1 Samuel 17:39
David strapped his sword over the tunic and tried to walk, but he was not used to all this armor. "I cannot walk in these," David said to Saul. "I am not used to them." So David took them off.
Sermons
God's Fighters not to Take the Weapons of the WorldC. J. Vaughan, D. D.1 Samuel 17:39
God's Fighters not to Take the Weapons of the WorldA. Maclaren, D. D1 Samuel 17:39
Impossible ArmourC. J. Vaughan, D. D.1 Samuel 17:39
Suitable EquipmentE. S. Talbot, D. D.1 Samuel 17:39
Three Victories in One DayB. Dale 1 Samuel 17:29, 37-39, 45-47
David's Conflict with GoliathB. Dale 1 Samuel 17:38-54
1 Samuel 17:38-54. (EPHES-DAMMIM.)
So David prevailed (ver. 50).

1. David was specially prepared for the conflict by the whole of his previous life, and especially by his successful attack upon the lion and the bear, and his victory over himself.

2. He was providentially led into the conflict. "Jesse little thought of sending his son to the army just in the critical juncture; but the wise God orders the time and all the circumstances of actions and affairs so as to serve his designs of securing the interest of Israel and advance the man after his own heart" (M. Henry).

3. He was inwardly impelled to the conflict by the Spirit of the Lord that had come upon him (1 Samuel 16:13), and had formerly inspired Saul with fiery zeal against the Ammonites (1 Samuel 11:6). If he had gone into it in any other manner he would doubtless have failed.

4. He rendered invaluable service to Israel by the conflict, not only thereby repelling the invasion of the Philistines, but also teaching them the spirit they should cherish, and the kind of king they needed. "It is not too much to assert that this event was a turning point in the history of the theocracy, and marked David as the true king of Israel, ready to take up the Philistine challenge of God and his people, and kindling in Israel a new spirit, and in the might of the living God bringing the contest to victory" (Edersheim).

5. He became an appropriate type of Christ by the conflict. "It is a rehearsal of Christ's temptation and victory a thousand years afterwards" (Wordsworth's 'Com.').

6. He was also an eminent pattern for Christians in the conflict; exhibiting the spirit which they should possess in their warfare with "the world, the flesh, and the devil." "David's contest with Goliath will only be apprehended in its true light if the latter be regarded as a representative of the world, and David the representative of the Church" (Hengstenberg). Notice -

I. THE WEAPONS which he chose (vers. 38-40).

1. He neglected not the use of weapons altogether. To have done so would have been rash and presumptuous; for it is God's method to grant success to those who employ the legitimate aids which he has provided for the purpose. Although David did not trust in weapons of war, he did not throw them away, but used them wisely. We must do the same in the spiritual conflict.

2. He rejected the armour, defensive and offensive, which seemed to others indispensable. "I cannot go in these; for I have not proved them. And David put them off him" (ver. 39). Some weapons may appear to others, and even to ourselves, at first, to be the best, and yet not be really such. Some weapons may be suitable to others, but not to us. We must learn by experience. We must be simple, genuine, and true to ourselves. And above all, we must look for Divine guidance in the matter. "The weapons of our. warfare are not carnal," etc. (2 Corinthians 10:4).

3. He selected the weapons which were most effective. "And he took his staff in his hand, and chose him five smooth stones," etc. (ver. 40) - selected them carefully, knowing well which were the best for his purpose; and he was not satisfied with one or two merely, but provided a reserve. His weapons were insignificant only in the view of the inconsiderate. They were the most suitable that can be conceived, and gave greatest promise of success; and his genius was shown in their selection. Intelligence was opposed to brute force. "It was just because the sling and the stone were not the weapons of Goliath that they were best fitted to David's purpose. They could be used at a distance from the enemy; they made his superior resources of no avail; they virtually reduced him to the dimensions and condition of an ordinary man; they did more, they rendered his extraordinary size a disadvantage; the larger he was, the better for the mark. David, moreover, had been accustomed in his shepherd life to the sling; it had been the amusement of his solitary hours, and had served for his own protection and that of his flock; so that he brought to his encounter with Goliath an accuracy of aim and a strength and steadiness of arm that rendered him a most formidable opponent" (A.J. Morris). The lesson here taught is not that anything will do to fight with, but that there must be in spiritual, as well as in secular, conflicts a proper adaptation of means to ends.

