Saul’s Armour Or David’s Sling - 1 SAMUEL. 17. 38-39
M.H. Grant, Glasgow
The incidents recorded in the Old Testament were not written down for the benefit or edification of those who witnessed them, but rather that we may learn something from them. To them they were ensamples—to us they were written for our admonition (1 Cor. 10-11) and learning (Rom. 15. 4). How important it is therefore that typical teaching in the Old Testament should not be overlooked for it corresponds to the principles of the New Testament. Here is a remarkable lesson for all time, and in the light of this I think my purpose in referring to this incident connected with David’s experience and giving it a present day application will be clear.
For David, Saul’s armour was a novelty and anyone less wise might have had visions of doing mighty things within its protection, but David had not proved it and he was firmly convinced that what he had been enabled to do to wild beasts he could do to Goliath even if it was only with his simple but well proved sling and stone; the sword and armour would have been far less effective in his hand. In these ‘advanced’ times God’s people in their concern for creating and maintaining interest in the things of God are frequently influenced by the things of the world. Strange modern inventions designed to attract the crowd are introduced and tolerated, in a vain endeavour to adapt the Truth of God to man’s ideas. We behave as though we are dealing with some new and unproved venture in the last stage of inevitable bankruptcy but our attempts to imitate worldly methods do not find favour with those we seek to reach, firstly because such imitation is not expected of us and secondly we fail hopelessly to reach the standard of excellence attained to by the world. Imitation, after all, is the sincerest form of flattery.
Neither Saul nor any of his mighty men were chosen of God to fight this monstrous enemy of Israel and later to lead them to victory. A young man, a keeper of his father’s sheep was the man whom God used mightily. Insignificant in his own estimation, envied by his brethren, held in ridicule by Saul and taunted by the jeering enemy, yet in God’s hand he proved to be mighty and one through whom God could achieve the unexpected. How often it is true among us that the brother with perhaps a title or degree, position or worldy wealth can command a large hearing irrespective of the quality of the spiritual food dispensed. He is brought into prominence and: perhaps unwittingly used as a bait to attract a crowd. His message will be welcome because he can present what food he has to offer in a very appetising form and tickle the palate. There are Davids among us but alas, they are relegated to the background (might there be a trace of envy?) for, of course, if they have little in the way of culture, refinement or other credentials they can hardly be expected to attract the crowd! They are set aside and modern methods are used instead.
Many conferences would have been a greater source of blessing if the tongue of the learned had been stopped and more opportunity had been given to the real “Sons of Thunder” who out of an overflowing heart would give their messages from the Throne. May we be preserved from such Spirit-grieving partiality as giving place to men whose highest commendation is their financial, intellectual or social standing, whilst treating with suspicion some one more gifted, just because he happens to be a miner, quarryman or deep sea fisherman.
Then again music in many of our assemblies has been brought into line with modern ideas and tends to be looked upon as an armour piercer itself. How often, alas does a tune tend to take precedence over words! There has always been a happy medium between a company singing both out of time and out of tune and a company trying to maintain a “high order” of singing by leaving it to a specially trained choir. Natural singing—the overflowing of the heart—is the type that will win souls. Choruses with catchy tunes tend to become our most digestible form of spiritual food; whether the words are spiritual or not seems to matter little. After all how many Goliaths are slain by such devices? No one of course can intelligently deny that Christian singing has its place in the service of God, but surely in a matter so important we are not left to guess or speculate as to “the due order.”
It is interesting to note that over two thousand years passed by after Adam before a song was recorded in the Bible. There are two things about this first recorded song in Ex. 15. which are worthy of note. (1) It was congregational singing—Moses and the Children of Israel. (2) It was unto the Lord not unto the people—Godward not manward.
The maintenance of the truth, not numbers, is the test of affection to God’s honour; anything which does not maintain the truth is not begotten of God, If the work is the Lord’s we can expect Him to tell us when, where and how it should be carried on. Great Philistines (principles of conduct) cannot be met with Saul’s armour, (fleshly energy). “Not by might, nor by power but by My Spirit.”
A new method is not necessarily an improvement, for when a beginning is made in introducing some new thing it becomes very difficult to know when to stop. The ancient spiritual methods have been well tested and cannot be improved.