Goliath was an abuser. A really nasty one. Listen to him:
1 Samuel 17:8-10 He stood and shouted to the ranks of Israel, “Why have you come out to draw up for battle? Am I not a Philistine, and are you not servants of Saul? Choose a man for yourselves, and let him come down to me. If he is able to fight with me and kill me, then we will be your servants. But if I prevail against him and kill him, then you shall be our servants and serve us.” And the Philistine said, “I defy the ranks of Israel this day. Give me a man, that we may fight together.”
Forty days this business went on with the giant mocking the Israelites and thus, mocking their God. Then, one day this kid shows up for the showdown and Goliath intensifies his mocking:
1 Samuel 17:40-44 Then he took his staff in his hand and chose five smooth stones from the brook and put them in his shepherd’s pouch. His sling was in his hand, and he approached the Philistine. And the Philistine moved forward and came near to David, with his shield-bearer in front of him. And when the Philistine looked and saw David, he disdained him, for he was but a youth, ruddy and handsome in appearance. And the Philistine said to David, “Am I a dog, that you come to me with sticks?” And the Philistine cursed David by his gods. The Philistine said to David, “Come to me, and I will give your flesh to the birds of the air and to the beasts of the field.”
Goliath was an abuser. He was a giant and he knew it. Pity his wife if he had one. Goliath hated God (although at least he was forthright about that and didn’t pretend to be a worshiper of the Lord as so many abusers do today). Goliath ridiculed his victims. Power and control and self-glory were what he was all about.
So, how should David have dealt with Goliath? I suggest to you that many Christians today think they know better than David. They tell abuse victims that when the abuser roars, victims should be meek and submissive. Win the giant over with love, they say. After all, you were a sinner too and God showed you mercy. You show Goliath mercy. Take him some sandwiches. David should have dropped to his knees and prayed and let God handle things. There’s the thing, you see.
But David didn’t take that advice:
1 Samuel 17:45-49 Then David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with a sword and with a spear and with a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the LORD will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you down and cut off your head. And I will give the dead bodies of the host of the Philistines this day to the birds of the air and to the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel, and that all this assembly may know that the LORD saves not with sword and spear. For the battle is the LORD’s, and he will give you into our hand.”
When the Philistine arose and came and drew near to meet David, David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet the Philistine. And David put his hand in his bag and took out a stone and slung it and struck the Philistine on his forehead. The stone sank into his forehead, and he fell on his face to the ground.
And then David even cut off Goliath’s head. He didn’t try to lead Goliath to Christ at all. He just shot him, and cut off his head.
Now, I am not recommending that abuse victims shoot their abusers and cut off their heads. That will land you in prison unless it is in justified self-defense. And yes, human beings are indeed allowed by God to defend themselves. But self-defense isn’t the main topic of this article. My point is that this far too common business of Christians telling abuse victims that they must not ever raise their voices to their abuser, that they must speak kindly to them always, that they must endure suffering and patiently await that big day when Goliath gets born again — this business has to stop. Stern stuff is quite appropriate: calling the police, leaving, divorcing, drawing firm boundaries, getting restraining orders, exposing the abuser for what he is to his church.
So the next time someone starts giving you the mercy-love-kindness lecture, grab your Bible and open it up here to 1 Samuel 17. Ask them if they are saying that David messed it all up with Goliath. Ask them why they are insisting that you need to negotiate with your giant. Then send them back to the quivering Israelite camp while you pick out five really nice smooth “stones.”