by John Ellis
If the Old Testament stories were to be ranked based on popularity, the story of David and Goliath would undoubtedly rank in the top-three. I wouldn’t be surprised if most people’s list didn’t rank the tale as number-one. Anyone who has spent any amount of time in Sunday School or VBS is familiar with the story of the young Israelite who was destined to become king taking down the Philistine giant with only a sling. The Biblical story is so ubiquitous, in fact, that “David and Goliath” has become a cultural colloquialism used to refer to any underdog tale. Sadly, though, the story of David and Goliath is as misunderstood as it is popular.
Many of us known the story of David and Goliath primarily as a morality tale (the Biblical narrative can be found in 1 Samuel 17) – Turning the giant into a place-holder for personal demons, struggles, and/or obstacles, the readers/listeners are taught to identify with young David. Taught this way, we’re encouraged to bravely trust God like David, pick up our five stones, and boldly face our personal Goliath. This approach to the story is often dovetailed with Jesus’ words about faith moving mountains (I’ve already written about “faith moving mountains,” read it by clicking here).
This is the prevailing interpretation found in the vast majority of pop culture retellings and references – Facing the Giants, “Only a Boy Named David,” and Malcom Gladwell’s book David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants, to name a mere three. Francesca Battistelli utilizes the same poor understanding of David and Goliath to structure her new and popular song “Giants Fall.”
Before interacting with “Giants Fall,” though, I’m going to offer a brief and what I believe to be a robust and Biblically attune exegesis of 1 Samuel 17. I will then introduce another new and far less popular song by an artist who seeks to point his listeners to Jesus through his musical retelling of David and Goliath.
In fact, pointing people to Jesus is the purpose of 1 Samuel 17. Using the words of the Satan-Serpent from the Garden of Eden, the Philistine giant Goliath confronts the reader (and the fearful Israelites in the Valley of Elah) with the reality that the sinful coup on the throne of the Creator of the Universe is still ongoing, albeit wrapped in futility. Being banished from the Garden of Eden and having death introduced into the world as the just punishment for the personal sins of all humans did not stop the rebellion. Satan-Serpent is still prowling around, seeking people to devour.
By desiring to destroy God’s people, and in alliance with Satan-Serpent, Goliath sought to undermine God’s promise found in Genesis 3:15. Destroying God’s people, the line of Abraham, would’ve cut off the seed of the woman whom God promised would crush the head of Satan-Serpent. If Goliath succeeded, all would’ve been lost.
But all wasn’t lost, because God did promise to send a seed of the woman to crush the head of Satan-Serpent. And God keeps His promises. Instead of the seed of the woman being cut off, Satan-Serpent’s ally Goliath had his head cut off.
In the story of David and Goliath, when the young, unassuming David strides onto the battlefield, our eyes should turn to Jesus. The very promised One of Genesis 3:15. The very One who is seated on the true Throne that David’s throne prefigured and from where he will reign forever, as God promised David.
When David picked up those five stones and faced Goliath, he wasn’t just engaging in an ancient Near-East tribal squabble. David was facing down the hordes of hell and reminding the Israelites that they needed a Savior-King to fully and finally defeat the enemies of God. And that’s what the story tells the readers and listeners of 2017 – we all need a Savior-King to defeat sin, death and Satan-Serpent, and apart from faith in that Savior-King we are as doomed as the Israelites were before David killed Goliath. You see, in the story of David and Goliath, we are the Israelites. We are not David. In the true story, David prefigures Christ; David points to Jesus, God’s good and true King who rescues his people from their sins.
If the above and very brief exegesis of David and Goliath is new to you, or is old to you, yet still stirs your heart in praise to our King and Savior, I am incredibly excited to introduce you to the new song from Timothy Brindle titled “Headcrusher.”
The first single off of Brindle’s soon to be released album The Unfolding (which is also the title of Brindle’s new book), “Headcrusher” adroitly, beautifully, and faithfully recounts the glorious story of God’s salvation of His people through David’s defeat of Goliath. As you can probably guess by the title, Timothy Brindle has zero interest in interacting with David and Goliath as a morality tale. In fact, the song opens with a brief and gracious admonishment to those of us who see ourselves in David and our personal demons in Goliath.
Instead, seeking to advance the gospel and stay true to the Bible, Timothy Brindle uses his God-given talent as a wordsmith and rapper to artfully lay out the Story of Redemption with “Headcrusher.” Honoring God through lyrical content and aesthetic excellence is sadly lacking in much of contemporary Christian music. Timothy Brindle demonstrates that it’s possible. More of his brothers and sisters in Christ should be allowing Brindle’s gifts to cause us to turn our eyes to Jesus.
Recognizing that hip-hop isn’t for everyone, although I firmly believe that Reformed hip-hop should be enjoyed by the vast majority of Christendom, I encourage you to listen to the Brindle’s song (posted below). Parents, even if you don’t like hip-hop, you should at least consider buying the song and album for your children. Timothy Brindle has gifted Christian parents with a tool to faithfully teach our children about Jesus in a form that our kids will enjoy. Although, parents, I believe that you will like “Headcrusher” if you engage the song and its genre objectively and with a heart’s desire to praise God for Timothy Brindle’s faithfulness to Scripture and his desire to magnify God’s name.
Sadly, Francesca Battistelli’s new hit “Giants Fall” occupies artistic and exegetical space on the exact opposite end of Timothy Brindle’s “Headcrusher.” Leaning on the worst of the moralistic tropes often wrongfully connected to the story of David and Goliath, Battistelli’s “Giants Fall” turns a story about Jesus into an individualistic and idolatrous affirmation of the popular lie that “If you dream it; you can accomplish it.”
Like “Headcrucher” above, I’ve posted “Giants Fall” below. Listen to it, and then listen again to Timothy Brindle’s song. Compare the two, and make note of which song is most faithful to the Bible while demonstrating the desire to see people saved from their sins through repenting of their sins and placing their faith in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Also take note of which of the two songs reinforces the me-centered, pop-culture belief that our dreams and goals are all important.
While I pray that this isn’t true, I’m afraid that the popularity of “Headcrusher” by Timothy Brindle will languish far behind the popularity of “Giant’s Fall” by Francesca Battistelli. And while I have zero doubt that Brindle isn’t looking for fame, and is and will continue to praise God for however the Holy Spirit chooses to bless his labors by using “Headcrusher” to turn peoples’ eyes to Jesus, I still find it sad that Battistelli will be widely confirming the already entrenched self-centered consumer mentality that pervades much of evangelicalism in this country. Of course, in His kindness, God chooses to use our efforts and labors for His glory. With that thought in mind, please consider buying the album as well as helping spread the word about Timothy Brindle by telling your family, friends, and church family about “Headcrusher.”
Soli Deo Gloria
You can download “Headcrusher” by clicking here.
 As one theologian put it, when the story is viewed this way, David’s five stones can mean anything that our sinful heart’s desire. In other words, bad exegesis begets worse exegesis. By the way, I can’t remember the name of that theologian, which is embarrassing. I was just talking about him with a friend.
 1. For the record, every other time that I’ve referenced Malcolm Gladwell in my writing, it’s been a positive reference. 2. I was prepared to defend “Only a Boy Named David” as an appropriate pedagogical tool. However, I listened to the song for the first time in years, and the song divorces all of the Biblical thematic content from the story leaving behind nothing but a morality tale.
 To be fair to Battistelli, I don’t think that this is her intended objective with “Giants Fall,” but it’s the end result, nonetheless. And it’s the unintended result every time we teach our kids (our ourselves) to “face our giants like David.”