A Cry For Justice

Awakening the Evangelical Church to Domestic Violence and Abuse in its Midst

How Did David Treat Goliath? (Shouldn’t He Have Been More Loving?)

Goliath was an abuser. A really nasty one. Listen to him:

1 Samuel 17:8-10  He stood and shouted to the ranks of Israel, “Why have you come out to draw up for battle? Am I not a Philistine, and are you not servants of Saul? Choose a man for yourselves, and let him come down to me. If he is able to fight with me and kill me, then we will be your servants. But if I prevail against him and kill him, then you shall be our servants and serve us.”  And the Philistine said, “I defy the ranks of Israel this day. Give me a man, that we may fight together.”

Forty days this business went on with the giant mocking the Israelites and thus, mocking their God. Then, one day this kid shows up for the showdown and Goliath intensifies his mocking:

1 Samuel 17:40-44 Then he took his staff in his hand and chose five smooth stones from the brook and put them in his shepherd’s pouch. His sling was in his hand, and he approached the Philistine. And the Philistine moved forward and came near to David, with his shield-bearer in front of him. And when the Philistine looked and saw David, he disdained him, for he was but a youth, ruddy and handsome in appearance. And the Philistine said to David, “Am I a dog, that you come to me with sticks?” And the Philistine cursed David by his gods. The Philistine said to David, “Come to me, and I will give your flesh to the birds of the air and to the beasts of the field.”

Goliath was an abuser. He was a giant and he knew it. Pity his wife if he had one. Goliath hated God (although at least he was forthright about that and didn’t pretend to be a worshiper of the Lord as so many abusers do today). Goliath ridiculed his victims. Power and control and self-glory were what he was all about.

So, how should David have dealt with Goliath? I suggest to you that many Christians today think they know better than David. They tell abuse victims that when the abuser roars, victims should be meek and submissive. Win the giant over with love, they say. After all, you were a sinner too and God showed you mercy. You show Goliath mercy. Take him some sandwiches. David should have dropped to his knees and prayed and let God handle things. There’s the thing, you see.

But David didn’t take that advice:

1 Samuel 17:45-49 Then David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with a sword and with a spear and with a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the LORD will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you down and cut off your head. And I will give the dead bodies of the host of the Philistines this day to the birds 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 that all this assembly may know that the LORD saves not with sword and spear. For the battle is the LORD’s, and he will give you into our hand.”
When the Philistine arose and came and drew near to meet David, David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet the Philistine. And David put his hand in his bag and took out a stone and slung it and struck the Philistine on his forehead. The stone sank into his forehead, and he fell on his face to the ground.

And then David even cut off Goliath’s head. He didn’t try to lead Goliath to Christ at all. He just shot him, and cut off his head.

Now, I am not recommending that abuse victims shoot their abusers and cut off their heads. That will land you in prison unless it is in justified self-defense. And yes, human beings are indeed allowed by God to defend themselves. But self-defense isn’t the main topic of this article. My point is that this far too common business of Christians telling abuse victims that they must not ever raise their voices to their abuser, that they must speak kindly to them always, that they must endure suffering and patiently await that big day when Goliath gets born again — this business has to stop. Stern stuff is quite appropriate: calling the police, leaving, divorcing, drawing firm boundaries, getting restraining orders, exposing the abuser for what he is to his church.

So the next time someone starts giving you the mercy-love-kindness lecture, grab your Bible and open it up here to 1 Samuel 17. Ask them if they are saying that David messed it all up with Goliath. Ask them why they are insisting that you need to negotiate with your giant. Then send them back to the quivering Israelite camp while you pick out five really nice smooth “stones.”

41 Comments

  1. Laurie

    Thank you, Jeff. This is just what I have been mulling over this morning. I received a promise from God last night at bedtime (Ps. 57:3) and have been pondering the difference between enemy and wicked…not really finding one, either.

    God wants us to be kind, always. But He also tells us not to give our pearls to swine, either. We are nowhere in scripture adjured to condone, bow to or serve evil OR one who is filled with evil. Enemies of the cross, whose god is their belly, these are not to be tolerated.

  2. Excellent point! I don’t remember David being lectured on his lack of forgiveness toward Goliath either!

  3. Brenda R

    Amen, Pastor. I don’t understand why Christians think that just because the word Marriage is involved in the situation that makes everything different. You may be able to win over an unbelieving spouse that is not abusing you, and if that were the case I would have stayed with my husband as I am sure the majority reading this site would have. That was not the case. This is a valuable reference. It may not make a difference for the hard hearted person who wants to believe that marriage is different, but it means the world to me to have yet another example of God’s allowing us to protect ourselves.

