“Now the Philistines gathered together their armies to battle, and were gathered together at Shochoh, which belongeth to Judah, and pitched between Shochoh and Azekah, in Ephes-dammin. And Saul and the men of Isreal were gathered together, and pitched by the valley of Elah, and set the battle in array against the Philistines. And the Philistines stood on a mountain on the one side, and Isreal stood on a mountain on the other side; and there was a valley between them.” (1sam17: 1-3) Gone are the days of valiant men, when bravery was the order of the day. I have a lot of respect for the warriors of old, their bravery and courage is second to non. I am yet to fathom as a modern man, how a man will face his fellow man with rusty metal and hark him to death, or maim him permanently. In this era, we consider this as barbaric, but in those days, this was war at its best. Then, the sign of bravery and strength are the scares of war on the body of men, they were much respected, and those who were men were indeed men of valor. Their war was such that two warring nations face each other at an agreed point and cut each other to shred. I wonder if there were drugs like cocaine, heroin, Indian hemp and the likes at that time to deaden their feelings (for that is what the cowards of our time need to be strong). But these men fights these wars for the love of their nation, for survival, (to save guard their belonging from marauders), to prevent slavery, to protect their heritage, and sometimes because of one mad mans ego trip. Nevertheless, for whatever reason, either founded or unfounded, men of valor go to war to die or be permanently maimed. This is the scenario played before us in the scripture we read. It was the norm of battle. The Philistines were constant tormentors of the Israelites. “And there was sore war against the Philistines, all the days of Saul….”(1Sam14: 52). This battle was just one of the many during the days of Saul. What made this battle peculiar was not the array, for the story gave the indication that when the Philistines came calling, Saul gathered his men as usual. What made the war peculiar was what happened after the array was formed. “ And there went out a champion out of the camp of the Philistines, named Goliath…. ”vs4 The story went further to describe Goliath’s size, height, his weapons of war, his bravado, his challenge and his insults. Now that was the turning point of the battle. The Bible says he had been a man of war from his youth. This by implications means that he was among the Philistines that were defeated by Saul’s men in the time past. So, if you are like me, you may want to ask ‘what made Goliath so bold at this time even though the same army he spoke for had been defeated by this same Saul’s men. But now only one of the defeated army is confronting their former conqueror’? While pondering on this all important question, put yourself in Saul’s shoes, this is the king of Isreal, the chosen people of God, used to winning battles; he had fought in many

great battles and had seen many victories. Suddenly, just one person of the defeated nation confronted his whole army for a fight? Then, what turned the battle around that after the challenge of Goliath, “when Saul and all Isreal heard those words of the Philistines, they were dismayed and greatly afraid”? Verse 11.Why were they dismayed and greatly afraid? When you had always handled a matter or situation, whenever you are confronted by such situation again, you just confront it with the hindsight of I have been there before. So without fear, you expect a solution. But if that same matter makes you fear, then its time to look inwards as to why you could not overcome it now. It brings to mind one of the battles of the Israelite, after the destruction of Jericho; they came across a small defenseless town Ai. Compared to Jericho, Ai was a piece meal. They even did not consult God before going to battle, for they felt they could handle it. But they were utterly defeated, and when they eventually consulted God, Achan was the issue. God demands that we involve Him in every of our life situations, not because we can not handle some of them ourselves, but so that He may show us the ‘Achan’, before we get flattened on our back by situations supposedly easy to handle. We only know in part but He knows and sees the whole picture. So, Saul and the people feared. Notice, we were never told that Saul consulted God. Why? This is the crux of the story. We can infer that Saul had lost touch with God at this time. For whereas before other battles, they always consulted with God and waited for the blessing of the priest, Samuel, but this time, Samuel and by implication, God was no more in the picture. Whenever the story is told we usually call it the story of David and Goliath, but I would rather you see it as the story of Saul and God. Notice, Saul was a victim of circumstance; he became king not because God wanted a king for His people, but because they demanded one. “Now therefore behold the king whom ye have chosen, and whom ye have desired and, behold, the Lord hath set a king over you” (1Sam12: 13). This humbled him so much that on the day of his coronation, he hid himself. The troubles of Saul started at just the second year of his reign when they were to wage war with the Philistines (?), and his army, seeing the chariots of the Philistines, panicked to the extent that there was disarray in the camp. Some of them started to hide themselves; some of them even joined the Philistines. And Saul seeing that “…the people were scattered from him” (1Sam13: 9) decided to offer sacrifice unto God (out of panic), even when it was not his duty but that of the priest. For Samuel the priest had asked him to wait for seven days before he, Samuel comes to make sacrifice after which they will go to war. Interestingly, Samuel got there on the seventh day but Saul had already done his job.

