PROLOGUE: Typological Teaching in Old Testament Texts
If you were so inclined, the two books of Samuel in the Bible could be read merely as historical literature. No doubt that is how many would approach them. But that would entirely miss the primary divine reason for these works ever being included in the books of the Bible. For the two books of Samuel are first and foremost spiritual documents. True, they are real history. But the fact that they are history is subservient to their didactic function in the sacred texts. Paul the Apostle tells us that there are other purposes than the mere conveyance of historical facts in the books of the Old Testament:
“For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope”.Letter to the Romans, chapter 15, verse 4
There is a vital teaching element involved, “for our learning”, and — through that teaching — the engendering of hope. Another radical element in these Old Testament history books is that of warning, or exhortation. If we listen to ‘the music behind the words’ of the Bible, we can look at what happened to the characters of the Old Testament and see them serving as ‘types’. A ‘type’ is a pattern or a kind of example or a forerunner, a symbol, a very powerful symbol — so powerfully symbolic that it carries many lessons for those who will learn from the example. Again, Paul specifically refers to these typological examples when he says:
“Now these things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the fulfilment of the ages has come”.First Letter to the Corinthians, chapter 10, verse 11
In other words, the principal characters of the Old Testament and the historical events in which they were involved carry a spiritual significance which must be understood if one is to grasp the deep things of God. The Greek word translated as “examples” in the above text is rooted in the word τύπος, tupos, from where our word “type” is derived. Therefore, these things happened to them so they could serve as ‘types’ or patterns, spiritual examples from which we can learn.
Examples of this sort of ‘typology’ can be seen over and again in the life of numerous key Old Testament characters. For instance, check out Moses. His life and experience was a model of typology in the sacred texts. As one example, he leads God’s people to freedom out of the ‘house of bondage’ under Pharaoh, through the wilderness into the promised land. The typological significance of this is the parallel with the fact that Christ leads His people out to freedom from being under bondage to Satan, then leads them through the wilderness of this world into the heavenly life to come. Moses was therefore a ‘type’ of Christ, as also were Samuel and David. In fact, the three central characters of the two books of Samuel — Samuel, Saul and David — provide us with hugely important general typological lessons.
If you check out the text in the First Book of Samuel, chapter 17, verses 1-58, you will discover a story which is not simply a classic account of ‘goodies beating baddies’. In fact, this chapter is full of spiritual lessons. It is important to read the whole chapter, as it stands together as one piece, so I hope you have it in front of you now. David had only just been anointed as king, as recorded in the previous chapter. There we read that Samuel anoints David “in the presence of his brothers”. You will soon see why that phrase, “in the presence of his brothers”, would prove to be so significant. (To use some movie-jargon, it’s a register shot). The text says that from that day on “the Spirit of the LORD rushed upon David”; and then in chapter 17, we find that this very young man, a mere shepherd-boy, is suddenly proposing himself as a candidate to take out the Philistine hulk, Goliath.
What are the spiritual lessons that we learn from this story of the killing of Goliath by the comparatively young and inexperienced David? I have isolated nine lessons; though there are probably more. The first spiritual lesson that we can learn from this — and it is one that all disciples of Christ have to take firmly to heart — is that…
1) WE MUST NEVER BE INTIMIDATED BY AN ENEMY
Under no circumstances must we ever be intimidated by someone who is in enmity towards us who looks bigger, stronger, more malicious or more powerful than ourselves. Never! In fact, the bigger, stronger, more malicious or more powerful than ourselves that they are, the less we should be intimidated! Does that sound strange? Read on…
Unfortunately, the children of Israel, when they saw Goliath, “were dismayed and greatly afraid” (chapter 17, verse 11). They were utterly intimidated by this huge character. Why was that? Here is David, who is not really trained for battle, as he is just a shepherd boy, and yet he is willing to stand up. What makes the difference here? That is the crucial lesson which we have to learn from this, so that we will never be intimidated by an enemy.
Let me ask you a couple of questions here: Who is it that this threatening hulk of a man represents? When we look at Goliath, what should every penetrating disciple of Christ see? He is a very powerful symbol or ‘type’ of the biggest enemies of the people of God. As I said earlier, when I use the word ‘type’, I mean a pattern or a kind of example or a forerunner, a symbol, a very powerful symbol. And Goliath is a very powerful symbol or ‘type’ of the biggest enemies of the people of God. Principally, he is a symbol or a type of Satan, the ancient enemy. Coupled with this, he is also a type of the Antichrist who is to come at the end of this evil age. At its most basic level, he also symbolises every intimidating enemy of the people of God.
