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Raising Giant-Killers: Releasing Your Child's Divine Destiny Through Intentional Parenting
by Bill Johnson
Learn More | Meet Bill Johnson | Meet Beni Johnson
David, Goliath and You
The idea of raising our children to be giant-killers may seem too violent a metaphor for some and too farfetched for others. But for me, it is an extremely accurate description of parenting, at least for those who want to raise their children with eternal significance.
The psalmist accurately described this challenge and privilege with these words: “Behold, children are a gift of the Lord . . . like arrows in the hand of a warrior . . .” (Psalm 127:3–4). This passage reveals the two primary parts of being a mom or dad—the joy of receiving the gift of a child from God, and the sobering responsibility of training the child for significance. The parent who values the gift will benefit most from its impact.
In biblical days bows, arrows, swords and spears were the primary tools for warfare. A warrior would much prefer dealing with an enemy at a distance with an arrow to doing hand-to-hand combat with a sword or spear. The point is, the bow and arrow were preferred instruments of war. The warrior had to have a sufficient number of arrows in his possession if he was going to engage the enemy with any measure of confidence. And those arrows had to be tried and true—fully capable of functioning according to their design.
This psalm gives us an unusual insight into the measure of confidence parents have in spiritual warfare when they have raised their children with eternal purpose. A child functioning according to his or her gift and design wreaks havoc on the powers of darkness. This is a side benefit to raising children correctly. Just as wise business leaders know how to make their money work for them even when they sleep, so it is with parenting. Our investment brings a return long after our children are out of our direct influence and focus. Raising children correctly brings spiritual dividends to our whole family line, even after the children are raised and out of the house.
In The Passion Translation, Psalm 127:5 reads this way:
- Happy will be the couple who has many of them! A household full of children will not bring shame on your name but victory when you face your enemies, for your offspring will have influence and honor to prevail on your behalf!
Perhaps a word of caution is needed at this point: Children are not tools to be used for personal gain. In a sense, they are not even ours. They are on loan from God, and it is our responsibility to steward correctly God’s treasure in a way that pleases Him. Doing this right brings long-term benefits and influence on our family line for many generations.
Born into Conflict
We were born into a war. Every one of us. Even Adam and Eve were given the assignment to “subdue” the earth (Genesis 1:28), implying that there was disorder outside the Garden of Eden they lived in. They were given the responsibility to manage and expand the boundaries of that Garden until the whole earth mirrored its order and beauty.
Eden was the place of perfect peace and beauty. If the whole earth had become like the Garden, then God would have taken back a place of chaos through those made in His image, who functioned in relationship with Him. Living joyfully under God’s influence, they were the ones who were to rule. As such, they carried His authority as His delegated ones.
Adam and Eve’s sin disrupted the plan for peace and order that God had intended for the entire planet. Instead of subduing the earth, they were subdued by the one they obeyed—the serpent. Then Jesus, the eternal Son of God, became a man to accomplish on our behalf what we could not do for ourselves. As such, He is called the last Adam. The first Adam brought death into the world. The last Adam brought life:
- For if by the transgression of the one, death reigned through the one, much more those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.
- Romans 5:17
He defeated sin, the grave and the powers of darkness on our behalf. This is the context into which all are born. We all were born into this war that has already been won. Because of this, we can be confident in our having been positioned for triumph. Jesus was victorious on our behalf, which makes our victory possible. And now, although still at war, we fight from victory. Not for it.
Take note of the phrase “reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.” Because of Jesus, parents and children alike are to reign in life. Reigning in life is not reigning over people. It is not about the power of title or position. Reigning in life means that money does not control me. I manage it for the glory of God. Conflict does not control me. I control my response to problems in a way that represents Jesus accurately. Reigning in life is part of the inheritance for all who follow Him. It is time to become completely absorbed in this mandate!
The apostle Paul described the normal Christian life with these words:
- For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.
- Ephesians 6:12
Here Paul addresses the different realms of demonic influence. That we were born into a war should help us understand the why behind many of the conflicts and difficulties we face in life. The devil failed in stopping the redemptive work of Jesus and now tries to blemish the effect of that work in how we do life. The war is about our place with God the Father and our identity in Christ.
It is important to understand this spiritual reality of warring for our identity in Christ as the platform for parenting. This is the context into which our children are born. I know this may sound rather gruesome, but it is real. On the other hand, it is the victorious Christ who gives us reason to hope far above the intimidating threat of our present spiritual battles. And hope is what fuels the home of every family that lives under the influence of the Spirit of God.
