Click Here to learn more about the Holy Land and the Valley of Elah with one of our seminars.

This past weekend I had the privilege of preaching on Israel’s first King and his lack of interaction at the Valley of Elah. King Saul was handsome, tall (1 Sam. 9:2), skilled in battle (1 Sam. 11:11), compassionate towards others (1 Sam. 11:13), and a revolutionary (1 Sam. 28:3, also first King). At least at the beginning. These are the positive qualities we are given about Saul. However, his fear of men led him to become impatient (1 Sam. 13), ineffective (1 Sam. 15), and ultimately, at today’s site in the valley of Elah, incapacitated (1 Sam. 17) and unable to make any decision or action, let alone the right one. While some of his intentions may have been good in 1 Samuel 13 and 15, as we know from Breaking Bad, one wrong decision, no matter how good the intention, can lead down a lifelong dark path that God never intended for us.

The valley of Elah, where 1 Samuel 17 takes place, is often seen as the story of David and Goliath. That would be the wrong way of reading the story. This event is about David and Saul. This story is a power and anointing shift from Saul to David. From here on out David becomes the main character in the story while Saul becomes the footnote. Saul as King was meant to be an instrument of the living God, but instead he allowed man to take the throne of his heart so that every action and decision he made was out of that fear of man. His fear of men caused him to disobey the Lord, and this is not something the Lord would tolerate. As Samuel says in 1 Samuel 15:22, “To obey is better than sacrifice.”

There are many different theories claiming to understand Goliath and his height of 9’9 (six cubits and a span). However, I believe there is a much more rational way of understanding this story. J. Daniel Hays wrote an article titled, “Reconsidering the Height of Goliath.”[1] In this article Hays gives a list of 5 different sources, including one of the oldest extant Hebrew manuscripts from the 1st century AD that say Goliath was four cubits and a span (6’9) rather than six cubits and a span (9’9). Furthermore, when we shift our attention from David to Saul, this story becomes less of an over-told children’s story and instead becomes a polemical literary piece designed to convict Saul of poor leadership. Why? First, Saul, we are told, was a foot taller than any other Israelite (1 Sam. 9:2) and the average Israelite during that time was 5’0-5’3. Secondly, we are told he is the only one, aside from his son Jonathan, who was the armor one would need to fight someone like Goliath (1 Sam. 17:38-39). Finally, Saul was probably the only one who had tactical training. Goliath was meant for Saul. This was his job and mission. Saul was anointed as King specifically to take on the Philistines, and I would say, Goliath himself.  However, Saul had allowed his fear of man to paralyze him to the point where he would not act, and since he refused to be an effective part of God’s plan, God chose a shepherd boy to rise to power that day in the valley of Elah.

Saul shows us that the fear of man leads to destruction. Saul had allowed the people to become his god as he rose to power and only saw God as a way to “use him” or as Eugene Peterson said, “to bring God in as a resource or a means.”[2] This week you have a choice to be a part of God’s plan or allow humans (or other sources) reign on the throne of your heart. What battles are you currently facing? What scares you the most right now? How are you allowing those fears affect you and the loved ones around you? Let us not forget that we are ambassadors of Jesus (2 Cor. 5:20) on this earth and temples of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 6:19). We are children of the living God(Gal. 3:26) and we are equipped and empowered to face the day’s challenges with a faith and love that overcomes our fears (1 John 4:18). Wherever the valley of Elah is for you, don’t allow your fear of men to consume and incapacitate you. Instead, let that fear be a catalyst for a deeper faith that pushes you to be bold, courageous, and Christ-like.

Verses to pray about today:

Proverbs: 14:29: Whoever is patient has great understanding, but one who is quick-tempered displays folly.

1 Samuel 15:22: To obey is better than sacrifice.

Matthew 10:28: And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul.

2 Corinthians 5:20: We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.

Galatians 3:26: So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith.

1 John 4:18-19: There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. We love because he loved us first.

[1] J. Daniel Hays, “Reconsidering the Height of Goliath,” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 48, no. 4 (2005): 701-14, 704

[2] Eugene Peterson, Leap Over A Wall (New York: Harper Collins, 1997), 27.

