The giant came at David loaded for bear. He had so much paraphenalia he required some to walk with him and carry his backup weapons. He came out to roar, as he did before, but encountered David – something unusual, some kid with a shepherd’s rod, barely old enough to be shave – and he cursed David by his gods.
David responded in the Name of Jehovah with a prophetic declaration. The battle was set as a “gods vs God” showdown.
While many modern believers attempt to make their battles about natural vs natural, David intentionally made the battle a spiritual battle. Although today we understand that what was often natural for Israel is spiritual for the believer, we miss the fact that David insisted upon facing Goliath on the basis of previous spiritual experiences, not on the basis of previous natural experiences. David made the natural battle a spiritual battle in the time when God was doing things naturally, with a natural people, who experienced spiritual things with natural experiences. So, if there was ever a time in history when God’s champions should insist upon facing giants upon the basis of spiritual battles, it is now when God’s people experience the kingdom SpiritFirst.
Remember our initial premise: God doesn’t prepare you to face giants by facing giants. The spiritual experiences that prepare you to face giants bring you face to face with enemies that seem gigantic to you at the time you face them. The roar of lion and bear, when you face lion and bear as a spiritual battle, prepare for the roar of the giant. The roar of lion and bear, the roar of giant, through David released a new roar: the roar of the army of Israel!
The spiritual battle is always faced with the what you have in your hand right now. David faced Goliath with a shepherd’s rod in his hand, five stones in his belt, and a sling. Saul offered his armor to David, but David realized this wasn’t what God had prepared him to wield in this battle. Wearing Saul’s armor requires a person to have experienced Saul’s preparation; perhaps the reason Saul didn’t face Goliath comes from the fact that Saul had not proven his armor anymore than David. Saul’s armor was an appearance of preparation. David’s shepherd staff and sling were the reality of his position and preparation.
God will prepare you to face giants, and you need to walk into the valley of confrontation with God’s preparation, not with provided appearances, unearned titles, and the trapping of ministry leadership preparation.
Mimicry and Appearances
King Saul was the king the people wanted, the king they demanded. He was a king of mimickry: “Give us a king like the other nations.” We want to copy the “best practices” of the heathen as a basis for establishing the kingdom of God.
When you mimick someone, you always pick up their weaknesses first. You don’t have their strengths, and you won’t get their strengths without their experiences. So, you pick up what you can from someone you mimick, their weaknesses.
Growing up as a preacher boy, the premier preachers of my generation were honored by all the preacher boys. One of them who was nationally known was a “preacher’s preacher” and his preaching was available at every conference and convention. He had a particularly annoying habit of saying “huh” between phrases that sounded like a vocal backfire, something that should have come out of his mouth seemed to backfire back into his lungs. When this “huh” hit the microphones available in that generation, it was was about as enjoyable as a that moment when the dentist says, “Whoops!”
So, every preacher boy took up the cadence of his speech patterns, quoted his best lines, and develop his own holy “huh” like David would have had he worn Saul’s armor into battle. They picked up his weaknesses first. During that time, someone close to this nationally-known preacher mentioned this phenomenon, and the preacher, unaware of the habit, listened to a tape of himself, appalled. He trained himself to preached without the “huh” and created a great deal of confusion for the preachers boys who lacked the same level of personal discipline to cut the “huh” out of their own preaching. Awkward!
Walking into the valley of giants armed with appearances is a good for buzzards and beetles, but it won’t advance the kingdom or your destiny. Of course, the reality is that people armed with appearance stay in their tents or stand on the hillsides staring at giants. They don’t venture into the valleys. They become well-dressed survivors, not bloodied champions.
The modern church is enamored with glitz and glamour: “Believers can look as good as the world! Why do we have to take a backseat on style? God loves excellence! It is time we were seen to be just as beautiful as the world!” God loves excellence, for sure, but He doesn’t like the world’s excellence. This sentiments have more to do with a desire to be acceptable to the world than they do with being accepted with God. God isn’t taken with our kingdom edition of People magazine – People of the Kingdom Magazine – with pictures of our version of Ken and Barbie with their designer dogs and blinged-out rhinestone jackets. We end up looking like plastic tulips bleaching and leeching out our colors when exposed to the harsh realities of the spiritual battle.
If David goes into the battle with Saul’s armor, Goliath is able to make this a natural battle between himself and Saul. David goes into the battlefield to make it a spiritual battle, insisting that it be a spiritual battle. David enters the fray representing Jehovah, not Saul. David isn’t seeking to match the giant on the natural level by equalizing himself with the same natural equipment.
Facing giants isn’t about becoming a giant in the same way the enemy has inflated himself! We don’t establish kingdom by finding a way to match up with the world on their terms! We certainly had more than enough of the “our Christian singer is as good as your heathen singer” or “our Christian model looks as good in a bikini as your heathen model” or “our Christian drunk can drink your heathen drunk under the table.” We don’t need to outdo the world in every area of the culture by slapping “christian” in front of people’s names, celebrating how our heroes sell as many albums, books, or films as if that proves we are winning something in the process.
God doesn’t prepare Christian giants to kill heathen ones, at least, not in the natural sense of matching pound for pound or height for height or sword for sword. God prepares you face giants without facing giants, and God prepares you to face giants without making you a giant by the same definitions of “big” the world provides.
I wonder if we can hear ourselves saying, “God’s people should measure up with the world and show them that believers can do what they do better.” That is not what we should be thinking in terms of establishing kingdom in any aspect or arena of culture! We must study “best practices” of heaven, not “best practices” of this world in order to represent heaven on earth!
