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When Giant Killing Became Commonplace

Updated: May 5, 2021

2 Samuel 21:22 These four were born to the giant in Gath and fell by the hand of David and by the hand of his servants.

2 Samuel 22:35 He teaches my hands to make war, so that my arms can bend a bow of bronze.

As a result of David's defeat over Goliath many years before as a youth (1 Samuel 17), giant-killing became almost commonplace. This is the power of leadership. Impossibilities became possibilities because of David's example, whose trust in the Lord became an inspiration to those who followed him. Look carefully at a portion of today's assigned Scripture reading, 2 Samuel 21:16-22, for examples of this. The passage begins with an incident where David, now considerably older and weaker, was cornered by one of the descendants of the giants and was about to be killed, when suddenly one of his nephews, Abishai, comes to his defense, kills the giant, and rescues David. Other examples follow: Sibbechai the Hushathite kills Saph (21:18), Elhanan son of Jair from Bethlehem killed the brother of Goliath of Gath (21:19), Jonathan, the son of David's brother Shimea killed a man with six fingers on both hands, and six toes on both feet (21:20) after this man had defied and taunted Israel. The summary verse (21:22) mentions that all four of these descendants of the Philistine giants were killed by David's men. What a dramatic contrast from the days of Saul, where the entire Israelite army trembled over the voice of one man, Goliath! But, because of David's courage and trust, as we already mentioned, killing giants was no longer a rare occurrence.

The writer of 2 Samuel is then careful to explain the reason for David's successes (as well as the victories of his foot soldiers) in the hymn of praise in chapter 22. Consider this verse: "For by You I can run against a troop; by my God I can leap over a wall" (2 Samuel 22:30). Also this one: "He teaches my hands to make war, so that my arms can bend a bow of bronze" (2 Samuel 22:35). The strength to engage in warfare with such incredible success was attributed to God, who rightly deserved the praise and glory for these exploits. The reign of David was an example of the kind of successes the Israelites might expect if they remained true to the LORD, just as He had promised them through Moses many years before: "You will chase your enemies, and they shall fall by the sword before you. Five of you shall chase a hundred, and a hundred of you shall put ten thousand to flight; your enemies shall fall by the sword before you" (Lev 26.7-8).

The theme of the Lord as the Divine Warrior fills the pages of Scripture. He is the Consummate Warrior. He trains His servants to engage in warfare with Him and to conquer in the face of impossible odds (humanly speaking). Our days are no different than David’s, for God has not changed. Victories can be won through Him today, just as much as in David's day. The giants we face are no match for the Lord, as we fight in His strength and for His name! If it looks like the enemy is winning, we must remember that He allows that to happen. “End of game” victories, snatching victory out of the jaws of defeat—these are His specialties!

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