Everybody knows the story of David and Goliath.
The story of Israel’s beloved king, David…a man after God’s own heart…began with a young shepherd boy standing up against an ungodly Philistine. And not just any Philistine – a giant Philistine.
Read the description of this giant in 2 Samuel 17:4-7:
Then a champion came out from the armies of the Philistines named Goliath, from Gath, whose height was six cubits and a span. He had a bronze helmet on his head, and he was clothed with scale armor which weighed five thousand shekels of bronze. He also had bronze greaves on his legs and a bronze javelin slung between his shoulders. The shaft of his spear was like a weaver’s beam, and the head of his spear weighed six hundred shekels of iron; his shield-carrier also walked before him.
Let’s put those measurements into today’s terms, based on various online commentaries.
* Height – approximately 9’6”
* Scale Armor – approximately 78 pounds (some sources say up to 157 pounds!)
* Spear Head – approximately 15 pounds
* Spear – approximately 2 ½” in diameter and around 26 feet in length
David, as we know, was a teenager. As a shepherd who had battled a bear and a lion, and who spent a lot of time outside wrangling sheep, he was most likely in good condition, but certainly no match in size or strength.
And how about the rest of Saul’s army who were listening to the giant’s taunts each day, too scared to go up against him? David’s three older brothers were afraid. Even Saul the commander of the army was hiding in his tent.
But we know what happened. The young teenager is victorious over the loud, ungodly giant because God was with him and God gave him the victory. David defeated the giant not in his own abilities but because he stood in the name of the Lord.
Fast forward through David’s life, about 40-plus years. He had experienced being hunted like a fugitive, acting like a madman to save his own life, ascending to the throne, personal failure which spilled over into his own family, including rape, murder and betrayal. He made mistakes and let people down, but one thing he always did was repent and return to the Lord. And he always learned from his experiences. David was completely human and fallible, but he understood the grace and mercy of God and he rarely made the same mistakes twice.
So what was his legacy? Aside from being Israel’s most-loved king who ruled during the golden years of the united kingdom, David impacted his people in so many ways. But here’s just one that caught my attention.
Consider this passage in 2 Samuel, written towards the end of David’s life.
2 Samuel 21:15-22 – Now when the Philistines were at war again with Israel, David went down and his servants with him; and as they fought against the Philistines, David became weary. 16 Then Ishbi-benob, who was among the descendants of the giant, the weight of whose spear was three hundred shekels of bronze in weight, was girded with a new sword, and he intended to kill David. 17 But Abishai the son of Zeruiah helped him, and struck the Philistine and killed him. Then the men of David swore to him, saying, “You shall not go out again with us to battle, so that you do not extinguish the lamp of Israel.” 18 Now it came about after this that there was war again with the Philistines at Gob; then Sibbecai the Hushathite struck down Saph, who was among the descendants of the giant. 19 There was war with the Philistines again at Gob, and Elhanan the son of Jaare-oregim the Bethlehemite killed Goliath the Gittite, the shaft of whose spear was like a weaver’s beam. 20 There was war at Gath again, where there was a man of great stature who had six fingers on each hand and six toes on each foot, twenty-four in number; and he also had been born to the giant. 21 When he defied Israel, Jonathan the son of Shimei, David’s brother, struck him down. 22 These four were born to the giant in Gath, and they fell by the hand of David and by the hand of his servants.
Who are these men mentioned who were able to slay the Philistine giants?
Abishai was David’s nephew, son of his sister Zeruiah. Abishai had served with David his entire life, and was one of his mighty men (2 Samuel 23), and a leader of the group. He had literally gone into the enemy’s camp, risking his life with David. He was a true and loyal to David, and had probably spent more time with David than with his own family.
Sibbecai the Hushathite was also one of David’s mighty men (1 Chronicles 11:29). We don’t know anything else about him, other than he is listed here as having killed Saph, a descendant of the giant.
Elhanan was a Bethlehemite, from the same town as David. Other than where he was from, we don’t know anything about him.
Jonathan is also David’s nephew, the son of his brother Shimei.
These are men who had spent time with David. Some were family. All were friends, and fellow warriors in Israel’s army. They stood on the same side of the battlefield. They were passionate about the same things. They served the same God.
When David faced Goliath, he wasn’t thinking about who was watching him, or who would remember this great victory. He was simply stepping up to face the battle that God had brought into his life. But his simple act of obedience, his willingness to face the battle, was still impacting the generation coming after him.
The men who served David were loyal, brave, and strong. They had learned how to kill giants from David, and now they were carrying on his legacy. He had set the pattern, the example, even as a young teenager. They were also protective of David. They considered him a treasure – the “lamp” of Israel (the one who brought light to the land). They wanted to defend and protect him.
There are two types of people represented in this passage in 2 Samuel 21: The mature, battle-worn, experienced soldier of Christ, and the younger disciple who is growing, learning and maturing.
This passage depicts a “handing off” of the responsibility of spiritual war. The things we have learned and experienced, both our victories and our defeats, should be told to those coming behind us. And those coming behind should be willing to spend time with the older, mature believers – to learn from them and to encourage them as they complete their “tour of duty” on this earth.
There really is a “baton” of service to God to be passed on. As we live a life of serving God, we must be conscious of what we are teaching those coming behind us; the legacy and example we are leaving, and the spiritual battles we engage in that will benefit our children and grandchildren. And as spiritual children, we must be willing to learn, to be discipled, to grow from the experiences of those ahead of us, and we must be faithful to support and protect our older saints.
What are some practical truths we see in this passage in 2 Samuel 21?
· Don’t waver as you get older. Be willing to engage in spiritual battles no matter how old or useless you might think you are.
· Support older saints of God – protect them and encourage them.
· Learn from those who have gone before you. Study their “spiritual disciplines” and their habits. Learn what gives them strength and how they face spiritual battles.
· Realize that as you grow in your faith, it becomes your responsibility to face the “giants!”
· Understand that you may face the same spiritual battle, but it may come at you with a different “face.” It may take a generation, and many warriors, to defeat it.
· Realize that God’s kingdom has enemies.
· Be confident that God’s power can overcome what seems like daunting and impossible enemies.
· Be willing to share your spiritual weapons – teach those who come after you who God is, and all that He has revealed about Himself to you. Pass on your spiritual legacy.
We have an enemy.
We are in a spiritual war.
Let’s follow our commander, Jesus, closely. Let’s support one another, teach one another and encourage one another. Let’s protect those who are weak. Let’s learn from those who have experience.
I encourage you no matter where you are on this “timeline” of spiritual battles to stand firm, and do your part, knowing that the victory belongs to God.