Click Here to learn more about the Holy Land and the Valley of Elah with one of our seminars.

This past weekend I had the privilege of preaching on Israel’s first King and his lack of interaction at the Valley of Elah. King Saul was handsome, tall (1 Sam. 9:2), skilled in battle (1 Sam. 11:11), compassionate towards others (1 Sam. 11:13), and a revolutionary (1 Sam. 28:3, also first King). At least at the beginning. These are the positive qualities we are given about Saul. However, his fear of men led him to become impatient (1 Sam. 13), ineffective (1 Sam. 15), and ultimately, at today’s site in the valley of Elah, incapacitated (1 Sam. 17) and unable to make any decision or action, let alone the right one. While some of his intentions may have been good in 1 Samuel 13 and 15, as we know from Breaking Bad, one wrong decision, no matter how good the intention, can lead down a lifelong dark path that God never intended for us.

The valley of Elah, where 1 Samuel 17 takes place, is often seen as the story of David and Goliath. That would be the wrong way of reading the story. This event is about David and Saul. This story is a power and anointing shift from Saul to David. From here on out David becomes the main character in the story while Saul becomes the footnote. Saul as King was meant to be an instrument of the living God, but instead he allowed man to take the throne of his heart so that every action and decision he made was out of that fear of man. His fear of men caused him to disobey the Lord, and this is not something the Lord would tolerate. As Samuel says in 1 Samuel 15:22, “To obey is better than sacrifice.”

There are many different theories claiming to understand Goliath and his height of 9’9 (six cubits and a span). However, I believe there is a much more rational way of understanding this story. J. Daniel Hays wrote an article titled, “Reconsidering the Height of Goliath.”[1] In this article Hays gives a list of 5 different sources, including one of the oldest extant Hebrew manuscripts from the 1st century AD that say Goliath was four cubits and a span (6’9) rather than six cubits and a span (9’9). Furthermore, when we shift our attention from David to Saul, this story becomes less of an over-told children’s story and instead becomes a polemical literary piece designed to convict Saul of poor leadership. Why? First, Saul, we are told, was a foot taller than any other Israelite (1 Sam. 9:2) and the average Israelite during that time was 5’0-5’3. Secondly, we are told he is the only one, aside from his son Jonathan, who was the armor one would need to fight someone like Goliath (1 Sam. 17:38-39). Finally, Saul was probably the only one who had tactical training. Goliath was meant for Saul. This was his job and mission. Saul was anointed as King specifically to take on the Philistines, and I would say, Goliath himself.  However, Saul had allowed his fear of man to paralyze him to the point where he would not act, and since he refused to be an effective part of God’s plan, God chose a shepherd boy to rise to power that day in the valley of Elah.

Saul shows us that the fear of man leads to destruction. Saul had allowed the people to become his god as he rose to power and only saw God as a way to “use him” or as Eugene Peterson said, “to bring God in as a resource or a means.”[2] This week you have a choice to be a part of God’s plan or allow humans (or other sources) reign on the throne of your heart. What battles are you currently facing? What scares you the most right now? How are you allowing those fears affect you and the loved ones around you? Let us not forget that we are ambassadors of Jesus (2 Cor. 5:20) on this earth and temples of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 6:19). We are children of the living God(Gal. 3:26) and we are equipped and empowered to face the day’s challenges with a faith and love that overcomes our fears (1 John 4:18). Wherever the valley of Elah is for you, don’t allow your fear of men to consume and incapacitate you. Instead, let that fear be a catalyst for a deeper faith that pushes you to be bold, courageous, and Christ-like.

Verses to pray about today:

Proverbs: 14:29: Whoever is patient has great understanding, but one who is quick-tempered displays folly.

1 Samuel 15:22: To obey is better than sacrifice.

Matthew 10:28: And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul.

2 Corinthians 5:20: We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.

Galatians 3:26: So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith.

1 John 4:18-19: There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. We love because he loved us first.

[1] J. Daniel Hays, “Reconsidering the Height of Goliath,” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 48, no. 4 (2005): 701-14, 704

[2] Eugene Peterson, Leap Over A Wall (New York: Harper Collins, 1997), 27.

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