THE PAINTING ‘David Giving Thanks to God After the Death of Goliath’ by Charles Errard..
(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
Israel has a long history of standing up to bullies and their threats. It requires not only an Iron Dome but also an iron fist, occasionally wrapped in a velvet glove, to protect her land and her people.
One of the first bullies to unleash taunts and threats against Israel was the Philistine giant Goliath. His military stance – and the future king of Israel’s response – is an example of how to stand up to bullies, whether individuals or nations.
Before David showed up at the battlefield, things weren’t going well. Goliath’s intimidation tactics were working. Fear had paralyzed King Saul’s army. Nine-feet tall, armored to the teeth and toting a formidable 14-kg. spear, this guy trained hard and was combat-seasoned. But above all, he was BIG. Israel’s present-day enemies are also “big” – in the sheer numbers of anti-Zionists, radical Islamists, hostile leftists and malicious right-wingers, globalists and thugs spewing threats, lies and insults like a giant corporate Goliath.
Due to fear, no soldier was willing to confront the giant. But fear is what feeds bullies. The best way to neutralize intimidation is to run at it with the right weapon in hand, which David did. Even school counselors in America, which is facing a rash of bullying, advise kids to look the bully in the eye without hesitation and stand their ground. Bullying only increases “when the bully realizes his victim is not going to stand up for himself,” says author Signe Whitson.
But the truth is, Goliath didn’t have much going for himself except for his colossal size.
His presumed victory was so narrowly focused on bigness that he rashly provoked a one-on-one contest – based not just on ancient custom but also on his own arrogance – that would haunt his people for years: “If [David] can fight and kill me, then we will become [Israel’s] subjects.”
Goliath’s gigantic ego was his undoing. His imperious belief in himself blinded his judgment and limited his focus. The mighty warrior – crippled by inadequate intelligence (in more ways than one) – underestimated his opponent. Could history be repeating itself?
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IN THE giant’s eyes, David didn’t have much going for him. He was young and seemed inexperienced for war. After all, he had no armor or helmet, spear or sword.
Nor did he anticipate David’s speed, training or motivation: David, zealous for Israel and the God of Israel, was appalled that an “uncircumcised Philistine” [defied] the armies of the living God.” (1 Samuel 17:26)
Mustered by Saul, David “ran quickly” toward Goliath and hurled a fatal stone into his forehead. The giant fell hard and before the shocked Philistines could react, David again “ran,” grabbed Goliath’s sword, and severed his head.
Unbeknown to Goliath, David did train for adversity – as a shepherd under sometimes dangerous conditions. The flock’s enemies were his own enemies. He perfected his aim with a sling while guarding the sheep entrusted to his care. When a lion or bear attacked, David killed them head-on thus delivering the sheep from their jaws and claws. His training helped him develop an intense motivation foreign to Goliath’s low mentality. David’s heart was for Israel and for the God of Israel. This made him fearless.
Israel has had its share of lions, bears and Goliaths. They still stalk, sniffing at the borders, probing for vulnerabilities. They still brag, threaten and incite violence and fear-mongering.
But they underestimate and fail to understand Israel, whose founding documents, laws and defense forces have a different motivation and moral code than to rob, hate, kill and destroy. Israel does not sacrifice its people to lions and bears – it defends them.
As in David’s day, present-day Goliaths know nothing of the God of Israel’s love for the land and people of Israel. David knew, so he was not afraid to face Goliath – or the giants that followed. It is also why he won a seemingly asymmetrical battle.
Let us run, with Israel, toward this band of giants who share not just the attitude of the Goliath of old, but also the same errors in judgment. Whether our slings are the written or spoken word, diplomacy, a timely vote, or another gift, let’s use them faithfully and fearlessly just as David did.The writer is a journalist who served in senior level positions with four US presidents. He was named ‘Good Will Ambassador from Israel’ by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the ‘Voice of Israel to America’ by former prime minister Ehud Olmert.
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