THE ARMOR OR THE SLING?
n David, we find an exemplary youth. Bible scholars believe that at the time he was sent by his father on an errand to his older brothers in battle, he was only a teenager, probably seventeen. But even at that age, he knew that God was a “living God.” Hadn’t he proved Him? When he had seen the lion approaching the flock, it was, no doubt, in desperation that he called on God. Perhaps he was even a little surprised when he saw how God immediately answered. Later when the bear appeared, he knew more quickly what to do. Hadn’t he proved God faithful? So again God proved Himself to be living.
I imagine that there were many times and various ways that God proved Himself to His faithful youth during those young years. Gradually, the surprise of seeing God work left, and in place of it came a joyous certainty, “My God is living!”
Then the day came in which God’s people were in trouble. They were faced with a boastful enemy who dared to tauntingly challenge the armies of the living God. “And all the men of Israel, when they saw the man, fled from him, and were sore afraid” (1 Sam. 17:24). Unbelief—that terrible killer—had them bound and trembling. If they would have had the daily experiences with the living God and proved Him as David had, could they have stood still and heard the power of God mocked?
It was for times such as these that God had been preparing David. First, He inspired David’s father with a desire to send gifts to his sons and the captain of their thousand. Then He arranged that the lad would arrive at the hour of the giant’s rude challenge. Immediately in the face of the challenge, the only salvation he knew, his God, came to the young man’s mind.
Voicing his conviction didn’t make David popular, but it got him to where his Master wanted him—before the leader of God’s army. It was the first-hand experience, the positive knowledge that David had that convinced the king. Being convinced, Saul finally bade him, “Go, and the Lord be with thee.”
The king would have stopped there had he himself really proved the Lord. Instead, he ordered the boy armed with helmet, mail, and sword. But David could not accept them. “No,” he said, “I have not proved them.”
What was this that Saul offered? We may suppose that the helmet refers to the use of the mind. Saul would have had him plan this battle: How should he approach the enemy? What should he say? Is my strength sufficient? But David hadn’t proved this method. Had he planned how to meet the lion or how to overcome the bear? No, he had followed the knowledge that God had instantly placed in his heart. No, this method was not for him.
Mail was worn for protection. In case the enemy should be able to break through his guard, the mail would protect him from serious injury. Here again, David refused to accept the precaution. His God never failed to protect. The guard he bore could never be broken. This extra protection would only weigh him down. To us, the mail signifies fear, unbelief. It only weighs and makes uncomfortable. It hinders the arm that should whirl the sling.
Finally there was the sword. Surely it could remain. It was aggressive, not defensive. Surely this is what the overcoming Christian needs. Why did the young soldier reject this, too? The reason is that God needs nothing that He has not supplied. Not even an unsanctified “want to” or “try to” can remain.
Just as there was no reason for David to anticipate his needs, so the faithful one has no need to take inventory of his inadequacy. Just as David left all the logical equipment behind, so must the young Christian abandon all worldly-wise concepts.
David rejected because he had not proved, had not tried, the means and weapons that Saul provided. He could trust only what he had tried and proved. Had he spent his time in the fields sharpening a calculating mind, he would have taken his place in the ranks of the other trembling, calculating souls facing the terrifying enemy. Had he succumbed to fear and unbelief, his father would have had to find a different shepherd after the boy encountered the first beast. He would never have had confidence to send his son to the battlefront to even hear the giant’s challenge.
Had David tried to couple aggressiveness with his fear, he would have lived in torture trying to do what he feared, being jealous of those who seemed to be doing so boldly that which he struggled to do. He would have felt inferior and lonely.
Or suppose that he had rejected the first two armaments and taken only the last. It certainly would have been logical, because later we find him needing a sword to take off the giant’s head. But had he had the sword, wouldn’t he naturally have turned to the usual weapon of war to approach the giant? The giant, being acquainted with his way of fighting, would have quickly killed him.
So also it is with us. Determination is the devil’s weapon, and he knows how to deal with it. How much better to let God open the door and lead the way so that it is His power that is glorified. If we do not, we will be left in the depths of despair and doubting God when our determined advances are buffeted.
Do you get the picture? It is all a matter of what we prove. Thanks be to God that we are free to choose what we will try. It is just as easy to choose abandoning ourselves completely as it is to try the armor. What am I trying?
From Messenger of Truth, Vol. 112, No. 15, July 23, 2014