    • Heather2

      Amen Brenda. My thoughts too!

  4. BeginHealing

    I Love this post and the wonderful comments!! AMEN!!!

  5. Psalm 37

    Awesome post! I’m still grinning. It reminds me of the graphic accounts in the Bible that speak volumes about good and evil natures of people. Too many Christians seem to have a pixie dust view of evil people and have no knowledge as to how God dealt with and punished that kind all throughout the Old Testament. Like Moses dealing with Pharaoh. No group hugs, Moses wasn’t told to put his arm around his shoulder and listen to his nonsense. It was confrontation then consequences.

  6. Christians ignore the Old Testament, in practice. We implicitly seem to believe that marriage has a different set of rules than any other relationship, and also that Jesus’ life and resurrection now means that the only way to deal with others is to pray meekly for their salvation and present ourselves as sacrifices to their abuse.
    Studying the OT should be equally important as studying Jesus, I have to say that this blog and Barb and Jeff’s books really opened my eyes to the necessity and truth of the OT, in our present day.

    • Brenda R

      So true, Katy. If God only wanted us to learn from the New T, that’s all he would have given us.

  7. Lovesthetruth

    I LOVE this!! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!!! We need to hear this. So many people have told me to pray…wait…have a gentle and quiet spirit…all those things plus more and it never worked. It wasn’t until I stood up to the giant that he backed down! Thankfully I didn’t have to cut his head off 🙂

    • Brenda R

      Lovesthetruth, I think we are all glad to hear that. lol

  8. Don’t really know if this is the right post to say this.
    I’m in a situation today where I’m anxious and slightly frightened. Im in the place of change.. Not doing what I have done for years, as you mention here. I am now setting boundaries and making it clear that that is not OK anymore.
    My Goliath is very angry… I’ve had intimidating behaviour such as things banging loudly, doors opened harshly, demanding with the kids among other things taking place today. This is because he feels like he is the victim in our marriage. He is hurting because I have emotionally distanced myself. I’ve hurt him so much. He thinks I treat him like a child. All of what he accused me of last night he in fact does to me.
    I’m scared, I’m scared of setting these boundaries. I’m trying but his rage is so scary. I’ve read some of Lundys book and today I can see him acting it exactly what I have read. I’m home alone and he may turn up soon to rip into me, or tonight I’m in for a bad night. I want to run away. I want peace. This is just all too much!!

    • Aunt Sandra

      Keep your finger on 911 — and USE it if you feel unsafe, loves6!

    • Brenda R

      Loves6, Do you have an emergency exit plan? I will pray for you for strength and wisdom.

      • No Brenda R I don’t. He hasn’t come home. He may just want to give me silent treatment and rip into me tonight. My older boy isn’t going to be home and I have two little ones that will be. I’m scared of being alone with my husband. I know how these things go. He isn’t physical with me but what he is like frightens me.
        I have text a friend and asked her to keep her phone handy in case I need to get in touch.

      • IamMyBeloved's

        Intimidation is physical abuse. If he frightens you by how he conducts his presence it is because he wants you to be scared of him, meaning he has intentionally intimidated you physically in the past, even if he has never laid a hand on you to gain his power and control over you. I believe you do need to make a plan of escape today and it sounds to me, as if you at least need to make contact with your local Center for Prevention of Abuse immediately.

      • Brenda R

        Iam, Couldn’t agree more. When he has made you that afraid without touching you on the outside, he has done great damage on the inside. It’s time to get help.

      • Carlamariee

        Loves6, is there a shelter you can go to? A friend? I am very worried for you.

      • Carlamariee. I have a friend I can go to.
        He has just been home, gone now We had a massive discussion…. A loud one at that. He says I’m difficult to live with and I’m a hypocrite. Among a lot of other things. He is the victim and I’m the one that cannot do relationships in any area of my life.
        I cannot see a solution to this problem. He just cannot see his wrong. He thinks living with me with a lack of affection and affirmation is just as hard as it is me living with him with his anger. I said my lack of affection has everything to do with him and his treatment of me….he just doesn’t see it.
        He brings up my past sexual abuse, things I did before I was a Christian and much more just to show he has been the good one and I’ve been the bad.

      • Brenda R

        Loves6, This brought flashbacks of many conversations I had with X over the last several years. To hear him tell it I pushed him away and showed him no love before we even got married. Why he married me if that was reality, I have no idea. It is frightening. The craziness didn’t end so the marriage had to.