When I have been counselling people, often many have said to me words along the lines of: “I’m going to be terribly frightened when the Antichrist is revealed. If his henchmen pick me up and try and get things out of me, I’m going to break, I’m going to crack. I simply won’t be able to stand up to all that sort of thing. Once they get me in Room 101, I’ll scream the house down!” Well Goliath here is a ‘type’ of the Antichrist. He is a ‘type’ of Satan. A ‘type’ — forerunner, symbol of the most intimidating of all the enemies of God. But if you really start to think about people like the Antichrist or Satan, and it suddenly seems very frightening, all you have to do is remember this passage. Just as David was not intimidated by this brute standing in front of him, so we need not be intimidated by an enemy.
This is not to say that we can be assured that we will not be killed (for we may well be done away with at some stage), or that we can simply hurl some slingshot (or its modern equivalent) and be victorious in that way. It is more a question of having the divine assurance that God will be the victor through us, in ways that we cannot even imagine. As Paul put it, “The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet” (Letter to the Romans, chapter 16, verse 20a). Therefore to be intimidated is superfluous and unnecessary.
It is a fact of life that the vast majority of genuine disciples of Christ are not really very special people in worldly terms. We are in fact very ordinary people. Paul speaks about this in the beginning of his First Letter to the Corinthians:
“Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were powerful; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong”.First Letter to the Corinthians, chapter 1, verses 26-27
We are just not that brave, in our own strength. By nature, we are weak people. But God has taken the weak things of the world and He has made us into who we are. He did that with ancient Israel as well. He took a little nation, which wasn’t like any of the nations in the world, and enabled them to conquer other, really ferocious armies. And one of the main spiritual lessons in that story is that we must never be intimidated by an enemy.
So how are you going to get yourself into that position? Well, you only have to look at David here and all the ways that he speaks about God and how He will be with him (chapter 17, verses 37 and 46). It is very plain that David actually has a relationship with His Maker. But what about all these other guys who go running away, utterly frightened, including his own brother, Eliab (who we will look at very shortly further below)? What kind of a relationship do they have? David is a man who has a relationship with his Creator (is that not the central theme of his psalms?). The Lord was His God and his Shepherd (Psalm 23, verse 1). A person who has a real relationship with his Lord and God is not going to be a frightened sort of person. “Ours is not a spirit of fear”, wrote Paul to Timothy (Second Letter to Timothy, chapter 1, verse 7). We, of all people, should not be habitually frightened people.
Maybe you are sitting there thinking “Well it is all very well for him to say that. But I’m fed up of being manipulated by preachers. This is just making me feel even more guilty because I really AM a very frightened sort of person”. No, if you are a disciple of Christ you are not by nature a frightened sort of person; you are simply a person who thinks he is a frightened person. If you really call out to God for courage, you will cease be a habitually frightened person. This is not to say that you will never be afraid of anything, but you will not be a habitually frightened person, with a spirit of fear, who runs away from things. That is His promise: “For He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you’. So we may boldly say: ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?’” (Letter to the Hebrews, chapter 13, verses 5-6).
Scripture is brimming over with such promises. For example, Christ says very plainly that if we get dragged into courts and tribunals before any rulers of the world in times of persecution — if we get locked away in various places, dragged before security-chiefs, torturers and all that heavy kind of stuff — we must not be frightened. He assures us that there is a twofold protection promise for those who are in such a situation (please read the Gospel of Luke, chapter 21, verses 12-19). The first protection promise is that He will actually turn your apparently hopeless situation on its head and make you into a witness for Him right in the heart of the oppressing authority’s courts and torture chambers (v.13). The second protection promise is that He will make you into an unassailable apologist whom no one will be able “to contradict or resist” (v.15). So you really have no need to be frightened of an enemy.
Well, how would you feel in front of Goliath? How would you have expected David to feel in front of Goliath? People found it incredible that this little man was going to stand in front of this huge monster, over nine feet tall — 3 meters high. The only reason that David could stand there was not because he was stronger than Goliath, for he obviously wasn’t. The only reason he could stand there was because he knew the great truth that Paul knew; which is that in the time of our greatest weakness, Christ’s strength is made perfect in us (see the Second Letter to the Corinthians, chapter 12, verses 7-10).
This is what we need to remember; never be intimidated by an enemy, because even the most horrendously intimidating enemy is a total pushover for the One in whose bosom we lie, in whose hands we so safely rest. Do I hear you say: “But I may get killed!”? Even if the Lord doesn’t destroy your enemy before your enemy kills you, your very death is a victory in the face of your enemy! For no matter how bad it may look from an earthly standpoint, your martyrdom will usher in for you the crown of life (Book of Revelation, chapter 2, verse 10).
The second spiritual lesson from David’s conflict with Goliath is that…
2) THE WORLD HATES THE DISCIPLES OF CHRIST
In Goliath’s contemptuous attitude towards God and towards David, you see the lid being taken off the world, revealing it for what it is. We need to understand this because we can get into a very cosy idea about ourselves and the world which is wholly unrealistic and naïve.
