We all face giants



A few years ago, while in a Target waiting for a prescription, I found myself in the book section. The title, David and Goliath jumped out at me from the shelves. “Hmmm, David and Goliath in a Target,” I thought to myself, “how interesting.” And then I saw that the author was Malcolm Gladwell, whom I really enjoy and respect. The subtitle also caught my eye: “Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants.” I thought, “What the heck, maybe I’ll give this a read some time,” and I tossed the book in my basket. Three years later I finally made time to read the book, and, man, I’m so glad I did!

Malcolm masterfully re-tells the 3,000 year old story of the little shepherd boy and his battle with the giant from a perspective I had never heard before, and in a way which finally makes sense to me. Malcolm starts with the well-accepted idea that David’s victory was improbable and miraculous; we all know there’s no way David should have won that battle. Right? Except, says Malcolm, maybe David’s success is not such a surprise. Malcolm challenges how we think about obstacles and disadvantages, offering a new interpretation of what it means to face an illness, or suffer from a disability, or be discriminated against, or lose a parent, or attend a mediocre school, or experience any number of other apparent setbacks.

At the risk of sounding overly simplistic, here’s how the story is usually told and understood:

A small shepherd boy, David, is set to battle a huge warrior, Goliath. Everyone expects Goliath to win easily. David puts a stone into the leather pouch of his slingshot and flings the stone at the giant’s forehead. Goliath falls, stunned. David runs toward Goliath, seizes the giant’s sword, and cuts off the giant’s head. The Philistines saw that there warrior was dead and they run for the hills, literally.

Here’s some more information which does not make it into the ordinary biblical account:

Goliath went into the battle with some not-so-obvious disadvantages. While it is true that Goliath was a huge man, what scientists think today is that he probably suffered from what is known as acromegaly – a disease caused by a benign tumor of the pituitary gland. The tumor causes an overproduction of the human growth hormone, which would explain Goliath’s extraordinary size. One of the common side effects of acromegaly is vision problems. So, not only was Goliath huge, and weighted down by over a hundred pounds of metal armor, he also couldn’t see very well or very far. In addition, Goliath approached the fight with a set of expectations about his opponent. He assumed he would be fighting another soldier who understood the same rules of battle Goliath was well versed in.

David, on the other side, brought to the fight only what David knew. David was well adept at fighting lions, bears and wolves. He had long ago mastered protecting his sheep from the terrors of the night. David was surrounded by others who tried to make him into another warrior in the same vein as Goliath, even suggesting David dress himself like a soldier – complete with over a hundred pounds of armor. David had no intention of abandoning his own skills to try to imitate skills he wasn’t trained for. Attempting to dress and fight as a trained warrior would surely have caused David to fail. We should never try to present ourselves as someone we are not. David knew this and intended to face the giant on his own terms, not the recommendations of those around him nor the mocking of the giant himself.

From a distance, those on either side of the ridge watched a battle about to occur. In the valley below, they saw a huge professional warrior the size of a giant about to slaughter a naive young inexperienced shepherd boy. From a distance it looked like the odds were stacked overwhelmingly against the boy. Anyone would draw the same conclusion. In reality, the very thing that gave the giant his size was also the source of his greatest weakness. There’s an important lesson in that for battles with all kinds of giants. The powerful and the strong are not always what they seem.

David came running toward Goliath, powered by courage, faith and ability. Goliath was blind to David’s approach – and then the next thing Goliath knew he was down on the ground, too big, and too slow and too blurry-eyed to comprehend the way the tables had been turned.

God knew there is a life lesson in this story for sure, for we all face giants. Who are your giants or what are your giants? Alcoholism? The death of a child? A change in career? A new job? A new boss? You need – but can’t seem to be able to – forgive someone? A new teacher? Cancer? A war? Dyslexia? Depression? Your weight? You compare yourself to those around you who seemingly have more of whatever it is you crave? Prejudice? Homophobia? Racism? Bigotry? Xenophobia? Misogyny? Your friends are all good at a particular sport and you’re, well, just not good … at any sport. That can stink. There’s no shortage of Goliath’s out there, that’s for sure. We all face a battle or two.

Please know that whatever battle you face, you do not face it alone. God is with you. God has equipped you with everything you need to fight the battle before – or within – you; or God has given you the grace to surrender to whatever it is you are dealing with and the grace to deal with it right here, right now.

Remember, David didn’t try to become someone other than who he was. David was not accidentally equipped with the skills he had to fight his giant – he was specifically equipped to face this battle. David fought his battle with Goliath with the same gifts, grace, skills, and courage he already had to fight all battles in his life. You have those skills too … or you know where to find them. Do. Find. Them. You were not meant to face this giant alone.

Know that I am praying for you. Please keep me in your prayers too.



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  • Kelly says:

    Thanks, Chuck. Your words always offer not just a lesson but a sense of hope for all of us. Nancy and I wish you a happy and holy Christmas.

  • Mike McMahon says:

    God Bless you, Chuck!

    Your Friend,


  • Rachel says:

    Great blog and my favorite line…Remember, David didn’t try to become someone other than who he was. David was not accidentally equipped with the skills he had to fight his giant – he was specifically equipped to face this battle.

    Thanks for you writing!

  • Mary Margaret Green says:

    I’m so glad to see your blog appearing more frequently, Chuck. Please keep the posts coming.

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