Here Am I, Send Me
Continued from my previous post…
The Giant of Gath
Now, the Philistines and the Israelites were at war. The Philistines were “Sea People” who sailed from Greece. In fact, the meaning of Philistines is “immigrants”. The Philistines pitched camp on a hill in Ephes Dammim, between Sokoh and Azekah, while the Israelites pitched their camp on a hill in the Valley of Elah. The armies faced each other with a valley between them. Now, there was a “small” problem. Swaggering from the Philistine ranks was a champion over nine feet tall! The Israelite army shielded their eyes from the sunlight glimmering off his bronze armor. Why, he was decked in metal! A helmet, a scale armor weighing 125 pounds (57 kilograms), greaves, a javelin slung between his shoulders – all in bronze! He clenched a thick wooden spear – its iron spearhead weighed 15 pounds (almost 7 kilograms)! Walking ahead of him, his armor bearer held his shield. What was even worse was that the sound of his voice was more terrifying than his appearance!
“Why are you all coming to fight?” he taunted with an impish smirk. “I am Goliath, the Philistine champion, and you – ha – you are just the servants of Saul. Choose one man to come down here and fight me! If he kills me, we will be your servants! But, wait! If I kill him – which I will, well, YOU will be OUR slaves! Today, I defy the armies of Israel! Come, send me a man who will fight me!”
Upon hearing this, King Saul and the Israelites quavered. Who among this was going to fight this demigod?
If you heard my mom’s preaching on 1 Samuel 7, you will learn that God thrashed the Philistine so badly that they did not dare invade Israel until the prophet Samuel passed away. Since they were afraid to step on Israel soil after such an experience, they naturally wanted the Israelite army to play the game by their rules. With Goliath, the Philistine army finally mustered up some courage with the feeling that their victory was assured. What Goliath was suggesting was a battle of champions. Remember, the Philistines sailed from the islands of Greece. The battle of champions was a famous hand-to-hand combat to be fought by a selected champion from each army. Such a fight was highly popular in Greece! However, it was one that the Israelite army was unfamiliar with.
David’s three older brothers Eliab, Abinadab, and Shimea had enlisted in the army to fight the Philistines. David, on the other hand, kept going back and forth to Saul as he had to tend his father’s flock.
“David, take this basket of roasted grain and these ten loaves of bread to your brothers quickly, and give these ten cuts of cheese to the commander of their unit,” Jesse instructed David. “See how your brothers are getting along and bring me back a report on how they are doing.”
“No worries, Dad!” David assured his concerned father. “Besides, I am sure they are having a marvelous time bashing up those Philistines. After what happened to them last time, I wonder why they would even want a rematch!”
Do you not admire his sense of duty and responsibility? Plus, one should also appreciate how he honored his father by doing so. His father was able to trust and depend upon him. Therefore, he will inevitably reap the benefits. As noted in Ephesians 6:1-3 (NLT), “Children, obey your parents because you belong to the Lord, for this is the right thing to do. ‘Honor your father and mother’ – this is the first commandment with a promise. If you honor your father and mother, ‘things will go well for you, and you will have a long life on the earth.’” Honoring parents bestows a long life of satisfaction and prosperity.
When David arrived at the camp, the Israelite army was leaving for the battlefield hollering the battle cry. The atmosphere was electrifying! Pumping his fist, David too yelled along with them. The army of Israel and the Philistines lined up in battle formation facing each other. Man, we are so going to bash them up! After he left his things with the quartermaster, he sped to the battle line to see his brothers.
“Eliab! Abinadab! Shimea!” he yelled brushing past the other soldiers. It had been more than a month since he had seen them. Of course, he was a little excited.
As he was talking with them, Goliath emerged from the Philistine ranks bellowing his usual taunt. Triggered upon hearing such remarks, David slowly wheeled around. David’s knitted brows and wrinkled nose revealed his utter disgust towards Goliath. Who does this guy think he is? How dare he? How could this vulgar giant dare to blaspheme the name of the Most Holy God! David knew one thing for certain – he was going to have none of it! However, as soon as the Israelite army caught a glimpse of the towering champion, they dispersed utterly petrified.
“Fall back!” yelled the soldiers pushing past David almost knocking him down.
“What are you standing around for boy?” Eliab yelled at his youngest brother. “Run!”
“Why? Who is that guy?” David inquired trying to make sense out of this chaotic situation.
“Just shut up and go!” Eliab commanded jolting David.
Once they reached a safe distance, some of the soldiers slumped to the ground while several others paced about anxiously.
“Have you seen this giant?” one soldier panted as he bent down. “He does this every single day to defy Israel – man, I can’t stop shaking!”
“King Saul has offered a huge reward to anyone who kills him,” another soldier remarked. “He will give that man one of his daughters for a wife, and the man’s entire family will be exempted from paying taxes!”
“What will a man get for killing this Philistine and ending his defiance of Israel?” David inquired approaching the soldiers nearby. “Who is this pagan Philistine anyway, that he is allowed to defy the armies of the living God?”
“King Saul will give that man one of his daughters for a wife, and the man’s entire family will be exempted from paying taxes,” repeated a soldier.
“Yes, that is the reward for killing him,” confirmed his comrades nodding their heads. They were rather quizzical at his piqued interest in the subject.
Upon hearing his youngest brother’s conversation, Eliab became infuriated.
“What are you doing around here anyway?” Eliab fiercely demanded. “What about those few sheep you’re supposed to be taking care of? I know your pride and your mischief! Pfft, you and I both know why you’re really here – you just came here so you get to see the battle!”
