When I was having my devotions recently, the Spirit of God seemed to direct my mind to a question that seemed at first to have an obvious answer. But I have learned that if the Lord asks me what seems to be an obvious question, there is some new wisdom (which up until that point has been hidden from me) that He is choosing to reveal.
So I began to ponder the question that the Spirit seemed to be asking me: “WHY DID DAVID FIGHT GOLIATH?”
Because he was there? Because no one else would? Because Goliath was defying God? Because David’s brothers had ticked him off? Because God told him to do it? (Not sure. It never says that.)
None of those reasons seemed to satisfactorily answer the question, and so I asked the Lord for insight.
Here’s what I believe the Lord revealed to me:
David had to fight Goliath (and thankfully God used the fight to bring David to prominence) because the people of Israel accepted the PREMISE that Goliath had thrown out instead of determining for themselves what should be done.
This thought stunned me, and so I had to go back and read the account carefully again.
- Did the nation ask God if they should accept this strange challenge of having one man represent each of the armies? They didn’t!
- Did the generals meet and determine that this was the best strategy to pursue in this case? They didn’t!
I was astonished to realize that they simply let the Philistines determine the terms of engagement. As a student of military history and strategy, I should have noticed it the previous thousand times I had read this passage over the years. In case military strategy is not an interest of yours, let me state the obvious: You must NEVER let your enemy determine the rules of engagement, because they will ALWAYS use it to their advantage and your disadvantage!
Isn’t it apparent, looking at it through fresh eyes, that this is exactly what happened?
Goliath said, “Hey! We’ve got an army. You’ve got an army. But why handle things that way? How about if I fight one guy, and whoever wins takes all?”
Israel COULD have said, “Actually, we’ve got 50,000 guys here ready to fight, and we would rather rush down the hill—all 50,000 of us at all of you—than to fall for the old, ‘Let’s make this interesting’ trick.”
That would have been a much better response, because even if you are 9 feet tall and built like a tank, you have no chance against 50,000 armed soldiers charging you all at once. Goliath bluffed them, and they fell for it!
BUT ONCE THEY HAD ACCEPTED HIS PREMISE, THEY WERE PARALYZED. NO ONE WANTED TO TAKE HIM ON MAN TO MAN.
Israel had a giant too, but he wasn’t feeling in the mood to fight. Their own King Saul (who was supposed to lead them into battle, as kings did in those days) was their version of a giant, according to 1 Samuel 9:2. How tall was he? If you took the second-largest warrior in the entire nation of Israel and stood him next to Saul, he would have come up to Saul’s shoulder, because that verse says literally in Hebrew… “From the shoulders upward, he was higher than ANY of the people.”
Does it change our perspective to know that Israel’s king was the counterpart to Goliath and that it was Saul that Goliath was calling to the field of battle?
Apparently, Saul suddenly decided that he had lots of very busy work to do elsewhere, even though he had been present for Goliath’s challenge. How do we know that?
Because 1 Samuel 17:11 tells us that Saul himself heard Goliath’s challenge, and that he (along with everyone else in Israel) was dismayed and terrified. So the next thing we know, Saul makes himself scarce. And for the next 40 days, the army of Israel just stood there, looking dumb and wondering where their king was hiding. Their self-confidence was shaken. Their confidence in their king was destroyed. All because they had accepted the premise that Goliath had thrown out.
Morning and evening Goliath would yell his challenge across the field to the Israeli skirmish line. That means that they heard it 80 times, and did nothing. It was DEMORALIZING!
The impasse was finally broken when David showed up to see his brothers. But of course, Saul wasn’t present to witness it.
David began asking around to see if there was a reward for killing Goliath (there was), and so someone went to wherever Saul had disappeared to and told him that someone was volunteering! Even then Saul did not return to the battlefield; instead, he summoned David to come to him!
Saul was so cowardly that he was willing to have his armor go into battle against Goliath, but he was not planning to be in it. So he lent it to David, who rejected it.
You know the rest of the story. But consider this new perspective:
ALL OF THIS EMBARASSMENT TOOK PLACE BECAUSE WHEN GOLIATH MADE A SUGGESTION, EVERYONE JUST FELL FOR IT INSTEAD OF SAYING, “UH, NO, GOOD TRY, BUT WE ARE ALL GOING TO RUSH YOU AT ONCE.”
Goliath ruled the field because he had set the premise upon which they would fight, and they all fell for it.
BY SETTING THE PREMISE SUCCESSFULLY, GOLIATH PUT THE ENTIRE ARMY OF ISRAEL ON THE DEFENSIVE!! AND THIS IS A MAJOR STRATEGY THAT OUR ENEMY TRIES AGAINST US, TOO!
Our enemy makes DECLARATIONS and hopes we will fall for them and accept his premises. Because if we fall for his premises … he can control the field of battle.
Think of how the devil tried this strategy on Jesus in the desert, and how he failed to fool our Lord. Reading the passage from this perspective …
It is as if Satan said, “You are obviously hungry. Why not take matters into your own hands and turn those round stones into round loaves of bread?”
And Jesus responded, “I don’t accept your premise that we live by bread alone, and so I have to do whatever it takes to get food. MY premise is that God provides all My needs.”
Then Satan said (in effect), “You are obviously here to take over the world, so let’s cut to the chase. I’ll GIVE you the whole place if you will bow down and worship me.”
