Monday, April 26, 2010

Slaying the giants

There are certain stories in the Bible that have become famous or popular over the years. These are the stories of Daniel in the lion's den, Noah's ark, David and Goliath, Samson and Delilah and on and on. I am sure you could add several more to this list. Last week I wrote about Absalom. For some reason we have focused on Samson when it comes to issues of hair but Absalom had hair issues as well. This week I was reading in II Samuel 21 and came across a passage very familiar to David and Goliath but it is not nearly as popular as best I can tell:

II Samuel 21: 15-22 - 15 Once again there was a battle between the Philistines and Israel. David went down with his men to fight against the Philistines, and he became exhausted. 16 And Ishbi-Benob, one of the descendants of Rapha, whose bronze spearhead weighed three hundred shekels and who was armed with a new sword , said he would kill David. 17 But Abishai son of Zeruiah came to David's rescue; he struck the Philistine down and killed him. Then David's men swore to him, saying, "Never again will you go out with us to battle, so that the lamp of Israel will not be extinguished." 18 In the course of time, there was another battle with the Philistines, at Gob. At that time Sibbecai the Hushathite killed Saph, one of the descendants of Rapha. 19 In another battle with the Philistines at Gob, Elhanan son of Jaare-Oregim the Bethlehemite killed Goliath the Gittite, who had a spear with a shaft like a weaver's rod. 20 In still another battle, which took place at Gath, there was a huge man with six fingers on each hand and six toes on each foot—twenty-four in all. He also was descended from Rapha. 21 When he taunted Israel, Jonathan son of Shimeah, David's brother, killed him. 22 These four were descendants of Rapha in Gath, and they fell at the hands of David and his men.

It is not obvious at first what this passage is talking about. This passage is talking about King David's men slaying giants. These giants were just like Goliath. The first guy, Ishbi-Benob had a spear who's head head weighed over 7 pounds. In yet another battle, Elhanan killed a giant named Goliath who's spear shaft was like a weaver's rod. Goliath, whom David killed also had a spear like a weaver's rod (I Samuel 17: 7) and it weighed 15 pounds. I think the point is that these guys were big, strong and intimidating to look at. What I find interesting is that there appeared to be no fear in David's men. Not one of them appears to show any fear or any hesitation. This is in stark contrast to what we see back in I Samuel 17:

I Samuel 17: 8-11 - 8 Goliath stood and shouted to the ranks of Israel, "Why do you come out and line up for battle? Am I not a Philistine, and are you not the servants of Saul? Choose a man and have him come down to me. 9 If he is able to fight and kill me, we will become your subjects; but if I overcome him and kill him, you will become our subjects and serve us." 10 Then the Philistine said, "This day I defy the ranks of Israel! Give me a man and let us fight each other." 11 On hearing the Philistine's words, Saul and all the Israelites were dismayed and terrified. 

Look at the last verse, the Israelites were dismayed and terrified. These guys in II Samuel were different, why is that? We are not told but maybe they are not terrified because they heard about the battle between David and Goliath. Maybe they sat around camp one day talking about the great battle many years ago. Maybe David reminded them about his battle and the faithfulness of God. The question that arose from this is, Am I (are we) being faithful to tell the next generation about battling the giants and the faithfulness of God. When the giants come at us, and they will according to James 1:2, will we and our children know how to battle them. When our marriages get stale and the giant, Divorce, rears it's ugly head, will will we know how to slay it or will we be dismayed and terrified? What are we teaching the next generation of soldiers? When the giant of financial trouble raises his fifteen pound spear, will we know how to battle or will we run scared to the bankruptcy judge? 

Paul shared the stories of his life with Timothy and told him to pass it along:

II Timothy 2: 1- 3 -  1You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. 2And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others. 3Endure hardship with us like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. 

What are we teaching the next generation of soldiers? I wonder if these guys in II Samuel went into battle against these giants with a sling and five smooth stones like David did? We may never know, what we do know is that they went into battle and slew the giants. Maybe they too sat around camp after these battles and told their story to the next generation, encouraging them to fight the good fight. You and I have a responsibility, as Paul taught and David displayed, to entrust what we have learned to the next generation. Start teaching!

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