Monday, July 13th 1 Samuel 17:1-7

“Now the Philistines gathered their armies for battle; they were gathered at Socoh, which belongs to Judah, and encamped between Socoh and Azekah, in Ephes dammim. Saul and the Israelites gathered and encamped in the valley of Elah, and formed ranks against the Philistines. The Philistines stood on the mountain on the one side, and Israel stood on the mountain on the other side, with a valley between them. And there came out from the camp of the Philistines a champion named Goliath, of Gath, whose height was six cubits and a span. He had a helmet of bronze on his head, and he was armed with a coat of mail; the weight of the coat was five thousand shekels of bronze. He had greaves of bronze on his legs and a javelin of bronze slung between his shoulders. The shaft of his spear was like a weaver’s beam, and his spear’s head weighed six hundred shekels of iron; and his shield bearer went before him. 1 Samuel 17:1-7

Goliath was a giant warrior. “Six cubits and a span” – according to the notes in my Bible – means he was about ten feet tall. Goliath Schwarzenegger. The Incredible Philistine Hulk.

Every time I read this story, I immediately imagine the assorted characters who crossed the television screen when I was a kid and my mom let me stay up late enough at night to watch All Star Wrestling. Goliath would have been a great bad guy. He had all the tools, including the attitude (more on that tomorrow.)

I used to think professional wrestling was real. Evidently, lots of people still do today. Or at least they are willing to suspend all vestiges of rationality in their enjoyment of the mayhem. Professional wrestling ranks among the highest sources of pay per view television. It is wildly popular. I’m not sure what it is that is so attractive – surely it has to be more than beef cake.

I wonder if the attraction has more to do with its simplicity. Good vs. Evil. Good that isn’t perfect vs. Evil that isn’t so bad. Evil that seems on the verge of victory until Good ultimately prevails.

That is there in the story of Goliath. As the Philistine bad guy, he personifies the challenges that awaited the Israelites as they continued their journey as God’s people. He was larger than life. Over the course of time, he kept growing. He became legendary, living in the collective unconscious as a symbol of all that stands in the way of our destiny as children of God.

In all of our lives, at any given time, we are faced with Goliath-sized challenges and problems. The more we think about them, the bigger they get. So we look for diversions that take our mind off them. Symbolic escapes. But Goliath isn’t going to go away.

The first step is to define reality. For the Israelites that day, reality consisted of a big obstacle named “Goliath”. But he probably wasn’t as big as they imagined him. He did have his weak spots. And most of all, they weren’t alone.

Let us pray: Dear Lord, as we begin a new week, we do so mindful of the challenges that await us. As we listen this week to the story of David and Goliath, we pray for your gifts of courage and insight, that we might grow through the struggles of our own lives. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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