David’s face-off with Goliath the giant in the Valley of Elah wasn’t the first battle he fought that day. Before he won the war fought with stones and swords, he won a war of words.
The battle is recorded in 1 Samuel 17:24-26.
All the men of Israel, when they saw [Goliath], fled from him and were much afraid. And the men of Israel said, “Have you seen this man who has come up? Surely he has come up to defy Israel. And the king will enrich the man who kills him with great riches and will give him his daughter and make his father’s house free in Israel.” And David said to the men who stood by him, “What shall be done for the man who kills this Philistine and takes away the reproach from Israel? For who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?”
Contrast David’s words with the words of his fellow soldiers. Notice the difference in the way they described the enemy. Saul’s men asked, “Have you seen this man who has come up?” (v. 25). But David asked, “Who is this uncircumcised Philistine?” (v. 26).
You can also see a difference in the way they described themselves. Saul’s men said, “Surely he has come up to defy Israel” (v. 25). But David said that Goliath was defying “the armies of the living God” (v. 26).
Someone once told me, “Words mean things.” This sounds really simple, but it is actually really profound.
Language’s role in shaping our thoughts was a major theme in George Orwell’s 1984. In 1984 the government in power develops a language called Newspeak, which eliminates any words that could be formed into the rhetoric needed to start a rebellion. This was an important way of maintaining control over the populace.
If the words you use influence your thoughts about impersonal entities like the government, just think of the impact they have in shaping your thoughts about yourself! If you keep telling yourself that you are incapable of winning, that you are insignificant and powerless, that is what you will be. But if you tell yourself you are special, you will feel empowered.
The best words are God’s words. Jesus said, “Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?” (Mt. 6:26). Paul said, “I can do all things through him who strengthens me” (Phil. 4:13). Speak these words, and they will shape within you a powerful, positive mindset.