1 Samuel 17:47
And all this assembly shall know that the LORD saves not with sword and spear: for the battle is the LORD's…
This familiar dramatic story has much to teach us. One lesson only is our present consideration — David's heroic and victorious faith. "Time would fail me," said the writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews in his beautiful chronicle of the worthies of faith, "to tell of Gedeon and of Barak, and of Sampson and of Jephthah; of David also." And when does his faith shine with such lustre as when, having single-handed slain Goliath, he "turned to fight the armies of the aliens"? In this narrative we see —
I. THE SURPRISES OF FAITH. Forty days; and is he ever to be met in combat? Who will meet him? No Hebrew veteran. No well-panoplied soldier, but a young shepherd, and he with well-slung stone will be victor! Unlikely warrior! unlikely weapon! unlikely victory! A victory of faith. A surprise of faith. So has it ever been. The surprises of history are the surprises of faith. Who are the men who have "entered the kingdom" of influence wherein with abiding sceptre, they rule the human generations? Men of faith. The great men whose names are in the Old and New Testament chronicles were less likely, according to human judgment, to leave the impress they have upon the ages. And what surprises await us if we but emulate such faith? We "can do all things through Christ who strengtheneth us!"
II. THE HINDRANCES TO FAITH. It is easy to go in company. It is easy among the faithful to deem our faith strong. But solitude tries the spirit. Celebrated is the poet's Abdiel, because "faithful found among the faithless, faithful only he." And where was another faithful beside David through all the camp of Israel.? It was no ordinary foe against whom his courage kindled. Much, too, had he to hinder him in the craven spirit of Israel. Nothing in this to help David. His eye, lit with indignant courage, met no answering light in any other. Israel's only answer to Goliath's challenge was — flight! Enough in this to arrest David from offering himself for the combat. Who is he to stand forth as the pick of the nation's valour? He is brought into the presence of the king. But David had to beat down hindrance sharp and strong before he reached Saul's tent. Sharper, I think, than from any other. To be thus rebuked and slandered by a brother! But his faith stood fast. He answered not bitter with bitter. Eliab was his brother, not his Lord. "The battle was the Lord's," the battle within him as well as against Goliath And the Lord gave him the inner victory before the outer. Had his faith failed him before Eliab he had never stood before Goliath. Hindrances to faith! "How many hindrances we meet" in the way of our heart's supreme surrender to, and reliance on, Christ! Hindrances from tyrannic evil habit whose power Christ only can break. Hindrances from our circumstances; our business methods; the worldly faithless atmosphere in which we long have lived. From those who nearest us can affect us the most, from kindred as close as — closer than — was Eliab to David. What then? All the more need for earnestness. But whether within or without, "the battle is the Lord's."
III. THE ARGUMENT OF FAITH. Faith has varied arguments. God's promises are one. God's character is another But experience is the argument of David. This he urges with Saul. A valid argument is that of experience. Has God ever forsaken David. even when life depended upon well-aimed blow against wild beast? As He had never forsaken him, so he never would. One victory carried with it the assurance of another. One enemy slain that all enemies should be destroyed. We too have personal memories of deliverance. These are to be cherished. They are silent promises. To the listening heart they speak of goodness to come as well as past. "Jesus Christ" is "the same yesterday, today, and forever."
IV. THE SIMPLICITY OF FAITH. With what naturalness David enters and moves through this wondrous story! He "runs" into the camp and against Goliath with a boy's eagerness, and yet stands among the soldiers, before the king, and face to face with the loud-tongued foe with the calm heroism of seasoned warrior. He will have no controversy with Eliab. He presumes not on his former service to the king; others open for him the way; the king sends for him. He is not boastful, but tells enough of his previous prowess to secure the king's assent to his championship. If faith be simple, not marred by any self-seeking, fixed only in the Lord, set only on His glory, difficulties drop asunder into a pathway for our feet. No matter of what kind they may be. Only trust in God and do the right; let that be the constant rule of life, and you can safely leave the result with Him. Be fearful of criticism; be swayed by the opinions of men, and then the path darkens, troubles gather, and even when the right thing is done it has no acceptance with God, being done to please men and not Him.
V. THE VICTORY OF FAITH. Calmly forth went David, a spectacle to two armies. On he went alone, yet not alone, "being," in the words of Josephus, "accompanied with an invisible assistant, who was no other than God Himself." He teaches us to fight. He assures us of victory. Under His banner "the weakest saint shall win the day." He helps to every prayer and effort of resistance.
(G. T. Coster.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And all this assembly shall know that the LORD saveth not with sword and spear: for the battle is the LORD'S, and he will give you into our hands.