The greatest news about true spiritual warfare is that it is not devil focused. I know that sounds strange, but it is true. It really is focused on Jesus, the Son of God. Our greatest victories come in the celebration of His goodness and presence. Glorifying God may not seem like warfare to many, but it is often warfare in the purest form. Anytime the focus of prayer or worship is fighting the devil, it is no longer prayer or worship.
The psalmist wrote, “Let God arise, let His enemies be scattered” (Psalm 68:1). God arises in praise, and the enemies are scattered as a result. And again, “Let the high praises of God be in their mouth, and a two-edged sword in their hand” (Psalm 149:6). Here victory unfolds as we celebrate and honor Him with praise. Our praise has an effect on our surroundings, as though we were wielding a two-edged sword. My wife deals with this combination of subjects brilliantly in her book The Happy Intercessor.
A Shepherd Boy
The biblical story of David and Goliath has become so well-known in society that their names are often used to describe someone overcoming impossible odds in sports, business or politics. We have seen the mom-and-pop business go up against a big corporation and win a decisive victory in the courts, against all odds. Similar stories exist in the sporting world, as the great underdog defeats a team or individual who was far superior in everyone’s estimation. We have also witnessed the unheard-of politician who seems to come out of nowhere to defeat an incumbent or a highly favored opponent. This happens much to the surprise of the media and political experts. And in all these stories, the headlines read something to this effect: “David Beats Goliath Again.”
While these are accurate uses of the story in measure, the actual record of the David and Goliath conflict is so much greater. First of all, I remind you, David was a young shepherd boy who stood up in spite of Israel’s history of fearing giants.
There is no reason to believe that David was raised to be a world-changer. His father basically forgot him when the prophet Samuel came to pick a son of Jesse to be king. Every other son seemed a more logical choice than his youngest. They were bigger, brighter and more favored by their dad. It is quite possible that David was an illegitimate child of Jesse. That would explain the ill treatment from his father and brothers. But what is illegitimate to some is often prized and chosen by God. A child born out of wedlock is a physical reminder that only in God’s economy can life come out of sin. As the Great Redeemer, God is good at treasuring what people reject. Regardless of his beginnings, David grew up against the odds and became significant through the sovereign touch of God on his life.
When David went up against Goliath, he was confronting Israel’s own history. The fear of giants is what kept them from the Promised Land in the first place. And now a young man shows nothing but contempt for this giant who taunts the armies of the living God. This attitude is something you cannot fake. David felt disgust for this one who was now blaspheming the name of the Lord. When you walk with God as David did, feeling jealous for His name is normal and healthy.
How It All Started
The first generation of Israelites stayed out of the Promised Land because they feared the giants. Twelve spies went into the land to see what they were about to inherit. Ten of them came out very fearful, thinking they were sure to die if they went into battle against the inhabitants. Fear of giants kept the people of God away from what He had promised them. The ten spies actually gave this report:
- But the men who had gone up with him said, “We are not able to go up against the people, for they are too strong for us.” So they gave out to the sons of Israel a bad report of the land which they had spied out, saying, “The land through which we have gone, in spying it out, is a land that devours its inhabitants; and all the people whom we saw in it are men of great size. There also we saw the Nephilim (the sons of Anak are part of the Nephilim); and we became like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight.”
- Numbers 13:31–33, emphasis added
Their last statement is revealing: “We became like grasshoppers in our own sight.” That is quite an insight about the people who were given an extraordinary promise from God. They saw the size of their enemy, and they saw the limitations of their size and training. What is tragic is that they lost sight of the size of their God and the size of their promise from God. This happens whenever we make the promises into being about ourselves, instead of being about God fulfilling His purposes in the earth. He answers our prayers and fulfills His promises for the sake of His name.
The vision both the Israelites and those ten spies had because of the promise was replaced by a view of the giants. Seeing any part of our lives, whether our past, present or future, without God at the center is seeing a lie. Yet two of the twelve spies were excited to have the opportunity of conquering the ones the others feared. Forty years later, it came time for Israel to try again to obtain the promise of God. Interestingly, when it came time for the land to be divided according to tribes and families, Caleb, one of the two faithful original spies, asked Joshua for the hill country where the giants lived. The capital city of their fears was to be his inheritance. He asked for the privilege of defeating them! I love this part of the story so much. He had to wait forty years to obtain his promise, because of the fear caused by the bad report the ten spies had given. Unbelief and fear are both contagious. But he did not catch that disease. He preserved and built his faith, until it was time to receive his own inheritance. Caleb asked for the stronghold of the giants for his home. Brilliant!
