Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
March 5, 1959

The Conquered Champions

Vaughn D. Shofner, Tucumcari, New Mexico

Across the valley from the men of Israel was the camp of the Philistines. From this camp marched their champion, Goliath of Gath, parading the power of his six cubits and a span, basking in the glitter of his brass coat which weighed five thousand shekels, his helmet of brass, his greaves of brass, and casting a spell of fear on all who saw the staff of his spear, like a weaver's beam and weighing six hundred shekels of iron. "And he stood and cried unto the armies of Israel, Why are ye come out to set your battle in array: am not I a Philistine, and ye servants of Saul? choose ye a man for you, and let him come down to me. If he be able to fight with me, and to kill me, then will we be your servants: but if I prevail against him, and kill him, then shall ye be our servants, and serve us. I defy the armies of Israel this day; give me a man, that we may fight together. When Saul and all Israel heard those words of the Philistine, they were dismayed and greatly afraid." (I Sam. 17:8-11.)

Then from the hills of Bethlehem came a shepherd lad on an errand for his father. When this God-fearing boy saw the giant defy the armies of God, he wondered that men with the Lord on their side would shrink from this uncircumcised Philistine, and he volunteered to meet the champion for the king. Finally Saul agreed to let him go, offering him his own armor. But David took only his shepherd's sling, chose five smooth stones and went out to meet the foe. When Goliath saw him coming he was very angry. This was the worst insult he had ever suffered. Why, he was the champion giant of the whole earth, and to be asked to fight a shepherd lad in whose cheeks the pink of morning still bloomed, and who was unknown to the world, was too much to bear! He raged and foamed at the mouth, shouting, "Am I a dog, that thou comest to me with staves?" And the Philistine cursed David by his gods, saying unto him, "Come to me, and I will give thy flesh unto the fowls of the air, and to the beasts of the fields."

No doubt Goliath thought his imposing size and the fit of temper would cause this unknown and insignificant warrior to turn and run, but the lad spoke with the assurance and calmness of a veteran, seasoned by "more than an hundred" encounters: "Thou comest to me with a sword, and with a spear, and with a shield: but I come to thee in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom thou hast defied. This day will the Lord deliver thee into mine hand; and I will smite thee, and take thine head from thee, and I will give the carcasses of the host of the Philistines this day unto the fowls of the air, and to the wild beasts of the earth; that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel. And all this assembly shall know that the Lord saveth not with sword and spear: for the battle is the Lord's and he will give you into our hands." (I Sam. 17:45-47.)

David, fighting the battle in the name of the Lord, by the Lord's authority, obtained salvation for the people who respect the Lord and his authority, and even today there are no Goliaths who defy the living God and fight against his word who can stand. The great giant of unbelief is abroad today, and his uncircumcised agents are still challenging and defying the authority of God's word.

God-fearing, Bible-believers are faced with the battle and it presents the necessity of leaning God's way, pursuing the course, defeating the giants, and marching victorious over every evil thing.

Standing in sight and earshot of the humble camp of the soldiers who stand for a 'thus saith the Lord" for all that is done religiously, is the imposing army of institutions and organizations, robbing God's way of its glory, foaming at the mouth, and shouting insulting nicknames at "the little bunch of insignificant Fundamentalists" who would dare try to thwart the great schemes which operate the "church uiversal". Big preachers, posing intellects that measure six cubits and a span, some basking in the scintillating glitter of academic degrees — "Doctorates from Harvard," "Masters from Montezuma," "Bachelors from Berlin" — attempting to cast a spell of fear on all who hear these voices of authority. Some boast the place of a veteran of "more than a hundred encounters." Far too many once stalwart soldiers behold the giants and are "dismayed and greatly afraid."

But there are still some simple shepherds, with the smell of the field in their clothes and a rustic note of simplicity in their speech, who have such implicit faith in God and his way that they know the Lord will again deliver the giants into their hands. They have stood, and are now ready and eager to again stand on the polemic platform with those worldly acclaimed giants, to test all beliefs and practices in the crucible of God's authority. But the boasting Goliaths of the brotherhood are cravenly retreating to the corner long occupied by the world-weakened wonders of Denominationalism. They untruthfully say "all of their flock" are satisfied with the way they are doing things, so they will not allow their subjects to hear the provincial shepherd who represents, they erringly say, but "a small segment" of the brotherhood.

The truth is, gentle reader, they've seen their giants fall at the feet of those men they have thus met, and as the sectarians, they think it is far better for their carnal cause to keep their followers from hearing them "contend earnestly for the faith." It is easier to befuddle and deceive through papers that print only their evasive blasphemy, and from pulpits which are protected from such tests. How do they call themselves champions? Methinks the champions have been conquered!

Good friend, don't array yourself in battle with those who defy the God of the armies of Israel! Trust in, and be led only by the strength of the Lord and his plan, which is able to deliver you out of the paw of the bear or the hand of any Philistine. Beware of those whose armors are composed only of the tinsel of this world, though great and imposing may be their statures; their way is the way of death and defeat. God's Son from the hills of Bethlehem leads the victorious army, and may men "know that the Lord saveth not with sword and spear", nor with the powers and principalities of the world, nor with the wisdom of man: "for the battle is the Lord's and he will give the enemy into our hands."