1 Samuel 17:32-37
And David said to Saul, Let no man's heart fail because of him; your servant will go and fight with this Philistine.
He will deliver me out of the hand of the Philistine (ver. 37). Many things tend to hinder the exercise and work of faith. Some of them arise from the heart itself. Others arise from the speech and conduct of other people. Such was the scornful reproach cast upon David by his eldest brother, and such the cold distrust with which he was at first regarded by Saul. But as he had doubtless overcome his own tendency to unbelief by recalling what God had done, so now by the same means he overcame the unbelief of the king, and excited his confidence and hope. "Let no man's heart fail," etc. (ver. 32). "Thou art not able," etc. (ver. 33). But "there was that in the language of this youth which recalled the strength of Israel, which seemed like the dawn of another morning, like the voice from another world" (Edersheim). "And Saul said unto David, Go, and Jehovah be with thee" (ver. 37); thus displaying one of the best features of character he possessed after his rejection. We have here -
I. AN EXPERIENCE of great deliverances.
1. Consisting of accomplished facts. "Thy servant kept his father's sheep," etc. (vers. 34, 35). They were not imaginary, but real events.
2. Occurring in personal history, and therefore the more certain and deeply impressed on the mind. How full is every individual life of instructive providential occurrences, if we will but observe them.
3. Wrought by a Divine hand. "The Lord that delivered me," etc. (ver. 37). Where unbelief perceives nothing but chance and good fortune a devout spirit sees "him who is invisible;" and the extraordinary success which the former attributes to man the latter ascribes to God.
4. Treasured up in a grateful memory. "Therefore will I remember thee," etc. (Psalm 42:6; Psalm 77:10, 11). Experience is the collection of many particulars registered in the memory."
II. AN ARGUMENT for strong confidence. The argument -
1. Rests upon the unchangeableness of God, and the uniform method of his dealings. "The Strength of Israel will not lie nor repent" (1 Samuel 16:29). Hence every instance of his help is an instruction and a promise, inasmuch as it shows the manner in which lie affords his aid, and gives assurance of it under like conditions. "Because thou hast been my help, therefore in the shadow of thy wings will I rejoice" (Psalm 63:7; Psalm 27:9). "This was a favourite argument with David. He was fond of inferring future interpositions from past. And the argument is good, if used cautiously and with just discrimination. It is always good if justly applied. The difficulty is in such application. The unchangeable God will always do the same things in the same circumstances. If we can be certain that cases are alike we may expect a repetition of his conduct" (A.J. Morris).
2. Recognises similarity between the circumstances in which Divine help has been received and those in which it is expected, viz,
(1) in the path of duty;
(2) in conflict with an imposing, powerful, and cruel adversary;
(3) in a state of perilous need;
(4) in the exercise of simple trust;
(5) in the use of appropriate means;
(6) and in seeking the honour of God.
When there is so close a resemblance the argument is readily applied, and its conclusion irresistible.
3. Regards the help formerly received as a pledge of personal favour, and an encouragement to expect not only continued, but still greater, benefits from him whose power and love are measureless. "I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion; and the Lord shall deliver me from every evil work," etc. (2 Timothy 4:17, 18; 2 Corinthians 1:10).
"Man's plea to man is that he never more
Will beg, and that he never begged before:
Man's plea to God is that he did obtain
A former suit, and therefore sues again.
How good a God we serve, that, when we sue,
Makes his old gifts the examples of his new"
4. Is confirmed in practice as often as it is faithfully tested, and increases in force, depth, and breadth with every fresh experience of Divine help. "Oh, were we but acquainted with this kind of reasoning with God, how undaunted we should be in all troubles! We should be as secure in time to come as for the time past; for all is one with God. We do exceedingly wrong our own souls and weaken our faith by not minding God's favours. How strong in faith might old men be that have had many experiences of God's love if they would take this course! Every former mercy should strengthen our faith for a new, as conquerors whom every former victory encourageth to a new conquest" (Sibbes, 'Works,' 1:320). - D.
Parallel VersesKJV: And David said to Saul, Let no man's heart fail because of him; thy servant will go and fight with this Philistine.