1 Samuel 17:41
And the Philistine came on and drew near to David; and the man that bore the shield went before him.
Saul's simple blessing, "Go, and the Lord shall be with thee," ought to have been allowed to stand as the veteran's farewell charge to the new recruit. It would have been as sufficient as the mother's parting kiss add "God bless you" when her boy leaves his home of poverty to make his way in the great city with all his goods tied up in a handkerchief and his Bible in his pocket. When we have done a good thing, especially a spiritual one, it is difficult to be persuaded to leave the single impression without some private brand of our own. Hunters use in the pursuit of wild game an expanding bullet, which enlarges as it enters the side of its victim. When one has uttered a gracious truth it can often be left to itself to work its way to the heart. Saul could not quite keep his hands off the new enterprise. The latent jealousy of the old commander would rise at any scheme conducted entirely by an underling. The veteran could not be content to see the stripling champion of the Lord's cause without some of the traditional military costume. We remark as in contrast to this: —
I. THE WISDOM OF FOLLOWING THE SPIRIT'S SUGGESTIONS AS TO THE METHOD OF A WORK OF FAITH. "And Saul clad David with his apparel, and he put an helmet of brass upon his head, and he clad him with a coat of mail." For the moment Saul was allowed to array David in the heavy war suit of the day. A sense of the ridiculous may have come first to the relief of the lad. He was not so large a man as the king, and the clanking plates of metal would impede the free movement of the volunteer. There are times when an appreciation of the humorous elements of a situation will prevent serious folly. If good people who overwork prophecy on every possible occasion had only a slight intuition of the appearance of their performances, they would be aware that something must be wrong in their outfit. Scripture does not lend itself to grotesque interpretations without exacting penalties from its manipulators. There are fads of false science which are so silly that they cannot be meant to be incorporated into the great body of the world's dignified truth. The boy in his grandfather's coat is not counted a serious actor on the stage of life. But beyond this feeling of unfitness there was this reason, "I have not proved them." The youth felt the seriousness of the crisis, notwithstanding his bravery. He knew the long practice required to get an unerring aim with the sling. Beyond all these motives which influenced David would be the assurance that God, who gave him a work to do, would show the method of it. The Lord who called to the bold undertaking would give the plan.
II. THE RANGE OF GIFTS WHICH THE SPIRIT CAN USE AND BLESS IN AN ENTERPRISE OF FAITH. "And he took his staff in his hand, and chose him five smooth stones out of the brook, and put them in the shepherd's bag which he had, even his scrip; and his sling was in his hand." This was not the first experience of the Lord's consecration of the youth's gifts. "Thy servant smote both the lion and the bear." The Lord often makes use of men's gifts to get them to a position of vantage from which they can do more efficient service. Sir Hope Grant when a youth was selected because of his skill in playing the flute for the staff of Lord Saltoun, who was going out to take command of the British forces in China. The long voyage of months around the Cape of Good Hope to their destination was thus to be made more tolerable for the officers. Grant soon became the foremost Christian in the English army in the East and one of its most successful generals. David's reputation for music got him a place at the court of Saul, and perhaps the story of his rugged valour among the shepherds secured him a hearing as a champion of Israel. Guizot's gifts as a diplomat made him necessary to his Catholic sovereigns and gave him a position from which he could exert a beneficent influence for an oppressed church in France. John Wycliffe's parliamentary skill and zeal for liberty mede him an important ally of the House of Lancaster and gained him the protection which he needed to spread the doctrines of the Gospel. Many accomplishments of the Christian may be of service in gaining an entrance to doors and hearts closed to direct religious appeal. Dr. Asa Gray, the botanist, records of his long and singularly successful career as a Christian and a man of science that when he was ready for any forward movement he almost always found that things were prepared for him. Let one have himself in training for a useful life and he will find a place and opportunity awaiting the employment of his gifts.
III. A CONSECRATED YOUTH EARLY BEGINS TO BEAR HIS COUNTRY'S BURDENS AS A WORK OF FAITH. "But I come to thee in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, which thou hast defied." David belongs to a legion of those out of every nation who have consecrated their youth to their country's freedom and to God. They are a nobler band than Sons of the Revolution. They have been the sires of States. "The war song that has made all Germans merge their local differences in one great purpose — the common fatherland — that united Bavarians, Prussians, Saxons, end Wurtembergers in 1870, and the Imperial Crown to the House of Hohenzollern — that song is 'Die Wacht am Rheim.' "It was written at the age of twenty-one by a poor German roused against the French aggressions upon his native land. Not all such heroic souls have been permitted to take up arms. Their stanzas, their speeches, their deeds of mercy have made them members of this patriotic and Christian fraternity. Every nation has contributed its quota for this ancient peerage to which David belonged. It is older than all orders, chapters, and lodges. The people who are to be preserved in their inheritance and liberties must still be able to call forth the devotion of these volunteer champions of law, institutions, faith, and native land.
(W. R. Campbell.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And the Philistine came on and drew near unto David; and the man that bare the shield went before him.