If Goliath will join today’s cosplay, he has a lot of personas available to choose from. He can go as depression, financial crisis, family struggles, and this latest pandemic—COVID-19. Perhaps, this me-centered approach in hermeneutics has been rampant for years whether in pulpit, Sunday school, Christian literature, and sermon exhortations. This methodology of reading and applying the Holy Scriptures is labeled as “spiritualizing” or “over-spiritualization.” I know this will call a lot of controversies regarding the validity of applying this famous biblical text but isn’t it that main objective of all the narratives in the Scripture such as this is to display the power, majesty and glory of God?
In over-spiritualization, we tend to replace the historical characters into trendy relevant applications and give no justice for the abused figure. In hermeneutics, we need to grasp the literary meaning of the text. The literary meaning of the text is the intended meaning of the author and shaped by the context, historical background, grammar and word meanings. Therefore, this product of our imagination through “spiritualizing” is not based on the text nor the intended meaning of the Spirit of God. Fanciful but not accurate. Meaning, we are not facing a Goliath! It was David who faced Goliath, not me nor you. And in fact, the narrative is not about David either but the mighty warrior who fights for His people—God. In this case, Goliath should be understood literally—tall, mighty, and a champion. I remember a popular statement that is so famous that it is impossible for a 21st century Christian to miss it: “Sometimes God puts a Goliath in your life, for you to find the David within you.” Sounds appealing, right? But not so. Goliath is not our Goliath of problems, hurdles, obstacles, challenges or even this pandemic. Goliath is feared by Israelites (1 Samuel 17:11), he is literally wearing weights of our time for his helmet and armor alone weighs five thousand shekels (1 Samuel 17:5), and if we are living back then we would surely shake our knees with his gallant shout (1 Samuel 17:8 cf. 17:11).
Perhaps, we should read the text in a proper way. A God-focused and God-exalting way of reading the text. To read it as the Ultimate Champion who makes Goliath looked like a dwarf because this narrative is not about our personal breakthrough and victory but God’s victory for His people and for his name sake.
My Reminder to Myself
So, the next time I read this story, I am reminded that I am not little like David facing Goliath of fears with a sling and 5 smooth stones (prayer, tithes, evangelistic, discipling and honoring my pastor: an allegory of another topic) but God who fights for his people, worthy of worship among his people, the One who will provide another king for his people, and ultimately the God of Israel who reigns over all.
Jerome is the pastor of Muntinlupa Baptist Church since 2017. He is currently discipling the young professionals through book readings, equipping some older men for pastorate, and equipping the church through doctrinal and book studies of the Bible.
Outside of the church, he is leading a bible study to young pastors from South of Metro Manila and helping small churches in equipping. He is also a full-time facilitator at PBTS-SEE program by training men and women called into the ministry. He finished his graduate studies at Philippine Baptist Theological Seminary.