Defining Moments: “Substitute”

            In 1 Samuel 17:4, the Philistine giant, Goliath, is called “a champion”, translating two Hebrew words that literally mean “a man in the space between”. This concept is vitally important in the Bible because it foreshadows Jesus standing as our substitute. In 1 Samuel 17, the giant Goliath stands as a substitute for his people (the Philistines), and David stands as a substitute for his people (Israel). While the Israelites and their impressive leader, Saul, tremble and cower in the face of their enemies’ mightiest warrior, the Lord raises up an unlikely deliverer—the shepherd boy and youngest of eight, David of Bethlehem. As Israel’s “man in the space between”, David believes in Yahweh on Israel’s behalf and conquers Israel’s greatest foe on Israel’s behalf. Then his victory is imputed to Israel, as if the whole nation had conquered the Philistines through this one man.

            This beloved, but often misunderstood story set a precedent in God’s Word that one man may stand as a substitute for the many, and it foreshadowed what Jesus would do both in his obedience in the wilderness (Matthew 4:1-12) and His atonement on the cross (1 Peter 3:18). While we were powerless to overcome sin and Satan, the Lord Jesus came and conquered them for us! Jesus is our substitute, our “man in the space between”. Now, we can access His victory over sin and Satan simply by renouncing all our efforts and placing all our faith in Him and what He has accomplished on our behalf!

Pastor Mike