I realize that this is not directly about parenting, but in a sense, it is. This is forming a Kingdom attitude. It is about a lifestyle of courage that honors God. Stirring up and living with a courageous attitude is what parents and grandparents must do. We have to learn to draw from every biblical example we can find. We must also refuse to be impressed by the size of the giants we face. They are not worthy of the attention. God has already gone before us and set the stage for our triumph through the promises He has given us.
If your answer to prayer is delayed, it is gaining interest. And when breakthrough comes, it will come with greater power and glory than if it had been released at the moment you first prayed. Live with that confidence in all of life. But be certain of doing this with the wonderful privilege of raising giant-killers. God designed our children to carry courage into all the earth. They were born for this.
How do you view your ability to raise children? Are you more aware of your inability than you are of God’s ability to help you? Are you more aware of the evil that pervades society than you are of the righteousness of God in your own life? Do you have the “I’m a grasshopper compared to the giant I face” perspective? If so, repent. Confess and forsake the lie. God is present. And He has a promise tailor-made for you. The opportunity for significance is before you. Don’t allow your giant to kill the momentum of faith that God has designed for your entire family line. Embrace David and Caleb’s attitude of assured victory. And remember this important lesson: Self-confidence is no greater than self. God confidence, which is called faith, is as big as God.
A Forty-Year-Old Promise
The next generation of Israelites overcame the fear of their enemies, giving God a chance to demonstrate that He was the author of the promise. One of the most vital Kingdom principles for us is that God enables what He promises. Israel inherited what God had said they would inherit, although it was forty years after God had originally intended. Rebellion on our end changes God’s timing.
Israel had made a lot of progress in regard to giants and walking in their Promised Land. After they went into the land to receive their inheritance, we never hear of the giants again until now, with their army facing Goliath. There is something to be said about having to reaffirm our confidence in God by facing our own giants. If a giant remains in our land, it is so we can discover what God has given us. The enemy always tries to make us more aware of our problems than of the solutions we carry.
David was not just facing a giant. He was facing what Israel had feared from their days in the wilderness, and he was displaying courage about their past, present and future. He was confronting their past by pursuing the nemesis to their identity as God’s people. He was challenging their present by bringing revenge upon the one who would mock the name of the living God. And he was defying Goliath’s attempt to bring Israel back into slavery, ensuring a more secure and successful future. This was a young shepherd boy facing this challenge. We raise our children knowing that as God empowers them, they are powerful. Even in their youth. We teach them their identity and purpose, with their destiny in mind.
David picked up five stones, although one would be all he needed for Goliath. Unbelief did not cause him to pick up too many. David obviously was overflowing with faith and great confidence. Goliath had brothers. It is generally thought that David was prepared to finish the task at hand, should the other four attack him. In raising children of significance, it is important to raise them with the commitment to finish the task.
The destiny of nations hung in the balance as a young shepherd boy went up against the giant the armies of Israel feared. As one friend told us so many years ago, children do not receive a junior Holy Ghost! He only comes in one size—omnipresent and all-powerful.
The Source of Extraordinary Courage
David had a heart for God that permeated everything he did. He was known as a worshiper. But that lifestyle started long before he became king. He learned how God loved to respond to him as he offered up the sacrifice of thanksgiving and praise. This was on the backside of the desert, while leading his father’s sheep. He became courageous because God responded to him. It was not because he was raised that way.
While I believe that as parents we make a large contribution to our child’s level of courage, the bottom line is that our greatest contribution is to introduce our children to a heavenly Father who is moved by their hearts’ cry. They must see for themselves that He responds to their offerings of thanksgiving and praise. We can move God! Nothing is greater than seeing that the God of the universe is moved by our prayers. That is the source of extraordinary courage. And our challenge to build that into our children requires an example, instruction and the opportunity.
David reaffirmed the past, brought peace to the present and secured a more confident future. Because you have the courage to raise your child to make a difference, your child will have the fuel he or she needs to become the courageous one. Model this courageous lifestyle as best you know how.
I am not sure who said it first, but my dear friend James Goll has often said, “If God allows a Goliath in front of you, then He knows there is a David inside of you.”
The David and Goliath story is the one story about defeating giants that is common knowledge both in and out of the Church. Yet there were several giants killed in the Bible, and followers of David killed them all.
If we want our children to become giant-killers, we must face and destroy our own giants. Our example and momentum will become their inheritance.
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