Taunts and #Trust

Taunts and #Trust

By Patricia Knight

When he visited his three oldest brothers at the military battle field, David didn’t anticipate he would gain insight into military tactics, become involved in the conflict, and earn status as a national hero.

Israel was at war with their perpetual enemy, the Philistines. The armies faced each other positioned in battle lines on separate hills between a valley. The Philistine army decided issues of war through one champion, thereby offering economy of warriors. One soldier from each camp typically met in combat in the valley between the opposing armies. Adopted from the ancient Greeks, the Philistine tactic struck rigid terror in the hearts of the Israeli troops. Unprepared, the Israelis were caught at a definite disadvantage; they had no physical giants in their fighting force and fewer men with a colossal amount of courage. Thus, a stand-off ensued.

Goliath, the Philistine giant, stood nine feet, nine inches tall. He was protected by layers of impenetrable iron armor everywhere but his face. David heard Goliath bleat his usual chants of defiance to Israel. Twice daily for forty days, Goliath delivered his challenging taunts: “‘Choose a man and have him come down to me. If he is able to fight and kill me, we will become your subjects; but if I overcome him and kill him, you become our subjects and serve us. This day I defy the ranks of Israel. Give me a man and let us fight each other’” (1 Samuel 17:8b-9).

Forty days is a long period to contemplate a formidable foe without taking action, plenty of time for the Israeli soldiers to acquire an overload of accumulated pessimism. The troops were demoralized and terrorized. Fear devastated their faith and their trust in God. Oddly, neither King Saul nor a priest reminded the men of God’s rich covenant promise. They were searching for security and relief from a human encounter. God’s important promise of sovereign support was scorned by the Israeli soldiers, who believed that Goliath, rather than their own God, was invincible.

Their paralyzing fear demonstrated that God’s people had lost all recall of the covenant promises God had made to destroy their enemies in the Promised Land. Victory was a conditional promise, contingent on the people trusting and obeying God. “‘When you go to war against your enemies and see horses and chariots and an army greater than yours, do not be afraid of them. Do not be fainthearted or afraid; do not be terrified or give way to panic before them. For the Lord your God is the one who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies to give you victory’” (Deuteronomy 20:1; 3b-4).

David, at age sixteen, had recently been anointed the next King of Israel, the shepherd of God’s people, and he was planning to defend the threatened and frightened flock. Although there were financial rewards and other perks for the victor who killed the Philistine giant, David was grieved that God’s honor had been violated by Goliath’s accusations. “‘The Lord who delivered me {David} from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine because he has defiled the armies of the living God’” (1 Samuel 17:36b-37).

When David heard Goliath’s threats, he volunteered to fight the giant. Immediately scoffers dismissed him. King Saul personally attempted to discourage David. “’You are only a boy and he {Goliath} has been a fighting man from his youth’” (1 Samuel 17:33). Goliath sneered in contempt and cursed David, calling him a dog.

David didn’t quickly fabricate courage at such a critical moment. He lived a life of constant obedience, depending on God’s provisions and faithfulness. When an emergency situation arose, David recognized his source of power, assured he could lean heavily on God. By slaying Goliath, David exhibited heroic faith, empowered exclusively by God’s sovereign strength and accuracy.

Courage is not the absence of fear, but the commitment to perform in the midst of fear.

Every day we are confronted with intimidating situations. Do we seek God’s guidance in prayer as our first response? His promises to us are just as valid as they were to the Israelite nation centuries ago: “‘Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord, your God, will be with you wherever you go’” (Joshua 1:9). God is bigger and more powerful than any of our foes, no matter how insurmountable they may appear.

Josh1-9--AMP

Like us, David wasn’t fearless. Fear is a normal human reaction to threats or danger. God desires to relieve us of the emotional stress created by the myriad fearful situations that occur daily: fear of criticism, panic of public speaking, dread of death; even our personal insecurities are masked fears. King David wrote, “Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burden” (Psalm 68:19).

Do our lives demonstrate a consistent faith that exhibits obedience and worship? Asking God to intervene is often a last resort. That need not be, according to the assurances in God’s Word. “‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.’  So I say with confidence, ‘the Lord is my helper. I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?’” (Hebrews 13:5-6).

The next time your heart begins to freeze with fear, whisper a quick prayer to Jesus. In a time-sensitive situation, simply cry out, “Help!” When we experience shock, words often elude us, but we are assured that God knows our predicament and He has made provisions for it. As believers, our spirit is joined with the Spirit of God. During those times when fear renders us spiritually mute, “the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words. And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will” (Romans 8:26b-27, NLT).

As Christians, we are permitted ready access to Almighty God. Let us not diminish the love and grace buttressing that gift. “‘I am the Lord, the God of all mankind. Is anything too hard for me?’” (Jeremiah 32:27). God is worthy of our obedience; He is always faithful, fulfilling every promise in exact detail. Jesus came to earth with the promise of peace as the Messiah. In His war against sin and injustice, Jesus is the ultimate victor (Colossians 1:20).

How many giants do we face who threaten to reduce us to a quivering mass of fear? God’s directions remain the same as centuries ago. “Do not be discouraged, for the battle is not yours, but God’s. Stand firm and see the deliverance the Lord will give” (2 Chronicles 20:15).

Our Lord will slay giants so enormous we cannot see beyond them,
for God is our ultimate source of confidence, power, and victory.

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