II. THE SPIRIT which he displayed (vers. 41-48).

1. Humility. His heart was not haughty and proud (Psalm 131:1), as Eliab said it was, but humble and lowly. He was conscious of unworthiness before God, of utter weakness and insufficiency in himself, and ready to do and bear whatever might be the will of the Lord concerning him. Humility (from humus, the ground) lies in the dust, and is the root out of which true excellence grows. It is the first, the second, and the third thing in religion (Augustine). "Before honour is humility" (Proverbs 15:32). "He giveth grace to the humble." "Be clothed with humility."

2. Faith. "I come to thee in the name of the Lord of hosts" (ver. 45; see 1 Samuel 1:3). He looked beyond man to God, and relied upon his help. "He did not compare himself with Goliath, but he compared Goliath with Jehovah," who was the Leader and "God of the ranks of Israel." He believed, and therefore he spoke, and fought, and prevailed (2 Corinthians 4:13). "Although unarmed in the estimation of men, he was armed with the Godhead" (St. Ambrose).

3. Zeal. He was little concerned about his own honour and renown, but he was "very jealous for the Lord God of hosts" (1 Kings 19:14). He heard the gods of the heathen extolled (ver. 43), and the name of Jehovah blasphemed, and he was desirous above all things that he should be glorified. "All the earth shall know," etc. (ver. 46). "All this assembly shall know," etc. (ver. 47). When we fight for God we may confidently expect that he will fight for us. "The battle is the Lord's."

4. Courage, which stood in contrast to the fear with which Israel was smitten, and was the fruit of his humility, faith, and zeal. It was shown in his calm and dauntless attitude in going forth against his opponent, in the presence of the two armies, in breathless suspense; in his bold and confident answer to the contemptuous challenge of the foe; and in his eagerness and energy in the actual conflict. "David hasted, and ran," etc. (vers. 48, 49, 51). "So David prevailed."

III. THE VICTORY which he achieved. Not only was the boastful Philistine overthrown, speedily, signally, and completely, but also -

1. The enemy fled in terror (ver. 51), and their power was broken (ver. 52).

2. Israel was imbued with a new and better spirit (vers. 52, 53).

3. He himself was honoured - by God in giving him the victory and opening before him a wider sphere of activity, by the king (vers. 55-58; 1 Samuel 18:2), and by all the people. Even the Philistines long afterwards held his name in dread (1 Samuel 21:11). "This first heroic deed of David was of the greatest importance to him and all Israel, for it was his first step on the way to the throne to which Jehovah had resolved to raise him" (Keil). "Raised by the nation, he raised and glorified it in return; and, standing at the crowning point of the history of the nation, he concentrates in himself all its brilliance, and becomes the one man of greatest renown in the whole course of its existence" (Ewald). - D.







I cannot go with these. I have not proved them.
The words recall to you at once the whole vivid story of the combat between the stripling David and the Philistine giant Goliath. It is a simple tale from the memories of border warfare in an early and somewhat rude time. There are two ways in which David might have forfeited his victory.

