Killing Goliath

David and Goliath Capture

David & Goliath -Osmar Schindler, Public Domain

David and Goliath is Sunday school material – at least it was a story I heard a lot as I spent just about every Sunday in some sort of church experience.  It frankly never occurred to me to think of anything but the heroism of the boy David defeating a giant who terrorized the troops of Israel who included members of David’s family.

Only recently have I thought about what the story of David and Goliath really entailed.  And it’s not pretty or romantic.  You can read the full text here.  Think about it!  This ginormous creature like human had managed to traumatize an entire army of warriors into absolute submission.  The intimidation was beyond his size – it was  an energy depleting force that made grown men cower as he raged day after day.  They felt so helpless that when young David arrived on the battlefront questioning what this human was threatening against his God – they wanted to silence him! The giant after all could not be confronted by threats from a mere boy.

Everybody has a Goliath…

It occurs to me that all of us face a Goliath at some point in our lives.  Some of us may find ourselves confronting many giants.  Giants of envious agents, contemptuous and arrogant attitudes, prideful forces which taunt the idea of our existence with venomous hatred.  Or Goliath may present as a difficult situation, a personal loss, the pain of a failed marriage, financial difficulties or illness.  The common denominator is that the situation appears to be insurmountable.  And the awareness of the pain, torment and taunts ever present. The reality is none of us get through life without some scars to prove we graced the planet.

Confronting the giant…

So, what does David do when he decides to confront Goliath.  Well, before he could get to the giant, he was reported.  Yes, the word got back quickly to King Saul that there was this little chump who was willing to put his head on the line.  Because that was what Goliath promised he would do to anyone stupid enough to confront him – ‘feed their flesh to the birds.’ An indelicate and unpleasant prospect indeed.  David was invited to meet with King Saul who noted immediately that he was a mere kid.  But the situation was so desperate, the King was willing to allow David to go to his presumable slaughter.  He even offered David his armor.  But when David tried on the armor, he couldn’t move.  The heavy metal must have felt so weighty, it was hard to breathe. The killing Goliath exercise would require him to rely on what he knew and the God he served.

That nugget of information from the story is worth a lot.  Although the world hadn’t heard about David, he had street cred where it counted.  This young man had spent much time in prayer, meditation and psalms.  It’s easy to think that prayer is simply mouthing words.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  I’m sure there was plenty of prayer when David found himself confronted by the bear and the lion while he was alone caring for his Father’s flock.  Vulnerability has a way of getting our attention and clarifying our absolute dependence on God.

A sordid cadre…

I have faced many situations where dependence on God has been all I’ve had.  And it has been enough.  David was targeted because he was there and wild animals were hungry.  He stood in the way of their meal ticket.  That’s still the case today for many attacks.  Thinking or wondering why you are being targeted or traumatized is as ineffective as wondering why the wind is blowing.  You cannot appease the devil or his agents who include according to God’s word, rulers of darkness, principalities and powers.  A sordid and wicked cadre of agents whose only passion lies in deception, theft and destruction.

Killing Goliath…

Killing Goliath requires strong faith in God AND indignation at the absolute arrogance of powers that mock and oppose him.  It also requires a different mindset.  While the army troops of Israel were frightened by the threats of Goliath, they also became blinded to the vulnerability of the enemy.  You see, every enemy has a terrible vulnerability.  One which they hope you don’t expose, because if you can see it, you can attack them successfully.  Fear and intimidation blind us to this reality and keep the focus on what seems to be impregnable.

Killing Goliath requires the willingness to not only expose the vulnerability but to be ruthless in dealing a death-blow to it.  For David, it required exactly one smooth stone, polished by the relentless flow of  water, and aimed with precision at the one spot on Goliath’s head that was uncovered – that space on his forehead between his eyes.  What’s interesting is that there were probably several skilled warriors who could sling a stone with lethal accuracy, but they were so focused on what they couldn’t do that they forgot to look at what they could have easily picked up and used with their own hands.

Facing Goliath requires facing issues which may be longstanding.  Remember this – Goliath was once a baby, who became a boy and finally a man.  Even if he was a big baby, he could have been dealt with earlier had Israel’s troops recognized the enemy growing up before their very eyes.  It’s important to note that most Goliaths don’t emerge overnight, although the severity of the threat may appear to do so.  Most of the enemies of our soul are issues we have tolerated, grown up with, made excuses for, ignored or refused repeated entreaties from the Holy Spirit regarding a need to change direction, course or action.  Then one day we wake up and recognize that we’ve got a big problem on our hands.  Or someone who has appeared to be benign and harmless Isometimes someone who is close to us) reveals their true nature and intentions towards us.  Either way, the revelation of Goliath is scary.

However, killing Goliath requires boldness, courage and faith.  It requires the ability to see that no matter how powerfully formidable a situation seems, our God is greater!  He is sovereign and all-powerful.  David did not stop at the killing of Goliath.  No, this boy-man went up to that fallen giant and cut of his head with the giant’s own sword.  Absolutely ruthless and gory!  Necessary too.  Because the only language the enemy understands is violence!  The word of God reminds us that ‘the Kingdom of God suffers violence, and violent take it by force.’

