And the Philistine moved forward and came near to David, with his shield-bearer in front of him. And when the Philistine looked and saw David, he disdained him, for he was but a youth, ruddy and handsome in appearance. And the Philistine said to David, "Am I a dog, that you come to me with sticks?" And the Philistine cursed David by his gods. The Philistine said to David, "Come to me, and I will give your flesh to the birds of the air and to the beasts of the field." Then David said to the Philistine, "You come to me with a sword and with a spear and with a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the Lord will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you down and cut off your head. And I will give the dead bodies of the host of the Philistines this day to the birds of the air and to the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel, and that all this assembly may know that the Lord saves not with sword and spear. For the battle is the Lord's, and he will give you into our hand."
1 Samuel 17:41-47
Friends, may I be vulnerable with you? I’ve had some “Goliaths” in my life lately. It’s been unpleasant. Perhaps you can relate. There is not a violent army of Philistines encamped around me. There is no tall angry man yelling taunts my direction. My giants are proverbial, but they threaten me nonetheless. Upheaval in my living situation. Multiple relationships destroyed through brokenness or death. Mounting pressures at work. Physical exhaustion. Walking closely with friends in the midst of struggle. Discouragement about current events. Question marks about health. Spiritual battles. And—let’s be honest, I am often my OWN worst “giant”—my flesh staring me in the face, daring me to question God’s provision, second-guess His goodness, and make light of His gifts. These trials quickly become weapons in the hand of a very real enemy seeking to devour my soul.
From here, I would love to be able to tell you a great underdog story. We all love a good one—Remember the Titans, Chariots of Fire, Rudy. That is not what we have here. The story of David and Goliath is NOT an underdog story. Why? Because Goliath’s competition isn’t David. It’s God. GOLIATH is the underdog. In other words, this is 1916 Georgia Tech beating Cumberland College 222-0. This is F.D. Roosevelt’s 523 electoral college votes to Alf Landon’s 8 in 1936. The underdog gets slaughtered. We see it again in 2 Kings 6, when armies flee from the presence of Elisha as God reveals the hoard of angels at his back. There is no fair fight when it comes to God.
This understanding of the David and Goliath story does not diminish my “giants.” They are real. They cause pain. Rather, it puts them in perspective. Compared to me, the giants look menacing. Compared to God, the competition is a joke. David walked out to face Goliath without fear that day not because he knew who he was or even because he knew who Goliath was, but because he knew who his God was. Can you imagine facing our giants without Him? But imagine if we knew our God so well that our instinct would be not simply to put up with the presence of our Goliaths, but to rise up and face them with “power and love and a sound mind” (2 Tim 1:7).
In light of this, the core question of our existence inevitably becomes: what, then, does it mean to KNOW this God who is with us in our battles? In his famous classic, Knowing God, J. I. Packer states, “What makes life worthwhile is having a big enough objective, something which catches our imagination and lays hold of our allegiance, and this the Christian has in a way that no other person has. For what higher, more exalted, and more compelling goal can there be than to know God?” In response to the question, “how does one do this?” I would counter: how does anyone know anyone? We must immerse ourselves in the skill (keyword) of knowing another being deeply, then turn that practice upon the God of the universe.