I. First HE MIGHT HAVE FORFEITED IT BY A CARELESS NEGLECT OF THE SIMPLE OPPORTUNITIES OF A BOY. He had only to keep the sheep. It would have been boy-like to have gone after play or after comrades and leave the flock. It would have been the different but equally fatal mistake of a gifted nature to dream away the hours with his back on the turf and his face to the sky, building air castles of future exploits, the while the beasts preyed on the straying sheep. David avoided the one mistake and the other. He had his play, indeed; that skill which sends the stone like bullet to the Philistine's brow will not have come to such perfection without many a shot at passing quarry or jutting rock; but it was play which made him fitter for work, training him in the free use of the favourite weapon of his tribe; making his arm suppler and stronger, and his eye more keen. And he had his battle, too, in his own way; he was watchful to detect and bold to face the prowling and preying beast. And though these may seem simple things, yet to the doer of them there was a strong sense and clear knowledge that there was a power with him in them, and if his conflict with the lion and the bear prepared him to face Goliath by steadying his nerve and strengthening his self-reliance it did so much more by giving him proof of the supporting and protecting presence of his God. Is it not the fact that one of the most frequent, causes of waste and loss here is to be found in what I may call the adjournment of responsibility? I am not thinking of the man who wants to taste the pleasures of sin for a time; nor of the man who shirks all his work and fails in his examinations. I am thinking of men who take things as they come and do not look beyond; who interpret the phrase "sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof" as a charter for postponing troublesome thoughts of future responsibility; who think that it will be time enough to attend to those things when they come.

II. But David had a second danger to avoid: IT WAS THE DANGER OF UNPROVEN ARMOUR. We can feel that a twofold instinct guided him right; the royal armour was grand, but he knew that he would be uneasy in it; and meanwhile his fingers twitched on the sling strings with the half-conscious sense of how they could hurl against that blustering front. What is the danger of unproven armour for any of us? It is not difficult to see; and it may seem to be the very opposite of that which we have considered. It is the danger of those who look forward, not too little, but too confidently, and who do so because they believe themselves amply ready to face life. They feet full armed with well-appointed mail and weapons; it may be with all the adaptable resources of high academical and social culture; it may be with the keen thoughts, and bright ideals, social and philanthropic, which they deem to characterise their generation. Or, most probably of all, it may be with confidence in the strength of Divine truth and a Divine system, which they have themselves embraced, and in the strength of which it would be faithless to doubt that they will succeed with others. Far be it to speak disparagingly of such as these, they have much in them of the mettle of the future warrior: the day was to come when David too would do valiantly with sword and spear. But they have much to learn. The shield and sword, the spear and armour of God and of His Church are not for the first comer to wield with mastery. Doctrine the most true, arguments the most convincing, ideas the most lovely, will somehow be found not to strike home; and it will be well for the user if hampered and perhaps wounded he is not tempted in reaction of disheartenment or cynicism to cast them all aside and turn his back upon the battle. We have, then, here another danger, and opposite though it seems, it may really be combined, and often is combined with the other. The man who adjourns responsibility will think that he can put on the whole armour at pleasure in the future, and that in the strength and completeness of a professional outfit he could be a match for any enemy. There are giants in these days, and "surely to defy Israel are they come up:" evils which are monstrous in their proportions and which have the peculiar note of scornful and cruel defiance towards God and man. There is the giant of sensuality in all its forms. There is the giant of worldliness: the domineering power of prevailing fashion, or of so-called public opinion, or of stolid indifference to every higher call. And third brother to these there is the giant of unbelief. These are giants, and now as then we want men to meet them. And not seldom it is to the stripling that the task should fall. He is not dazed and weary with the daily bellowing of the giant's challenges. He comes with a fresh eye, with an unbroken nerve, with a quick fire of zeal. Place for the young man against the giant! But at that moment all will depend upon what he is and what he brings. They must be well proved, he must be master of them, and they may have in them an unsuspected force of swift and piercing strength. What, to drop the figures, will this mean? It will mean first that a man who is to do good service against public evils must have first fought his own fights. He will have known, perhaps, in very plain reality, what it is to have the beasts come up against him. To meet the lion and the bear is specially the young man's task. It is from the wilderness of temptation that David and David's Lord go forth to the help of the Lord and His people against the mighty. And then next, the men who are to be champions must bring with them genuine, first-hand, realised truth. We want men who have put things to the proof and can speak of that they do know: who can not only repeat, but testify, who can wield the great appeal "experto crede." It is not much truth of which to a young man at the outset of experience this can be true: it may be only as the few smooth stones out of the brook: but, believe me, these may be enough. But what I mean is this: that while a man may fairly start by taking on trust many parts of that which he believes, there must be some part in it, some aspect of it, which he has proved for himself. It has been truly said that it is unchristian to assert that to rightly understand the faith one must have passed through doubt. But it is Christian in modesty and truthfulness to say that in a real and adequate sense a man can hardly be a champion who has not felt the stress and strain upon his faith of the mysteries and difficulties round about us, whose imagination they have never awed, whose reason they have never puzzled, whose sympathies they have never wrung. But there is one thing which must yet be said, for it underlies the whole. The victory of David was won not only by the sling and stone, but by the proved and trusted presence of God. Theirs is the strength which speaks in words which we have not yet learnt to separate from David. "The Lord is my strength in whom I will trust. By Thee I have run through a troop and by my God I have leaped over a wall. It is God that girdeth me with strength."

