There is something about people of monstrous size that speaks to our fear of being small and lacking power. Giants play a a powerful role in the story of the Jewish people throughout the Old Testament, specifically as enemies that the people faced who were steeped in the brokenness and sin of humanity that God was working against. Remember those fallen angels detailed in the book of Enoch? Well when they came to earth, they supposedly had children with people who were a race of giants known as the Nephilim.
“The Nephilim were on the earth in those days—and also afterward—when the sons of God went to the daughters of humans and had children by them. They were the heroes of old, men of renown.” (Genesis 6:4 NIV)
The story is that their children were a monstrous race and part of the reason why God sent the Flood to wipe wickedness off the earth. These children apparently survived the flood however and were a continued challenge to the people of Israel.
“Then Caleb silenced the people before Moses and said, ‘We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it.’ But the men who had gone up with him said, ‘We can’t attack those people; they are stronger than we are.’ And they spread among the Israelites a bad report about the land they had explored. They said, ‘The land we explored devours those living in it. All the people we saw there are of great size. We saw the Nephilim there (the descendants of Anak come from the Nephilim). We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and we looked the same to them.'” (Numbers 13:30-33 NIV)
These giant warriors were a cause of fear and doubt in Israel’s ability. How could they, a small refugee nation, possibly stand a chance against monstrous beings of power and terror? In Israel’s narrative, giants fulfill a role of being the powerful antagonists that the beat down and scrappy underdogs do Scripture stand up against and prove not only their own valor through faith, but God’s promised faithfulness and authority. The threat of giants is something that continues to follow the Israelite people even as they began to grow in their own power. It goes to show, no matter how strong you think you are there is always a bigger fish…um…warrior. In the case of the growing Jewish kingdom, that was the Philistines and their giant of a warrior.
“A champion named Goliath, who was from Gath, came out of the Philistine camp. His height was six cubits and a span. He had a bronze helmet on his head and wore a coat of scale armor of bronze weighing five thousand shekels; on his legs he wore bronze greaves, and a bronze javelin was slung on his back. His spear shaft was like a weaver’s rod, and its iron point weighed six hundred shekels. His shield bearer went ahead of him. Goliath stood and shouted to the ranks of Israel, ‘Why do you come out and line up for battle? Am I not a Philistine, and are you not the servants of Saul? Choose a man and have him come down to me. If he is able to fight and kill me, we will become your subjects; but if I overcome him and kill him, you will become our subjects and serve us.’ Then the Philistine said, ‘This day I defy the armies of Israel! Give me a man and let us fight each other.’ On hearing the Philistine’s words, Saul and all the Israelites were dismayed and terrified.” (1 Samuel 17:4-11 NIV)
That story ends with a scrappy little shepherd boy putting down the giant and routing the invading army. There is a powerful theme in the weak defeating the strong and of the smarter fighter coming out on top. The giants of our imaginations give us a chance to practice standing tall against those who would use their size and power against the less. It’s a compelling theme and just another great reason to stand against the giants.