Combat and Consequences
1 Samuel 17:41
And the Philistine came on and drew near to David; and the man that bore the shield went before him.

The inward preparation through outward trial may have been hidden from David. We are not permitted to know the why of many an hour of discipline; God lets when wait on why! David urges his suit; he wishes to go. Every warrior called of God has weapons for use that no Saul can give. Dependence alone upon God gives wonderful independence of men. Behind the outer world record, there is always the inner and spiritual. From the outward view, Abraham leaving country and kindred was only in consonance with the restlessness of a nomadic life. From the inward we know it was the call of God. David was being trained for triumph, trained for his future as king. This panel is the closing one in the story of his shepherd days. The old peaceful, songful, careless days end. They end with a conflict and a victory. Do not the epochs of our lives close with combat? We close the days of our boyhood really when we enter our first contest, when we close with some temptation that never came as a temptation in the old days. The doors are open, the steps are hidden. he who would enter must climb.

I. THE APPARENT INEQUALITY OF THE COMBATANTS. To the eye of sense the conflict between the Church of God and that armed Goliath of the world appears as if it could only end in the Church's defeat! It does really sound like presumption and folly to sing of victory when we present only ruddy and unarmoured Davids. There is a quantity the world's eye never sees! — chariots whose wheels, horses whose hoofs move noiselessly, such as Elisha's servant once saw. There is a quality the world knows not and has no more power to recognise than had Herod to recognise the kingliness of purity, when Christ stood before him.

II. THE REAL INEQUALITY OF THE COMBATANTS. "Things ere not what they seem." There is more than eye can see. David tells him of dependence upon Divine power (ver. 46). How calm one can be when dependent wholly and alone on the Lord! How strangely at variance with appearances a man's words may then be! "This day." So Elijah could stand before Ahab, or the priests of Baal or Carmel, or Bunyan before the judges at Bedford. Do not mistake presumption for dependence; they differ eternally. Dependence upon God never opposes commonsense, but sanctifies it, David's heart is resting in his God, his head and hand fulfilling the Divine command. How often at fault is the judgment of sense! Yet this old-world scene occurs every day. We may still see aggregations of mere material strength — "walking mountains of brass," to quote Matthew Henry. It is no dream, no fancy, to remind you that before the enthusiasm of faith, and by Divine direction, these shall fall. The Church has yet to learn the deep meaning of the words, "The weapons of our warfare are not carnal but spiritual." Who can successfully cope with evil licensed by Government, the fearful monopolies of vice, prostitution under British rule in India, gambling beneath the very eye of the legislative assembly? This victory was fraught with momentous consequences for David. From that moment he became acquainted with life in quite another aspect than that of his Bethlehem home. As Dr. MacLaren beautifully says, "He began to learn its hate and effort, hollow fame, whispering calumnies, and political intrigues." Until then he had not heard the hollow tone of courtiers nor the frenzied laugh of disappointment. The door of victory was for David, as it is for all God's warriors, the door of trial. It was needful for David to know sorrow, to become acquainted with grief. He must learn the meaning of hate and deceit; not to practise, but avoid; must come into touch with natures he will afterwards have to rule. He must gain a mastery over himself. The metal must be annealed.

(H. E. Stone.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: And the Philistine came on and drew near unto David; and the man that bare the shield went before him.

WEB: The Philistine came on and drew near to David; and the man who bore the shield went before him.

The Example of David in the Use of Means
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