And there was again a battle in Gob with the Philistines; where Elhanan the son of Jaareoregim, a Bethlehemite, slew [Lahmi] the brother of Goliath the Gittite, the staff of whose spear was like a weaver’s beam. 2 Samuel 21:19
Mark Twain once said, “Before the assault of laughter, nothing can stand.” Laughter does seem to be a powerful weapon against many stresses and pressures of life, and, some claim, even cancers. It, laughter therapists say, is the human gift for coping and sometimes even survival. But laughter is only the skin. The real tonic is called the “feel-good hormones” – hormones like serotonin, endorphins, dopamine, phenylethamine, ghrelin all contribute to a happy feeling, and can be released into the bloodstream by a number of ways, not just laughter.
The Entertainer takes advantage of all these, to make you feel good… but for sinister ends. WATCH OUT!
It was the purpose of God that the Israelites should, in His name and power, claim the Promised Land for themselves, clearing it of all their enemies. Their experience was to be a type of our experience as we also prepare to enter the Promised Land. The problems they faced, we face. The giants they encountered, we encounter. The victories they gained, we can also gain. Presently, we are studying the fiends that threatened the kingdom under David’s reign.
In the reigns of the sweet singer and his son, Solomon, Israel reached the height of her greatness. It was during this rise into national and spiritual prosperity that we see some of Israel’s greatest challenges and victories. Had God’s people added faith to faith, history would have been much different. The sad record of Israel’s apostasy and losses due to sin would never have been written. But they failed to fulfill God’s promises for them, promises that are still viable today. So God’s remnant Israel, in the last days, must reclaim His inheritance, fighting anew the giants that once threatened the kingdoms of old. Scripture has preserved the confrontations so we may know how to fight, or who to let fight, the battles.
THE BATTLE IN GOB
In the previous study, we learned that Gob was a place in Palestine, the home of God’s people. Here was a struggle to clean up the very heart of the nation. This battle with Lahmi was because the enemy came TO them. How he got there we are not told. Whether he forced his way in through a weak defense, or stole in while the guardians slept, or disguised himself in some attractive form and was invited in, we do not know. The story begins only at the point of obvious awareness of his threat to the kingdom.
So it is today. Each of us may face the same giants, though the reason for having the battle may be different. Perhaps we were distracted, or slept, or beguiled by some worldly attraction. The point of greatest concern now is, How do we get rid of this giant!? It is for this purpose the story is preserved.
LAHMI, THE PHILISTINE
Here we have a giant that should send shivers down our spine!
Lahmi is another Philistine champion. Again we face the enemy of all good in one of its most powerful forms. The battle with this giant is a direct confrontation with humanistic philosophy, with worldliness in a most alluring and attractive guise. This was a giant the prince of Israel could not fight. He had sinned. It had to be fought for him.
Lahmi’s name means “foodful” and is associated with that which consumes or, literally, feeds on. His intent is not just to kill and abandon, but rather to eat away at his victim until it is completely spent or devoured. Do you have anything that is “eating away” at your life forces or relationships, or draining your physical, mental, spiritual, social, or financial reserves from the inside out? You could be doing battle with Lahmi!
And he is not a giant to take lightly. His destructive force was compared to that of Goliath. In fact, this giant was not classed as the other three (termed “sons of the giant”). Lahmi was called a “brother”. The emphasis is on likeness, or kindred spirit. A formidable foe, to be sure!
The only association given to the destructive power of this giant is a spear staff like a “weaver’s beam”. This is a curious comparison, for we don’t usually consider “weavers” as being an intimidating lot or “weaver’s beams” –whatever they are– as being dangerous or life-threatening. There was something about the giant’s spear shaft that caught the writer’s attention, something that was frightening… or attractive. Why this association? And why omit the penetrating part of the spear, the spearhead?
As we probe into the Hebrew phrase “weaver’s beam” we must keep in mind that we are thinking about the description of an enemy’s weapon.
What about this association with weavers? As we look through the places “weaver” is used in the Old Testament, we note it is simply referring to the making of cloth, like as worn for clothing. However, there is an association of garments with character, righteousness, and salvation:
He wears clothes of vengeance. He wraps himself with fury as a coat. Isa 59:17
I will greatly rejoice in Jehovah, my soul will be joyful in my God; for He has clothed me with the robes of salvation, He covered me with the robe of righteousness like a bridegroom adorns himself with ornaments, and like a bride adorns herself with her jewels. Isa 61:10
You have a few names even in Sardis who have not defiled their garments. And they will walk with Me in white, for they are worthy. The one who overcomes, this one will be clothed in white clothing. And I will not blot out his name out of the Book of Life, but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels. Rev 3:4-5
The one who makes the clothes, then, the weaver, should have some power over the life, shouldn’t he? The connection of weaver’s with life and death is suggested in the references below:
My days go swifter than a weaver’s shuttle. They are spent without hope. Job 7:6 GW
King Hezekiah of Judah wrote this after he was sick and became well again:
I thought that in the prime of my life I would go down to the gates of Sheol and be robbed of the rest of my life. I thought that I wouldn’t see the LORD in this world. Even with all the people in the world, I thought I would never see another person. My life was over. You rolled it up like a shepherd’s tent. You rolled up my life like a weaver. You cut me off from the loom. You ended my life in one day. Isa 38:9-12 GW
The word beam is used nine times in the Old Testament, but with four different Hebrew words.