(E. S. Talbot, D. D.)

The armour was good armour. Sword, and helmet, and coat of mail, each was faultless — true metal, excellent temper, perfect workmanship. And it was a great honour to wear it: it was the king's own, the king lent it, and the king put it on. What was wanting? At first there is compliance. To refuse such honour seems ungracious or seems impossible. "Saul armed David with his armour — put a helmet of brass upon his head — armed him with a coat of mail: David girded the sword upon the armour, and assayed to go" — assayed, but went not. Why? "He had not proved it." "David said to Saul, I cannot go with these, for I have not proved them — and he put them off him." Anything better than the unproved. Better no armour than the awkward encumbrance of the unwonted and the untried. There is a warfare between all and each of us. It has two chief departments — but we need not stay to separate them very carefully — the faith, and the life. For each of these there is an equipment — call it preparation, call it education, or what you will: only remember that it is not all preliminary — it is lifelong, it is daily, it is new every morning. Most young men have someone who offers them his armour. In these days the schoolmaster is abroad even for the poorest. In all days the parent, for better or worse, is present in the homo. The Church is, or ought to be, at hand everywhere, with its instructing and educating influences. All these may be described as offering to arm the young mind and the young soul for the battle of that life which has death in front of it. It is scarcely a reflexion upon this offer to say that it largely resembles Saul's offer to David. We hardly see how it could be otherwise. Parents and teachers must educate out of their own stores of experience. They cannot and they ought not to ask the child or the pupil what he has, and advise him to make the best of it. To a large extent he must be "clothed upon" with faiths and principles to be taken at first on trust. Any attempt to lay down rules of conduct in circumstances necessarily future, or to warn against evils not yet developed, whether because the age for them is not yet, or because the opportunity is not yet, must more or less partake of the character of arming David with Saul's coat of mall: the person addressed cannot yet have proved it, and yet the instructor durst not take the responsibility of deferring into an indefinite future the counsel or the warning which may at any moment become vital to the hearer when the voice which now speaks will be silent. Yet all the time he knows that he is uttering that which can scarcely be impressive, because it necessarily lacks the personal proving. What pains ought to be taken to enable the receiver to prove everything — so to bring down and bring home the instruction as that it may be, at least in its germ, fruitful at once, operative, on the smallest scale, in the young life! But what shall we say when we pass from matters of conduct into matters of faith? Must there not here at least, be an offer of helmet and sword which cannot by the nature of the case have been yet proved by the receiver? Great indeed is the responsibility of arming others, young or old, in our armour. Well were it if those who have the charge of minds would think more of it. Have they proved their own armour? Can they give a reason, to themselves and to God, for the faith with which they thus preoccupy another? "Am I my brother's keeper?" — always a solemn question — has no graver or more momentous application than to this matter of the transmission of religion. Yet not to transmit it is to be worse than an infidel. There must be an arming of one by another with the Christian panoply if Christianity itself is not to die out of the earth which it has re-made. We must prove, but we must assert when we have proved, the mighty verity, without which good were it not to have been born, that "God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in His Son." We pass to a later thought, and one more practical still. The helmet and the sword and the coat of mail of the Christian faith were first put upon us by others. We thank and we bless God for it. Never could we have forged them, never could we have found them, never could we have put them on, for ourselves. The armour put on must be proved afterwards. The faith of the childhood must be proved by the man. Risk not the battle of life — risk not the discharge from it — in unproved armour. "Prove all things," St. Paul said. "Prove the spirits," St. John wrote — meaning the professed inspirations of men who came saying, I have a message unto thee, O man, from God. "Prove your own selves," St. Paul said again — always the same word, though with seven various renderings in the English Bible. If I were on a platform, arguing with atheists, I should adopt one course. There I should be speaking to men not yet pledged, or pledged the other way. And upon them I should urge one argument, not always pressed as it ought to be — All questions must be argued in their appropriate region. I do not take the telescope to a leaf, nor the microscope to a star: I do not listen to a face, nor look at a voice: I do not taste a colour, nor smell a book. In the same way, if I am asked to believe that Christ died for me, or that God forgives me, or that prayer is heard, or that death is the gate of life, I do not consult Euclid or algebra about it; I know quite well that, true or false, that could not help the decision: no, I remind myself that I am a whole made up of many parts — conscience, feeling, affection, quite as really constituents of my whole being as memory, or intellect, or the critical faculty, cold and bald and naked; and that, if God has spoken, He is sure to have spoken not to one element but to the whole of me; and that therefore I must bring myself, the whole of me, to listen whether He has spoken; and if heart and soul find themselves powerfully affected by a professed revelation — if it seem to exercise an elevating and softening and sweetening influence upon the temper, and the conduct, and the intercourse with others, of those who believe and live it — if, in proportion as a man tries to live the Gospel, the life, the spirit, the man, is evidently ennobled and beautified — if he really finds the day, the separate day, made this or that, happy and bright and useful, or else heavy and slovenly and miserable, according as it is begun, continued and ended in communion with God through Christ, or the contrary — I see there a proof, real, if not by itself conclusive, that that revelation is from Him who made me. But now, speaking from a pulpit, and in a congregation of persons worshipping on the faith of Christ, the application of the call to prove all things takes a slightly different form. It bids us to bring to the proof the armour of Christian profession — which has been put upon us by education or tradition, by common consent or social propriety, or whatever else — by seeing whether it will or will not do for us what we have just now supposed it to do for those whose experience we have spoken of as evidence; whether it can make our lives pure and humble and noble; whether it will bear the strain put upon it by the particular trials which beset us in the course of daily life. O, if one half of the trouble were taken in proving ourselves that is bestowed upon challenging the legality of a dress or a posture, or making some preacher or writer an offender for a word, we should grow apace in that real Christianity which is first humility, and then patience, and then charity. The only, only question then is, Has the armour been proved? has it borne the brunt of trial? has it been kept buckled and kept burnished by a living heart-deep communion with the Author and the Finisher, with the Lord and Giver of Life?