The world is very happy for disciples of Christ to be ineffective people whose spirituality simply consists of putting on their best clothes, trotting off to church on a Sunday morning, singing a few hymns and then coming home. That is how the majority who call themselves ‘Christians’ live in this world. That is the sum total of their professed spirituality. It is a social club in which they can meet other people who look, think, speak, dress and act like themselves. All the choirs and clubs and treadmills of to-ing and fro-ing — the endless societies and attendances of meetings — the politics and chicanery, menpleasing and manipulation. The world doesn’t mind that sort of “Christianity”. No problem. But once you start talking about the truth, especially if you mention what the Christ accomplished through His death, resurrection and ascension, and that you are a people who are waiting for judgement to come on this world in its present form, and so on, you will begin to experience the intense hatred which the world holds towards God and His people.
In that First Book of Samuel, chapter 17, verse 42, we discover the contempt that Goliath had for David. You can imagine this sneeringly happening: He gave David the ‘once over’ and “he despised him because he was just a boy, ruddy and handsome”. Now in a compassionate human situation, you would have expected the next bit to be: “So he took pity on him”. But, instead, he despised David.
If you have ever horsed around with a young boy and you do a bit of toy fighting, you’ll know how you can just hold him at arm’s length with the palm of your hand on his forehead and he’s flailing his fists at you while you just polish the finger-nails of your other hand on your lapel and there’s nothing he can do at all. Goliath could have done that. He could just have taken that kind of view… just looked down at David and thought “this is just a little boy”. But, instead, he looked David over “and he despised him”.
Where does that despising come from? Why does he have to despise a young man with no experience of battle? You might think he would have admired him even: “Although the guy must be crazy, I admire his bravery, his courage”. But he despised him. Why? The reason is because Goliath was standing here in the place of the unmasked enemy of God, in the raw presence of a saint of God who dares to say “I am stronger than you because I have the strength and power of God”. And this is the truth that every disciple of Christ can and must hold within. For s/he can stand there in the face of all that hatred and say, “I have spiritual power that the world does not have. I have spiritual courage that the world does not have. I am stronger than the strongest person in the world because I am walking with God. Whatever happens to me, I am in His hands”. But the world looks at such a person and despises him or her.
I remember seeing an interview on television once with a professor of physics, a leading Oxford academic, who spoke in a very posh accent and who was a typical sort of absent-minded professor type, with grey hair ruffled all over the place, like someone’s benign old granddad. He looked like a very genial man, very pleasant and so on. Until, that is, the moment that the interviewer said: “What’s your attitude towards people who say that God created the world?” And his whole face just contorted and he said, ”WELL THAT’S JUST A LOAD OF COMPLETE SHIT!” Really, those were the exact words he used. Even the presenter was taken aback with the venom in his response. This was on the BBC back in in the 1970s, when only Denis Potter and John Peel used four letter words on the Beeb. It reminds me very much of this situation here with Goliath, where the mention of anything God-honouring results in a outrageous backlash of invective that is almost demonic in character. Goliath despised David with that deep, hateful despising which is only ever fully expressed in the contempt of worldlings for those who have “escaped the corruption of the world through the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ”.
There is a vast, hateful warfare against the things of God and His people. It is spiritual in nature and physical in practice. This enmity goes right back to the Book of Genesis, chapter 3, verse 15, where it was God Himself who set that enmity up. It was expressed continually in the Old Testament against the people of God. It is the great spiritual battle which lies at the heart of the world in its present form and which will build to its climax at the end of the Age (Rev.20:9). (That battle further exemplified in the sacred texts in the relationship of Saul to David, which will be in an upcoming article on the relationships of Samuel, David and Saul). Jesus plainly taught His disciples about this hatred of the world towards God’s people:
“If you were of the world, it would love you as its own. Instead, the world hates you, because you are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world”.Gospel of John, chapter 15, verse 19
And the same is true for all Christ’s disciples. Then, after the victory of Christ on the cross, we find that battle continuing with great viciousness in the waves of persecutions which came upon the Ekklesia after the ascension of Christ: “And the dragon [Satan] was enraged at the woman, and went to make war with the rest of her children, who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus” (Book of Revelation, chapter 12, verse 17).
Many disciples of Christ underestimate the despising which the world has for the truth about Christ and for those who hold to those truths. Most of the time it doesn’t show too much because most of the time the world isn’t affected by them (not to mention the fact that there has been a temporary divine restraint on this evil throughout this age). But once the world starts to be affected by them, and the divine restraint is removed, you will see that despising really start to develop bigtime. As Christ prophesies about the time of the End: “Because of the multiplication of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold” (Gospel of Matthew, chapter 24, verse 12).
Goliath stands here in this situation, proving to us and showing to us the contempt that is really there. He saw that David was only a youth, and he despised him. That is what we are up against. That is the spiritual truth. Satan despises us from the bottom of his icy heart. We are his worst enemies. No matter how new or tender or naïve we are, he despises us with every atom of his being, just as Goliath did with David.
