Then David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with a sword, a spear, and a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have taunted.”
1 Samuel 17:45
There is an important lesson in this verse that is often touched on, viz. that the battle belongs to God when people bring a challenge against God. But there’s something more.
Last night, the Foundations class at church was on Spiritual Warfare. I had enjoyed a fairly productive workday that ended late because a meeting ran over. This meeting overrun and the fact that it meant I would go straight from work to church and not see my wife and daughter brought on some spiritual warfare. There was conflict between people — my wife had been looking forward to me being home for that short period between work and church and giving her a bit of breathing space before our daughter went to bed. That, suddenly, was not going to happen and the loss of that energy and mental breathing room caused my wife some very understandable frustration. Frustration is contagious. I reacted instead of responding to that frustration and found myself frustrated. Then frustration started to simmer and I knew I was in trouble if I didn’t get my thoughts in check (2 Corinthians 10 tells me to bring every thought captive to obedience to Christ). About half of my drive was like this. The other half was processing the fact that I had just had a battle with my old nemesis: Sinful Me. Sinful Me is a rather beastly creature that looms large over my life and challenges God to take him out. Sinful Me is defiant like that.
David was faced with something similar and he understood it in that context, I think. David sees Goliath — hard to miss that guy — and knows two things about him for certain. One, that he has set himself up against God and God’s people. Two, because he has set himself up against God, he is going down. It’s not a question of “if” but of “when”. Not so much a question of “How can it be done?” as one of “Who’s going to step up and kill him?” David’s conversation with Saul about fighting Goliath highlights this. David didn’t concern himself with how God was going to kill Goliath, he just knew that God was going to do it. Since everyone else was standing around wetting themselves, David figured he was as good a tool as any for God to use. I mean, David and God had history. David had faced down lions and bears (he only needed tigers for the Oz trifecta) and lived to tell the tale. This giant was no scarier than a lion or a bear, as far as David was concerned. What’s more, David heard Goliath taunt God and he knew that God was not going to let that stand.
So David goes out to kill the giant. Saul, the king, tries to send David out in armor and with normal weapons of war. David humors him, lets it all be put on, but concludes that it would be more of a hindrance than a help to him. He’ll go with the tools God has used to defeat bears and lions. So he takes a shepherd’s staff, a sling, and a few stones. So, what do I need to be victorious in spiritual warfare against my giant (Sinful Me)? Only the tools God makes available to me every day.
David’s victory over Goliath comes in this order: (1) Realize that Goliath has set himself up against God — the battle is God’s. (2) Use the tools he has become familiar with — shepherd’s tools. (3) Step up and watch God work — David ran toward the battle, not from it. My victory over Sinful Me comes in much the same way. I need to realize that (1) Sinful Me is opposed to God, so God’s going to “take care of him” (said with an Italian accent). (2) I need to suit up with the tools I use every day and that have been proven to grant victory — salvation, the righteousness of God imputed to me by Christ, truth, the gospel, The Bible, faith, prayer, and sometimes a tactical withdrawal. (3) I need to get in there and watch God work. Goliath came fully armed for battle and with the Philistine army behind him. Sinful Me comes loaded for bear knowing all of my weaknesses and with the full force of a sinful world system behind him. Goliath was killed and the Philistine army scattered. How’s my battle with Sinful Me looking?