Through Goliath, the Lord confronted Israel’s idolatry. Israel wanted a powerful savior-king like the kings of the other nations to deliver them. But what happens when your enemies have a greater Goliath, a greater savior-king than the one you have fashioned?
An idol is anything we put our trust in other than the Lord. When we try out idolatry, God has a remarkable way of making our idols powerless before the very fears that created them in the first place. Israel wanted security, protection, and power. Now they stand in fear, cowering before the much greater idol of the Philistines. God raised up an outwardly more impressive warrior than Saul to expose Israel’s helplessness and fear.
We see how misguided it is to teach that this passage is about slaying the Goliaths in our life. How do we slay the idols that we desire, create, and worship? When our idols beckon us, as Goliath did that day, we cower and become their slave. We are crushed by their strength and taken into captivity. We are unable to slay the Goliaths, the idols in our lives.
The Arrival of God’s Champion
At this point, a surprising character is introduced into the narrative. David is his name, and there is nothing remarkable about him, humanly speaking. He comes from a house of obscurity in Bethlehem, and he is the youngest of the sons of Jesse. He is a shepherd.
One day, David is sent by Jesse to take food to his brothers. As he visits them on the battlefield, he heard Goliath taunt Israel. The men of Israel are saying, “Have you seen this man who has come up?” David responds, “Who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?” (1 Sam. 17:26). This response earns him the derision of his brothers. David confidently asserts that Goliath will fall at his hands.
To us, David may seem like the underdog, but that reveals that we read this narrative incorrectly. We look for strength in all the wrong places. David is not the underdog. God chose to set His strength on this shepherd boy. With a single stone, David strikes the Philistine on the forehead, and he dies in the presence of both armies. There isn’t much of a fight to write about. It is over before it starts. In this victory of the Lord, Israel went forward to plunder the Philistines (1 Sam 17:52–53).
Stand back from the story of David and Goliath, and the much bigger story of the Bible emerges. David foreshadows someone much greater. God’s champion, Jesus, arrived in obscurity. He, too, came from Bethlehem, and was of a lowly profession. Despised by His brothers and weak in the eyes of Israel and Rome, Jesus veiled His glory in humility.
This is the story of Scripture: God sent His Son, who took on our human nature. In the wilderness and then at Calvary, Jesus confronted and defeated our greatest foe, our greatest Goliath—Satan himself. At the cross, Jesus disarmed principalities and powers and atoned for all our rebellion and idolatry.
“Goliath” didn’t stand a chance before the Christ. Jesus was the Anointed of God, our champion, sent to overcome all our sin. We stood to the side and watched God’s Anointed step onto the battlefield and win. It is in Jesus’ victory that we are more than conquerors.
Circa AD 30, in the first month of the Jewish calendar, Nisan, at about the sixth hour of the day, Jesus said, “It is finished,” and forever crushed “Goliath” for us. There is no sin in our lives that He cannot forgive and no idol that He cannot conquer.
Today the Lord calls us to put our trust in Him as our King and give up all confidences in other deliverers. By faith, we go forward in this victory. The battle has always belonged to Jesus Christ. May we never try to take this honor from God’s true champion.
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on May 29, 2020.