But Jesus responded, “I don’t accept your premise that worshipping anyone or anything other than God is permissible. MY premise is that if I worship God only, He will accomplish whatever needs to happen for My mission here to be a success.”
Satan makes a third try to set the premise: “You obviously need to prove yourself to them. So why not go large? Floating down from the peak of the temple in the middle of the crowds of Jerusalem would definitely do the trick!”
The reply of Jesus showed that He didn’t accept the devil’s premise that the key to His success required wowing the people with stunts. He said, in effect, “MY premise is that GOD will accomplish what He wants through Me, not that I must put Him to the test or force His hand to do it My way or your way.”
Fast-forward to the end of Jesus’ life on earth. I wonder if the devil began to suspect a trap even as his evil plan fell into place. There may be a hint of that in the fact that Pilate’s wife had a dream in which she tried to get her husband to not condemn Jesus to death after all. God obviously didn’t try to use her to halt the crucifixion, because the crucifixion was our Father’s plan all along. I wonder if the enemy, seeing that God was permitting it, began to suspect that the trap was being sprung on his own neck.
That may explain why one last temptation was tried at the very end of Jesus’ life, through the mocking crowds surrounding the cross: “If you are the Son of God, come down from that cross!”
The actions of Jesus once again proved our Lord’s steady awareness of His mission. It is as if He said, “I don’t accept your premise that it would accomplish good to come down from this cross, or that I need to prove Myself to validate My worth. I will not come down from the cross until My Father takes Me down!”
Throughout the life of Jesus, He refused to accept the premises that were laid like traps across His path.
ISN’T IT TIME THAT WE BEGIN TO SEE THROUGH THE PREMISES THAT SATAN IS TRYING TO FOIST UPON US?
A.W. Tozer famously wrote a book entitled, I Talk Back to the Devil. He wasn’t referring to the kind of swaggering boastfulness toward the unseen world that the Holy Spirit warned us about in Jude 1:8. Instead he meant “I am no longer willing to take temptations against me lying down.”
There comes a point where we have to look at the things the enemy is trying to use to lure us, or to scare us, and say, “I don’t like your carrots, and I’m not afraid of your sticks. I am called to serve the Most High God, and I don’t accept the premise that you are trying to get me to swallow.”
Brothers and sisters, I urge you to ask the Lord to reveal to you the false premise that the enemy is trying to use against you (just like he did against the nation of Israel with Goliath or like he tried to use against our own Lord Jesus). And then declare your response.
Here are 20 of my own thoughts, given just as examples and prompts for you to consider your own:
- I don’t accept the premise that the church is dying.
- I don’t accept the premise that young people are not open to God.
- I don’t accept the premise that the enemy has won the cultural war, and so we just need to hunker down and wait for the rapture.
- I don’t accept the premise that my work proves my worth.
- I don’t accept that God loves big churches better than He loves small churches or that God loves little churches better than big churches!
- I don’t accept the premise that no traditional church can accomplish the discipleship mission.
- I don’t accept the premise that science has rendered the spiritual realm obsolete or has proved that God doesn’t exist.
- I don’t accept the premise that I have to micro-manage … because if I don’t control everything in the church, it will fail.
- I don’t accept the premise that a pastor needs to wear himself down working or being involved with the flock 24/7.
- I don’t accept the premise that truth is subjective or that the Word of God will have no effect on anyone unless they already believe it to be the Word of God.
- I don’t accept the premise that people today are too sophisticated or rich or clever or advanced to need God in their lives anymore.
- I don’t accept the premise that church is boring or that it has to be.
- I don’t accept the premise that the pastor has to hold the church up, like Atlas with the world on his shoulders.
- I don’t accept the premise that if your church declines for a season, it means you are doing something wrong.
- I don’t accept the premise that God did miracles before people understood scientific principles, but now He doesn’t do them anymore.
- I don’t accept the premise that some people are just born with certain sexual proclivities and that nothing can be done to help them live a rich and fulfilling life, even if they want the Lord’s help.
- I don’t accept the premise that people can be born into a body that is wrongly gendered to match their soul.
- I don’t accept the premise that once an alcoholic, always an alcoholic … or child-molester, or adulterer, or anything else. I still believe the powerful blood of Jesus can change people!
- I don’t accept the premise that Christian leaders are expected to make decisions that make everyone happy.
- I don’t accept the premise that if your parents abused you, then you are destined to abuse your children. If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation!
What is a false premise that the enemy has been trying to get YOU to accept recently? Ask the Spirit to reveal it to you, name it, and renounce it in Jesus’ name by finding the Scripture that proves it is a false premise!
THE DEVIL HAS BEEN WEAVING LIES AROUND US TO CONFUSE US AND BIND US, HOPING THAT WE WILL ACCEPT ALL OF THESE FALSE PREMISES AND PERMIT OURSELVES TO BE BOUND.
IN THE NAME OF JESUS, WE REBUKE THE LIES OF THE ENEMY, AND WE REJECT THE PREMISES THAT HE WANTS US TO ACCEPT.
WHATEVER GOD TELLS US IN HIS WORD IS TRUE, NO MATTER WHAT WE ARE TOLD TO THE CONTRARY.
Let’s remember the words that David made into a song after God had delivered him from all of his enemies: “As for God, His way is perfect! The Lord’s Word is flawless. He shields all who take refuge in Him!” (2 Samuel 22:31).
Now THAT is a premise to build your life upon!