Likewise, the Antichrist, when he is revealed, will utterly despise us and long to be trampling us into the dirt to be absolutely nothing in the world. Worldly people, once unmasked, despise every little disciple of Christ. It’s that verse where Goliath looked down on this little man, this young boy and despised him. It is a remarkable thing to despise someone smaller and weaker than oneself. Very satanic indeed.
That is the reality. That is the spiritual reality of this world. You will only become aware of it when the lid is taken off. If you want a cosy “Christianity”, you can have it if you so wish. But you will be living in cloud-cuckoo-land. The truth is that you’ve got a whole world full of people who are heading towards an eternity in outer darkness and you’ve got a comparative handful of people in this world who know that is what is happening. They will hate us for it, but that is the spiritual reality.
The third spiritual lesson we learn here is this:
3) WE MUST ENSURE THAT WE GET OUR WEAPONS RIGHT
What was David’s secret? Did he own the latest in techno-efficient weaponry? Did he have the entire arsenal of the equivalent of the CIA’s Special Forces at his disposal? Was it really the slingshot which clinched the death of Goliath? Do we simply need to have a better aim in order for our enemies to be toppled? The secret lies in none of these physical foreground items, but instead in the spiritual background reality:
“You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the LORD of Hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied…. And all those assembled 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”.First Book of Samuel, chapter 17, verses 45 and 47
In other words, we don’t trust in physical weapons in order to win spiritual battles. You see, my friends, we have to see the battle between David and Goliath not only as a physical encounter in space, time and history but also as carrying a profound typological message. There is a far deeper spiritual meaning to this combat. For we need spiritual armour and spiritual weaponry in our quest through the wilderness of this world.
Imagine that rather comical scene, where Saul says “you need some armour. You’d better put some of this armour on”. And David tries all this armour on, and he’s standing there in all this equipment and it’s all too big for him and he says “This is just crazy! Take it off… it’s not right!”. And he’s right that it’s not right. He knew that he didn’t need all that stuff. He knew that all he needed was the Lord to be behind him. “That’s all very well”, you may say, “but he used the sling”. Well, yes, something had to happen to make that guy fall down on his face. But that is not what actually killed the Philistine. It was the Lord who killed the Philistine working with and through David. We need to understand this. David triumphed on the basis of spiritual weaponry rather than through his art as a slingshot. What is more, David knew this! Therefore, we need to grasp how to engage with an enemy on the basis of spiritual power rather than mere physical weaponry.
Some Christian types think that we should take up physical weapons to defend ourselves against any enemies of God’s work. They think that because David hurled some slingshot in Goliaths head, we should go out and get an AK-47 to puncture the brains of the brutes who persecute defenders of truth today. But this would be to overlook important differences between the Old and New Covenants. We need to grasp what changes have taken place between the Old Covenant made with ancient Israel through the mediator, Moses, and the New Covenant made with disciples of Christ in the present age through the Mediator, Jesus Christ.
David lived under the auspices of a theocratic earthly nation; part of whose divinely-appointed role was to take up arms against its spiritual enemies in order to preserve the purity of national Israel. Under the New Covenant, God’s people live under the auspices of a spiritual nation (cf. First Letter of Peter, chapter 2, verse 9) drawn from every earthly country, tribe and language, whose role is the spreading of truth across the world. When James and John wanted to command fire to come down from heaven and consume a Samaritan village because it did not receive Christ, He rebuked them and said: “You do not know what manner of spirit you are of. For the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives but to save them” (Lk.9:55). Our role, under the New Covenant, is to use spiritual weaponry as plainly directed by the Lord, as we shall shortly see. (Herein lies the heart of the error of the historical Crusades and even the Inquisitions). However, we can certainly make an application today, in a spiritual sense, of the directions for warfare given to those living under the Old Covenant. In Israel of old, all attacks against God and His nation were expressed primarily in a physical sense against the power of the earthly nation; and the rebuttals were conducted on the same level — sword against sword. Spiritual warfare was won according to the outcome of an earthly battlefield. There was a theocratic nation involving a politico-religious system to defend. However, in terms of the present age, our warfare exists principally in the world of ideas. All attacks against God and His people are expressed primarily in intellectual terms. It is true that there are physical persecutions, but we are expressly forbidden from violently resisting these and encouraged to regard them as a form of blessing by which — as mentioned earlier — we can become truth-spreaders and apologists in unusual places (see Gospel of Matthew, chapter 5, verses 11-12; chapter 5, verses 39 & 44; Gospel of Luke, chapter 21, verses 12-15; Letter to the Romans, chapter 12, verse 14; First Letter to the Corinthians, chapter 4, verses 12-13; First Letter of Peter, chapter 4, verse 14). This is not to say that we cannot ever defend our families or communities against lawless marauders; but when we are being persecuted as disciples of Christ — which is spiritual warfare — this is a completely different scenario. The spiritual attacks which we are required to resist are those in the world of ideas:
“For though we live in the flesh, we do not wage war according to the flesh. The weapons of our warfare are not the weapons of the world. Instead, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We tear down arguments and every presumption set up against the knowledge of God; and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ”.Second Letter to the Corinthians, chapter 10, verses 3-5
As the apostle says elsewhere: “God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong” (1 Cor.1:27). Therefore, disciples today are to ‘take up arms’ in purely spiritual terms as a public rebuke of spiritual falsehood, spiritual deception and the usurpation of spiritual authority. We must openly engage in “tearing down arguments” which are opposed the truth and we must “bring every thought” under the searing light of truth.
