I Samuel 17 records a story that many of us have known since childhood.  Israel’s army was encamped on a high hill overlooking the valley of Elah.  The army of the Philistines was assembled across the valley on the opposing hill.  For forty days, a 9 ft. 9 in. Philistine warrior named Goliath stood in the valley and shouted a challenge to the Israelites to send someone down to meet him in battle.  Goliath was a veritable human tank: bronze helmet and shin guards, 125 lbs. of scale-armor, a javelin, a spear, a sword, and a shield.  He was the ultimate Philistine fighting machine.  He defied Israel’s army and their God.  He dared them.  He cursed them.  He shouted to them every morning and evening.  Eighty challenges; all of them unanswered and unmet.  Not even King Saul’s incentives of wealth, marriage to his daughter, and freedom from taxation were enough to instill courage in any of his warriors.

I Samuel 17:4 refers to Goliath as a “champion” of the Philistine army.  The Hebrew word is ish-habbenayim.  It literally means “a man between the two”; a middleman, an intermediary, a representative.  What Goliath was proposing was “representative warfare.”  Why incur massive human casualties and expend enormous amounts of military goods when it could be settled right here, right now, man-to-man, winner-take-all?

Embarrassed by the cowardice and lack of faith among the army of God, David accepted Goliath’s challenge, took upon himself the role of Israel’s ish-habbenayim, and ran to the battle line to meet the Philistine, armed only with his shepherd’s stick, his sling, and five smooth stones from the brook of Elah.  David trusted in God’s presence and deliverance.  He entrusted the battle and its outcome to the Lord.  It only took one stone to fell the giant.  When the Philistines saw their champion fallen and decapitated with his own sword, they fled and were routed by the emboldened army of Israel.

There was a time when our Adversary regularly took his stand against the souls of men.  This was the Accuser, the ish-habbenayim of Death and the forces of Darkness.  He called to us, challenged us, tempted us, taunted us, cursed us, and dared us to try to wage warfare against him.  We were helpless, hopeless, and sentenced to live in fear.  But everything changed when God sent an ish-habbenayim, His own Son, to represent us and fight for us.  Jesus repeatedly stared Temptation in the face and never flinched.  Temptation blinked.  He took the battle to Satan in his own domain and won.  He went into the depths of the Grave, wrestled Death, and was granted victory by the power and glory of the Father.  Jesus “rendered powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and freed those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives” (Hebrews 2:14-15). 

We have been granted salvation from sin, freedom from fear, and deliverance from death through Jesus Christ, our Ish-habbenayim, our Champion!