7 Jun 2018
Dad. Your Question. Why did God put Goliath in front of the Israelite army?
That’s a tough one. I gave some sort of an answer.
It was only as I walked to work afterwards that I started to know the answer. In the last half an hour, I had fought with my anger and I had sent my son out the house for crushing the spirit of his sister (again). Why did God put Goliath in front of the Israelite army? Why did God put so much frustration in front of me each morning?
We try to have a 10 minute family Bible time before we leave the house. The hazy day dream is that we have 10 euphoric minutes in the Bible, followed by 3 minutes of fervent prayer then bolt out the door, skipping with spiritual joy to our different destinations.
There is some encouragement. In the last six months one of our number has moved from head-banging obstruction all the way to willing participation. The cynic might argue that anyone can be ground down given long enough. I do see it differently.
This morning’s cause of family dysfunction was the same it has been for the last fortnight. My son has noticed that his older sister finds one aspect of our time together difficult. He has developed a skill of correcting her, rolling his eyes at her struggles and prompting her in her difficulty; with a gentle, calm, loving demeanour that Daniel Day-Lewis would be proud of. With his every noise or word my daughter is moved just a little further into feeling a failure. After his third divisive interruption, I carefully weighed my choice: I could either send my son outside (punishing him by excluding him from the very Word that could actually help him) or I could explode with anger (having spoken to him on each of the two previous incidences). At that moment, there didn’t seem to be a third alternative. Sadly.
That left the remnant of the family to ponder 2 Samuel 17: 1-10 together. My daughter held the book of family Bible times. She read a question to each of us. You’ve heard mine. The last question was, “What are you struggling with at the moment?”
I have been told that it is helpful for children to hear their parents answering Bible questions, expressing their confusion and being a part of the messy business of submitting to God’s Word. So that’s why one of our children holds the book each morning and that’s why my wife, my daughter and I all laid out our current struggles to each other. Mine and my daughter’s were, predictably, very similar.
So we finished up, we prayed and walked out the door. I walked my son to school instead of heading straight to work. I asked him some questions. He said little. I talked at him. We prayed as we walked. Well. He said a sentence of mumbled prayer. I said a very long prayer, which I decided was the best alternative to talking at him any longer.
This morning I disobeyed the command in Ephesians 6: 4, “Fathers, do not exasperate your children.”
Why did God put Goliath in front of the Israelite army?
To reveal his own Glory.
He placed an unconquerable, terrifying, immovable giant in the way of His people so that they would not be tempted to believe that they could defeat their enemies on their own.
He pushed a little boy forward with a small stone so that everyone present would know that the Living God was powerful to overcome any obstacle to his people trusting Him more.
In God’s strength, for God’s glory, a little boy fronted up to a monster far bigger than himself. That boy shouted, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the LORD Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied.” (1 Samuel 17: 45)
As I walked to work I understood why God put Goliath in front of the Israelite army.
I understood why God put a simple family Bible time in front of me each morning, that I struggled to finish without anger or frustration.
I understood why God gives my son so many opportunities to irritate and discourage his sister.
I understood how I could best help my son. Instead of laying out his failure before him day after day. I could point him to the one who is powerful to overcome any obstacle to him trusting his loving heavenly father more.
I understood how a little boy could front up to a monster within, who appears immovable.
This evening I know what I will say to my son as he lies in his bed. I will read my son the rest of the story of David and Goliath. I will read how David stood over Goliath’s lifeless body and chopped off his head with the giant’s own sword.
Then I will ask my son to pray for my heart, for God to do what I cannot do, which is to change my angry heart and bring peace and patience.
Then I will pray for my son, for God to do what my son cannot do, which is to change his discouraging heart and bring encouragement and care for his sister.
Perhaps then I will be obeying the second half of the command in Ephesians 6:4, “instead bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.”