Defeating the Giant of Fear: Lessons From David by xx for Christian News Journal
I once read an article in the Huffington Post that said 85 percent of the things we’re afraid of never happen. And of the 15 percent that happens, we often discover we can handle it better than we thought we could or we learn something from the experience.
Still, many of us live with fears. While some measure of healthy fear can be helpful, fear is also one of the most destructive human emotions. When fears become irrational, they can paralyze us or cause us to panic. We often learn these fears as children, and we carry them with us throughout our lives.
But did you know the commands “fear not” or “do not be afraid” are given 63 times in Scripture, with a total of 300 variations of those phrases between the Old and New Testaments?
One of my favorite biblical stories about facing fear is the story of David and Goliath. I think there are four lessons we can learn from this story about fear and how we should deal with it.
Fear is intimidating.
Picture the scene. There are two hills on either side of the Valley of Elah, which is about a mile wide. The army of Israel was on one hill, and the army of the Philistines was on the other hill. One day, a massive man presents himself to the Israelites. His name is Goliath, and he is a champion from Gath, a Philistine city.
According to Scripture, Goliath’s height was “six cubits and a span.” Six cubits and a span is anywhere from 8 ½ feet to 9 ½ feet tall. There are some translations of the Old Testament that offer different renderings of Goliath’s stature. If you read the Masoretic text, the Septuagint, the Dead Sea Scrolls or the writings of Flavius Josephus, they don’t say Goliath was “six cubits and a span.” They say he was “four cubits and a span,” which would make him about 6 feet, 9 inches tall. And he wore a coat of chain mail that weighed about 125 pounds and carried a spear with a head like a pointed sledgehammer.
In B.C. 1000, when this story takes place, the average height of an Israeli male was 5 feet, 3 inches. Goliath standing next to an Israelite would be like LeBron James standing next to Danny DeVito—it would be almost comical if it wasn’t so frightening.
Goliath shouted to the Israelites to send him a man to fight with, but no one volunteered. (No surprise there.)
At the time, King Saul was the tallest Israelite, and he was considered the best contender against Goliath. But evidently, he didn’t speak up and no one forced the issue. King Saul was just as afraid of Goliath as everybody else. Except David, a shepherd and the youngest son of Jesse.