The battles we face
A few years ago I was being investigated for a pituitary tumour (which I am really thankful was a false alarm) when I had a fascinating conversation with one of the doctors. She had been doing research on the tumour in antiquity, and told me (presumably seeing that I was a reverend) she thought that Goliath must have had one. She explained that when they occur in young people unchecked it causes them to grow very tall, and one of the side effects due to its placing on the optic chasm is that it leads to a severe lack of peripheral vision. Therefore Goliath would never have seen coming a stone aimed at his temple. It was a fascinating insight.
The Bible tells us that David slew Goliath because he mocked the living God, and that the Lord would give him into his hands so that the Philistines would know that there is a God of Israel. David then says something very important: "it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves; for the battle is the Lord’s" (I Samuel 17:47) Two very different perspectives on what happened, but not necessarily contradictory. As Christians we face many challenges, both individually and collectively. We live in a western culture that is predominantly apathetic and in some cases increasingly hostile to the truth of the Christian Gospel and how we live out our lives. How then do we respond? Some will want to go on the offensive and slay the giants that stand against us. Others will perhaps be afraid, as Saul and his army was, or just wishing to remain unnoticed hoping that the problems will go away. David though is a really good model for us. First and foremost he is concerned about God's honour and his good name. He embodies that verse from Romans "if God is for us who can be against us?" (Romans 8:31) Yet he also knows that he must step out in faith. It isn't his skill or expertise alone that will triumph, for God gives him the victory, but without his skill (and the ability to hit the target) things could turn out differently. What two things would I draw out from this. First and foremost, it is that our motivation has to be about seeking God's will and His honour. Whatever we do, we must do it for him, and for him alone. The second thing to remember is that "our battle isn't against flesh and blood" (Ephesians 6:12) so that everything we do begins in prayer on our knees. That is why as a church family, facing an unknown future, the first thing we have asked you to do is to come together to pray. I do hope you will join us in doing so.