)
Then David said to the Philistine “You come to me with a sword, with a spear, and with a javelin. But I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts…Then all this assembly shall know that the Lord does NOT save with sword and spear; for the battle is the Lord’s…” (1 Sam. 17: 46, 47). The whole of Israel was terrified saying “Who will save us?” and here was David calmly taking his position. Jesus entered Jerusalem a few days before Passover, on a lowly donkey, and to shouts of “Hosanna, Hosanna” meaning “Save us, save us” and “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord”. Just like David, Jesus came in the name of the Lord. And in the garden of Gethsemane, Jesus calmly posed a very similar question: “Why do you come against me with sword and clubs? (Luke 22:52)
David took 5 smooth stones; Jesus took 5 deep wounds. Just one stone, was enough to fell the giant. Just one word on the cross – “Finished” and the giant devil with the “power of death” fell. Suddenly the devil lost his powers, even as Jesus in flesh and blood died.
David did not have a weapon to slay the giant; he ran over and took the sword of Goliath, out of its sheath and cut-off the giant’s head (1 Sam. 17:51). And the same is written about Jesus. “Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He (Jesus) Himself shared in the same (that is, as a Man) that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and release (free) those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.” (Heb. 2:14-15).
And on the third day, Jesus rose again from the dead. Freedom from fear of death – because sin is taken away, the written laws have been fulfilled and has come to an end. That is why there is NOW no fear of death, for those who believe Jesus. Both the sting and the strength that brings death is gone, because Jesus died. The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. That is why we who believe in Jesus can boldly say, “O death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory? (1 Cor. 15: 55-56).
Because we behold Him – Jesus, who gloriously announce “Do not be afraid; I am the First and the Last. I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I (Jesus) have the keys of Hades and of Death.” (Rev. 1: 18)
So David prevailed over the Philistine with a sling and a stone, and struck the Philistine and killed him. (1 Sam. 17: 50). The sling symbolises the blood of the Lamb, and the stone-the word of our Testimony. Remember this verse? “And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony… (Rev. 12:11). This is the heritage of believers in Jesus. We overcome the “giant” by the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony.
Another thing that struck me in this entire passage in 1 Sam. 17 was that the giant was decked in BRONZE – from head to toe, even his shield and spear. Now bronze symbolises self-righteousness, and the keeping of the law. Even this giant must be slayed. But that is for another blog-post. Cheers!
Be blessed in Jesus. Amen.