1 Samuel 17:50
So David prevailed over the Philistine with a sling and with a stone, and smote the Philistine, and slew him…
The moment the words are read the instruction will be seen.
1. Helps may sometimes be so multiplied as to become hindrances. We reserve a measure of our pity for the modern Davids in the pulpit who imitate popular preachers, and in the classes who seek to reproduce the rare excellences of famous teachers more tall and more brilliant, and so fail because they stalk around in unnatural panoply, and are borne down by a greatness they cannot fill out to its full swell.
2. There is always room in the Divine purposes for proper originality in human methods.
3. The best instrument for God's service is generally that which God has bestowed on the individual worker. It is simply silly for any spiritual martinet to bluster when he sees that Christians are doing well in winning souls, and insist that David shall put on armour like Saul's when he can accomplish far more in his own way as a slinger with his brook stones. Let all wise men and women take what Providence has put within their reach. Here comes again in a new history the old demand once made of Moses: "What is that in thy hand?" The crook he had used with the sheep in Horeb became the "rod" which divided the Red Sea. Shamgar took his ox goad, because he was accustomed to it. Samson seized the jaw bone of an ass, because he found it "moist" and ready when he "put forth his hand." Dorcas did glorious good in Joppa with the needle her hand loved.
4. Giant killing is yet the chief calling of the Church. We may call the apparently mismatched combatants Good and Evil, Right and Wrong, Truth and Error; it is invariably the worse which seems colossal, and the better which appears insignificant. Error can generally find an obsequious armour bearer; Truth sometimes has to stand alone with a sling. Often great leaders will contribute their cast-off clothing, but they do not offer to put their extra height, into risk. And the lesson is full of counsel and cheer for chivalrous souls who are valiant for the truth, that they have patience, fight with courage, and trust God forever.
"For the God of David still guides the pebble at His will:
There are giants yet to kill — wrongs unshriven;
But the battle to the strong is not given
While the Judge of right and wrong sits in heaven."
5. Here seems to be a register of the real worth of mere "muscular Christianity." A few calm words from Canon Charles Kingsley might well be quoted here: "Better would it be for any one of you, young men, to be the stupidest and the ugliest of mortals, to be the most diseased and abject of cripples, the most silly, nervous, incapable personage who ever was a laughing stock for the boys upon the streets, if only you lived, according to your powers, the life of the Spirit of God, than to be as perfectly gifted, as exquisitely organised in body and mind, as David himself, and not to live the life of the Spirit of God, the life of goodness, which is the only life fit for a human being wearing the human flesh and soul which Christ took upon Him on earth, and wears forever in heaven, a Man indeed in the midst of the throne of God."
6. It is the weakest sort of so-called honour which has to assert itself in bluster.
7. The calmness of faith is always resolute and self-possessed. "The battle is the Lord's." There is a motto for all Christian life. John Bunyan has mentioned some of our modern giants: giant Despair, and giant Grim; giant Pope, and giant Pagan. Perhaps we could think of a few more who have come nearer yet to our own experience, and might have been named in the history of Christiana and the children. There is giant Pride, and giant Profanity, giant Untruth, giant Envy, giant Appetite; all of these confront us and with some of them we have had fights. But we can stand before them quite calmly if only we remember we come "in the name of the Lord of hosts."
8. The best defence against evil is found in a swift attack.
9. There can be no Providence in God's government that is not in some sense truly special.
10. The weapons of the wicked are often at the last turned against themselves.
11. The victory of faith belongs only to Jehovah.
(C. S. Robinson, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: So David prevailed over the Philistine with a sling and with a stone, and smote the Philistine, and slew him; but there was no sword in the hand of David.