The Boasting of the Enemy: Goliath

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, May 17, 2019 0 comments

by Charlie Wolcott

There seems to be a lot of boasting by those who despise God, His Word, and His people today. When I was growing up, atheists were a small minority and while they believed there was no God, they didn’t seem to care about those who did. Today, however, it is very different. Today, the ‘atheist’ is not really a “I don’t believe God exists” person, but rather, “I am in defiance of God and anything he stands for.” They are really more “anti-theists” than atheists.

In that defiance, many of them dare God to prove them wrong and to do something about it. There is the classic tale of the professor who stands before his class and says, “If God does exist, let him strike me down with lightning in the next five minutes.” What a foolish thing to say. I heard of another story where a couple teenagers were out doing street-evangelism and told two guys, “You don’t know if a car is going to come and hit you.” (They were on the topic of not knowing when death would come.) The guys left and crossed the street only for a car to come within inches of hitting them. Both men turned back towards those teens and stared in awe. I don’t know what happened after that.

People boast all the time about what they can do and what they know, and they think they can defy God and expect Him not to do anything about it. There is one such case in Scripture which stands out to me regarding this: the famous encounter between David and Goliath. This is perhaps one of the most famous and well-known of the historical events of the Bible. The David vs Goliath showdown has become the cliché of upsets of the little guy beating the expert. While many look at David and his character growth in this showdown, while also examining how God used him to beat this giant, I want to look at the villain of this story. Who was Goliath and what was his boast?

Goliath was no mere mighty warrior. He was a giant. Depending on the size cubit you use, he could have been anywhere from 9½ to 12 feet tall. He wasn’t a mere skinny dude either. He was built big on top of that. Many speculate Goliath and his brothers (each big men in their own right) came from remnants of the Nephilim genes. He was of the sons of Anak, a family of giants. Goliath was trained for war from his youth according to King Saul. He reminds me of the Spartans who began training their soldiers to be soldiers by 8 years old. He was the best of the best. He had no rival and he knew it. His hometown was in Gath, which was actually only a few miles from Bethlehem. He practically lived on Israel’s doorsteps and thus knew quite well what they were capable of doing.

King Saul had stirred up trouble against the Philistines. He had won a battle against Nahash the Amorite which garnered the people’s trust and then thought he could take on the Philistines once he got established as king of Israel. He took a garrison but kicked up a hornet’s nest in the meantime. Saul’s army had no weapons and began to scatter until his son, Jonathan, made a sneak attack and after some infighting in the confusion, the Philistines fled. But Saul had other problems because he continually refused to do what God said in the manner in which God said it. So as a result, Samuel notified him that his throne would cease with him and be given to another (1 Samuel 15). This is what set up the scene for this epic showdown. The Philistines didn’t want a massive battle and decided to let the war be decided by each nation’s two best warriors in a one-on-one duel. Goliath was the one who initiated the challenge, and since Saul was head and shoulders above everyone else in Israel, it was actually his duty to be the one to face Goliath. Needless to say, 40 days passed and no one dared make a move. It is thought that each day, Goliath inched closer and closer to the camp, defying the armies of God and ultimately defying God himself.

Goliath knew that no one in Israel stood a chance against him. He was the best. And in the natural mind, knowing the world Goliath came from, there would be none who bet against him. He didn’t merely walk up to the brook for the duel; the text gives a notion that he rather strutted. There is an undertone of, “Look at me, the best warrior in the world. Who wants a piece of me? Give me the best you have!”

But then strolls in a young lad who hadn’t even finished puberty yet. David was thought to be somewhere between 15 and 17 years old and with only a staff and a sling, no armor, he approached for a duel. Goliath was livid. He expected the best Israel had and instead he gets a little kid who looked like he hadn’t seen a day of battle training. While David had five stones, he only needed one to strike down this giant. What’s more is David sprinted after this giant. He did not fear him nor was he concerned about missing his shot. With one swing, David silenced the boast of this giant, using humble weaponry (a sling) and humble clothing (no armor), but with absolute confidence in the God he served.

Goliath boasted in his skills, his size, his talents, and his weapons. He knew that Israel did not have anyone with the physical ability, the weaponry, or the talent to face him, but his boasting did not consider the God of Israel being the One True God who actually could do something on behalf of his people. He defied God and God sent His champion, a weak, humble, lowly shepherd boy, a nobody then, but the one God had in mind to be the heir to the new throne of Israel.

Many in this world boast as Goliath did. The giant boasted for 40 days and did not expect that God would ever show up after all that time. Likewise, the scoffers today defy God, daring Him to do something about it, and they don’t plan for anything to actually happen. We may be in the middle of the “40 days” of boasting, but let us not fear them, because the day of the hero is coming. But unlike the humble entrance that David had, or that Jesus had when He was born and lived on this earth, when Jesus returns, He won’t be a humble servant but a conquering king. The scoffers we face today think they are giants. They may come with science credentials, they may come with lawsuits, and they may even come with physical violence, but they are boasts. They have no real power to a Christian. The Holy Spirit lives within us, and if we listen to Him, He will lead us through the battles to victory. I’ll look at two more major boasts made by the enemies of God over the next two weeks.

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