OF the decisive battle of Britain, Mr. W. Churchill said, “Never was so much owed by so many to so few,” and of David’s victory over Goliath it might well be asked, “Did ever so many owe so much to one?” Certainly such cases have been very rare. Hence they stand out in bold relief on the canvas of human history. The conflict that day in that valley, and its resounding victory was to affect, not only the lives of the then living, but the course of history and bring into prominence one of the most remarkable characters of all time, a man of destiny, David, the Beloved, the sweet Psalmist of Israel.
What inequalities in a conflict, upon the issues of which so much depended. Goliath – the embodiment of brute force, standing over 9 ft. tall, fully armed with sword, spear and shield, a man of war from his youth. David – a stripling, but a youth, with no armour other than a staff, a few stones, a scrip and a sling. With what fascination it has captured the imagination of the young, and held the admiration of the old! What a thrilling moment it must have been when “David ran, and stood upon the Philistine” waving his hand in victory. Little wonder the women sang “Saul has slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands.” David was the hero of the hour.
This episode not only foreshadows the conflict and victories of our Lord in the wilderness and at the Cross. It has
symbolizing as it does one of those decisive battles in the age-abiding conflict between good and evil, truth and error, between the natural and the spiritual, the “way of Cain” and the faith of Abel.
Man is naturally very religious, as is clear from the many systems of religion there are in the world. All such natural religions, among them a counterfeit Christianity with its false claims and practices, appeal to man’s natural tastes and emotions. They are dominated by the five senses, and cater to man’s vanity and pride by placing value on human merit. True Christianity, however, is revealed faith, and, as such, appeals to the spirit part of man’s being. It gives no credit to human merit. It attributes everything to the grace of God. The Philistines with their five lords, giants, and attractive Delilahs would seem to typify the flesh in its adherence to that which is merely natural in its origin and character, is so subservient to the five senses, often with a subtle appeal to the aesthetic in man, and withal dependent upon and proud of a gigantean, colossus-wise organization. This subtle tendency was clearly discernable among the saints at Corinth. They gloried in man as he is in the flesh, his wisdom and power. The Apostles had to turn their eyes to God. (1 Cor. 1:27, 2:10, 3:6). The Philistines were the descendants of Ham, and are spoken of as the “uncircumcised.” They have stamped their name on the land of Canaan. Palestine is but a form of Philistia. They sought to maintain their place in the land, or occupy a position, intended only for the redeemed. They were spoilers or corrupters (1 Sam. 13: 17) and were Israel’s sworn enemies. Even in Isaac’s days they filled with earth the wells he had digged. The report of ten of the spies sent by Moses was “There we saw the giants, the sons of Anak.” In the days of Joshua, these Anakims were cut off, “only in Gath were there any left.” In time, this remnant became strong again and troubled Israel. They used their attractive Delilah to seduce the Nazarite-Samson. When frustration failed, they used intimidation. When that did not succeed they descended to seduction. Delilah cut off his locks, thus robbing him of his strength and handed him over to his lurking enemies, who pulled out his eyes. They robbed God’s people of the Ark (symbol of God’s presence), and of their swords and spears.
Such is the flesh in its acceptance and pursuit of the mere natural. It has compromised many a believer, just as going to the land of the Philistines caused Abraham and Isaac to depart from the truth and sacrifice their integrity. Moreover there is nothing like carnal tradition and a cold formality to clog the wells of truth, and effectively hinder fresh ministry in the power of the Spirit. (Comp. Heb. 5: 11-12 1 Cor. 3:2). It will destroy our true Nazariteship, our separation to the Lord; rob us of our vision and make us objects of ridicule. Like the Church at Laodicea we shall be blind to the truth of God, and to the true state of affairs. It will take away from us the realization of the Lord’s presence. Not only so, it will deny us the use of the word of God, the “sword of the Spirit,” leaving us defenceless in the midst of our spiritual foes and unable to fight the battle of the Lord.
Saul and his army had faced Goliath for 40 days, (cf. Lu. 4:2), a period which in the scriptures, suggests a complete test. Thus they were fully tested. They were weighed and found wanting. In many ways Israel had become conformed to the nations around. They had learned their ways, and were depending on human power and ingenuity. This, however, could bring no deliverance in the hour of need. Prone to the same temptations, we too are slow to learn that these things will not avail. For a spiritual warfare, spiritual weapons are the indispensable essentials. The one to bring deliverance to Israel was the despised David. In the very essence of weakness, but in real dependence on God, he wrought victory, in God’s name, out of what seemed to portend an inevitable and crushing defeat.
In their day Paul (1 Cor. 12: 9-10, Luther, Muller, Darby and others were true Davids. What a mighty colossus did Luther meet and bring to earth. While we enter into and enjoy the fruits of their labours, we too need to learn experimentally the message of David and Goliath. Vigilance is ever necessary, for the Philistines have never been wholly cut off. Hence deliverance is never complete. In every generation the truth of God is opposed by the same wily enemy. The fresh inroads of ritualism, tradition and a dead formalism, so evident on every hand, and from which assemblies cannot claim immunity, are not to be counteracted by the imitation of an ecclesiastical paraphernalia, but by a bold proclamation of the truth of God, the smooth stones out of the river of life.
One wit once said in sarcasm that David’s stone hit Goliath in the softest part of his anatomy. If not, the softest it was the unprotected part. So today, an appeal to the reason and conscience will discover the weakest and most vulnerable spots in a faith that is founded on superstition, tradition and a dead externalism.
Goliath, the giant, of Gath, was the champion of the Philistines. He represents the power of carnal natural religion at its zenith. David represents the true Philadelphian: conscious weakness (Thou hast a little strength); confidence in God and His word (Thou hast kept my word); and confessing His name (Thou hast not denied my name). (Rev. 3:8). What a need for a revival of these graces there is today. What a need for true Davids exists on every hand. May God graciously grant such reviving and raise up such men.