Fear of darkness. Fear of heights. Fear of needles. Fear of pain. Fear of spiders. Fear of enclosed spaces. Fear of clowns. Fear of snakes. Fear of the unknown.
There are literally thousands of fears that can be plaguing us today. Though some of us may have more than others, and others may have more unique ones than ours, most – if not all – of us can probably identify with the following biggies:
Fear of ageing, sickness and death. Fear of rejection. Fear of failure.
But as babies, we were all born with only 2 innate fears – the fear of loud noises and the fear of falling. Hmm, not amongst those listed above. So where did all the rest of the fears come from?
Almost every known fear to man is learnt and acquired as we grow up. Scary movies we watched as kids, cruel jokes and fables our older siblings told us, painful experiences from our teenage years and beyond. Encountering disease and death and their terrible effects through the news, shows, or personally within our own family exposes us to the #1 fear of the final end that meets everyone.
The fears in our minds fester and grow as we journey along in life, unknowingly becoming towering giants establishing strongholds in our minds.
A giant kind of like Goliath.
We’ve all heard of the story of David and Goliath, a small guy defeating a big giant. I used to think that it was just an underdog story, as it is popularly referenced as in modern culture, but in actual fact it’s so much better.*
Goliath was the champion of the Philistines, the enemy of Israel. One time, the armies of the Philistines and the armies of Israel were encamped on either side of a valley, the Valley of Elah, in preparation to battle each other. And Goliath came swaggering out from the Philistine camp issuing this challenge to the Israelites: “Send out your best man to fight against me one-on-one, and whoever of us wins will determine the victory of our armies. The army of the loser will serve the army of the winner.”
He was their biggest, toughest, and meanest guy. He was about 9 or 10 feet tall, decked out in full and heavy armour and heavily armed, with a sword, spear, and javelin, and a shield that was carried by his shield-bearer. And he was a champion, meaning he was undefeated.
Nobody in the Israeli camp dared to take up the challenge, not even their King Saul, who was head and shoulders taller than all the rest of the Israelites. And so Goliath taunted them day after day for 40 days, while the entire camp of Israel cowered in fear.
David, a young shepherd boy of about 17, was not at the battleground to begin with. The youngest of 8 sons, he was normally tending his father’s flocks, but ended up going to the camp at Elah because his father asked him to take some bread and cheese to his older brothers there.
The Bible records that Saul and all the men of Israel were in the Valley of Elah, fighting with the Philistines (1 Samuel 17:19). But hang on, didn’t we just read that they were staying on their own side cowering while Goliath challenged them?
The word ‘Elah’ could be a reference to God, but it could also be associated with a root word of fear. And a valley is a low place. So often the battles with our deep-seated fears occur in our mind, and when we face challenges and crises in life our fear giants loom large and continuously taunt us on our inability to defeat them, keeping us paralysed in the valley of fear.
But what we need to realise is: God is in control of our fears. The fight in our valley belongs to the Lord. And His love for us will win every fight and overcome every giant.
When David came to the camp and heard the challenge of Goliath, he was angered by Goliath’s taunts and persuaded King Saul to let him fight Goliath, even though he was just a fresh-faced small-sized youth, with no armour or weapon, and untrained in combat. King Saul tried to put some armour and a sword on David, but it was too cumbersome for David, and he took it off. Wearing just his shepherd’s outfit, and taking his shepherd’s staff, his sling and 5 smooth stones, he went into the valley.
The giant Goliath didn’t stop laughing at and taunting David when David approached him. David didn’t flinch, but simply said, “The battle is the Lord’s, and this day He will give you into our hands” (1 Samuel 17:45-47). As Goliath drew near to attack David, David ran towards him, took a stone and slung it at the giant.
And that one stone went up, up, up, through the helmet of the giant and sank into Goliath’s forehead, bringing the mighty undefeated giant champion crashing face first to the ground, dead. And just to underscore the finality of the victory, David took the giant’s sword and with one stroke cut off Goliath’s head.
David’s name means ‘beloved’. Goliath’s name means ‘exile’. In Ps Louie Giglio’s new encouraging series Goliath Must Fall, he shows us how we are to see Jesus as our champion David who will win the fight against our fear giants, not by human strength or efforts, but by the sheer power of God. These giants may have plagued us for a long time and left us cowering on the side lines in fear, but when God’s beloved Son fights for us, His beloved, our fear giants have no place to remain in our life and they will surely come crashing to the ground.
Whatever the challenge or crisis we are facing today, however gigantic it may seem, the good news we can have today is this:
Jesus always wins. And Jesus our champion will always win for us.
Because when we encounter Jesus, we encounter grace.
*The story of David and Goliath is recorded in 1 Samuel 17.