      • Brenda R I spoke with my mom about my husbands behavior over the weekend. She told me that this behavior is not normal. She is shocked and very worried for me. Her advice was also to phone the Violence helpline for advice. So I will be doing this today, I just have to pluck up the courage. These steps out of denial, acceptance etc are very scary.
        Yesterday my husband was extremely harsh with our little sweet princess (this is our daughter and she is a sweet natured, full of love little girl), it was so uncalled for and so unloving. It was all to do with the way she was eating something. I was so angry. I watched her bow her head, she was so hurt. She knew I was angry with him. I said nothing but he knew I was mad. Afterwards he was soooo nice. He has been soooo nice ever since. She came to me afterwards and said that daddy has become so mean… He used to always be nice…why has he changed mommy? This breaks my heart and I will do what I have to do to protect her.

  9. Rebecca

    Excellent article!

    • AJ

      Loves6, I want you to hear Brenda R and myself when we say that those words your husband has just said to you are said to make you question your boundaries, your very self confidence/worth. Those words come from the abuser handbook, I have heard them almost word for word myself. I was not sexually abused before but he tells me and others that is the only explanation that makes sense for why I can’t be affectionate enough ect when there are any boundaries. Some kind of entitlement to all the benefits of relationship in spite of terrible behavior. YOU DO NOT NEED TO BELIEVE HIM. I encourage you to believe God, the one who made you and loves you, to hear His voice right now. You no longer need to believe any words from the one who brings you harm. Set yourself free from spending time and energy believing what he says. Blessings and protection tonight on you and your little ones.

      • Brenda R

        Amen, AJ. Loves6 The former spouse did all of those things and still says them today trying to shake my confidence. He can’t anymore. If he says something, I can hang up the phone and get out the word and know that the Lord is my guide and HE loves me. He says nothing to me but loving kindness. “He is my Rock and my Salvation He is my Fortress I will not be Shaken” I am praying for a hedge around you. Turn your back on listening to the lies and look to the Savior. Your boundaries are good. Your past has nothing to do with how your husband treats you. I have been sexually abused by a step father and former husband. Those things had nothing to do with my most current relationship and they are not happening now. You have gone through much, you will get through this.

  10. IamMyBeloved's

    Excellent and timely. The Word of God is absolute truth, and if God had disliked David’s handling of the giant in his life we certainly would have learned about it somewhere later on in the Bible. But we don’t.

    The problem today is that we have forgotten that as Christians we are to be the “enforcers” of righteousness, not the weak slaves to satan that allow every form of evil to reign. That is exactly what we are doing, all in the name of a false “love”. We use terms like “it must be God’s will or it wouldn’t be happening”. Why do we have to even question if the evil of abuse is God’s will or not, or if as victims of abusers, it would be God’s will for us to stay in it and take it or try to win the devil to Christ? Of course it is NOT God’s will – and if it is NOT God’s will – what are we doing there? We are told to flee evil. Easier said than done because there is a wickedness and fear in abuse that keeps us enslaved to it. For too long we have been led to dwell with evil, not put it away. Reminds me of the OT people who refused to rid the land of the evil, so eventually it just slept with them. Righteousness and evil in the same bed. Wow. I am gaining strength by knowing who I am in Christ and what He has given to me, and I know that God’s will never consists of evil. These false teachings have been a stumbling block to us for far too long.

    Now off to have my “ENFORCER” T-Shirt made. Maybe I’ll add a sling and 5 stones to it.
    ; )

    • IMB,

      This is an excellent comment. I agree completely.

      • IamMyBeloved's

        Thanks, BIT. Maybe we should all get T-Shirts made, huh?

      • Brenda R

        I would like a t-shirt.

      • IamMyBeloved's

        Good idea, Brenda!

  11. To Loves6 and anyone else facing situations like that. I strongly encourage developing a Safety Plan. There is a lot about Safety Planning at most secular domestic violence websites. Any victim can seek support from a domestic violence service and ask the professionals there to help them work out a safety plan that is specifically tailored to their circumstances. Safety Plans can and should be reviewed from time to time, as circumstances change in the lives of the victim and the abuser.

    Here is our Safety Planning page at this blog which has lots of links. https://cryingoutforjustice.blog/resources/safety-planning/
    The secular professionals do know what they are doing and are better at this than we are. A victim may never go to a refuge or shelter, but she can still utilise the safety planning expertise of professional DV workers.

    And remember: DV (Domestic Violence) is secular professional jargon for what we at this blog call domestic abuse. Don’t be put off by the word ‘violence’ or think “He never hits me so I don’t qualify for DV services.” When the DV professionals use the term Domestic Violence, they always mean ALL the kinds of abuse: emotional, verbal, financial, social, sexual, physical, spiritual and systemic (legal/health/disablity systems).

