Ask Pastor Alex, Ep. 23
This is the Ask Pastor Alex podcast with your host, Pastor Alex.
All right, welcome back to the podcast, everyone. We’re here with another episode and another
question. And the question for this episode is, is David and Goliath about facing our giants?
And that’s a good question. And it’s really a needed question, too, because we hear a lot
of bad interpretations of this story. It’s one of the most popular stories in the entire Bible,
and yet it is often one of the most misunderstood and misinterpreted and misapplied stories in the
entire Bible. The way this story is typically preached today and taught in Sunday school or
in devotionals is that you can overcome the giants in your life. That just as David defeated Goliath,
so too you can face and overcome whatever your giants are, whether they are depression or
anxiety, a bad boss, financial hardships, medical problems, addiction, whatever it is, whatever
your giant is, you can overcome it just as David overcame Goliath. And so I really just want to say
at the start that while you can overcome the problems you face through the grace and enabling
power of God, that is not at all what this story is about. I would go so far as to say that none
of those are even appropriate applications of this story. See, this story is about Jesus, plain and
simple. David serves as a shadow or a picture of Jesus and his triumph over Satan. You see, we have
a pretty big problem in the church today of isagesis. Isagesis, if you’re not familiar with that word,
it simply means to read something into the text that’s not there. So with stories like this,
we typically try to read ourselves into the story and ask, okay, who am I in this story? And let’s
be honest, most of the time we make ourselves out to be the hero, don’t we? And so we read this story
and we say, okay, I’m clearly David. My problems are Goliath and God will give me the power to
overcome all of my problems just as he gave David the power to overcome Goliath. That’s typically
how we read this story and think about this story. But please understand me on this, okay? If we are
anyone in this story, we’re the scared Israelites cowering in fear, doing absolutely nothing while
our opponent or our enemy taunts us. And so rather than committing isagesis, what we need to do
instead is commit ourselves to exagesis. And if you aren’t familiar with that word, exagesis simply
means to draw out from the text what is there. So rather than reading ourselves into the story,
rather than reading something into the story that’s not there, we want to draw out what is there.
And as I said before, this story is all about Jesus. I say that, now I have to prove it. So
let’s dive in. Let’s see how this story is about Jesus. So the story of David and Goliath occurs
in 1st Samuel 17. But we can’t just start there. That’s like the middle of the biblical story,
right? You would never pick up a book and just start reading in the middle of that book,
because you’d be totally lost as to what’s going on. You wouldn’t even really know who the characters
are or what the storyline is or anything like that. And so when we read stories like this in
the Bible, we have to keep in mind the bigger biblical picture, the bigger biblical story
that’s going on. And so let’s remember all the way back to Genesis. Adam and Eve, they rebelled
against God. And in chapter 3, God pronounces the punishment for their sin and rebellion. Women will
have increased pain in childbirth, along with a desire to usurp the husband’s God-given role.
And men will have to work hard in order to provide. And the creation itself is even affected by our
sin. It only yields fruit after much hard labor, and oftentimes it produces thistles and weeds.
And so you see God begin to pronounce all of these punishments, and he even pronounces a curse upon
the snake who tempted them into sin in the first place. God says the snake will be the lowest of
all creatures and will have to slither around on its belly. And in the midst of those punishments,
God also pronounces a promise. He gives the people, gives us, gives Adam and Eve a promise
in Genesis 3.15. He says, I will put enmity between you and the woman and between your
offspring and her offspring. He shall bruise or crush your head and you shall bruise his heel.
It’s a promise that one day there’s going to be an offspring of the woman who would crush the head
of the snake and bring about a total reversal of sin’s curse and bring renewal to God’s creation.
And God gives us glimpses of this promise coming to fruition throughout scripture. For instance,
we see a shadow of this promise in the person of Moses. You’ll remember Moses was a deliverer. He
was going to deliver God’s people from an oppressor, and that oppressor was Pharaoh. Interesting thing
about Pharaoh, by the way, and you can see this oftentimes in TV shows, movies, pictures that
depict a Pharaoh. The Pharaohs of Egypt wore a diadem, and on the very middle of that diadem
was a snake. So in Moses versus Pharaoh, you have a son of woman versus a snake. And even more than
that, you’ll remember that God had Moses throw down his staff and that staff became a snake.
And Pharaoh had his magicians conjure up snakes as well. But Moses’s snake consumed those snakes.
