More imagining! Our third and final stop for the day was at the Valley of Elah, where we read 1 Samuel 17 out loud and envisioned the epic battle (more like duel) of David and Goliath.
Context is key. The battle came to life as we climbed a nearby hill overlooking the valley and understood where the different armies came from and where they stood their ground. We saw the basic path that David would have taken to the battlefield, and marveled at the creek bed where he selected five smooth stones, one of which would ultimately be buried into the forehead of Goliath.
The Philistines were a seafaring people, not originating from Israel, but possibly of Turkish descent. Gath, the home of Goliath is about halfway between the Mediterranean Sea (the “Great Sea” as it is referred to in the Bible) and the Valley of Elah.
As we listened to the story of David and Goliath unfold, we stopped at several points along the way to highlight pertinent insights, including:
The Israelites had no real leader. Saul was supposed to be leading, but he was a terrible leader. Sometimes “leaders” are not good at leading.
The Israelite army was just going through the motions. Each day for 40 days the Israelites would put forth their war cry, but it was only lip service. They never intended to actually act. I wondered if this was in any way like people going to church and singing to God about how amazing He is and about the wonderful things that He wants to do through us -all the while going through our week as if our problems are bigger than God and never allowing Him to to wonderful things through us. The people lined up for battle day after day, delivered their war cry, and then ran away in fear.
David challenged the status quo. He was not satisfied to just go through the motions. He really believed in his big God and was willing to be used for His glory!
David’s motives were questioned. This seems to be a constant occurrence. The moment that we choose to live for God, we can almost expect people to question our motives.
David’s character was questioned. Another classic challenge in the life of a Christ follower is the attack on our character. David’s own brothers questioned his motives by claiming that he just wanted the reward for killing Goliath, then try question his character by claiming that his heart is evil.
David’s competence is questioned. It’s not enough to have his motives and character questioned. Now he has he competence questioned. Is he actually capable of doing what he says he is going to do.
In my life, I have absolutely walked through each of these experiences. I am guessing that most followers of Christ have (if you haven’t -you will!). What David chooses to do in the midst of his circumstances is what separates him from the rest of Israel.
David’s resolves to rely on the LORD. Perhaps David’s motives, character, and competence should have been questioned. I don’t know. I’m sure he was not perfect (though encouragement would probably have been a better route). Still, he recognized that he was a child of God, and that God would be his strength.
David never planned to enter into this battle. He was just faithfully doing what he was supposed to do that day, and serving the LORD along the way.
That was one of my biggest takeaways from today. We always think of David on the day that he defeated Goliath -which was an awesome day!! But the truth is that it was just an ordinary day for him. He was just being faithful.
I have a (bad) tendency to look back over my day and feel like something amazing had to happen so that I can know God was with me. But that’s not realistic. What is realistic is choosing to be faithful every day, even if God chooses to place a giant in your path.