DayBreaks for 06/16/11 – Living in the Valley of Elah
NOTE: Galen is on Sabbatical until 7/11. Until he returns, DayBreaks will be publishing prior devotions (that is, if Galen has access to the Internet!) Thanks for your understanding!
1 Samuel 17:2-11 – “2 Saul and the Israelites assembled and camped in the Valley of Elah and drew up their battle line to meet the Philistines. 3 The Philistines occupied one hill and the Israelites another, with the valley between them. 4 A champion named Goliath, who was from Gath, came out of the Philistine camp. He was over nine feet tall. 5 He had a bronze helmet on his head and wore a coat of scale armor of bronze weighing five thousand shekels; 6 on his legs he wore bronze greaves, and a bronze javelin was slung on his back. 7 His spear shaft was like a weaver’s rod, and its iron point weighed six hundred shekels. His shield bearer went ahead of him. 8 Goliath stood and shouted to the ranks of Israel, “Why do you come out and line up for battle? Am I not a Philistine, and are you not the servants of Saul? Choose a man and have him come down to me. 9 If he is able to fight and kill me, we will become your subjects; but if I overcome him and kill him, you will become our subjects and serve us.” 10 Then the Philistine said, “This day I defy the ranks of Israel! Give me a man and let us fight each other.” 11 On hearing the Philistine’s words, Saul and all the Israelites were dismayed and terrified.”
The confrontation described in these verses took place several thousand years ago, yet the story of David and Goliath continues to capture the imagination of people – young and old – to this day. I wish I could have watched the confrontation (notice I said “WATCH”). I labor under no delusions that I would have done what David did – I am ashamed to say that I’m not that courageous, nor do I have the faith of the young shepherd boy. His faith still inspires me.
I have never been to the valley of Elah. I’ve never been to the Promised Land. Perhaps some day I’ll go there and see the valley where this amazing biblical event took place. But in another sense, we have all been there, in fact, we’ve all lived in that very valley. You see, the Valley of Elah can stand for any place in any age where God’s people and His enemies square off against one another. It was in the Valley of Elah that the giant, seemingly so great and mighty and invincible, bellowed out his words: “This day I defy the ranks of Israel!”
Isn’t our land full of giants who defy the ranks of God’s chosen? The battle lines have been drawn, the forces are arrayed one against the other. At the very sight of God’s people, the taunting and challenge begin.
It is sad, isn’t it? Verse 11 tells us that all it took were words to terrify and dismay not only the Israelites, but their king as well. It didn’t take any demonstration of power or superior warfare techniques. All it required was for a challenge to be issued and the people of God shrank back in fear.
The Valley of Elah is alive and well today. The questions remain and need to be answered in every generation: where are the people of God? What will they do when they find themselves in the Valley of Elah? “If we tremble in the face of Satan, it is never because Satan has grown large, but because our God has grown small.”
It only took one young shepherd boy to step out in faith to turn the tide of a battle. Perhaps now it is your turn – and mine.
Copyright 2001 by Galen C. Dalrymple.
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