Everyone thrills to read the story of young David facing a giant and defeating him against all odds. That’s pretty much the story of the whole Bible. The story of most nations and cultures, on the other hand, is that the victory goes to the strongest and smartest. God turns the natural order on its head in order to say, “Look! I’m here.”
Men like to run the stats and predict which football, basketball, or baseball team will win. Logically, past performance predicts future wins and losses. Flukes can happen, but they can’t happen consistently, unless it’s a miracle. There has to be an explanation.
Abram defeated four kings. That wasn’t supposed to happen, according to historical statistics. A rancher chased down a might army and routed it. To begin with, Elam and Babylon were significant nations, even at that time. Together, they were an empire that had controlled vast regions for years. Their army had just swept from the north to the south of the Levant without a loss. Then they met Abram. When God’s reputation is at stake, He gives supernatural power. The king of Elam was Abram’s Goliath.
When should you fight? A kid in kindergarten bullied me until I punched him in the nose, so they tell me. Abram was not a professional fighter like the kings. The kings initiated battles in order to plunder. They were big bullies. Unlike them, Abram worked for a living. He also had a responsibility to protect his family. Lot had been captured. Even though Abram would not have gone to Elam to pick a fight, he didn’t hesitate when the fight came to his own doorstep.
Losers don’t get trophies. Goliath’s family didn’t. Pharaoh’s family didn’t. If the king of Elam survived, he didn’t go home and brag about it. At this time, we don’t know who these kings were in history. No disastrous campaign like this is described in the East. This was a long time ago. Luckily, the winners kept a record of it, in a humble and unpretentious description.
Abram and David didn’t win for their own sake. God was using them to write history so that the world could identify the God that all nations should worship. That’s not easy when most of history is written by bullies. God helped the good guys win so that they could write the history that matters.