- Once in Judges 16:14 it refers to a weaver’s shuttle
- Once in 1 Kings 7:6 as an architectural structure (a “thick beam”)
- Twice in 2 Kings 6:2,5 as referring to a wooden rafter as used in a building
- Once as a supplied word in Habbakuk 2:11 with reference to a tree
- And four times in reference to a giant’s spear shaft (1 Sam. 17:7; 2 Sam. 21:19; 1 Chron. 11:23; 20:5)
If the Hebrew writer wanted to give us the idea of a thick wooden structure to compare the shaft to, he could have used any of the other three Hebrew words, and one of them (the weaver’s shuttle) would have fit well with the “weaver” part. But he didn’t do this. The association, apparently, was not with a thick, straight section of wood.
“Beam” can refer to a “yoke” or the “framework of a loom”, perhaps a supporting part of it. This would be in keeping with the Hebrew word chosen, and would be a figure people of that day could relate to. Looms were common then. And people would know the approximate size of the shaft by comparison to a common household appliance. And this is a permissible interpretation, according to the Hebrew. The support part is very helpful in understanding the weapon, but the structural image of a framework has little value to us today who are far removed from such appliances. (It is difficult to imagine a spear shaft being something like a loom’s framework.) Especially if we are trying to use the story, inspired by God, for “teaching, pointing out errors, correcting people, and training them for a life that has God’s approval.” 2Ti 3:16 GW It seems there should be a broader application than “the framework of a loom”, an application that would help us understand the characteristics of this giant, his terrible weapon, and how he works to destroy.
There is another association with this Hebrew word that none of the other words have—an association with light: “to glisten; a lamp (i.e. the burner) or light (literally or figuratively)”. If the writer were merely trying to help us get a picture of the size or massiveness of the spear’s shaft, why would he use a word that was ambiguous when there were other common words far more descriptive? Why would he pick a word that also had an association with support and light as well as a loom’s framework? The Hebrew word is used no other place in the Bible. Could it be he was trying to bend our mind into a new concept? That somehow the spear’s shaft seemed to “glisten” or “burn” in the sunlight? (Perhaps the shaft had a metallic or bronze covering.) To a people who were used to wooden implements of war this would indeed be novel or fearsome! (Spears of lazar light are used today in imaginative futuristic battles.)
How does the concept of support and light make this weapon so terrible? To the Hebrew light has always been coupled with God, His word, or His kingdom. Elijah on Mount Carmel is a case in point (lightning licking up the offering). The sun turning backwards several degrees for Hezekiah is another. If an enemy is associated with light, especially having some control of it (the burner), then it would appear he has God on his side, or is using divine precepts in his warfare! This could be very scary, especially for those who put their dependence on God and His word for their defense. Almost nothing is beyond the power of Satan to deceive, if possible, the very elect (Matthew 24:24).
For such men are false Apostles, workers of deceit, making themselves seem like Apostles of Christ. And it is no wonder; for even Satan himself is able to take the form of an angel of light. 2Co 11:13-14
It appears, then, the “weaver’s beam” is referring to some aspect of the giant’s weaponry that has a strong association with life and death, but also includes a unique, unexpected twist—an association with apparent Goodness and Righteousness as its basis of support.
WHY NO SPEAR HEAD?
The presence of a spear head would immediately put us on the defensive. Is this person friend or foe? Why is he approaching me with a weapon? But if there is no obvious emblem of destruction we are disarmed. It’s like a fearsome dog growling at us but we notice when he curls his lips he has no teeth! Would we be as afraid? Lahmi’s intent is to deceive us, so he can get close to us. He definitely has teeth, but he isn’t going to show them! And the idea of “a gentle giant” is enhanced by the reference in 2Sam. 21:19 to Goliath being a Gittite (a treader of grapes). The association: grapes > wine > good times (the Entertainer!).
PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER
We have a giant who identifies himself with truth and goodness. We hear smooth and comforting words of Scripture (Matt. 4:6). We see evidences of divine power attending him (Matt. 7:22). We are disarmed and let him get close to us. What he says sounds so right! So we adopt his teachings or try his suggestions.
