Let’s examine the spies’ report to Moses about those scary inhabitants of the Promised Land:
But the men who had gone with him said, “We can’t attack those people! They’re too strong for us!” So they began to spread lies among the Israelites about the land they had explored. They said, “The land we explored is one that devours those who live there. All the people we saw there are very tall. We saw Nephilim there. (The descendants of Anak are Nephilim.) We felt as small as grasshoppers, and that’s how we must have looked to them.” (Numbers 13:31-33)
The spies’ report says three key things that scare the people as they listen. (I wonder if Moses was doing an eye-roll while all of this was being said.) The first one is:
· FACT: We can’t attack those people, because they are “too strong.”
Fair enough. Warriors in all their gear can be very intimidating. Put tall people in armor, and everyone starts shaking. Let’s take a quick trip into the future and watch the Israelites as they encounter a giant whose name we know: Goliath. He’s tall, all armored-up and intimidates everyone. But, David who knows what kind of God he serves, is not afraid. Let’s watch as a tall bully made the Israelite warriors afraid. Think how Moses’ bunch feels: they are not warriors!
Here we go:
Big, bad and heavily geared up. And a big-mouthed braggart at that:
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 Sam. 17:8-11)
You’ve got King Saul, his army and everyone else all shaking in their sandals. Saul’s men are trained professionals, and yet the enormity of Goliath’s ego and armor puts them to shame. The weight of it all bears down on their spirits.
Enter the shepherd boy David. He is ordered by his father to take food to his brothers who are in Saul’s army. This puts the young David smack dab in the middle of the action. For forty days, Mr. Big Mouth has come out every morning and evening to taunt the Israelites. King Saul has had enough and offers a bounty for Mr. Big Mouth. No one in the ranks has responded. Fear has gripped them, just like Moses’ bunch.
We are no different: Fear in the face of overwhelming circumstances can paralyze us.
David overhears the men talking and asks:
“What will be done for the man who kills this Philistine and removes this disgrace from Israel? Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living God?” (1 Sam. 17:26)
Go David! He is focused on God and His chosen ones. This Goliath is not under God’s covenant protection; he stands only in his own power. King Saul and his men are standing with the mighty God of Israel. In their fear, they forget this, until a mere shepherd boy reminds them.
David offers to fight Goliath, and King Saul advises against it; he’s too young and inexperienced. David then recounts his killing of a lion and a bear as he guarded his sheep. He gently reminds the King that Goliath’s shouted daily defiance at God’s covenant people is aimed at God Himself:
“Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, because he has defied the armies of the living God. The Lord who rescued me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will rescue me from the hand of this Philistine.” (1 Sa. 17:36-7)
David knows who he is in God’s eyes; he has seen God’s mightiness before and utterly trusts God for it happening again. God is his champion. David’s focus is on God’s qualities of unfailing love and mercy. David could have ran out and met Goliath in his own power. But he did not. He also refused to wear Saul’s armor; he took his sling and stones and went out to meet Goliath. David fearlessly said,
“You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the Lord will deliver you into my hands, and I’ll strike you down and cut off your head. This very day I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds and the wild animals, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel. All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves; for the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give all of you into our hands.” (1 Sam. 17:45-47) [emphasis mine]
Boom! There it is: “The battle is the Lord’s”! As codependent folks, we feel the battle is ours, and the Lord is there to simply rubber-stamp all the good we are doing. We use other people’s armor, or use the armor we have been dragging around since childhood. It fits no better than Saul’s did on David, but that doesn’t stop us from rushing into battle. We have fear in our hearts, and like a scared dog running into a road with cars coming, we see only the need in front of us. The consequences are not important to us as we try to fix the situation.
Let’s return to our spies giving their report to a non-warrior group of people about the strong people inhabiting the Promised Land. First up, they say,
· Fact: The people in the land are “too strong”
OK. Now, instead of remembering how God judged the strongest man (in terms pf power) in Egypt and his mighty army, with the Red Sea sealing the deal, these spies then embellish the situation. They do what unhealthy people do all the time in their fear: they go into survival mode and lie. Their fear becomes the people’s fear. Let’s see what they said and how inaccurate it is:
· Lie: The people are unable to attack the inhabitants. (What? The people didn’t attack Pharaoh’s army either, but they carried the day because of God!)
· Lie: The land “devours” people. (What? How does this happen? The people have been in some of the harshest conditions around, so how could this land be any worse than a barren desert?)
· Lie: The people are “very tall.” Well maybe. But so what? (The Pharaoh’s army wasn’t populated by bored hobbits.)
· Lie: “We saw Nephilim there.” The Nephilim are “men of renown.” ( ) Big bad dudes, in other words. (Maybe. But like any good fish story, the fish that were caught are getting bigger and bigger.)
· Lie: “We felt as small as grasshoppers.” (What? Small, maybe, but not squish-on-the-kitchen-floor small. Size, ability and fighting prowess of these Hebrew slaves was never factored in God’s victory over the Egyptians. God alone will fight and conquer the Hebrews’ enemies; He did it then and He will do it now.)
· Lie: We feel small, so we MUST look small to our enemies. (What? What your enemies think is of no value. God’s opinion of you matters. Only His. Period.)
So, yup, we have a crisis here. But who created the crisis? The spies and their lies. (Good movie title…) The people are sucked in to the lies and react as if the spies are speaking the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
Let’s see how we can apply this to our need to rescue. The lies of our spies (our reactions to others and situations) have triggered our co-dependent reaction. Let me stop for a moment, and comment here. Unhealthy people, in their fear or manipulation, will shade the truth, outright lie or engage in delusional thinking. People who are not codependent will ask questions, wait awhile and be somewhat skeptical about the situation until they gather more evidence that either supports what they are told or calls it into question.
Being codependent, you and I will act immediately upon what we hear; we do not ask questions, reflect or wonder if the person is in touch with reality. We will be triggered by the story the person is telling and wanting nothing more than to help the person to overcome the adversity.
The spies knew that the people listening were former slaves, with no real knowledge of the world. The spies knew it wouldn’t take much to get the people to agree with them, and sit out this whole Promised Land thing.
Unhealthy people know you and I are codependent. How? The unhealthy person is so desperate that he or she will zero in on anyone who is capable of helping without any limitations or questions.
Healthy people sense that this person’s report of the Promised Land is questionable.
You and I end up alone with this person, listening and absorbing the fear of it all, because of our deep need.
In the next post, we will continue to examine the spies’ report and how unhealthy people derail us.