How to overcome giants

What was the name of that warrior again who killed Goliath? Of course, David! Or was it a certain Elhanan? Anyone who reads the Bible carefully will find quite a few champions who killed giants.

The Philistines, an advanced seafaring nation, have conquered Israel. There is a constant threat of doom hanging over the Israelites. The alliance of the five southern states is simply too strong for them, and its rulers are known for their innovative use of iron for weapons. As if that were not enough, they can afford a professional army.

As a symbol of this superiority, a sole warrior and giant of a man suddenly appears at one of the many attacks on Israel. According to written tradition, he is two to three metres tall. Considering the average height of a man at the time, which was about 1.60 metres, this warrior definitely falls into the category of giant.

An old story …

His armour weighs 60 kilograms. Alone the shaft of his spear is said to weigh seven kilograms. For forty days, this professional soldier challenges Israel’s all-amateur army to send out a champion to decide the outcome in single combat. But his mocking and intimidating shouting terrifies everyone. No one dares to take on this champion. Except for one: a shepherd boy whose father had actually sent him to the battlefield to bring his elder brothers some bread and cheese.

Almost every child knows how the story continues: David kills the Philistine giant with his slingshot, but most importantly, with a huge amount of trust in God. “You come to me with a sword, with a spear, and with a javelin. But I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts. … This day the Lord will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you and take your head from you” (1 Samuel 17: 45–46).

… and many versions

But was it really David who killed this giant from Gath? After all, 2 Samuel 21: 19 reports: “Again there was war at Gob with the Philistines, where Elhanan the son of Jaare-Oregim the Bethlehemite killed the brother of Goliath the Gittite.” Can this be right? Because 1 Chronicles 20: 5 does not give Goliath as the opponent of this Elahan—who belonged to a group of 30 special warriors around David—but his brother Lahmi.

As a matter of fact, there are still a few more champions of God who struck down giants: Abishai slew a Philistine giant who threatened to kill David. Benaiah killed an Egyptian giant. Sibbechai killed Saph. And David’s nephew, Jonathan, defeated a man who had six fingers on each hand and six toes on each foot. This is what we can read in 2 Samuel 21: 16–20 and 23: 20–21 and in 1 Chronicles 20: 4–7.

The secret of success

So what about this gigantic mess? The diversity conveys a message for us that is far more important than the mere historical facts as to who forced which giant to his knees and when. This image is to show us that there are things out there that really terrify us, things that appear insurmountable.

But there are also many people who tackle such “mountains”. If Abishai, Benaiah, and Sibbechai, or whatever their names were, were able to do the same as David, why should we not be able to? All we have to do is follow the shepherd boy’s example and have absolute trust in God. “The Lord, who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, He will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine” (1 Samuel 17: 37). The promise given in Romans 10: 10 also applies: “For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.”

So, let’s join the ranks of those who combat giants. What are our Goliaths? And how do we face them?

Photo: James Steidl / Fotolia

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Andreas Rother
Bible Study