Philistines and Bullies

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Tuesday, June 14, 2016 0 comments

by Bill Seng

You know who the Philistines are. That’s not a question. You know who they are even if you don’t. Anyone who has heard the story of David and Goliath has had exposure to who the Philistines are. Goliath was the champion of the Philistines when they were battling against Israel’s army, led by Saul. In those days the Philistines were the arch nemesis of the Israelites.

The Philistines were born to be bad guys. In the earliest days after the world’s creation, a man named Cain was born and he became the living icon of wickedness. He murdered his brother and was cast into exile (Genesis 4). His bloodline was destroyed by the flood in Genesis, but he was later succeeded in his wickedness by Noah’s son Ham. Ham had a son named Casluhim who gave birth to the Philistines (Genesis 10:14). Of the three sons of Noah that the Philistines could have descended from, it was the one from whom a curse would be transmitted. The Israelites and the Philistines hated each other.

Ultimately, the relationship between the Israelites and the Philistines could be summed up by two bullies: Samson and Goliath. Samson was a man chosen by God to inflict damage to the nation of the Philistines (Judges 14:4) while Goliath was chosen to bring glory to God through David’s victory.

Goliath defined the Philistines: mighty, fierce, and blasphemous. When he stood before the nation of Israel to challenge them to fight, he cursed the name of the Lord and swore by his own gods (1 Samuel 17:43). He was a bad man, but he wasn’t too different from many people alive today. We tend to think that the battle doesn’t only belong to the biggest and strongest, but the most belligerent and irreverent. The Philistines were a ruthless and immoral people as was demonstrated through the Israelites’ champion bully, Samson.

Samson was gifted by God with long hair that would give him strength. The Philistines, despite Samson’s cruelty, were also cruel. They stole his first wife from him and then burned her and her father alive (Judges 15:6). Samson became full of rage and ripped into the Philistines with an animosity that was probably matchless to any other warrior in history. In a single battle he killed 1,000 Philistine warriors (Judges 15:15). Samson’s downfall, though, would come about due to his arrogance. He gave away the secret to his strength, was robbed of it, and was blinded by the Philistines (Judges 16:21).

The Philistines were used as a whip to test the faith of the Israelites and to be an instrument of judgment against them. Samson exemplified the hatred that the Israelites would harbor against the Philistines for a long time, while Goliath was an example of the pure wickedness that the Philistines stood for. Although Goliath was a true bully, in the respect that he boasted in his strength and size and used it to oppress people, Samson was only a bully in the respect that he allowed his success to make him arrogant. It was in this that God again used the Philistines as a judge against him and remind him of his need for God to overcome his greatest obstacles.

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