When we read the description of Goliath of Gath, it isn’t all that difficult to understand why Saul and Israel were “greatly afraid.” Goliath was determined to defeat Israel, and by the looks of him, he was able to do just that. Their fear is understandable. And when David shows up–more shepherd than soldier with a youthful appearance–it isn’t all that difficult to understand why Goliath wasn’t scared in the least. His confidence is as understandable as Saul’s fear, but it turns out that both Saul and Goliath had the same blind spot. Both failed to see what God was doing on behalf of His people. Why? They were both blinded by their belief in their own limitations or abilities and a pursuit of their own glory. For Goliath, that blindness led to his immediate demise, while for Saul, his story was initial victory followed by a slow burn. His fear of Goliath gave way to a jealousy of David that would define the remainder of his life (much of which is a story for another day).
Immediately following David’s defeat of Goliath, a clear contrast develops between Saul and his children. David and Saul’s son, Jonathan, were the best of friends. Jonathan loved David “as his own soul.” And we’re told that Saul’s daughter, Michal, loved David, but even that became for Saul another plot to kill David. Saul was scared to death of David, just as he had been of Goliath before, still painfully unaware of what God was doing around him. So to be sure, these chapters sound a strong alarm about the dangers of being driven by fear (or pride), but they also sound a needed reminder not to discount or ignore what God is doing around us and within us.
We, too, can become completely consumed with what we can do or what we can’t do or what others can do that we can’t do. That is a scary place to be, but it isn’t a place we have to be. Writing about what God had done for His people by sending Jesus as the Savior of the world and what He was doing in and among them by giving His Spirit, John stated in 1 John 4:18 a reality we need to see, “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.” If you’re afraid today, let it drive you toward the God who loves you instead of letting it drive you to hate those around you.