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From Chris's Heart

September 2009
Lessons Taught By a Teen
by Nick Harris

In a valley in Israel’s Shephalah country, a place known as Elah, a young man named David would come face-to-face with the man who would change his personal destiny. This man was known as Goliath of Gath.

Goliath was the hero of a people known as the Philistines. They believed that Goliath, their hero, was invincible. And there was a very good reason for thinking like that. He was an astounding 9’6” tall, in a world where the average height of a man is thought to have been only 5’4.” Without question, Goliath was an enormous man, and he must have been a sight to behold dressed in his armor.

Even the words this man spoke were intimidating, and they especially intimidated the men of Israel who were encamped at Elah. He would stroll down the hill above the Valley of Elah where the Philistines were encamped and he would shout the following words to the soldiers of Israel:
“Have you come out to set your battle an array? Am not I a Philistine, and you the servants of Saul? Choose a man for you and let him come down to me. If he be able to fight with me, and to kill me, then I will be your servant; but if I prevail against him, and kill him, then you will be our servants, and you will serve us. And the Philistine said, I defy the armies of Israel this day; give me a man that we might fight together.”

And these words of ridicule were not a one-time event. This huge, intimidating man would appear twice each day to challenge the Israelites to send a champion against him to fight; the winner would take all. He would be the Philistine champion, while Israel was challenged to select a champion for themselves.

However, Israel could not find a champion. Whenever the warriors of Israel would look down at this huge man, Goliath, not a single one of them felt like being a hero. How could anyone fight such a man?

However, subsequent events would prove one important point which was this: what may appear to be a mountain in life can often be no more than a mole hill, and what may look like a giant can be nothing more than a dwarf. What we think we see in life is not always objective.

A number of years ago, one of my closest friends and I visited the Valley of Elah. We were gathering a few smooth stones from the little brook that flows through the valley to take home as souvenirs of our visit to the valley. As we searched an Israeli approached us. He asked, if we wanted him to take our picture in that place. We agreed.

After taking our picture, he had another suggestion. What he suggested was this: he told my friend, who is well over six feet tall, to go up to a bridge that crosses the brook. He told him to stand atop one of its peers. He instructed me, all five feet eleven inches of me, to stand in the bed of the brook and hold my hand open at shoulder height. Then, he snapped a picture. We had no idea what it would look like.

Later, when we returned home and I had my pictures developed, I was amazed to see that the picture that this man had taken made it look like my friend was standing in my hand. In the picture, I looked like an average sized man but he looked only three or four inches tall---an optical illusion. So, sometimes dwarves look like giants and giants look like dwarves. It depends upon one’s perspective.

Goliath certainly looked invincible, but another was about to enter the picture and that person would change everything. His name was David ben Jesse. This teenager had been sent to the valley of Elah by his father, Jesse, to deliver food supplies to three of his brothers, all of whom were fighting in the army of King Saul.

David arrived just in time to hear the fortieth challenge hurled by the Philistine giant. While everyone else was terrified, young David was not impressed by what he saw and heard that day.

In fact, David was utterly confused by the reaction he witnesses in Israel’s encampment.
The challenge had been hurled but not even one of the sons of Israel had volunteered to engage the challenger. As David saw things, the armies of one true God were quivering in fear before the threats of this uncircumcised Philistine.
Granted, this Philistine was a giant supported by a well-trained, well-equipped army, but neither of these things represented the relevant issue. As David saw things, the men standing around him were not ordinary warriors. They were warriors in covenant with Yahweh of Sinai, the one true God.

He knew that all of these men had been circumcised in the name of the God of Israel, and as a result, just one of these warriors should be able to put a thousand uncircumcised Philistines to flight, and two should be able to put ten thousand to flight.

David simply could not believe that such a people as these were not on the offensive. Their state of fear was a reproach to their God as fear always is. So, a bewildered David turned to some of the warriors and in so many words asked, “Who is that guy? I think I can take him.”

At this point, David’s oldest brother, Eliab, strode up to where David was standing. As he approached, he overheard the question his youngest brother had asked. Eliab knew David so he understood the true nature of the question and the attitude with which it had been asked, and it had made Eliab more than a little angry. He saw it as braggadocio. So, in colloquial terms, he immediately “got in the face of David.” He said this to his younger brother:
“I know your pride and the haughtiness of your heart; for you have come down that you might see the battle.”

There is far more to Eliab’s statement than meets the eye. As I see it, Eliab made this statement in an attempt to divert attention from his own reluctance to challenge the giant. He was aware that he and two thousand other Hebrew men should have already responded to the challenge of the giant, but they had all failed to do so.

David turned and asked Eliab, “Is there not a cause?” In other words, “Why are none of you going out to fight this giant? You are supposed to be the covenant army of Yahweh, so why are you scared to death of this Philistine and since none of you will challenge him I will; that must be the cause for my being here right now.”

That attitude is the one thing that is missing in the Church in our time. Too many of us have lost our willingness to fight for the cause of God. We run from His enemies, rather than calling them out and facing them down.

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