    Don’t believe me? Have a look at the secular DV support websites and see for yourself. They all explain what domestic violence is by saying it covers all the forms of power and control that abusers use on their partners.

    • IamMyBeloved's

      Amen, Barb. I have received more help from the secular Center for Prevention of Abuse, than I could even begin to tell you. They also offer free counseling, legal advice, etc.

      My understanding is that they have had a new “Wheel” made up for abuse. This new wheel includes a better understanding/description of techniques the abuser uses.

  12. Also, here is our page for DV Hotlines:
    https://cryingoutforjustice.blog/resources/hotlines/

  13. Still Scared( but getting angry)

    Love6, the ex-idiot never hit me either but his size and weight and threats had me terrified. Praying you get out and get free and are safe!!

    • Thanks for your prayers. I have felt prayer this weekend x

  14. Christy

    Love6, please seek help from someone experienced in dealing with domestic abuse. My ex monster didn’t hit me for the first several years, but he was twice my size and knew he could intimidate me with just his size. The time came where I was threatened with guns held pointed at me and then later the actual physical abuse started. I never thought it would go that far and if I was only a better person, wife, mother etc. That it would get better. It never did, nothing I could do would be enough. They take, take, take until there is nothing left to give. Then you feel like you are worn out and trapped. Much hugs and prayers for you and your children.

    • Christy, my husband is 6ft and medium build. He is not a large man. It is rage that scares me. I get so anxious prior to a situation erupting…walking on eggshells, then when the eruption happens the fear goes and I defend myself with words, which never seems to get me anywhere or fear based anger. My husband is picking on my little girl quite abit at the moment. She has come to me lately talking to me about it. If I pull him up on his harshness, which I do but pick my moments, he gets very angry and tells me to let him be the man and be the father.
      Yesterday in church we heard how Ceasar got ‘peace’ through violence. How true is this…

  15. Great post, Pastor Jeff! Just heard one of those “mercy-love-kindness” sermons today, but the missing ingredient as to what God requires of us is justice! Thus, ACFJ is well-named.

  16. Katherine

    Thank you so much for posting this. I’ve been carrying this same message from God in my heart for months. My Goliath backs down when I draw the line, but it’s so contrary to what other Christians believe for a wife to give a husband an ultimate of straighten up, humble yourself before God, or leave. My son is displaying the same bullying characteristics now at age 10, but is still remorseful when he realizes he’s done wrong. I have to protect my son and not let his daddy continue up to bully us. I have to stand up to my Goliath for both our sakes, so I Google “married to Goliath” to find support. So thankful that I was led to this posting. I’m confident God loves my husband dearly and will not only support me in drawning this line, but He will humble my husband using His mighty power. All I have to do is declare what God has called him to do as a husband and father. God has been breaking my husband by removing all of his wordly support for many months now. God has left the final blow for me to do. I hate it because it will be so intimidating, but I’m confident that God will back me up. I’m going to do this intervention style with another Christian as the Bible directs. I just need to find a church member who is willing and who will support him through this. Thanks again.

    • Jeff Crippen

      Katherine – You know your husband and I don’t. I hope that your methodology works and that in some way the Goliath bully is defeated. However, I want to caution readers that the method you are using in your case may well be quite dangerous for others to use with their abuser. And while I hope your dreams of the bully being humbled come about, the fact is that in regard to an abuser as we define him here at ACFJ, please don’t be surprised if after all of your prayer and efforts and interventions, it turns out that he hasn’t changed at all. In most cases it is coming to the realization that he isn’t going to change that is the start of the road to freedom for victims.

      • Katherine

        Thank you, Jeff, for that reminder. It’s tough figuring out what to do on my own so I will continue to read. Unfortunately, I’ve been reading for years, but still walk in a fog. When I think I see a glimpse of clarity, it quickly fades. My Goliath is an alcoholic (who sporadically attends church) so much of my reading promotes intervention. Also, thank you for acknowledging on your website that Primitive Baptists rarely support women in abusive circumstances. My entire family is PB and have either ignored the obvious or advised me to stay for my child’s sake. My PB pastor blew me off. I’ve since found another church and after a year, mustered the courage to seek pastoral counsel. I was told I should read “Boundaries” and that was the end of that. No follow up call, no reaching out to my husband, no reaching out to my son. Thank you for being the voice I need to hear because I don’t think I will ever hear it from a man in person unless I’m paying him for therapy.

    • Hi Katherine, welcome to the blog 🙂 I hope you keep reading and interacting here. 🙂

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  1. How to Treat Abusers - Resurrectio et Vita - UriBrito.com

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