The Goliath Killing methadology…

So while we may romanticize the story, there’s very little that is truly romantic about David’s encounter with Goliath.  And as you review your life, you will note that there’s been very little that’s nice or easy about the Goliaths you have faced or are facing now.  Take heart, God promises never to leave us or forsake us.  Here are some tips which are useful when dealing with threatening, depleting and wicked enemies:

  1.  Recognize them.  Preferably earlier rather than later when they have become deeply ingrained.
  2. Don’t tolerate Goliath.  While we are commanded to love people, this does not mean that we should make friends with wicked spirits which some choose to allow to use them.  The Bible instructs us to ‘Resist the devil and he will flee’.
  3. Be ruthless in using the weapons of our warfare.  There are many weapons in God’s arsenal.  Unfortunately, many Christians are woefully ignorant.  David used a weapon which totally surprised Goliath – a stone.  Learn about AND how to use God’s weapons including: prayer, the blood of Jesus, the name of Jesus and the sword of the Spirit.
  4. Don’t stop until there is total victory.  If Goliath had been merely wounded, it is likely that David would not have made it.  God has given us the victory in Jesus Christ death and resurrection.  We are victorious.  Now exercise the reality of that truth in your situation.
  5. Recognize that the key to the enemy’s defeat is to NEVER forget who you serve!  Goliath taunted the Israelites daily by reminding them that they were soldiers in King Saul’s army.  While that was true on one level, it left out an important fact – that Israelite army was God’s army.  Remember you are a soldier in God’s army.
  6. Turn the enemy’s weapon against him.  David cut off Goliath’s head with Goliath’s sword.  Ask God for wisdom.  For instance, when Goliath threatened David by telling him that his flesh would be fed to the birds, David returned the insult! There are many ways to turn the tables.

Trapdoor Grace: Overcoming A Spiritual Siege

One of the most heart breaking news stories this year has been the on-going siege of the city of Aleppo in Syria.  Watching the daily distress of people trapped within the ruins of war without access to basic and vital necessities is a reminder of how despicable war is.

64481341_sTrapdoor grace is the kind of grace that happens when all avenues of relief are blocked.  The support systems which we have carefully cultivated spring leaks, the bank account is drained, the Doctor’s and experts don’t have solutions, the job has left the country.  When we are under siege literally or spiritually, it is important to know that God has avenues of rescue which open when windows and doors of escape are unavailable.

The weapon of a siege mounted against a community or city is an ancient one.  A siege can be mounted in a variety of ways, but always has one common characteristic – the enemy surrounds you. When a place is under a siege, every means of escape appears to be blocked in some fashion.  A siege not only blocks the path of escape, but also prevents anything from entering.  So, essentially, the community slowly starves to death without food, water, medical supplies and sometimes even means of communication with the external world.

A siege is effective because it eventually causes such despair, that in their desperation, people will even cannibalize themselves. We read about a situation like this in 2 Kings 7.  The siege against the King of Israel was ironically mounted by the King of Syria (some translations refer to him as the King of Aram).

As the two sides eyed each other, 2 Kings 6:24-33 tells the story of the King of Israel walking on top of the city wall and a woman calling out to him to tell him the dreadful tale of how she and another woman had agreed to eat their infant sons.  Her heart wrenching complaint is that the other woman reneged on her word and hid her son.  The King was overcome with horror. He vows to hunt down the Prophet Elisha who somehow becomes the scapegoat for the King’s frustration.

The meeting between the two nemesis is rife with mutual dislike and name calling.  But, the Prophet Elisha prophecies to the King that the impossible is about to take place.

Within 24 hours, there will be a turn-around that is so extraordinary that basic foodstuffs will sell at bargain prices!

The prediction is so bizarre that an officer who supports the King physically scoffs and in effect says, ‘that’s madness!’

And it did appear that there was no way out of this certain destruction.  But, that night God does something incredible.  Because mad situations need to be handled with equivalent or greater levels of mad power.

The Bible indicates that the well equipped Syrian army heard a sound and became convinced that the bankrupt Kingdom of Israel had somehow managed to hire an army and the tables were turned.  In their fear, the entire Syrian army fled at night to escape what they were convinced was certain annihilation.  The discovery of the situation was discovered by a most improbable lot – some Lepers who were considered untouchable and thereby consigned to the outskirts of the city.

The Lepers had decided to throw themselves on the mercy of the Syrian King and approached the camp, only to find the entire encampment vacated of people!  But thoroughly stocked with provisions, clothes and unimaginable wealth in silver and gold.  Wow!  Of course the good news is shared and the entire city rushed the city gates, trampling on the officer who scoffed at the idea that this kind of deliverance was even possible.

Trapdoor Blessings:

A trapdoor blessing reveals the God who makes impossible situations possible.  It also reveals a mercy which is super abundant and awe inspiring.  And often utilizes the most improbable persons or situations.  It’s never an avenue that you would previously seriously consider.  A trapdoor blessing has the ability to turn what appears to be a curse into an uncommon blessing.

