“We Must Obey God as Ruler Rather Than Men”
“To Jehovah Belongs the Battle”
TWO rival armies face each other on opposite sides of a valley. For 40 days the men of Israel cower in fear and are barraged by the insults of Goliath, the champion of the Philistines.—1 Samuel 17:1-4, 16.
Goliath loudly challenges the Israelites with these words: “Choose a man for yourselves, and let him come down to me. If he is able to fight with me and he does strike me down, we must then become servants to you. But if I myself am a match for him and I do strike him down, you must also become servants to us, and you must serve us. . . . I myself do taunt the battle lines of Israel this day. Give me a man, and let us fight together!”—1 Samuel 17:8-10.
In ancient times, it was not unusual for champions to represent their armies in man-to-man combat. Victory went to the side of the winner. But this challenger of Israel is not just a regular soldier. He is a towering giant—a fierce and intimidating foe. In mocking the army of Jehovah’s people, however, Goliath seals his doom.
This is not a mere military contest. The showdown is between Jehovah and the gods of the Philistines. Instead of courageously leading his army against God’s enemies, Israel’s King Saul is paralyzed with fear.—1 Samuel 17:11.
A Young Man Trusts in Jehovah
During this standoff, a young man already anointed to become Israel’s king visits his brothers in Saul’s army. His name is David. Upon hearing the words of Goliath, he asks: “Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he has to taunt the battle lines of the living God?” (1 Samuel 17:26) In David’s eyes, Goliath represents both the Philistines and their gods. Righteously indignant, David desires to stand up for Jehovah and for Israel and to fight the pagan giant. But King Saul says: “You are not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him, for you are but a boy.”—1 Samuel 17:33.
How the perspectives of Saul and David differ! Saul sees a shepherd boy pitted against a hardened giant. David, however, sees a man defying the Sovereign Lord Jehovah. David’s courage rests upon his conviction that God will not let His name and His people be ridiculed with impunity. While Goliath boasts of his strength, David places his confidence in Jehovah, assessing the situation from God’s point of view.
“I Am Coming to You With the Name of Jehovah”
David’s faith is well-founded. He remembers that God helped him to deliver his sheep from a bear and a lion. The young shepherd is certain that Jehovah will now help him to deal with this formidable Philistine adversary. (1 Samuel 17:34-37) Armed with a simple sling and five smooth stones, David goes out to meet Goliath.
Young David takes up this seemingly impossible challenge in the strength that Jehovah supplies. Courageously, he tells the Philistine: “You are coming to me with a sword and with a spear and with a javelin, but I am coming to you with the name of Jehovah of armies, the God of the battle lines of Israel, whom you have taunted. This day Jehovah will surrender you into my hand . . . People of all the earth will know that there exists a God belonging to Israel. And all this congregation will know that neither with sword nor with spear does Jehovah save, because to Jehovah belongs the battle.”—1 Samuel 17:45-47.
What is the outcome? Says the inspired account: “David, with a sling and a stone, proved stronger than the Philistine and struck the Philistine down and put him to death; and there was no sword in David’s hand.” (1 Samuel 17:50) There was no sword in his hand, but he had the powerful backing of Jehovah God.*
How David’s faith in Jehovah was vindicated in that contest! When we must choose between fearing humans and trusting in Jehovah’s saving power, the choice is obvious: “We must obey God as ruler rather than men.” (Acts 5:29) Moreover, when we look at challenging situations from Jehovah God’s standpoint, we are able to put even daunting problems in proper perspective.
See the 2006 Calendar of Jehovah’s Witnesses, May/June.
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HOW BIG WAS GOLIATH?
The account at 1 Samuel 17:4-7 tells us that Goliath’s height was more than six cubits—over nine feet [about 3 m]. Indicative of the Philistine’s size and strength was his copper coat of mail. It weighed 126 pounds [57 kg]! The shaft of his spear was like a wooden beam, and its iron blade weighed 15 pounds [7 kg]. Why, it is very likely that Goliath’s armor was heavier than David himself!