Going Through the Motions
David and Goliath is one of the most well known accounts in the Bible (1 Samuel 17).
We often focus on David and his conflict with Goliath, and there is much truth to be gleaned in this part of the account. However, there is quite a bit that we can learn from the other people in this account. David showed up to the battlefront 40 days after the conflict had started. And I use the term conflict lightly at this point since they hadn’t really done anything yet. The armies were gathered and facing off in a valley. However, there had yet to be a battle. I am not sure if this was common or not, but is not quite what I imagine when I think of war or conflict.
Anyway, the Israelites and Philistines were camped opposite of each other and had been for over a month. Instead of facing off in battle, they would gear up for battle and come to the front lines. Then Goliath would come out and challenge them to one-on-one battle. However, he would go beyond this and would defy God and His power. This happened day in and day out, morning and evening.
Now it is understandable that no one jumped at the chance to take on a 9-foot giant; however, this had to get old after a while. I mean, can you imagine putting on all your battle gear on day 26? What would be different? They kept getting ready each day, putting on their armor, and pumping each other up. They would even get worked up enough to unleash their battle cry. Every day they did this. For 40 days. I am not sure if they thought maybe the next day would be different, that maybe someone would change his mind and take Goliath on. But, it was a lot of pressure. Win and there would be a lot of glory, lose and your name would go down as the one who failed and caused Israel to go back into captivity.
So, no one went.
Each day they would get dressed as if they were going into battle. They would get worked up and cry out. Then they would go out to the front line, look at Goliath, listen to him, and then return to their camp. I am not a military mind by any means; I don’t even do well at Stratego or Risk. However, this does not seem to be the most effective military strategy. This had to be getting old. And it can be easy to look at these soldiers and criticize them and their inaction. However, how many of us approach our Christian lives the same way each day.
We say the right things; we get up and do the same things over and over without making any significant changes. We go out to face spiritual warfare thinking this day will be different, yet refuse to walk by faith. When we go about with confidence in ourselves, that we can make the difference on our own, we will continue to be disappointed. Too often we live the Christian life this way—we get up and put our confidence in our own actions only to fall short. We live like the army of Israel, going through the motions without any change of heart.
God has given us everything we need for life and Godliness (2 Peter 1:3). He has given us the gift of His Word and the Holy Spirit. The application of this story is not that we can all be David and kill Goliath and become king. The application is that we are all prone to going through the motions, thinking that will bring about change. While motions can be good and necessary, if we go through them without walking by faith, they will not bring about change or victory. Take the next right step today and take it in faith.