You know sometimes we think God is slow in responding to our needs and requests, so, we just go ahead and help Him fulfill His plans and we expects God to be grateful to us. But the Bible says God is not slack concerning His promises. (See 1Pet3:8) When Samuel confronted Saul, he said he feared the Philistines will attack and since sacrifice had not been made to God, and Samuel was not in sight, “…I forced myself therefore, and offered burnt offering.” vs12 (What a joke!). “For now would the Lord have established thy kingdom upon Israel forever. But now thy kingdom shall not continue”vs13, 14. This was Samuel’s reply to Saul’s silly answer. In spite of this, Saul still defeated the Philistine. Then there was the battle of the Amalekites. The difference in this battle was that it was God who demanded that the war be made with the Amalekites. This shows that in life the enemy comes against us, but sometimes, it is God that demands that we attack the enemy. God gave His specific instructions on how the battle be fought. “Now go and smite Amalek and utterly destroy all that they have and spare not….” (1Sam15: 3). They went to battle defeated Amalek, “but Saul and the people spared Agag (the king) and the best sheep…but every thing that was vile and refuse, that they destroyed utterly”vs9. When confronted by Samuel about his disobedience to God’s instructions, again, he made his defense “…I have obeyed the voice of the Lord, and have gone the way which the Lord sent me (has he really?), and have brought Agag the king (?)…but the people took of the spoil to sacrifice unto thy God in Gilgal (sic).”Vs20, 21. The fundamental question is whom did God instruct? Did he obey to the letter? No. So Samuel said, “…Because thou has rejected the word of the Lord, He hath rejected thee from being king”vs23. After these David was anointed king, though, he was still a shepherd and young, and Saul was still on the throne. Immediately David was anointed, “…the Spirit of the Lord departed from Saul, and an evil spirit…troubled him”(1Sam16: 14). So, Saul because of his disobedience and impatience had lost favor with God. His kingdom shall not only continue (i.e. his children will not reign after him), but God had also rejected him as king. The Saul that took the people to battle was not the Saul that was anointed by God. The presence of the Lord was no longer with him; he was no different from the Philistines. What caused his dread to be upon his enemy had left him, so boldness came upon the Philistines. All the while, it was not that the Philistines were not great warriors, but the Lord fights the battle for His people. See! David and Goliath were just the proverbial indicators to Saul that it was His presence with him that gives him victory and not the mightiness of his army. It is the God factor upon our lives that guarantees us victory in the battle of life. Though sometimes we may be up to it physically, even when we are not, we are still sure to win for our God is the Lord of the host of Isreal. Should anything cause you to fear? Check your stand with God.

Let us consider that Saul had repented the first time and he totally destroyed the Amaleks, the story would have been different. The Lord contrasted David’s size, age and experience with that of Goliath to send a message to you and I, that it is “not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the Lord of host” (Zech4: 6). The smallest of an anointed believer can and will defeat and overcome the greatest of obstacle there is, even giants as big as Goliath with all of his experience of war, is no match to weakest, youngest and smallest of the anointed. Because, whoever touches him, touch apple of God’s eyes, for his life is hid with Christ in God, so he can do anything through Christ who strengthens him. (SeeZech2: 8, Col3: 3, Phil4: 13). But, a believer devoid of the spirit, no matter his size, experience or achievement is no match for the enemy. Saul had been defeated before the battle; he just did not know it. He was like an empty barrel, the battle was just a revelation of the emptiness he had inside. God through David just gave him a proverb, but he was a sinking ship, he was too full of himself to notice his low estate. Had he realized the proverb, he would have repented; rather in the course of time he became murderous wanting to kill David. He thought David’s death will take away his shame and defeat. That’s what happens when we close our hearts to God’s instructions and instead of repenting of wrongs we want to wish away the problems which are only the fruit of our iniquity. STOP! Have you been priding yourself in your achievements? Do you like Saul think you are the best for the job? Are you becoming reckless in missing out on God and not repenting? Are you like Saul through the happenings around you, not getting the proverbs God is sending you? Are you wise enough to mend your ways? Or, do you wish to end up like Saul? “Pride goeth before destruction, and haughty spirit before a fall”(Prov16: 18). Only you know you, so only you can sincerely answer these questions, only you can decide to mend your ways and only you can choose to do otherwise, because you are your own best friend and your own greatest enemy is in you. As a great man of God said “MY GREATEST ENEMY IS IN (NER) ME”