The Philistines were back, and this time they brought a secret weapon.
4 And a champion went out from the camp of the Philistines, named Goliath, from Gath, whose height was six cubits and a span… 8 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. 9 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.” 10 And the Philistine said, “I defy the armies of Israel this day; give me a man, that we may fight together.” 11 When Saul and all Israel heard these words of the Philistine, they were dismayed and greatly afraid. 1 Samuel 17:4,8-11 (NKJV)
With the inspiration of the Lord, Jonathan and his armorbearer had previously begun a rout of the Philistines. The Lord was fully behind it, as evidenced by a great shaking of the ground that sent the Philistines into total confusion, and Israel was saved by the Lord that day.
But the Philistines had regrouped, and now brought their own point man to the battle, a large warrior named Goliath.
No doubt about it, Goliath was huge. Well over eight feet tall, he also had the strength to carry exceptionally large weaponry, bigger and better than anything Israel had at their disposal.
There have been several very tall people in recent history, but few have been both very tall and extraordinarily strong. Goliath was one of these. And though the armies of Israel were arrayed before him, they were frozen with fear and powerless as Goliath came out and presented himself before them each morning and evening for forty days.
There is a possible connection here to another forty-day period in the Bible. When the Lord sent spies from each tribe to scout out the Promised Land the year after being freed from Egyptian slavery, they spent forty days collecting samples of the produce of the land and making notes on the fortifications and cities to be overcome. At the end of this time, ten of the twelve spies recommended not going into the land as the Lord had commanded them, because they observed and were afraid of men of great stature in the land, ones that would regard them as mere grasshoppers in size. Perhaps some of these were ancestors of Goliath and his large brothers.
The number forty shows up in other places, as well. As a result of failing to obey God to take the land, the Israelites were left to wander in the desert for forty years. Goliath’s taunting of Israel lasting for forty days might be a parallel to that experience. He was also coming out in the morning and evening, at the traditional times of offering and prayer at God’s tabernacle. The implication is that the Philistines and their gods were no longer afraid of the God of Israel, earthquake or no earthquake.
One might have expected Jonathan to rise up once again to take on this champion, but we do not see evidence of that this time around. God had another plan in mind in order to defend his Name – He would inspire another person of faith, the newly anointed king, young David, to take the lead to defend and deliver the people which God had chosen to worship Him. These would prevail once again to bring forth the salvation of all the world through the genealogy of Jesus Christ.
We sometimes encounter giant threats in our lives and in the lives of those around us, These situations are much larger than we can handle alone under our own power.
Only God can bring us or others safely through these storms. We can encourage others and be encouraged by their love, prayers, and support, but at the end of the day, we are totally dependent upon God and His loving power to see us through to a better day. And He will.
Lord, open my eyes to see how I may lift up my brother and sister to help them through their crisis to experience the love, comfort, and hope that only You can provide. We ask this in Jesus’ name, Amen.