What that means is that we should be engaging in the world of ideas. We should not be involving ourselves personally in petty arguments or foolish disputes (as, sadly, many do in the ‘Christian’ scene today). For we have something to share with the world, and it has a spiritual power behind it which is infinitely more efficient than any worldly weapon. “For the weapons of our warfare have divine power for pulling down strongholds”, and we are entitled — encouraged even — to use them.
What are the spiritual weapons that we use in order to demolish strongholds? And demolishing strongholds — false human power which serves as a stranglehold to suppress truth and freedom — IS our business. This is why I say that there can be no place for ‘cosy Christianity’ in this world. We are to engage in battle in this world. And it is primarily a battle for the mind. That is the arena in which the war is being fought. It is the world of ideas which fields the war, as it has done from the beginning. Satan exercises mind-control in a HUGE way and has done so from the beginning of history. He is a great spin-doctor and gaslighter. A spin-doctor is somebody who manages to twist words in such a way that he takes you away from what is really happening without you even realising it. A gaslighter is someone who can manipulate you even to doubt your own thinking and sanity through the clever use of words. Satan has been a spin-doctor and gaslighter right from the beginning, when it is written that he came to Eve, saying in that smarmy way: “Did God really say…?” (Book of Genesis, chapter 3, verse 1). And still, today, we are involved in the same gigantic battle for the mind, courtesy of the same demonic realm.
Every distortion of truth is a Goliath. Every contemptuous attempt to overturn the truth about Christ is a Goliath. Every arrogant atheistic advance against the power and reality of God is a Goliath. Every pompous thrust which undermines the power of the genuine Ekklesia is a Goliath. And it is our heartfelt duty to put Goliaths on their backs, dead or alive, with the spiritual weapons at our disposal!
What do you think is our greatest spiritual weapon? The sword of the Spirit! (Letter to the Ephesians, chapter 6, verse 17). It is called a “sword” because it is a weapon. It is the sword of the Spirit that is used to cut through to the very heart of things; and that is our greatest weapon. If you have read “Pilgrims Progress” by John Bunyan, there comes a point where the main character, Christian, has been confronted by this monster that is very obviously a pictorial representation of Satan. And this Apollyon, this Satan character, stands in front of Christian on the highway and says, “Where do you think you’re going?” And Christian says, “I’m on my way to the heavenly city” and Apollyon says, “Nobody gets away from my clutches that easily”. And he then has a fight with Christian, and they wind up wrestling on the ground and Apollyon began to overpower Christian, and just when he thought he was finished and it was all over with and he had lost the battle, he suddenly remembered a sacred text from the scriptures, which, after quoting it, drove Apollyon away from him. This is just as the Lord Jesus has promised: “I will give you speech and wisdom that none of those opposing you will be able to resist or contradict” (Gospel of Luke, chapter 21, verse 15). That is words of knowledge and wisdom in action. This is what the fire coming from the mouths of the “two witness” is all about in the 11th chapter of the Book of Revelation. Those “two witnesses” are symbolic of the testimony of truth given to the world throughout this age by the Ekklesia. This is why it is said (in verse 5) that “fire proceeds from their mouths and devours their enemies”. Such is the power in words of truth. This “fire” can only come from the mouth of one who is a genuine disciple of Christ. (There is much more about these “two witnesses” in my book on the Book of Revelation, which you can download free of charge here: https://diakrisis-project.com/2022/06/10/the-essential-apocalypse-making-sense-of-the-book-of-revelation-is-ready-for-download/ . Understanding the symbols in the Book of Revelation is absolutely vital for anyone practising spiritual warfare seriously).
God inspires us with the words to use in our spiritual warfare. As David said to Goliath: “all those assembled 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 force of spoken or written truth is irresistible and infinitely mightier than the sword. How necessary it is to familiarise ourselves with the mind of God from the truths that we know of Him in the sacred texts. We have to get our weapons right today, and then the battle really is the Lord’s. That is our third spiritual lesson.
