Monday, January 31, 2011

“When Goliath was Little…”

A few years ago I was reading to my 3 year-old son the story of David and Goliath. He was familiar with the story already, but as most children he was willing to be read to anytime I was willing. We talked about the size of the giant, his defiance of God and Israel, and David’s bravery and trust in God. As we finished the story, which ends with David slaying the blasphemous giant, my son said to me, “But when Goliath was little, he was NICE to David.”

This statement made by one so young really struck a chord with me. We don’t have any details about Goliath when he was little. I would venture to say that the reader has probably never thought about it before now. We know about the man from Gath who was six cubits tall and a span (1 Sam. 17:4). We know about the man whose coat of armor weighed an estimated 125 lbs. (1 Sam. 17:5). We know about the man who defied the armies of the living God (1 Sam. 17:10, 26). But nobody knows about Goliath, the child.

There are some very valuable lessons here. First, much of our behavior is learned behavior. Goliath was probably never small compared to the rest of those his age. The attitude that caused him to take advantage of others because of size, however, was perhaps something that had been encouraged by his family, those of his tribe, or Philistine men of war who wanted to use his brute strength to their advantage. Goliath could have been a “gentle giant” under different circumstances.

Second, most of what we believe is also learned. Why would Goliath defy Israel? Why was he an enemy of David rather than a friend? Why would he not have faith in the true God of heaven? Adults who were responsible for his training and education taught him otherwise. He was raised to hate Israel, be an idol worshiper, and give his life for a lie. Had he been put in a room with David as a little boy with no preconceptions, they would have played together.

Third, we would be doing ourselves a favor to remember the days of our youth. Not only does our child-like innocence often escape us, but we forget what it was even like to feel the compassion and love in the heart of a child. When Solomon wrote, “Remember now your Creator in the days of your youth” (Eccl. 12:1), he was not just emphasizing the importance of service to God during healthy years. He was implying that learning to love God as a youth will prepare one for continued obedience as an adult. Children have qualities all adults need. God has given us to them at an early age so that they will not escape our memory.

Being a parent is one of God's greatest blessings in this life. What becomes of our children will have more to do with our influence than we often think. There are little ones all around you that could become a David or a Goliath. Physical size matters not. But the size of hearts, both ours and theirs, will determine the final outcome.

“Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord” – Psalm 127:3

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