Here are some elements of encouragement hidden within trapdoor blessings:

  1. God can handle our sorrow, despair and anger.  Be real.  Desperate situations call for a desperate response.  Pray and don’t stop. Seek counsel.  The Bible says that when waging war, we should have many counselors
  2. Be open to unexpected solutions.  Hidden within those who have been written off and marginalized may be some of the best talent available and hitherto unused due to our prejudices and preconceived ideas.
  3. Know this – God may not come within our time frame, but He is never late.  Examples of deliverance at the mid-night hour abound in the Bible.  Think – Daniel in the lions den, Moses saved from the water and certain death by an Egyptian princess, Paul and Silas escaping from prison while singing praises at mid-night, Peter being rescued from prison by an angel…
  4. Trapdoor blessings are generous!  And perhaps we appreciate them more because the contrast is starkly evident when you’ve experienced deep bondage.  This type of blessing can be so overwhelming that in receiving it, you must find a way to share it and give it away.  Similar to how the Lepers had to let the city know that deliverance was just a few steps outside the gates.

As we leave 2016 and approach 2017, there is a palatable sense of apprehension for many in our world.  It has been a strange year in many ways.  One filled with loss, unpredictability and dis-ease in various ways.  But it is in this type of darkness that light shines most brilliantly.  And it is here that Trapdoor grace reveals itself most readily.

 

 

 

The Whisperer…

We’ve all had the experience of having a disagreement that developed wings and flew way beyond the boundaries of the subject at hand.  You find yourself wondering how you got from here…to there.  The nature of human relationships makes misunderstanding a part of terrain we have to navigate. Because we’re individuals and have our own unique perspectives, learning how to engage and interact with one another is a lifelong learning process.

I tend to have a naive inclination to think that if I explain myself, eventually the ‘other’ will understand.  While explanation and communication can be helpful and talking things out may help gain perspective, at the root of things, I’ve found that disagreements and discord are more about the heart of the matter than anything else.  Wounded hearts, frazzled emotions, disgruntled thoughts, deflated pride  – these do more to foster animosity amongst us than most of us would care to admit.

iStock_000016661379SmallIn Proverbs 26:20,  we read these words: ‘For lack of wood a fire goes out, and where there is no whisperer quarreling ceases.’ This proverb has always held some fascination for me.  In some translations, the whisperer is termed the ‘gossip’ or tattlebearer.  When building a fire, kindling is required for the fire to continue to burn.  This verse indicates that the fire of a quarrel is influenced by something or perhaps someone called a ‘whisperer’.  Whispering, (the gentle muttering underneath the breath) apparently has the ability to serve as fuel for creating a scorched earth aftermath when it comes to relationships.

I am indebted to Brian Hardin of the Daily Audio Bible for his broadcast on October 29, 2014 for a particularly helpful insight on the nature of discord and how the ‘whisperer’ serves to fuel conflict in interpersonal relationships.  In verse 22 of Proverbs chapter 26, we are informed that: “The words of a whisperer are like delicious morsels, they go down into the inner parts of the body.”  This reference would indicate that in some fashion, whispering is able to transcend ordinaary speech and become part of the spiritual reality within the inner recesses of the human soul.

Most of us can relate to the conversation in your head after an argument or disagreement.  You know, the seemingly endless barrage of ‘additional points’ one could have made but didn’t think about in the moment.  But we don’t ask ourselves the question – WHO is continuing the argument after the situation has long receded?  Could it be the ‘whisperer?  The not so silent inner voice which wants to continue to score points, which wants to be right at all cost?

The whispering spirit is a type of temptation.  One which is intimately acquainted with the human condition.  It speaks to us with our own voice, lulling us into the fantasy of absorbing the morsels of poison being fed into our inner parts without questioning the source.  Because it is a type of fuel, disagreements continue unabated until the earth is scorched.  Unfortunately, the terrain in question is the charred remains of human relationships which are sometimes irrevocably changed by the words of the tongue.

So is there a solution?  I think Proverbs 26:20 gives us some vital information.   We all know that fire needs certain conditions in which to burn.  Remove the oxygen or the wood and it eventually goes out.  The same can be said for the ‘whisperer’.  We must recognize that not every voice which speaks to us is speaking for our benefit.  In James 3:6, we are told that the tongue is a flame, a world of evil – potentially a world of evil which has the capacity to set the whole course of a life aflame. This gives one pause to think about how devastating the impact of evil whispered words can be.

We must learn to take authority over the ‘whisperer’ by negating its power to control and ruin our lives and relationships.  The Bible tells us that the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty for bringing down strongholds and things which exalt themselves against the knowledge of God. (2 Corinthians 10:4)

We don’t have to simply swallow morsels which assuage our pride; we can make a conscious choice to stop consuming these toxic mental suggestions.  We can make a decision to stop fueling the flame of distortions and judgemental thinking.  When the fuel is removed, the fire eventually dies out.  It will take time and energy and grace to rebuild what has been destroyed, but if we continue to let the fire burn unabated, that process of regeneration cannot commence.