They were defeated. And eventually, Moses led the people out of Israel from under the oppression of
the snake, but Pharaoh chased them through the parted waters of the Red Sea. But those waters,
you’ll remember, closed up on Pharaoh and all the Egyptians who were pursuing them. And the Bible
says that Pharaoh was swallowed up. And it’s interesting, the word swallowed up there, it’s
the same word for swallowed that occurred when Moses’s snake consumed Pharaoh’s snakes. And so
what you have in Moses versus Pharaoh, it’s a picture, it’s a foreshadowing of a son of woman
delivering God’s people from the oppression of a snake. So then that takes us all the way back to
David and Goliath. Before their fight begins, you need to remember that at this point, the prophet
Samuel had already anointed David as the new king of Israel. The spirit of God comes upon David,
so he has the spirit and he has the anointing of God. But he doesn’t assume the throne just yet,
but he is God’s man. He is God’s anointed new king over Israel. And the king of Israel was supposed
to lead God’s people, protect God’s people, and imitate God himself. And at this point in Israel’s
history, they are at war with the Philistines. And we’re finally introduced in chapter 17 to the
champion of the Philistines, Goliath. And in chapter 17 verses 4 through 7, we have a very
long description of Goliath’s appearance. How tall he is, what kind of armor he’s wearing,
all that kind of stuff. A whole long section just on how well armored he is. It’s going to serve
as a contrast between how much armor and protection he has, verse David, who will ultimately face him
without any armor. And verse 5 is the really interesting verse, because this is what the
Bible says in 1st Samuel 17 verse 5. Describing Goliath, it says, he had a helmet of bronze on
his head and he was armed with a coat of mail and the weight of the coat was 5,000 shekels of bronze.
Now our English Bibles do us a great disservice here. A huge swing and a miss here. It’s such a
vital and important point in Scripture, because it mistranslates something here when it should
have translated it literally, because there’s a whole lot of biblical theology going on that’s
needed. You see, that phrase, coat of mail, is the important phrase. The word that our English
translations translate as mail is actually the Hebrew word for scales. It was the word that was
used to describe how fish looked, because obviously fish have scales, but more importantly, it was the
word used to describe the appearance of snakes. Snakes were covered in this particular Hebrew word,
meaning scales. And so the Bible is saying here, if you were to look at Goliath, he was covered in an
armor of scales. In other words, you look at Goliath and he looked like a what? A giant snake. But it
gets even better. This is why the Bible is so cool. Do you remember how David actually killed
Goliath? 1 Samuel 17 verse 49, it says, And David put his hand in his bag and took out a stone
and slung it and struck the Philistine on his forehead. The stone sank into his forehead and
he fell on his face to the ground. Now I’m all about repeated words in the Bible, and I want you
to notice that three times in this one verse, it mentions the head. You have forehead mentioned twice
and face mentioned once. So why all this focus on the head? Well, now that we’ve done our background
on the passage, we know it goes all the way back to the promise in Genesis 3 15. We have here yet
another picture of a son of the woman crushing the head of what? Of a giant snake. David, anointed
and empowered by the Spirit of God, literally crushes the head of an enemy of God and his people
who is dressed like a snake. And he does so by crushing his head. And so ultimately, it’s a
picture of what Jesus would do during his earthly ministry. Jesus is the ultimate fulfillment of
Genesis 3 15. He is the son of the woman who crushes the head of the snake, Satan. And by doing so,
he delivers God’s people from the bondage of sin, death and Satan. He undoes sin’s curse and he
begins to bring about a renewal of God’s creation back to its original design. And so the story of
David and Goliath is not at all about you facing and overcoming the giants in your lives. It’s
about how God is faithful to fulfill his promises. And it ultimately points us to Jesus and his
victory over sin, death and Satan. So when this passage is told, it needs to be said that our
greatest enemies or our greatest giants are not our financial problems, not our anxieties, our
stress, our bad bosses, our bad health or anything else like that. Our biggest enemy is sin and that
ancient serpent who is the devil. And we are like the cowering Israelites, powerless to do anything
at all about it. We need someone to go in our place and defeat them for us. And we get that
with Jesus. Jesus literally goes out in our place to face our enemy and he crushes the head of the
serpent and wins the battle for us. It’s all about Jesus. So I really do appreciate the question.
I hope that this has been helpful. I hope you understand now that this passage isn’t about you
facing your giants, but I also hope you see the importance of digging into scripture. I hope you
understand that when you read stories like this, you can’t lose sight of the bigger biblical story
that’s going on. You have to remember what God is doing. You have to remember redemptive history.
I mean, I know that not everybody reads the original languages like I do, but it’s always
good to use some sort of Bible software or something and check the words out for yourself.
I mean, you could go to a website called Blue Letter Bible. You can type in any verse and it’ll
show you what the Hebrew and Greek words actually mean. You might be wondering, well, how would I
have known in the first place to even look that up? When you’re getting a long description of what
a person looks like, especially like Goliath here, and you begin to see this long description of how
he looks and the type of armor he’s wearing, you have to stop and just ask. I always tell people,
just ask two more questions. Whenever you’re studying the Bible, just ask two more questions
and you begin to get more out of it than you thought you could have upon just an initial reading.
Right? So just ask two more questions. Just say, okay, one, why is there such a long description
here when no one else is getting a long description of how they’re dressed and what they’re wearing?
And two, is there something more significant going on here? When you do that, you begin to study the
passage for yourself, type it into Blue Letter Bible, look at all the words for yourself, and
you’ll realize that that word male is actually scales. And when you see scales and you realize
what’s going on here, you’re immediately reminded of the bigger picture, that this is God once again
showing us He has not forgotten His promise, that He is going to send a son of woman to crush the
head of the snake and deliver His people from sin. So pick up a Bible, dig in deeply, focus on Jesus,
and keep submitting the questions. I really look forward to answering the next one.