Goliath and Giants
Today we going to look at giants in the Bible. Since the most famous giant is Goliath, we will look at David’s encounter with him.
There are references to giants before the flood but all of them died in that flood. If interested read Genesis 6:1-4.
While giant men known as Nephilim did not survive the flood, another group of giants known as Rephaim are referenced following the flood. Genesis 14:5-7 is the earliest reference to them. There is no biblical mention of them after David.
A second group identified as giants were the Amorites, who are mentioned over 80 times in Scripture. Read Amos 2:9. While that picture may have been figurative, Numbers 13 describes them as inhabitants of the Promised Land. Read how the spies described them in Numbers 13:31.
Various other groups in the Promised Land before the Israelites entered are described as giants. For example, Numbers 13 mentions the Emims and Deuteronomy 2:11 reads “they too were considered Rephaites” or literally giants. Read Deuteronomy 3:11. “Rephaites” is the name of a group known for their large size and in this case Og’s bed was about 14 feet long and 6 feet wide.
In all references to men who would be considered giants, there is not even a hint that their size was anything other than DNA that passed their size from one to another, producing these huge men.
That takes us to Goliath. Read I Samuel 17:4. Gath was part of the land of the Anakins whose men are described in Joshua 11 as giants. Goliath’s height was between 9 and 10 feet.
There are 4 more giants listed in the Bible and many biblical scholars believe they were related to Goliath. They are mentioned in II Samuel 21:15-22. Read I Chronicles 20:4-8.
Back to I Samuel 17 and David and Goliath. Assuming we know the story, consider are some key points in it that we do not think about often enough. The theme is not simply that the bigger they are the harder they fall but this is an amazing story of a big God who can defeat the Goliaths of this world if we allow Him to do so.
Begin by noting that David faced 2 giants that day. The first giant David faced was his mocking brothers who declared that he was too young, too inexperienced so he should keep his mouth shut and go away. All of us in life and in ministry have faced that giant in one form or another. There are always those who tell us we can’t succeed in life and in the Christian life in particular. There are giants who tell us we can’t serve God or bear a witness so don’t even try.
The second giant was Goliath. He represents all those who would, in one form or another, mock God. In this chapter we have, in some form or another, the Hebrew word meaning “to defy or mock” used 6 times (vv. 19, 25, 26 (twice), 36 and 45). We live in a world that mocks God in one form or another all the time. In the process of mocking God, they are also mocking our belief in Him and what He can do for us. God said, “Be not deceived by the giants who mock God for what a man sows a man reaps.”
There are 2 keys to understanding this chapter. First, God is described in I Samuel 17 as a living God. Then we learn that truly believing God is alive will result in changing the way we live. If we believe He lives, we will trust Him for victory over the giants in our lives.
Second, we need to see the contrasts in the chapter. Contrast is seen between David and Saul, between David and the army/his brothers, and between Goliath and David. David, as a man of God stands out in contrast to those without faith.
Read I Samuel 17:1-3. There is a long valley that cuts across Israel just below the Mt. of Transfiguration. It is about 1 mile across and in the middle is a deep ravine. The armies of the two nations were on opposite sides of that valley.
Read I Samuel 17:4-7. The writer wanted to impress upon us Goliath’s size, giving not only his height but details of the armor which was sufficiently large and heavy that it is doubtful any of us could have even carried it, let alone done battle in it. He was a giant.
King Saul is described in the Bible as a man who stood a head above all others and he was not willing to even consider facing Goliath. Is it any wonder the rest of his army was not willing to go? Why did Saul even allowed David to go? Think about the consequences for Israel. Would you send your weakest soldier into such a setting? This is another example of God at work in the heart of Saul. Saul thought he was in control, but God really was.
From the perspective of both Saul and his army, and certainly from the perspective of the Philistines, Goliath was unbeatable given his size and strength. But David saw God when the others saw only their circumstances.
Read I Samuel 17:8-11. The Philistines chose a unique approach to this conflict. They sent out a warrior who issued a challenge. Send one soldier to fight me, with winner take all.
Read I Samuel 17:12-19. Israel did not have a standing army. When a threat came to the nation word was sent out that help was needed, and men volunteered. With no standing army there was no provision for the feeding of the soldiers, so it was not uncommon for families to send supplies along with their sons. One wonders if Jesse’s concern was not only their eating but their condition. He had not heard from them and was undoubtedly anxious to know if they were all right.
Read I Samuel 17:20-31. David had never personally seen war, so when he arrived, he undoubtedly wanted to see it all. He arrived just in time to hear the challenge of Goliath. One could call that a coincidence if we didn’t know God’s sovereignty in all things.
Read I Samuel 17:25 where David declared his faith in God whom he had trusted in the past and knew would act in the present and future in the same way. Trusted in the past, God could be trusted now.
In that same verse David expressed his real concern. For David, the issue was not about freedom but the honor of God. Goliath was not just a giant, he was a heathen, an uncircumcised individual and he was hurling insults not at Israel but at Israel’s God. Each nation had its own god who was supposed to protect them. In a battle such as this it really was not Goliath against Israel but the god of the Philistines against Jehovah, the God of Israel. David re-interpreted it in theological terms. The Israelites saw this as a battle of their best against Goliath with no hope of victory. David saw this in terms of God. God, not Israel, was being challenged and God, not Israel, was up to the task. Read I Samuel 17:45. The challenge was a spiritual battle. The honor of God, along with His power, was at stake.
Saul and the army of Israel saw the challenge in realistic terms. Goliath was one huge giant and they were, by comparison, very small. Israel did not stand a chance. David saw it, not through the eyes of realism. but through the eyes of faith. He asked, “Who is this heathen who dares to insult God and defy His power? David reminds us that when we are challenged by life and the enemies of God, we need to turn our eyes upon Jesus and see Him, not the problems.
Because God was in control, verse 47 records a quick and decisive victory. Little space is given to it because the story is not about a battle but about a God we can always depend upon. The headlines in the Jerusalem Times the next day probably declared, “David Defeated Goliath.” Actually, God won through David.
Giants were real in David’s day and they were enemies of God and God’s people. They were no match for God. The same is true today. When we face challenges that appear as giants against us, we must remember they are not giants to God. We must learn, as David learned, to face them in God’s name and in His power. We are on the winning side.