Goliath stood and called to Israel’s troops, “Why do you come out to prepare for battle? Am I not the Philistine, and are you not the servants of Saul? Choose for yourselves a man so he may come down to me!” – 1 Samuel 17:8 (NET)
“There is no need for the entirety of our armies to go to war,” says Goliath. Continuing, he is reported to have said, “All that is necessary if for one man from each side, representative of our respective peoples, to do battle. The peoples of the winning side will be served by the peoples of the losing side.” Though the story informs the reader that David would here take up the challenge and face Goliath in battle, there would come a time at which another man, the one that would come to be called the Son of David, would also go forth in battle as a representative of His people. Yes, Jesus would willingly engage in a battle against the curse of death, and of course, He would emerge victorious. The people for which He stood as representative would be victorious, while death and the grave would be defeated.
The story of David and Goliath---the story of a faithful Israelite doing battle against the enemy of the Creator God’s covenant people---could certainly be perceived to be but a foreshadowing of the great and decisive battle that would be waged and won by the faithful Israelite to come, stripping the power of death from off of the chosen people of the covenant God. No, His people would not be ruled by death. They would not be participants in the dissemination of corruption. They would not serve death.
Just as Goliath stepped forward to the battle line saying, “I defy Israel’s troops this day! Give me a man so we can fight each other” (17:10), so too did death step forward with a similar proclamation. Death can be presumed to have made this figurative proclamation when confronted with the claims of Israel, and the Creator God’s purpose to use this people (beginning with Abraham) to bless all the world, to deal with the problem of evil, to set His world to rights, and to ultimately be the people through which He would send His promised deliverer into His fallen creation.
In response to Goliath, just two verses later beyond those previously referenced, young David is introduced into this story as a potential deliverer. Immediately, it can be surmised that David is the one that is going to respond on behalf of the people of the covenant God. As David is going to stand against Israel’s enemy, Goliath, so too will Jesus stand against mankind’s undefeated mortal foe, that being death.
Corruption and death seemed to defy all of the Creator God’s plans and purposes for His creation, just as Goliath would defy Israel. As Goliath was the Philistine champion, so too death had reigned undefeated from the fall of man until the moment that Jesus stepped forth from His tomb. As the story goes, Goliath was supremely confident in his ability to withstand any challenge. Similarly, one could presume that death was not the least bit lacking in confidence when presented with the person of Jesus.
With much boldness, Goliath said, “Give me a man so we can fight each other,” though the narrative reports that it was the very first one that answered the challenge that would prove the foolishness of this challenge. Unchallenged and undefeated, with its own foolish and unsuspecting (though well-earned) boldness, death presumptuously shook its fist at the Creator God and exclaimed, “Give me a man so we can fight each other.” That God’s answer to this was Jesus; and yes, a bloody and decisive battle would have to be waged.