1 Samuel 17:8-10 (NKJV) 8 Then he stood and cried out to the armies of Israel, and said to them, “Why have you come out to line up for battle? Am I not a Philistine, and you the servants of Saul? Choose a man for yourselves, and let him come down to me. 9 If he is able to fight with me and kill me, then we will be your servants. But if I prevail against him and kill him, then you shall be our servants and serve us.” 10 And the Philistine said, “I defy the armies of Israel this day; give me a man, that we may fight together.”
As New Testament Christians, we must recognize the fact that we have an adversary. Peter calls him the devil and characterizes him as being like a roaring lion. Yesterday we began looking at one of the most famous battles in history. Even people who know nothing of the Bible know about David and Goliath. Their names have become synonymous with any fight where an extreme underdog fights an undefeatable giant. I believe this is also a type of every battle we will ever fight in our Christian walk.
Goliath is the roaring lion Peter is talking about in his letter. The roar is designed to bring intimidation. Intimidation is used to bring so much fear into an adversary that he will give up with out a fight. When we are intimidated, we believe we cannot win so we look for any means to avoid the fight. That is what Satan, the roaring lion, tries to do to us. We can see that Goliath has been very successful in intimidating the Israelite army. The war has ground to a halt because no one wants to fight Goliath. One of two things must happen. Either they choose a champion to fight for them and he loses. Or they surrender without fighting at all. Neither is acceptable.
As I have looked at this story, I see a number of things we can learn from Goliath about our enemy the devil. First, Goliath was the enemy’s attempt to separate one soldier from the army as a whole. Goliath could not defeat the whole army, but he could defeat any one soldier. We must be careful of this tactic.
As a pastor, I have seen this work again and again. When we are under pressure, we will often tend to retreat into ourselves. We do not want others to know that we are struggling. When I would see a regular member of our congregation missing, I would often discover that they were dealing with something.. The last thing any of us should do when we are going through a difficult time is stay away from church. Our strength is in the Body of Christ. If the roaring lion can get you away from that strength, he will defeat you, at least in the short term.
It is important that we understand this in ourselves. Usually the devil will enforce the tendency to withdraw by telling us that no one understands us. He will usually see to it that somebody says something we do not like. When we do go to church, it seems like nobody talks to us, the pastor does not greet us, and the message is something we do not want to hear. All of this is to convince us that we should not go to church. The point is to separate you from the army.
Do not fall for this kind of intimidation. Go to someone you can trust, hopefully a leader, and share with them. Ask them for prayer and/or counsel. You will find that everyone is not against you. Sometimes there may not be anything in the natural the body can do to help you, but they will pray for you, stand with you and help you through the trial. You are not alone. That is what the devil really wants you to believe. Do not let Goliath separate you from the army.
Second, Goliath was the enemies attempt to set the rules of engagement for the battle. Every time an army goes into battle there are rules for how they must engage the enemy. When the initial push was over during the Iraq war, the rules of engagement were that our soldiers could not fire upon someone unless they could be proven to be a threat. That usually meant they fired first. Goliath was attempting to set the rules by which the battle between Israel and the Philistines would be fought. Two champions fighting to determine the outcome of the war was an accepted method of fighting. However, it was not the only method. If God said to fight by those rules, that would be one thing. However, it was the enemy who tried to determine the rules. It should be obvious that he is going to set rules that favor him.
No one soldier could defeat Goliath using only natural means. The Philistines knew that. If the fight was according to those rules, the Philistines believed they were assured of victory. The outcome was not so sure if the two armies fought. In the end, they did fight by those rules because David took up the challenge. That does not mean they had to. Goliath came out every day for 40 days to the same place and made the same challenge. This was war! If I were the commander, I would have picked about a thousand of my best soldiers, sent them to where Goliath was going to come to issue challenge and ambush him. Problem solved!
The devil wants to set the rules for your encounter with him. He wants to make you believe you cannot call for help. He wants to get you to believe that the promises of God will not work for you. He wants you to focus only on what you can do. The truth is we have rules by which we are to engage the enemy. They are written in the Word of God. They tell me I can use anything God has put at my disposal to defeat my enemy. They tell me God is for me and will never leave me. They tell me I am loved by my Father. Look at this verse in Romans 8.
Romans 8:29-31 (NKJV) 29 For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. 30 Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified. 31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?
The truth is your life, your sin, and your failures are none of the devil’s business. It is God who justified you. The rules of our engagement with the devil say that he cannot bring up any of that. Our covenant says all God has belongs to me and that includes his almighty power. In Joshua 10:13 we learn that Joshua was having such a good day at battle that he told the sun to stay still so the day would not end until he had won complete victory! That is how our rules of engagement read.
I have heard it said this way. My Father is the official of the game we are playing. In Soccer they have something called extra time. I do not understand it, but when they get to the end of the game the officials can say, “No, the game is not over. We are going to play for another 5 minutes.” In the battles of life, the game is not over until the Father says it is over and we can play as long as necessary for me to win. Do not let the devil set the rules of engagement.
There are two more things we learn from Goliath. Goliath was a liar. When David did defeat Goliath, the Philistines did not throw down their weapons and submit to slavery under Israel. The Israelite army attacked them and killed most of them, but they could have surrendered.
The devil is a liar and the father of lies. Everything he says is a lie even if it contains some truth. When he tempted Jesus, he used the truth of the Word of God but combined it with a lie. Whatever he tells you he will do, he will not. Whatever he tells you will happen, is not guaranteed to happen. Whatever he says is the way out of trouble will only get you in deeper.
Finally, Goliath was an indication of the weakness of the Philistine position. I believe they knew that God was on Israel’s side. There only hope was that Israel would consent to their terms. When the devil is really roaring in your life, just remember that is an indication of how weak his position really is. We have the Word of God, the Holy Spirit and the New Covenant on our side. Do not give in to the roar. You will win if you do not quit.