Our fourth spiritual lesson from this battle between David and Goliath is that
4) WE NEVER KNOW WHAT SURPRISES GOD HAS IN STORE FOR US!
Here is the fun in all this! Just when you think you’ve got yourself a nice comfortable life (which is NOT what we are here for), God injects something into the picture, and you have to get a whole different perspective on things!
Here was David, thinking he was on a low-grade mission delivering some cheeses and gathering some news (see First Book of Samuel, chapter 17, verses 18-20), and then, all of the sudden, he found himself in the midst of this high-profile battle. His whole life takes off in a completely different way.
The lesson here is that we must never be complacent and think “Well that’s it for me. I’ve got my feet in my slippers and my knees under the table, and this is the way it’s going to be for the rest of my life”. Haha! You are asking for trouble with that kind of thinking! God may have completely different ideas. There was David… one minute he was just out there with the sheep, wondering what all that anointing business would herald… the next minute he’s thrust into this extraordinary battle situation. And it can be like that in our lives too, especially if we are open to it. In fact, we should be open and ready for it. Like Isaiah who said to God: “Here I am Lord, send me” (Book of Isaiah, chapter 6, verse 8). And we must be ready to go. In fact, Isaiah was sent on what seemed like a ‘mission impossible’. He was told to go and preach the truth to people who weren’t going to listen to him. But he still went. And that should be the mindset in our hearts too. We never know what surprises God has in store for us. Really, we should regard this as a fun feature and a bonus in our lives as disciples.
Another spiritual lesson in this meeting of David and Goliath is that…
5) WE ARE NEVER ALONE IN THE BATTLE
The battle is the Lord’s and it always IS the Lord’s battle. If we go into any situation which is likely to involve spiritual warfare, and we go into it in our own strength (big mouth, small brain), we will get nowhere at all. We are never alone in the battle. We don’t fight our own battles by ourselves. We always have the Lord with us. David knew this secret: “The LORD, who delivered me from the claws of the lion and the bear, will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine” (First Book of Samuel, chapter 17, verse 37), and “This day the LORD will deliver you into my hand. This day I will strike you down, cut off your head” (First Book of Samuel, chapter 17, verse 46).
How do you know that this applies to you also? Do you remember Joshua when he was just about to go into battle and all of a sudden there’s a stranger standing there who says “Take your sandal off your foot, for the place where you stand is holy”? Do you remember how Joshua said: “Are you for us or for our enemies?” Do you remember how the ‘stranger’ identified himself as “Commander of the army of the Lord” (Book of Joshua, chapter 5, verses 13-15)? That was the preincarnate Christ — what is formally known as a “theophany”, an appearance of God — right there, alongside of them, fighting the battle for them. Do you remember Shadrak, Mishak and Abednego standing in the red-hot fiery furnace and there’s someone “like the Son of God” standing next to them (Book of Daniel, chapter 3, verse 24-25)? Do you remember that? Well that was the preincarnate Christ — another ‘theophany’ — right there, alongside of them, fighting the battle for them. It is like that with us too. We will not have a theophany as heaven must receive Christ until His cataclysmic return. But do not ever doubt that He will send armies of angels to surround us when we are waging spiritual warfare on our behalf. If you are wondering how there could be enough angels for that, let me assure you that there is a number so vast that you cannot even begin to imagine it — hundreds of millions and more (see Book of Daniel, chapter 7, verse 10; Book of Revelation, chapter 5, verse 11; Letter to the Hebrews, chapter 12, verse 22).
Do we imagine that we go into battles, fighting them all alone on our own? I think most of the time we probably do. We probably think we are up against everything entirely on our own. And we look around and think, in that classic faithless manner, “Well, where IS the Lord?” But if we don’t call on Him, we can’t expect Him to be there. Also, He often manifests in ways that we do not expect. But we are never alone in these battles, whether great or small. David knew this. That is how he was able to go into this utterly adverse scene with such confidence:
“God has said: ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you’. So we say with confidence: ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?’”Letter to the Hebrews, chapter 13, verses 5-6; cf. Book of Isaiah, chapter 41, verses 10-13
When you see or hear the likes of that Oxford professor that I mentioned earlier, don’t you want to see God’s name vindicated? Or are you intimidated by such a man because he has a few shoddy letters after his name and is an obvious boffin? We are often intimidated by events and by people because we are looking at them from a very human standpoint instead of from a Godward standpoint. Once you turn it around, a whole different perspective comes into play. You can think this about your enemy: “Well, just a minute, here’s this big guy. He may take up a lot of space in the world, but he is totally alone in it. He has no hope in this world or in the life to come. He has no spiritual relationship with God. He is an utterly sad man with loads of empty power and a whole pile of worldly knowledge crammed inside his brain. And here’s little old me — indwelt by the Holy Spirit of God. I have the Lord with me completely. I could even call on legions of angels to protect me. Why should I worry?” That is the stupendous reality. Do you believe that? Just because you can’t see it doesn’t mean it’s not true.