Then slowly, imperceptibly, we notice a weakness, a sickness, a lack of power. Lahmi has been quietly weaving humanistic philosophy into our experience. We are being consumed from the inside by worldly concepts and principles that we thought were heavenly.
As we follow the development of the giant image in Nebuchadnezzar’s image, we notice the third kingdom, Greece, is represented by BRASS. This is the only metal in the lineup of kingdoms that is made in the crucibles of man. It is not found in Nature. The association the Bible gives to “brass”, then, is “human involvement”, something happening “on this earth” (in contrast with that taking place “in heaven” or solely by heavenly beings). This association does not necessarily imply a negative association, but just the idea that the human element is involved. Note a couple descriptions of the glorified Christ, the God who became man to save us. In both descriptions His feet (the part that touched the earth) were compared to fine brass.
Then I lifted up mine eyes, and looked, and behold a certain man clothed in linen, whose loins were girded with fine gold of Uphaz: His body also was like the beryl, and his face as the appearance of lightning, and his eyes as lamps of fire, and his arms and his feet like in colour to polished brass, and the voice of his words like the voice of a multitude. Dan 10:5
And in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle. His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire; and his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and his voice as the sound of many waters. Rev 1:13
But brass, like all things, can be defiled. And when it is it represents the human factor without God’s help (humanism). Most of Goliath’s armament and weaponry were associated with brass (human involvement).
And there went out a champion out of the camp of the Philistines, named Goliath, of Gath, whose height was six cubits and a span. And he had an helmet of brass upon his head, and he was armed with a coat of mail; and the weight of the coat was five thousand shekels of brass. And he had greaves of brass upon his legs, and a target of brass between his shoulders. 1Sa 17:4
We can see an example of this today in the influence of Greek philosophy in education and medicine. Greece, the kingdom of brass, is the model of humanistic philosophy. The whole world, it seems, has patterned their schools and practice of the healing arts after this humanistic model. Emulation, the scientific method in reasoning (exclusive of Biblical interpretations), worldly philosophy, and other “contributions,” like games of conquest (for entertainment, you understand), the kingdom of “brass” has handed down, have had almost no objection from the Christian segment.
We understand Jesus did not attend the schools of His day. God had a different plan of education than the popular Greek/Roman method then used. But we continue to use the Greek pattern for education: self-worship (love of praise enhanced by degrees and earning high “grades”), specializing (learning much about one field without seeing how it integrates with others), linear thinking (all learning leads man to feel more in control of his universe and less dependent on God).
The education Jesus received, however, was shown to be far superior, though He gained knowledge as we may do. We can see what constitutes true “higher education” in the Saviour’s parable teaching. Christ said nothing to gratify curiosity or to satisfy ambition for worldly greatness.
Today, however, we are confused. Our children are not learning as Christ learned. There is little difference between Christian schools and the best of the world’s schools. (Do we not get “higher degrees” from the world and bring their knowledge back to our schools?) And the same can be said for the healing arts and agricultural methods. God’s people have little advantage, if any, over the best the world offers. And we are all getting weaker and sicker. Our children use drugs like others, our marriages break up like others, our farmers work harder for less like others, our doctors are as impotent with the “incurables” as others. We have not yet discerned the cause. And we would continue so unless someone comes to our rescue, someone designed specifically to fight and destroy this terrible consuming giant in our life.
ELHANAN THE SON OF JAIR
As we look at Lahmi’s antagonist, we shall first consider his home, then his father, then himself.
His father, Jaareoregim, was a citizen of Bethlehem, as was the family of Jesse, King David’s father, and the future birthplace of Jesus. The name of the town had the same Hebrew association as the giant Lahmi—bread, food, consume, devour—but with a slight difference. Bethlehem means “the house of bread” (house is associated with “family”). Where Lahmi represented the world’s bread, Bethlehem directs us to the Bread of Life, the Savior, a member of the family of God. The bread Christ offers draws us together in a kindred spirit. The bread of Lahmi draws us away from God and to self-seeking and hypocrisy. This is inherent in Christ’s warning to “beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the leaven of Herod.” (Mark 8:15) See Luke 12:1.
His name is interpreted as “woods of weavers”. Again we have a parallel with the Philistine giant (weavers). Instead of a weaver’s “beam” we have an association with a “forest” –a large gathering– of weavers. Where a single weaver is used to describe Lahmi, Jaareoregim represents a cluster of them. There is strength in numbers, in family, in unity and brotherhood.
Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow; but woe to him who is alone when he falls, for he does not have another to help him. Again, if two lie together, then they have warmth; but how can one be warm alone? And if one overthrows him, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken. Ecc 4:9-12
Without counsel purposes are disappointed: but in the multitude of counselors they are established. Pro 15:22
The son of
Elhanan was the son of Jaareoregim. He was “the builder of the family name” (as the Hebrews interpreted it). What Elhanan did would reflect on the whole character of his family. But to whatever his father signified in his name, Elhanan also adds his own unique qualities. He does not ignore his heritage but honors it and adds to it.
