Weekly Devotionals by Pastor Steve Rowitt, Th.M., Ph.D.
November 4, 2012 – Facing our Goliaths
The story of David and Goliath is set against a background of war between the Israelites and their long-time enemies, the Philistines, Gen. 21:32, dating back to the days of Abraham, Isaac, Gen. 26:18. This animosity continued as the Lord gave instructions to Joshua to continue to take control of the land promised to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the Palestinian Covenant, Gen. 15:18-21, 17:6-8; Num. 34:1-12; Josh. 13:2. This on-going battle was the source of the conflict that King Saul found himself in when the Philistine champion, Goliath, set himself against the children of Israel and their God, Jehovah (Yahweh).
David had already been anointed as King Saul’s replacement even though he was still very young and still shepherding the flocks of his father, Jesse, I Sam. 16:10-13. It was during the time that David was employed by King Saul by occasionally playing music and singing for the King, I Sam. 16:14-22, that the story of David and Goliath takes place.
The following passage sets the stage for an epic battle of good versus evil, of righteousness triumphing over unrighteousness.
Now the Philistines gathered their armies for battle; and they were gathered at Socoh which belongs to Judah, and they camped between Socoh and Azekah, in Ephes-dammim. Saul and the men of Israel were gathered and camped in the valley of Elah, and drew up in battle array to encounter the Philistines. The Philistines stood on the mountain on one side while Israel stood on the mountain on the other side, with the valley between them. Then a champion came out from the armies 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 clothed with scale-armor that weighed five thousand shekels of bronze. He also had bronze greaves on his legs and a bronze javelin slung between his shoulders. The shaft of his spear was like a weaver's beam, and the head of his spear weighed six hundred shekels of iron; his shield-carrier also walked before him. I Sam. 17:1-7
The description of Goliath is formidable. There is reason that the Philistines had made him their champion. We can learn from David’s experience that the enemies of God will always use fear to intimidate God’s people. This is especially true of the enemy of our souls, Satan, who Peter describes like this:
Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.9 Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world, I Peter 5:8-9.
The really good news is that Satan is really a toothless lion. He can only use fear-based lies against us. He is a defeated foe, but because he is also reprobate, he cannot believe what is written in God’s Word concerning him. We have everything we need to defeat him every time, Eph. 6:11-19.
… above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one, Eph. 6: 15.
November 11, 2012 – Goliath was a Very Scary Adversary
The description of Goliath is meant to give us a true picture of what the armies of Israel were facing. Remember, this is a time of ancient combat. Even though there were primitive forms of weaponry and armor, most battles were fought in close quarters, in face-to-face and hand-to-hand mortal combat. Let’s review the characteristics of this unusual soldier.
• Goliath was over nine feet tall, I Sam. 17:4. There is a genetic birth defect caused by the overproduction of growth hormone that causes excessive growth. In children, the condition is called gigantism. In adults, it is called acromegaly. If you remember the wrestler turned actor, Andre the Giant, you will understand the outcome of this condition. While it is possible that Goliath suffered from this condition (we are told that he had a brother who was also a giant, II Sam. 21:21 and there is a reference to another genetic birth defect with yet another giant in the same passage, II Sam. 21:20). Even with these clues, we should remember that one look at some of the players in the National Basketball league should remind us that there can be very large men without the influence of birth defects such as acromegaly.
• We are told that the armor Goliath wore weighed 208 pounds. Just the tip of his spear weighed 25 pounds and the shaft of his spear was the size of a weaver’s beam, I Sam. 17: 5-7. It is on the field of battle that these two armies are now poised to fight when the Philistines offer to settle this war with a one-on-one fight between their champion, Goliath, who is mocking the children of Israel and their God, is an example of all the fear-based lies that beset the children of God. He stands in opposition to the promises of God to His children of victory in Yeshua, no matter what the circumstances might be, Rom. 8:28.
He stood and shouted to the ranks of Israel and said to them, "Why do you come out to draw up in battle array? Am I not the Philistine and you 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 become your servants; but if I prevail against him and kill him, then you shall become our servants and serve us." Again the Philistine said, "I defy the ranks of Israel this day; give me a man that we may fight together." When Saul and all Israel heard these words of the Philistine, they were dismayed and greatly afraid. I Sam. 17:8-11
We cannot allow ourselves to be intimidated by Satan, no matter what Satan may use against us. We need to stand firm in the full amour of God and trust in Messiah, the living Word of God, for the victory promised to us in the written Word of God.
Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you, James 4:7.
November 18, 2012 – Trust God…No Matter What!
Goliath stood against the children of Israel and the taunting continued for 40 days. The longer we listen to the lies of the enemy, the weaker we become and more likely to succumb to fear-based behaviors. The children of Israel had been out there for so long that their families had to send supplies to the front lines. That is why David is chosen to bring food to his three oldest brothers who are in the army of Israel, I Sam. 17:12-22. As David was speaking with the supply officer, he heard Goliath once again taunting the children of Israel, who were fleeing from Goliath in great fear.
The fight or flight response is a normal reaction of a human being to a situation that is dangerous and threatening. Fear of this sort will either paralyze you or cause you to run and hide. Both of these responses are rooted in our carnal thinking. They are not the response of the inner man, the born-again person who has the mind of Christ, I Cor. 2:16b, and the faith, hope and love of Christ in them, I Cor. 3:12-16; II Tim. 1:7. We should always remember that God’s perfect love removes this form of unhealthy toxic emotional fear (fear of failure, rejection, blame and shame) from our lives, I John 4:18.
The interaction between David and his brothers shows us the contrast between walking in faith and living in fear. David sees the entire matter through the eyes of faith.
Then David spoke to the men who were standing by him, saying, "What will 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 taunt the armies of the living God?" I Sam. 17:26
Here is the contrast once again between the carnal minded response and the faith-based response. David is seeing this as an opportunity to glorify the Lord in the midst of this fear-based attack. Remember that David had experienced the filling of the Holy Spirit on several occasions, prior to this event, e.g. killing both a lion and a bear in defense of the sheep he was shepherding and he had experienced God’s empowerment and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit previously, I Sam. 16:13.
We too should remember the numerous times God gave us the victory in Jesus. If nothing else, remember the day of your salvation. Remember how the Lord of glory, Ps. 24, pierced through the darkness that surrounded us and rescued us from the chokehold the enemy of our souls had on our lives.
…giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light. He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, Col. 1:12-14.
November 25, 2012 –We are Victorious When Standing in Faith
People, who are fear-based and therefore carnally minded, always respond to others who are not buying into the lie(s) with the blame game, e.g. those who fail are unworthy of love and deserve to be punished. That was the response of David’s brother to David’s stand of faith. Eliab is no exception to this rule, once fear takes over, we cannot take responsibility for our own actions and we will automatically criticize those who do.
This is why ‘projection’ is a universal character defense mechanism that can easily become a character defect when we fail to allow the Holy Spirit to turn that tendency to fruit inspect on ourselves, Matt. 7:1-5. Many so-called defense mechanisms are in place because we do live in a fallen world and are often victimized by others. When we find ourselves safely rooted in God’s love and acceptance, we can then allow the Lord to dismantle these barriers that once protected us but are now preventing God’s love from flowing into us and through us to others.
Now Eliab his oldest brother heard when he spoke to the men; and Eliab's anger burned against David and he said, "Why have you come down? And with whom have you left those few sheep in the wilderness? I know your insolence and the wickedness of your heart; for you have come down in order to see the battle." I Sam. 17:28
David simply reproves his brother and continues to ask others why no one has come forth to challenge Goliath on behalf of the God of Israel. But David said, "What have I done now? Was it not just a question?" Then he turned away from him to another and said the same thing; and the people answered the same thing as before, I Sam. 17:29.
Now, King Saul hears what David is saying and summons David, and David again volunteers to fight Goliath. Saul also looks at David with carnal eyes and tries to discourage him from his plan, I Sam. 17:33, but David is steadfast in his faith, I Sam. 17:34, that God’s Holy Spirit will empower him to be victorious, Zech. 4:6
The instruction of God’s Word is the same for us as it was for David or any of the men or women of faith.
Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand, Eph. 6:10-13.
As always, our true victory lies in Messiah Jesus. We are more than conquerors because of Him, Rom. 8:37.