“What have I done now?” David responded taken back by his eldest brother’s accusation. “I was only asking a question!”
Despite his brother’s berating, David walked off to ask some other soldiers the same question. He received the same answer. However, his question was reported to King Saul. As a result, the king immediately sent for him. Not long after, David was once again standing in the presence of the king.
Here Am I, Send Me
“Don’t worry about this Philistine,” David assured the king. “I’ll go fight him!”
Before moving on, I want to point out that every member of the Israelite army had an equal opportunity to fight the giant. However, everyone except David backed out and refused the call. David chose to answer it. Pastor Bill Wilson would heavily emphasize, “The need is the call.” You see, God has different ways of “calling” people. Nonetheless, what use is the “call” if you do not answer it? As pointed out by Jesus in Matthew 22:14 (KJV), “For many are called, but few are chosen.” The ones who are finally “chosen” are the ones who answer the call and fulfill its requirements. In addition, Pastor Bill reminded us, “To be available is more important than to be able.” I see that this statement applies to this scenario. The members of the army were trained for combat – they were able. However, they were “unavailable” – they were hesitant and busy running the other direction! Though David was not as trained, he chose to be “available”. As written by the Prophet Isaiah in Isaiah 6:8 (NIV), “Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, ‘Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?’ And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”. In the midst of all the chaos, David was busy waving his hands up in the air and yelling, “Hey, here am I! Send me!”. In Esther 4:14 (NLT), Mordecai warns Esther, “If you keep quiet at a time like this, deliverance and relief for the Jews will arise from some other place, but you and your relatives will die. Who knows if perhaps you were made queen for just such a time as this?”. The first part is pretty hard to swallow, right? Being silent and refusing the “call” has its consequences. As stated by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., “There comes a time when silence is betrayal.”
David chose not to be silent. He knew that God had prepared him “for such a time as this”. What is the “need” you see before you today?
Are you making yourself “available” to the call?
“Don’t be ridiculous – there is no way you can fight this Philistine and possibly win!” King Saul objected. “This man has been trained to kill since he was a youth! You are too young – you are just a boy!”
“I have been taking care of my father’s sheep and goats,” David persisted despite the king’s skepticism. “When a lion or a bear steals a lamb from the flock, I pursue it with a club and rescue the lamb from its mouth. If the beast turns on me, I grab it by the jaw and club it to death. I have done this to both lions and bears, and I will do it to this pagan Philistine too for he has defied the armies of the living God. The Lord who rescued me from the claws of the lion and the bear will rescue me from this Philistine!”
Wow – I get chills down my spine every time I read this! Here, David was in no wise exaggerating in order to impress the king. He meant every single word! David was absolutely convinced that he had the Lord’s backing. Imagine trying to take on a lion or a bear! It is not like either of them is going to let you take away its supper! Once my family and I were driving in the savannas of the Masai Mara, we witnessed four lionesses hunting a warthog. However, the warthog made a narrow escape! Lurking in the distance, a pack of hyenas took advantage of this situation and managed to get to the warthog first! Now, the lionesses were not going to let that happen! They chased the hyenas away and dined like queens. Despite being more in number, the hyenas literally wailed in self-pity as they watched the lionesses feast. They knew they were no match for lions! If they persisted, it would result in a suicide mission! My point is that you have to be absolutely bonkers to single-handedly confront a lion or bear and pry a lamb from its mouth! David was absolutely bonkers! David was compelled by his sense of duty and responsibility to retrieve his father’s lamb. Since a lion or bear is not one to back away, it resulted in a full-on brawl. Yet, David would clutch it by its jaws and smash it to death. That is no small deed – it’s not like a lion or a bear is going to stay still for you to smash it! Thus, David realized that it was only God Who rescued him from the jaws and claws of peril. A while ago, my dad had preached a message in which he stated the following: “The key to your next miracle is in your last miracle.” Cherishing and reminiscing the goodness and greatness of God is vital! In Psalm 103:2 (NLT), David reiterates to himself, “Let all that I am praise the Lord. May I never forget the good things He does for me.” Recollecting the times that the Lord stood by his side, David was confident that the brutish giant did not stand a chance!
“All right, go ahead,” King Saul finally consented much to David’s delight. “May the Lord be with you.”
Now, how is it that David exudes confidence? What made him think that he was a match for the giant of Gath? It was not his own ability. It was the ability of “the Lord Who rescued him from the lion and the bear”. David must have reiteratively meditated and rehearsed on how the Lord rescued him. As a result, he realized how powerful God Whom he trusted was! Thus, he did not have to fear anyone or anything. Moreover, as written by Paul in 2 Timothy 1:7 (KJV), “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” We who are true born-again Christians have the Holy Spirit residing within us. Do you realize the advantage we have? When our security is in God, we become averse to acting out in fear. After all, it is He Who makes us brave! In Him, we can stand unwavering! In Hebrews 13:6 (NIV), Paul boasts, “So we say with confidence, ‘The Lord is my Helper; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?’”. This reminds me of a reference that Marvel fans (sorry DC) will most likely understand. When Loki threatens the Avengers by reminding, “I have an army.” Without flinching, Tony Stark coolly responds, “We have a Hulk.” My point is that David knew that Goliath and the Philistine army did not stand a chance against God Who was on his side. Thus, he was absolutely certain that God would come through for him as He did before. Though Goliath was bigger than David, David grasped that His God was much bigger than the giant of Gath! Therefore, “Do not tell God how big your giant is – tell your giant how big your God is!”. After all, as stated by Paul in Romans 8:31 (NIV), “What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?”. Knowing that God was on his side, David was more than ready to take down the giant of Gath.
To be continued…