1 Samuel 17:(1–31)32–49, Slaying the Giants

Verse 45a: “David answered, ‘You have come against me with sword and spear and dagger, but I have come against you in the name of the Lord of Hosts’…”
Verses 48–50a: “When the Philistine began moving towards him again, David ran quickly to engage him. He put his hand into his bag, took out a stone, slung it, and struck the Philistine on the forehead…and he fell flat on his face on the ground. So David proved the victor with his sling and stone….”

The story of David and Goliath is probably one of the most well-known Old Testament stories. It is easy to interpret Goliath symbolically as the things in our lives that feel too big to face. In our psyche, these things are usually first encountered as affective or feeling states.

Gargantuan emotion seems to come from nowhere and feel as if it will destroy us. Our longings, desires, disappointments, hurts, and fears often fall into this realm. Our egos fear that owning the feeling states will destroy our lives—the well-known and long established relationships, alliances, etc. David’s response to Goliath is instructive about how to face our inner giants successfully.

First, David had faith in God and his ability to defeat Goliath. He says, “The Lord who saved me from the lion and the bear will save me from this Philistine.” (Verse 37) David represents the ego that consciously knows the connection to the Self/God Within. This conscious knowing is born from past experiences where instinctive, reflexive body states have been connected to the larger Self. We have experiences of knowing we have more within us than the momentary feeling state.

Second, David refuses the armor of King Saul. David symbolizes the ego that knows the heaviness of defense mechanisms that place barriers between our self and the Self/God Within and between the self and other people. These defense mechanisms are many. They often show up as “de-ex-ifying”—defending, explaining, and justifying. Defense mechanisms create states of confusion or “feeling at a loss” as they separate us from our embodied experience and knowing.

Third, David “picked up his stick, chose five smooth stones from the brook and put them in a shepherd’s bag which served as his pouch.” (Verse 40) The stick represents the masculine energies or phallic power. The shepherd’s bag with the five stones represents the feminine power of embodied experience.

The stick is a symbol of phallic power. We know our phallic power when we are motivated to move towards what we desire. Our life force propels us forward and we move. We often think of this as “willpower.” It is noteworthy that the Hebrew word for will also means delight. Our “willpower” is synonymous with our “delight power.”

The shepherd’s bag with five stones symbolizes the body. Incarnation is about God coming into matter. The Spirit lives in and through our body and mind. We know the Self/God Within through our five senses (the five stones), yet we often reject our sensory information because it conflicts with what we think or have been told to feel.

When we begin to receive our felt experience as information from the Inner Divine, we move towards the philosopher’s stone. The philosopher’s stone is the crystallized clarity and knowing of oneness between self and the Self/God Within. It comes through diligent awareness and intentional concentration to see the Self/God Within our felt, embodied experiences.

As we seek knowing and clarity of our affective (feeling) states as extensions of the Self/God Within, we develop a conscious knowing of the inner spiritual senses. We find these referenced through common phrases such as “I smell a rat. I just know it in my gut. It feels off. I can see it in my mind’s eye.” With the inner senses we know the still, small voice of God Within, the Voice of Silence. With this knowing, we can face the “giants” within and “prove the victor.”

Inner Reflection
What giants within do you struggle with? Name the affects or feelings that accompany them. Identify the sensory information present in your body and ask what it is saying. Be courageous and take your “stick,” your desire/willpower, in hand and move. Act on what you know in your body and mind. Notice what armor/ego defenses appear and gently lay them aside.