David said to the Philistine, “You can come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the Lord will hand you over to me… All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves: for the battle is the Lord’s.” —1 Samuel 17:45, 47
People of all ages love the story of David and Goliath. Neither Jim nor I went to church much until our teen years, but we already knew the incredible story. Let us put it into our own words:
The Israelites were camped out on one hill and the Philistines were on another across the valley. In a standoff that would last forty days, the only “action” came when the Philistines each day sent out their big gun, Goliath, who shouted at the Israelites and mocked their God. Goliath, of course, was a nine-foot-plus giant of a man who scared the living daylights out of pretty much everybody. Goliath wanted the Israelites to send one man to fight him. His proposition was really pretty simple. If Goliath won the battle, the Israelites would become slaves of the Philistines. If someone from Israel won, the Philistines would become their slaves. One problem though: Israel was fresh out of giants, and as one of the modern versions of the Bible says, “The Israelites were paralyzed with fear.”
As the stalemate wore on, Jesse sent his youngest son, David, to check up on his brothers who were in the army. David was a shepherd boy who played the harp. (Harpists typically don’t fight giants.) David witnessed what was taking place with Goliath and immediately volunteered to fight him. David was either the bravest or most naive person in all Israel. Nevertheless, King Saul and the other leaders listened to what he had to say: “I have wrestled with bears and lions. With God’s help, I am not afraid.” The Israeli leadership must have wanted to get something started and they were out of ideas, so they took David up on his offer. Saul gave Davide his personal armor, but after struggling to even walk in it, David took off the armor, picked up five smooth stones for his sling, and started hiking down the hill toward Goliath. Goliath’s response was to be expected. He laughed and mocked, and prepared to slice David to pieces.
The Israelites looked on, paralyzed with fear. Most likely the Philistines were already breaking out the choicest Philistine champagne to celebrate their victory over Israel. But notice David’s attitude and whose help he needed. While the other Israelites looked at Goliath and said, “He is so big, we can’t win!” David basically said, “With God’s help, He is so big, I CAN’T MISS.” And with one stone David sent Goliath to his early and extra-large grave.
Why is it that so many marriages fail or fall into a boring businesslike relationship? We think it’s because couples don’t intentionally bring God into their marriages. We are the first to admit that without our faith in God, we probably would not be married. The right kind of marriage is not one of two hears and two minds and even two souls; it is a marriage of three, with God being placed on the throne of your marriage. This isn’t about some hocus-pocus experience as much as it is developing the self-discipline and courage to bring Christ into the presence of your everyday marriage relationship.
With so many potential challenges, the odds are against couples building an intimate marriage today. Like the Israelites in Goliath’s time, it’s easy to become paralyzed with fear and to stop doing what you know would create intimacy. The issues are just too big. But instead, we need to take a page out of David’s playbook. With God’s help, nothing in your relationship is insurmountable. With His help, you can win the battle for a healthy and loving marriage.
• What can we do as a couple to bring God’s presence deeper into our relationship?
• Sometimes anger, bitterness, and lack of forgiveness can cause couples to draw away from God. What can we do to work on those areas of our relationship and draw closer to God and to each other?
• Who in our life might be able to help us to grow spiritually together?
A STEP CLOSER:
THE DAVID RESPONSE
Make a list of any Goliath-sized issues in your relationship. (Keep it to five or six and try to agree on them.) Next to the issues, write out the “David response.” You might want to close this exercise by praying together for the right attitude and for God’s presence in your marriage.
(Excerpted from Closer: 52 Devotionals to Draw Couples Together by Jim and Cathy Burns; Bethany House, 2009.)