His name is composed of two Hebrew words: El and Hanan.
The first, El, is often used as a name for God, for it means “anything strong; specifically a chief (politically); also a ram (from his strength); a pilaster (as a strong support); an oak or other strong tree.”
We can see a tie-in to his family in this part of his name. Where his dad’s name speaks of a copse of trees, Elhanan’s name identifies the trees as oaks or other strong varieties. In other words, God-fearing leaders, upright Christians whose strength is in God, not man.
Up to this point we have a picture of Lahmi’s fearful adversary: one who, like himself, is well-versed in truth and things needful to sustain life, is associated with the very fabric of character, and can influence one for life or death. But where the Philistine stands in the power of his humanistic might, his enemy stands in the power of the whole family of heaven. Where the world’s champion is defined by size (physical superiority), God’s champion is defined by the name of his God, El.
We have one more part of Elhanan’s name and one final comparison. The most descriptive part of the Philistine giant was in a likeness to his “brother” Goliath—the spear’s shaft like a weaver’s beam. In fact, one of the two accounts of this battle (2 Samuel 21:19) didn’t even give Lahmi’s name (that’s why we put it in brackets in the beginning quote). We noted the possibility of the “beam” referring to support and light, which is often associated with God and the kingdom of heaven. The giant, however, uses a worldly counterfeit of this as a weapon to attack God’s people and weaken and consume them. There was no notice of a spearhead, as Goliath had.
That which best describes Elhanan’s success is in the last part of his name, HANAN, which means gracious, merciful. Though all the other parts of Elhanan’s name and family and origin help in understanding how to do battle with Lahmi, this part is most critical. It is our dependence on the grace of God that victory is assured. Our confidence in His mercy and compassion on our weakness will tell whether we come out winner or loser in the fray.
When the world was overcome with sinners and God was about to wipe out the whole human race, He saw a single family that could be saved to repopulate the earth. To Noah He gave instructions how to build an ark that would save them from the coming tempest. Noah and his family followed the plan to the letter. Nothing was done that God did not approve, nor was anything omitted that God required. Everything was done “to the letter”. In the end God was pleased and invited the family, and all those who would believe, into the ark. Then He closed the door and let the storm come.
It was not Noah’s faithfulness alone that saved his family and himself those fearful days and weeks. It was the grace and mercy of God! This is one of the most significant parts of Jehovah’s character that He wishes us to keep in mind. Remember when Moses asked to “see” Him? The Lord put him in a cleft of a rock and passed before him, declaring,
I will make all My goodness pass before you, and I will proclaim the name of Jehovah before you. And I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will have mercy on whom I will have mercy. Exo 33:19
And Jehovah passed by before him and proclaimed, Jehovah! Jehovah God, merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth. Exo 34:6
When dissipation has replaced dedication, outgo exceeds income, health becomes a struggle, and cheerfulness a chore, then it may be more apparent that Lahmi, the champion of Philistine and Greek philosophies, has slipped into our camp and quietly feasted on our vitals while we played or slept. He has eaten the corn and left us the husk. The giant is a counterfeiter. The laughter he generates is a façade, a cloak to hide the pain of having our vitals slowly eaten away. We have found his breads are stones. His sweets turn the belly sour. His good times leave remorse and emptiness. What are we to do?
In the name of the Gracious God, Elhanan slew the devouring giant. And in the same name we can too!
- Bethlehemite: (house of bread) It is the word of God, in its myriad forms, that is the true foundation and support for all thought and action. Seek those who love to feast on the word. Pray with them. Study with them. Share with them. Work with them. They are family, and they are there to help us, and us them
- Jaareoregim: (woods of weavers) Do not ignore those people and things that God uses to develop character, to beautify the life, and lengthen it. But never depend on the counsel of just one. Go to others in similar work. Look for counsel and enlightenment among a host of God-fearing people, in His Word, in nature, in providential leadings. Forsake not the assembling of yourselves together. (Heb. 10:25) Truth is always consistent with itself, no matter what form it may be in.
- Elhanan: (God is gracious) And when all this is done, cast your helpless soul on the mercies of God and the merits of His Son, then watch Him do His gracious (undeserving) work. Doing our part opens the door for Him to do His. It doesn’t obligate Him to. He has wanted to all along. It just puts us in the proper attitude and position for Him to help. So when He does, we know whom to praise.
And with all that working for us, the Entertainer doesn’t have the last laugh!
 exercise, relationships, drugs, watching sporting events, jokes, eating chocolate, hearing someone else laugh, reducing food consumption, meditation, hypnotism, plus a host of others