The sun rises over the mountains, bathing the camp in a golden glow. The army has pitched their tents on a ridge in the foothills. Below them, a creek bed winds through the valley. For part of the year, it is overflowing. But today, there is not a trickle of water to be seen.
The camp should be stirring with men. But instead, it appears deserted. The soldiers are nervously hiding in their tents, the enemy’s taunts striking fear deep in the core of their being.
Across the valley, on the opposing ridge, the Philistines are camped at Ephes-dammin—“boundary of blood” or “blood has ceased”. Other battles have been fought here. Other lives lost.
The camp of the enemy is anything but quiet. Men move around, loudly talking and laughing with the ease of those who know that the victory is theirs. They have some of the best metal-smiths in the world at their disposal, and it shows. And they have a not-so-secret weapon—a man named Goliath.
Goliath is big. Over nine feet tall. He is virtually indestructible. His armour is thick and heavy, and his sword can easily pierce through even the strongest metal breastplate, let alone the flimsy armour of the Israelites. He is a formidable opponent.
But the Israelites have an even bigger not-so-secret weapon—God. And yet, they cower. Why?
Usually, when we read the story of David and Goliath, we focus on the part where David picks up those stones and kills Goliath. Today, when I read it, however, it was this first portion that caught my attention. We’ve all experienced fear. We all know how paralyzing it can be. So I read this story with one question in mind: What causes fear and how do we overcome it?
Lack of Prayer
Commentaries say that the Israelites were situated above a creek bed, called a wadi, which was only dry part of the year. It was in this creek bed that the battle between David and Goliath took place. Maybe a dry creek bed is just a dry creek bed. Throughout the Bible, however, water represents the Holy Spirit. Battles often take place during times of spiritual dryness. The Bible says to be ready in season and out of season (2 Timothy 4:2). Even when we go through spiritual dry seasons, we need to allow the Holy Spirit to flow through us. We do this by spending time in His presence.
Lack of Growth
According to scholars, the Israelites were short, averaging around five feet tall. Poor diet was one factor in their stunted growth. Sometimes it’s not so much that our enemies are big, but that we’re small. Hebrews 5:12 says that we shouldn’t subsist on a spiritual diet of milk. We need to dig deep into the Bible and let the Holy Spirit speak to us, convict us, and cause us to grow into tall, mighty men and women of faith.
Lack of Focus
The Israelites forgot that the invisible power of God is greater than the visible power of the enemy. They saw the strength of the enemy—large people with expertly made armour and sharp spears. They heard the voice of the enemy, loudly taunting them day in and day out. And they forgot just how huge God is. They forgot about the victories He had won for them in the past. 2 Corinthians 4:18 says that we are to fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. Jesus defeated every last enemy on the cross, so when we are facing an enemy, we need to keep our eyes on the One who holds victory in His hand.
Lack of prayer, lack of growth, and lack of focus—these are the things that produce a mindset of fear. It only makes sense then that when we pray, grow, and focus on the victory we have in Jesus, we will be filled with the courage to face and overcome the giants in our lives.