(C. J. Vaughan, D. D.)

God's fighters have often been its germ, fruitful at once, operative, on the smallest scale, in the young life! But what shall we say when we pass from matters of conduct into matters of faith? Must there not here at least, be an offer of helmet and sword which cannot by the nature of the case have been yet proved by the receiver? Great indeed is the responsibility of arming others, young or old, in our armour. Well were it if those who have the charge of minds would think more of it. Have they proved their own armour? Can they give a reason, to themselves and to God, for the faith with which they thus preoccupy another? "Am I my brother's keeper?" — always a solemn question — has no graver or more momentous application than to this matter of the transmission of religion. Yet not to transmit it is to be worse than an infidel. There must be an arming of one by another with the Christian panoply if Christianity itself is not to die out of the earth which it has re-made. We must prove, but we must assert when we have proved, the mighty verity, without which good were it not to have been born, that "God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in His Son." We pass to a later thought, and one more practical still. The helmet and the sword and the coat of mail of the Christian faith were first put upon us by others. We thank and we bless God for it. Never could we have forged them, never could we have found them, never could we have put them on, for ourselves. The armour put on must be proved afterwards. The faith of the childhood must be proved by the man. Risk not the battle of life — risk not the discharge from it — in unproved armour. "Prove all things," St. Paul said. "Prove the spirits," St. John wrote — meaning the professed inspirations of men who came saying, I have a message unto thee, O man, from God. "Prove your own selves," St. Paul said again — always the same word, though with seven various renderings in the English Bible. If I were on a platform, arguing with atheists, I should adopt one course. There I should be speaking to men not yet pledged, or pledged the other way. And upon them I should urge one argument, not always pressed as it ought to be — All questions must be argued in their appropriate region. I do not take the telescope to a leaf, nor the microscope to a star: I do not listen to a face, nor look at a voice: I do not taste a colour, nor smell a book. In the same way, if I am asked to believe that Christ died for me, or that God forgives me, or that prayer is heard, or that death is the gate of life, I do not consult Euclid or algebra about it; I know quite well that, true or false, that could not help the decision: no, I remind myself that I am a whole made up of many parts — conscience, feeling, affection, quite as really constituents of my whole being as memory, or intellect, or the critical faculty, cold and bald and naked; and that, if God has spoken, He is sure to have spoken not to one element but to the whole of me; and that therefore I must bring myself, the whole of me, to listen whether He has spoken; and if heart and soul find themselves powerfully affected by a professed revelation — if it seem to exercise an elevating and softening and sweetening influence upon the temper, and the conduct, and the intercourse with others, of those who believe and live it — if, in proportion as a man tries to live the Gospel, the life, the spirit, the man, is evidently ennobled and beautified — if he really finds the day, the separate day, made this or that, happy and bright and useful, or else heavy and slovenly and miserable, according as it is begun, continued and ended in communion with God through Christ, or the contrary — I see there a proof, real, if not by itself conclusive, that that revelation is from Him who made me. But now, speaking from a pulpit, and in a congregation of persons worshipping on the faith of Christ, the application of the call to prove all things takes a slightly different form. It bids us to bring to the proof the armour of Christian profession — which has been put upon us by education or tradition, by common consent or social propriety, or whatever else — by seeing whether it will or will not do for us what we have just now supposed it to do for those whose experience we have spoken of as evidence; whether it can make our lives pure and humble and noble; whether it will bear the strain put upon it by the particular trials which beset us in the course of daily life. O, if one half of the trouble were taken in proving ourselves that is bestowed upon challenging the legality of a dress or a posture, or making some preacher or writer an offender for a word, we should grow apace in that real Christianity which is first humility, and then patience, and then charity. The only, only question then is, Has the armour been proved? has it borne the brunt of trial? has it been kept buckled and kept burnished by a living heart-deep communion with the Author and the Finisher, with the Lord and Giver of Life?

(C. J. Vaughan, D. D.)

God's fighters have often been tempted to don Saul's armour, and it has always hampered them. It may have shielded them from some assaults, but it has robbed them of elasticity, and half stifled them. They are stronger far without than with it. As surely as the Church yields to the falsehood that it must be clothed with worldly power and wealth in order to fight worldly power, it surrenders its freedom and capacity to attack, though it may obtain a sort of defence. And it is not only in churches which are called "established" that the temptation of fighting the world with worldly weapons has been yielded to. Wherever Christian individuals or communities rely upon anything but the power of the indwelling Christ to make their work successful, and seek to eke out the one weapon which God gives into their hand, "the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God," with others borrowed from the armoury of the world, they trammel themselves and invite defeat The world laughs, just as Goliath no doubt chuckled to see the stripling walking. ungainly and stiff, in Saul's armour. It likes nothing better than to reduce Christians to impotence by getting them to arm themselves out of its stores, and to fight with weapons of the pattern of its own. Goliath had long practice in using sword and javelin; David had none. It is folly to fling aside the weapons that we are used to, and to take up with new ones, on the eve of a fight. Jesus taught us how His soldiers are to be attired if they are to conquer, when He said, "Tarry ye...till ye be clothed with power from on high."

(A. Maclaren, D. D)

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