Debra Isenbletter, pastor
Christian Assembly, Springfield, Missouri
The Valley of Elah (I Sam. 17:2-47). Elah means “oak” or “strong tree,” therefore this is the Valley of the Oak or Valley of the Strong Tree. “And Saul and the men of Israel were gathered together, and pitched by the Valley of Elah, and set the battle in array against the Philistines.” (I Sam. 17:2) It is in this valley that Saul and the men of Israel gathered to fight the Philistines. The Philistines stood on one side and Israel stood on the other side and the valley was between them, and it was also into this valley that a giant named Goliath came. Goliath was over 9 feet tell, he was a giant and to Saul and those with him he looked like an “oak” or “strong tree.”
When they saw Goliath, all they saw was his strength, the strength of the world and the strength of the enemy, and they were afraid. Here is another battle that God’s people must face, the enemy has come against them, yet when they see the enemy they are afraid, because that is all that they see. There are times when we must fight a battle and when we must face the enemy and times when the enemy looks like a giant, and there are giants in some of the valleys we go through.
One of the things that this giant did was to challenge the people of God, to boast in his own strength: “Why are ye come out to set your battle in array? … Choose you a man for you and let him come down to me. If he be able to fight with me and to kill me, then will we be your servants: but if I prevail against him, and kill him, then shall ye be our servants and serve us.” (v. 8-9) This man challenged the armies of Israel and the men in those armies for 40 days and they were “greatly afraid.” 40 days of testing for their faith, 40 days to see if they would look beyond a man who looked like a “oak” and see One who was stronger, 40 days to testing and they failed.
It is into this valley that David comes; this is the valley where he faced and fought Goliath. What is the difference in what David saw and what the men of Israel saw? They saw only the giant, David saw only the Lord. They saw only man’s strength but David saw that God was his “oak” or “strong tree.” He leaned upon the Lord. They all fled in the valley (v. 24) but David, he stood in the valley and he knew he wasn’t alone. David didn’t’ react to the challenge of – ‘you pit your strength against my strength and whoever wins is the victor,’ that isn’t why he fought Goliath. David didn’t fight Goliath for the reward that was offered (v. 25). David reacted to the words of this man, the mockery of this man, the contempt of this man for the God of Israel. We need to remember that when the enemy comes against us, it isn’t us personal, it is the Lord that they fight and the Lord that they defy and David saw this truth.
When David says that he will go and fight this man, those that look at him see only that he is “a youth.” David was about 20 when he fled from Saul and this was years earlier, so be could have been 17 or 18 years old. Saul and his men looked at David and they saw no strength, they didn’t see an “oak” or a ‘Strong tree,” but David had already fought giants when he fought the bear and the lion as he defended the sheep, David knew that it wasn’t physical strength that would win the battle, it was spiritual strength, and it was dependence upon the Lord. David said, “The Lord that delivered me out of the paw of the lion, and out of the paw of the bear, He will deliver me out of the hand of this Philistine.” (v. 37)
What faith this youth had! David also knew that he could only go out into this valley using the weapons that he had proven, so when Saul armed David with his armor and his sword David said, “I cannot go with these; for I have not proved them (v. 39). What had David proved or put to the test? It was the Lord! Here lies another lesson for those of us that go through this valleys to face a giant, our victory comes from the weapons that the Lord puts in our hands, not the weapons that man puts in our hands. We can’t fight spiritual battles with fleshly weapons or worldly weapons, only with spiritual weapons. And to the world, those weapons don’t look like much. David brought with him only five stones, but he only had to use one and it was enough. Five is the number of grace, and there was more than enough to meet his need!
David went forth, in faith and in righteous indignation and the battle with Goliath began with words. Goliath had been using psychological warfare when he taunted the armies of Israel and they were demoralized and defeated before they even began. David goes out as the aggressor and his very presence is an insult to this giant. He saw David and “he disdained him” and Goliath said, “Am I a dog that thou comest to me with staves?” The answer to that question as far as David was concerned was yes! David begins with telling Goliath in whose name he comes and why he has come: “I come to thee in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom thou hast defied” (v. 45). David then challenges Goliath and tells him that the Lord will deliver him into his hand and that he will kill him, cut off his head (v. 46). David before he does any thing, before he uses the weapon the Lord puts in his hand, before he runs forward to meet Goliath, David makes this declaration: “And all this assembly shall know that the Lord saveth not with sword and spear: for the battle is the Lord’s , and he will give thou into our hands” (v. 47). David says that when the battle is over, there will be no doubt, that both Israel and the Philistines will know that the victory is the Lord’s, for the battle is the Lord’s. David becomes a weapon in the hand of God. There was only one “oak” or “strong tree” in this valley, and it was invisible to all except the eyes of David, it was the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel. There is no strength greater than the strength of the Lord when He enables His servants and there is no giant that can stand against the Lord!