God’s Ways, Not Ours
We function by revelation, not mimickry. When God gave Israel a king they demanded, He told Samuel “they haven’t rejected you, but Me.” God said, “They want a kingdom like the heathens with My Name on it.” God’s ways are not our ways. God ways are not the ways of this world. He isn’t matching up His people against this world’s champions naturally. God isn’t entering His best singers in American Idol. God isn’t entering His best thinkers on Jeopardy. God isn’t entering His best examples of a virtuous woman on America’s Next Top Model. God isn’t trying to get His best looking guy the lead in James Bond movies.
God’s ways look a lot like a shepherd boy with a staff and sling walking into the valley of giants. God’s ways look like a against a kid against a collosus, a teeny bopper against a titanic, a runt against Rambo.
We get embarrassed when God confounds the wise with a hillbilly. We get nervous when the guy doing miracles has crooked teeth. We squirm in our seats when the preacher sweats. We tend to think the world is going to be impressed when we finally find a way to make them comfortable with our Message and methods. Mostly, we just end up sitting in our tents listening to the giant roar. We end up with an army that shows up for battle with a pitchfork and a shovel, a battalion of spectators more familiar with root fungus problems than they are with swordplay techniques.
We have been told by the giants to go back to our farms and leave the battlefield to real men, and we have celebrated the farming forgetting that the giant will tolerate our presence as long as we give him the harvest.
God’s ways are not our ways, but we spend millions conferencing so we can improve God’s ways with the “best practices” of the world. The ways of the world are the ways of Father’s enemies! Don’t lose sight of the fact that God is preparing Himself a king on this battlefield! He certainly isn’t modeling the ways of the nations! He is establishing His kingdom through kingdom leaders who have His heart in ways that represent Him.
A Shepherd’s Staff
Goliath never saw it coming! Even when David walked into the valley, Goliath saw the “stick” he was carrying, not the sling in his other hand. I wonder what happened to the “stick” after David put his hand on the sword? I wonder what happened to the sling after David led the whole of Israel’s army after the fleeing Philistines? Some things of great significance leave the story even though their symbolism remains in place. David becomes the Shepherd King and maintains the same practiced skills of the sling with a sickle sword. Its not about the stick or the sling but whose hands they are in!
In other words, God wasn’t teaching Israel to become an army of slings and sticks. He wanted them to have the forbidden weapons their enemies had forged for battle. This is the sense of the “wealth of the wicked laid up for the righteous” we need to envision. God wants us to have the giant’s sword, but He doesn’t want us to wait for a Christian giant. God wants us to wield mighty weapons of warfare but He doesn’t want us to put our trust in them. God wants to establish kingdom in Israel but He never wanted them to be like the other nations.
David walks into the valley of giants armed with the weapons he has proved. Those weapons represented something of his destiny, his preparation experiences, and his leadership assignment. So, David walks into the valley only armed with what God’s preparation for giants had provided him. David trusted God’s preparation path: “if God brought me to this giant, God prepared me for this battle. My obedience has prepared me for this victory.” You see, a shepherd’s staff in David’s hands enabled him to carry earned authority into the battle. Obedience earned him authority by the things that David suffered.
Hebrews 5:8 says of Jesus, “Though He was a Son yet learned He obedience by what He suffered, and His experience made Him completely equipped.” You learn obedience by enduring
David experienced the fullness of his equipping because he obeyed. His assignment brought him face to face with lion and bear, but he obeyed fully what his assignment asked of him. His shepherd staff represented his obedience: “I carried my obedience of assignment in shepherding to the fullest by laying down my life for the sheep. I risked it all for someone else’ sheep on principle. In that way, I finished the preparation necessary to walk into this valley of giants. I’ve heard the roar before!”
David’s battles aren’t the sum total of his destiny. They represent his obedience to the consequences of his assignment. He finished some things that finished his preparation. Wow! I think I’ll write that statement again! David finished the consequences of his assignment and that obedience “finished” his preparation.
David’s assignment defined his battles: “lay down your life for someone else’s sheep” brought him face to face with the roar of lion and bear. Recall that David could have allowed the loss of lambs and no one else would have known about it. He goes after lion and bear solely on principle, the consequences of his obedience to assignment. Or, as we say in Level 3 of FreedomMinistry, if hell cannot keep us from obedience, hell will work to limit the fullness of obedience in our lives.
If David falls short in the followthrough of full obedience, he isn’t prepared for the valley of giants. The staff in his hand represents something David finished that finished David for his next level! The shepherd’s staff in his hand isn’t a symbol of his destiny but a sign of his obedience.
The Shepherd’s Bag
David had his version of a backpack that was a lambskin pouch probably slung over one shoulder. He carried on his back but could slide it around and have access to its contents at the waist. This was where he carried his Ipad. [Just kidding.] David’s shepherding had its own reward, when his father took a lamb for lunch, David had been given the skin for his personal use, so to speak. So, he walk into the valley with a shepherd’s stick and a lambskin on his back. Pretty much making a boast of his place in life and means of support as well as his present level of responsibility. He had the “look” down pat. Goliath didn’t assume he was a ninja or GI Joe! He wasn’t dressed like King Saul or Jonathan. He didn’t put on something “appropriate to the event” at all. He was a shepherd, and he knew God wanted everybody there that day and through out history to know that He had sent a shepherd to kill a giant.
Perhaps we could understand that David also watched or herded some goats and the cheese brought to his brothers was the product of his present profession as well. David may have had a backpack made of a kidskin. He was a kid wearing a kid, so to speak. [Pause.] The point is that God provides through the place of your obedience. If you are assigned a land, you eat of “the good of the land.” You should live a lifestyle consistent with your assignment. Although David will be wearing an ephod at some point, he is wearing sheep when he is a shepherd.
Don’t ever be afraid to wear sheep when you are a shepherd. Avoid the tendency to take on appearances inconsistent with your identity and assignment.