We've all had doubts—about ourselves, others, the future, maybe even God. We all face obstacles that seem impossible to overcome.
What about the familiar biblical story of David and Goliath? Did doubt play a part in it too?
The scene is set in 1 Samuel 17 with the Philistines on one hill and the Israelite army commanded by King Saul on the other, only a valley separating them. Tensions were high as the Israelites faced a giant problem.
The Philistines had sent out their champion, Goliath of Gath, to challenge the Israelites. The Israelites were expected to send out their own champion, who would fight Goliath to the death. Goliath bellowed out that the people of the losing side would become the servants of the winning side. Israel had a lot to lose.
Finding someone to face Goliath wasn't easy. The man was huge, standing "six cubits and a span" (1 Samuel 17:4), which was more than 9 feet tall. He might well have weighed around 700 pounds. Given the descriptions of his armor, Goliath was also strong. His armor probably weighed between 125 and 150 pounds, and his spear between 35 and 65 pounds.
Adding to his impressive size and strength, Goliath must have been fierce. He had trained in fighting since his youth, becoming a virtual human war machine. And he was determined to take the life of anyone who dared to challenge him.
For 40 days, the giant taunted Israel every morning and evening. His words struck great fear in the hearts of Saul and his army. So why didn't Saul or one of his soldiers engage Goliath? After all, Saul was also a tall man (1 Samuel 10:23) with battle experience. More importantly, the Bible tells us God was with Saul when Israel defeated the invading Ammonites and he was proclaimed king (1 Samuel 11).
Saul's reluctance to engage Goliath was due, at least in part, to his disobedience that separated him from God. Against God's instruction, Saul spared King Agag of the Amalekites and kept the spoils of war. As a result, the Spirit of the Lord departed from Saul and God allowed a distressing spirit to replace it (1 Samuel 16:14). When God is pushed out of a person's mind, doubt enters. Doubts that are allowed to settle in can quickly build into debilitating fear.
Enter the small guy
Not knowing of the stalemate between Goliath and the Israelite army, young David was sent by his father to bring food to his older brothers and to return with any news. While there, he heard Goliath's daily challenge firsthand and saw that the fearful men of Israel had lost their faith in God.
David ignored the doubters around him and boldly volunteered to fight the giant. When questioned by Saul, David explained that he had complete trust in God and confidence that God would give him the victory.
The key to David's confidence was using the proper armor. Instead of using Saul's armor, David chose a sling and a handful of stones, knowing this was all he needed.
When David was earlier anointed the future king of Israel, God's Spirit came upon him (1 Samuel 16:13). He had also experienced God's help when he killed both a lion and a bear to protect his sheep. David was confident that God would likewise help him fight Goliath.
David's confidence was in God's protection and not in his own ability. Ephesians 6 describes the armor of God, and verse 10 specifically tells us to "be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might."
When the fateful moment arrived, David ran quickly toward Goliath. Without doubt or hesitation he killed Goliath with the first stone from the sling, sending the Philistine army running. He gave full credit to God and recognized the battle was the Lord's.
Analyzing the victory
God's Spirit made the difference between Saul's doubts and David's confidence. After Saul rejected God's word and disobeyed Him, God no longer guided his actions. Without God's Spirit helping him, he couldn't get past the situation from a human perspective. And neither can we.
God's Spirit is not "a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind" (2 Timothy 1:7). And God is willing to give His Spirit to all who truly repent and are baptized (Acts 2:38). Let's also realize that God's Spirit can work with us prior to baptism; it is just that after we are baptized His Spirit resides within us. So we're never too young to begin obeying God and allowing His Spirit to inspire us and help us live His way of life.
Living in doubt is painful. Doubts lead to anxiety, paranoia, restlessness and the wrong kind of fear.
Facing your giants
God's miraculous help for His people did not end when David overcame Goliath. God is willing to help you overcome your problems too.
We all face a very real adversary, Satan the devil, who uses doubt as a tool to sabotage our relationship with God. Satan wants us to be uncertain. He wants us to disbelieve God—to lose confidence in Him. Satan wants us to hold on to our doubts and live in a paralyzing state of fear. But God has something else in mind for us: setting aside our doubts and challenging our giants.
David isn't the only one who prevailed over huge obstacles. The Bible is filled with stories of deliverance of those who trusted in God's ways and living power. By seeking God's help, we can also overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles. When we obey God and put our confidence in Him, there will be no place for doubt. VT