I am convinced that Jesus was a pacifist, the Prince of Peace, but that also that the Bible tells the story of history in terms of warfare, lead by the victorious Lord of Hosts or armies. The struggle to build a just society, as well as our personal, day to day struggles, can be framed as warfare. In this context, what can we learn from a child who took on a giant?
Libyan rebel plays a guitar during the fighting.
Words for the Week
1 Samuel 17:45-47 (NIV)
David said to the Philistine, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the Lord will deliver you into my hands, and I’ll strike you down and cut off your head. This very day I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds and the wild animals, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel. All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves; for the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give all of you into our hands.”
The battle is worth it. David is outraged that Goliath would defy the LORD Almighty. At the end of the day, whatever we’re fighting for, we’re fighting for God. Injustice, oppression, poverty and ill-health are affronts to God, the creator and rightful ruler of the world. David’s purpose is that ‘the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel.’ Do we have a sense of indignation at the audacity of the enemy? Are we prepared to stand against evil?
While David rages at Goliath’s defiance, he is completely confident of the outcome of the battle: “This day, the LORD will deliver you into my hands”. That is faith, ‘assurance about what we do not (yet) see’ (Hebrews 11:1). What astonishes me is that David had such faith without having seen Jesus in history. We know that the battle is won, Jesus has paid the price and death has lost its sting. If David could have faith for this battle, how much more can we!
So what’s his secret? Based on this passage, David’s secret is that he is absolutely secure in who he is and who God is. Young David squares up to the giant Goliath ‘in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel.’ His assurance in his identity as a representative of the most high God is what gives him faith for the battle. It’s not based on his own ability but on God’s power. Actually, it’s not Goliath versus David but Goliath versus God. Paul tells us that we are ‘more than conquerors’ too (Romans 8:37). To what extent do we know that?
“The ‘peace’ the gospel brings is never the absence of conflict, but an ineffable divine reassurance within the heart of conflict; a peace that surpasses understanding.”
Own it personally…
- David was outraged at Goliath’s defiance of God and oppression of Israel. What is it that makes your blood boil? Is it modern day slavery, the destruction of the natural environment, persecution of Christians or something else? Sadly there are lots of terrible things to choose from.
- To stand by and watch is to collude with the darkness. How are you already standing up to the evil that catches your eye? Should you intensify the fight?
- Spend some time praising and thanking God that his is the kingdom, the power and the glory. “The battle is the Lord’s” (1 Samuel 17:47) and he has won it! Say it to him, yourself, anyone else listening, visible or invisible.
- Each morning this week, remind yourself of your identity in God (or God’s identity in you!) You could pray a prayer like the one below. The same power that raised Jesus Christ from the dead lives in you (Romans 8:11). Then go out with confidence.
“We are not to simply bandage the wounds of victims beneath the wheels of injustice, we are to drive a spoke into the wheel itself.”
Speak it Out – Pray and Prophesy
A prayer, based on Ephesians 6:10-17
Lord of Hosts, I take my place in the battle against the powers of this dark world. Please give me the strength to stand my ground. Thank you for opening my eyes to the truth; counting me righteous; and preparing me for battle through the good news that peace is coming. I believe that you have saved me. May I resort to no weapon but your word.
“So if joy has not yet won, it is not yet the end.”