Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Beware of Saul's Armor!

I was reading Vance Havner's message called "Growing Goliaths and Developing Davids" and it caused me to think about the story of David. Havner's main point is instead of engineering a program or discussing the means to defeat the giant, we need people in the church who will simply do it in faith. If we only plan, we will never do: as followers of Christ we are to follow His plan.

Goliath had been taunting the Israelites for forty days, and at his harsh language and imposing frame the Israelites literally ran from him. David, a youthful shepherd boy, heard Goliath and within a day he had killed the giant, decapitated him, and Israel had been granted a stunning victory by God. Stunning that is, to everyone but God and David. David knew that the battle is the LORD's, and that he would prevail over the enemies of the LORD. God had protected David from lions and bears, and He would protect him from Goliath.

An interesting part of the story is when King Saul heard of David saying that he would face the giant in battle and summoned David to appear before him. The first thing Saul said to David in 1 Samuel 17:33 was: "You are not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him; for you are a youth, and he a man of war from his youth." Saul looked at David and said, "No way! You are young, untrained, and without experience." In other words, our problems make your God small - He is not able to use someone like you! The enemy will use this same argument against us to keep us from allowing God to have victory through our hands. David explained that God had protected him as a shepherd, and God would deliver him in this fight too.

Saul finally gave David his blessing to fight, and fit him with his own armor. He put a brass helmet on his head, a coat of mail, and his own sword. Saul and Jonathan were the only men in the whole kingdom of Israel that had swords at this juncture(1 Sam. 13:22). 1 Samuel 17:39 says, "David fastened his sword to his armor and tried to walk, for he had not tested them. And David said to Saul, "I cannot walk with these, for I have not tested them." So David took them off." We do not know the exact motivation that moved Saul to put his armor on David. Perhaps he thought, "You might be a shepherd boy, but at least you can look the part of a warrior." Maybe he thought that it was the least he could do for the lad, giving him the most modern protection and weaponry in Israel. But David was so encumbered by the armor that he could not even walk! Because he had not "tested" them (or "proved" them KJV), he removed this armor.

There are some people who would convince you that it is fine and good for you to trust God, but to take the next step of faith you must do something in addition to faith in God to ensure victory. Saul had fought in battles and his armor had served him well. He wouldn't go into battle without it, and figured David shouldn't either. Yet David wouldn't wear the armor into battle because he himself had not proven it. It was foreign to his experience. God had never needed the assistance of sword and armor before: was He hindered as if He needed them? Had God's ability to save been reduced by the size of David's opponent? No. If the battle is the LORD's, the victory is the LORD's.  King Saul ended up dying years later in a battle at his own hand and sword wearing his armour, and it was hung as a trophy in an idol's temple (1 Sam. 31:10).

Never allow someone else's lack of faith dictate your decisions. We serve a God who is able to accomplish what concerns us in every aspect. Saul's armor can take many forms and can be forced upon us by people who mean well. They have always relied on their armor: their experience, training, education, natural talents, degrees, cultural study, money, contacts, organizations, and on! Because they have attributed victory to their armor, God has not received the glory. They are happy to say, "Go and God be with you, but you'll need this..." when God has said otherwise.

Was David unwise to fight the giant with sling and stone? The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom. It would have been foolish to fight in any way that deviated from God's plan. When God tells us to wait for the sounds of marching the mulberry trees and then go out, we wait, listen, and then march forth (1 Chron. 14:14-15)! If our God goes before us to smite our enemies, should we huddle in fear because we don't have state of the art weapons? Who can stand before our God? If God tells us to hold a trumpet in our right hands and a lamp in our left covered with an earthen pitcher, should we fear? We are to put on the spiritual armor of God (Eph. 6) that we may stand in the spiritual battle we face and prevail. It is God who said, "...Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, saith the Lord of Hosts." (Zech. 4:6)

Never trade faith for Saul's armor. Let me close with a passage from Vance Havner: "When our Lord fed the multitude, there was first a problem of bread: "Whence shall we buy bread, that these may eat?" (John 6:5). Then there was a proposed budget; Philip suggested that two hundred pennyworth of bread would not be enough. Finally there was the provision of a boy: "There is a lad here..." (ver. 9). Our Lord did not need a budget; He needed a boy. I will venture that the Israelites facing the Philistines wore out a lot of pencils figuring a budget. But God did not put Goliath out of business with a budget; He used a boy." (Why Not Just Be Christians, pg. 70) God hasn't changed. Faith in the Living God still fells giants and moves mountains. Why not go with what got us here?

1 comment: