David, Goliath and Vulnerability

Last night in bible study , we discussed chapter seven in Louie Giglio’s book Goliath Must Fall. Using 1 Samuel 17 as a launchpad, Giglio expertly calls out the giants in our lives. The application isn’t the standard Sunday/bible school one, that we should be like the heroic David rushing out to conquer our giants. Instead, Giglio makes the case that we are the scared soldiers sulking behind the lines; Jesus is the heroic figure who delivers us from our giants.

No matter how many times you’ve studied a bible narrative, there’s almost always another angle, a deeper truth to discover. The bible doesn’t change, but your understanding does. Saul and David had very different ways of dealing with David’s all-too-evident vulnerability.

You’re going to be amazed at this, but I do my own illustrations. Honestly, my fifth grader could have drawn much this better but she’s at school. Here’s what David’s vulnerability looked like on the battlefield…

David Goliath

A huge, well-armed giant versus a small, lightly-armed teenager. [If you’ll notice carefully, my illustration even includes five smooth stones.] In 1 Samuel 17:33, King Saul objected to David’s plan to take on Goliath: “You are not able to fight the Philistine; you’re only a boy.” Saul could only see David’s vulnerability. David Goliath V

That yellow V represents David’s relative weakness to face the giant. It’s how much David was outmatched by his enemy. Saul was a leader, a tactician, and a king. Plus he was tall. Saul felt the need to address David’s strategic disadvantage: “Saul clothed David in his own tunic. He put a coat of armor on him and a bronze helmet on his head.” Saul wanted to fill the gap with his own armor.

Saul’s armor was how Saul dealt with his own shortcomings. And of course Saul could let David use the armor, because Saul hadn’t been using the armor to fight Goliath himself. Saul probably didn’t think David had a chance of defeating Goliath, but he let David go anyway. In Saul’s mind, David was probably going to fail spectacularly, but at least he could look like a proper soldier.

Saul’s armor wasn’t made for David, and so David turned it down. That giant V represented a very real problem for David. He was relatively un-tall, untrained, and unarmed. Saul wanted to address that vulnerability with his own ill-fitting armor. But David chose to face his shortcomings through faith, a reliance upon the God who had already delivered him from difficult circumstances (bears and lions, verses 34-37).David V

But we’re not often like David. Here’s how Giglio puts it:

“We put on false armor all the time. We feel powerless in a broken world. We’re afraid, so we hide in addictions. We wrap ourselves in things that make us feel stronger or more protected than our normal selves. Instead of hiding in Saul’s armor, David relied confidently in the Lord.”

In an honest self-assessment, David knew that he was personally inadequate to face Goliath. That huge deficit left an equally large corresponding temptation to rely on something besides God (Saul’s armor). But through faith, David bravely responded to terrible circumstances that were totally beyond his control.

The greater the gap between our abilities and our problems, the greater our need for faith… or the greater the vacuum to be filled by addiction, which is false comfort. The greater the volume of our pain, the greater the operating area for grace.

Paul wrote about his own vulnerability in 2 Corinthians 12. We don’t know what his problem was, but he pleaded with God three times to remove it. Instead of liberating Paul from pain, God empowered him to endure it:

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

That’s a gritty sort of realistic faith, well-suited for life in the trenches of a twisted world. Faith that endures unanswered prayers and unrelenting pain might not sell a lot of books, but it fuels the lives of people who have no choice but to bear the unbearable. This kind of faith defiantly shakes a fist in the face of gut-wrenching reality.

How will you deal with the giants in your life? With somebody else’s ill-fitting armor? Will you soothe those shortfalls with false comfort?

You can learn to delight in your weakness so that you can experience the strength of Christ.

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