Believe me, disciples of Christ are never alone in battle with our enemies. Let me add that we do not set out make ourselves the enemy of anyone or to have enemies. When I say, “our enemies”, I mean those who are set at enmity towards us. We ourselves are to maintain good grace towards all and moving with love and wisdom, yet never compromising the sting of truth. We may have to speak harshly in some situations in support of that truth; but we are never to be vituperative, venomous, vengeful or vindictive.
The next spiritual lesson we need to take to heart from the battle between David and Goliath is that
6) HE WAS FIGHTING FOR GOD’S GLORY
This is another vital aspect of entering into the spiritual battle. It is not only important to ensure that we are using the right weapons, and to realise that we are not alone, but also to be certain that we are fighting for Gods glory rather than our own prestige.
We are not engaged in this battle to score points or gain kudos for ourselves. We go into battle with the world and with Satan in order to ensure that the whole world will know there is a God whom we serve. That was David’s motivation: “…that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel” (First Book of Samuel, chapter 17, verse 46). David wasn’t fighting for himself. He was here carrying out this battle in order that the Lord’s name would be vindicated — in order that God would receive the glory. This is why he could say so confidently: “The battle is the Lord’s” (First Book of Samuel, chapter 17, verse 47). It is the same with us also. You have to go into that situation, realising that you are engaging in spiritual warfare for the good name of God rather than for sport or to save your skin or to score points for ourselves.
Another spiritual lesson that we learn here is
7) THE GREATNESS OF FAITH WHEN IT IS PROPERLY EXERCISED
It is one thing to have saving faith, which you must have if you are to be a disciple of Christ. You have faith in Christ. You have faith that Christ experienced what He experienced for you on the cross. You have faith in all that. But how far does our faith go? And here we see the greatness of a faith that is properly exercised. Faith isn’t just something hypothetical: “I’ve given my life to Christ and I’m blessed, period”. A disciple of Christ is a servant of Christ, determined to do His bidding. Therefore, faith is a working faith that exercises itself powerfully in the world. Although the flames of faith can never be totally extinguished, they do need to be fanned in order to keep them burning as brightly as can be.
It is possible to have “little faith” (Gospel of Matthew, chapter 8, verse 26). It is also possible to be “full of faith” (Book of Acts, chapter 6, verse 8). It is even possible to exercise “great faith” (Gospel of Luke, chapter 7, verse 9). How important it is to be “strengthened in the faith” (Book of Acts, chapter 16, verse 5) and to pray to the Lord to “increase our faith” (Gospel of Luke, chapter 17, verse 5). We cannot resist Satan in the spiritual battle unless we are “steadfast in the faith” (First Letter of Peter, chapter 5, verse 9). We must also pray for each other that whatever is “lacking in our faith” may be perfected (First Letter to the Thessalonians, chapter 3, verse 10).
Here in our text, we find David actually exercising his faith and putting it to work. It is the same with each one of us as well. We can go into what looks like the scariest of situations and exercise the most profound faith. But faith also needs training and exercise if it is to find its greatest expression. A faith exercised is a faith worked well.
Another spiritual lesson we can learn from this encounter between David and Goliath is that
8) TO ATTACK GOD’S PEOPLE IS TO ATTACK GOD HIMSELF
In verse 25 of our text, we read: “So the men of Israel said, ‘Do you see this man who keeps coming out to defy Israel?‘“ Then, in verse 26, “David asked the men who were standing with him, ‘What will be done for the man who kills this Philistine and removes this disgrace from Israel?’” So there is a defying and disgracing of Israel involved in Goliath’s words and actions. But then, in verse 45, David says, “I come against you in the name of the LORD of Hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied”. Do you see the parallel? Defying the people of God was the equivalent of defying God.
It is the same with us also. Anyone who says or does anything against us in respect of our faith as disciples of Christ (unless, of course, they have a valid criticism!) is actually speaking against God Himself. Ultimately their battle is with God. That is what it is all about. That is who you have to point them towards. You must not take it as if it is some campaign against you on a purely personal human level. That would be narcissistic and essentially ineffectual. In your dealings with those who speak against you regarding your faith, you have to take it into the realm of “You are fighting against God; for that is who your real enemy is!” To defy God’s people is to defy God himself.
A final spiritual lesson which can be drawn from this episode is that
9) WE SHOULD NEVER BE FAZED BY JEALOUS PEOPLE
How easily we are “fazed” by this sort of behaviour! That’s not the same as “phased”. Fazed is known from its Shakespearean usage and is derived from the Old English word “feeze” or “pheeze”, meaning “to drive away”. And we should never be blown away by anything. Especially we should never be blown away by those around us who betray or who act in wholly horrible ways.
The reaction of Eliab (David’s brother) to David’s arrival on the scene is very telling indeed. Oh how the world is full of these Eliabs! He makes a very interesting psychological study. Let us look into this for a moment. Here is what he said to David:
“Now when David’s oldest brother Eliab heard him speaking to the men, his anger burned against David. ‘Why have you come down here?’ he asked. ‘And with whom did you leave those few sheep in the wilderness? I know your pride and wickedness of heart—you have come down to see the battle!”First Book of Samuel, chapter 17, verse 2
Well, nothing could have been further from the truth! But truth is never the guiding light for the Eliabs of this world, for they are too obsessed with preserving their own carefully-crafted egos. Remember how we highlighted the fact that David was anointed in the presence of his brothers. That included Eliab. Now we can discern how that must have affected him. Here was this older brother who should be welcoming his young sibling into the situation and be entirely impressed with what was going on; or, at the very least, thinking “Well here’s my little brother who thinks he’s a hero. How sweet”, and having a feeling of compassion mixed with love towards him. But instead, he says these bitter words to his face — they just come pouring out. And what an astonishing outburst that was! Where on earth did it come from? This is what psychologists call “projection”. This is a very common attitude: where somebody accuses another person of the very thing that is in themselves. So you often find that inwardly angry, bitter and twisted people go around accusing innocent people of being angry, bitter and twisted. Habitual liars go round accusing everybody else of telling lies, and so on. We project onto other people our own sins and foibles. And nothing was further from the truth when Eliab said: “I know your pride and the insolence of your heart, for you have come down to see the battle”. Is it not the truth that Eliab was amongst the people who, when the Israelites saw Goliath, spinelessly ran away from him in great fear?
This is a widespread phenomenon: So many people become filled with jealousy when they see somebody else with greater gifts than they have. They become filled with bitterness when they see somebody else doing the very thing that they should really be doing but haven’t got the courage to do so. Isn’t it very often that like that with us as well? Isn’t it? Is it not true that so many of us are filled with that sort of bitterness on the inside. Jealousy when we see other people fulfilling what we know we should do, but can’t? You look at somebody and you see that he is a powerful ‘overcomer’; and you despise him for it. Why? Jealousy. You look at somebody else who is actually getting to grips with the sacred texts and who has a good knowledge of then, and you want to prove them wrong and find faults in their words and thoughts? You look at somebody who is able to debate and demolish arguments because of their divine gifting, who is able to exercise this sword of the Spirit, and you spread lies about them so as to undermine their influence. Oh the resourcefulness and spitefulness of the hateful heart! How many times I have witnessed it in action — even in the Church; especially in the Church!
Eliab here is filled with hatred; he is jealous of his brave little brother. Amazing! How low can one stoop? And he accuses David of the very wickedness of which he is guilty. You will find this cropping up again and again if you exercise a very fruitful life of discipleship to Christ and use the sword of the Spirit in a powerfully disciplined way in the world. You will find that many around you from your own people (so you think), and even your own family, will suddenly and strangely be filled with this kind of envy and back-stabbing. David was on the receiving end of all this throughout his life, but especially during his ‘training’ periods. This is not coincidental, as I will discuss further in a future article on David’s life.
My friends, please do not ever be fazed by that kind of behaviour when it comes in your direction (as it inevitably will). Does it remind you of another situation in the sacred texts? Remember Joseph? He had exactly the same kind of jealous hassle with his brothers; but also remember the stupendous way that he was vindicated by God in the end (Book of Genesis, chapters 37 and 50).
EPILOGUE: Never Be Intimidated by the Goliaths of this World
In closing, I want to reiterate what I said earlier about Goliath representing the enemies of the Lord and His people. As our text says: “Just who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?” Goliath represents every enemy of God and His people unmasked. Everyone who refuses to come to Christ is defying God and is acting in contempt towards the God who has created them and is now commanding them to return to Him. No wonder they would find disciples of Christ contemptible. Goliath is a typological representative not only of every human enemy of God and His people unmasked, but he is also a typological representative of Satan and the Antichrist.
Please NEVER, EVER be deflected from your faith or purpose under God — even when the Goliaths and Apollyons of this world come and stand before you. Goliath, in spite of his great size and intimidating presence, was an empty man filled with empty words. Hot air, basically. And so are such people in the world today — just as their philosophies and ideologies are null and void. So has Satan, from the time of his fall, been an empty angel with empty words (though fooling the hypnotized world with them); and so will the Antichrist be an empty man filled with empty words when he comes speaking pompously and performing lying wonders as a last ditch attempt to establish his master, Satan’s, kingdom. They are temporary powerful puffs of conceit, passing across the stage of this temporary world for their allotted time and who will eventually be no more in the real cosmos to come.
Just as God, through David, felled Goliath, so we too can pull down strongholds and demolish arguments which set themselves up against our Lord, on the condition that we work with Him and do it His way.