Now the Philistines gathered together their armies to battle.gal or valley referred be in verse third. It is about ten feet deep, and twenty to thirty feet wide, and abounds in water-rounded pebbles. Major Conder declares it to be impassable, except at certain places, thus explaining why the two armies faced one another for forty days without coming into actual conflict. Either party was afraid to cross the defile, thereby exposing itself to serious disadvantage; and so they confined themselves to warlike demonstrations. The abject terror of Saul and his mighty men excites within us little or no surprise; but it is otherwise with regard to the brave and lionhearted Jonathan. To encounter Goliath in single combat, was not a more dangerous or formidable undertaking than that which he had once before successfully attempted at Michmash, when he and his armour bearer boldly stormed the garrison of the Philistines, which was but the outpost of an immense army. Why did he not come to the front on this occasion? It might be said that his father would not allow him. And if Jonathan had offered himself as the champion of Israel there can be little doubt that Saul would have been most unwilling to accept him; but there is nothing in the narrative to suggest that Jonathan made such a proposal. The impression made by the narrative is that abject terror reigned throughout the entire army. Neither was it due to any decline in Jonathan's piety and faith. It is gratuitous to suppose that he had become contaminated and lowered in moral tone, by the unbelieving and disobedient spirit of his father. I am inclined to think, from the noble spirit subsequently displayed by Jonathan, that as an individual he was now fitter in every respect, physically, intellectually, morally, and spiritually, for fighting the battles of the Lord, than he was when he wrought his great exploit at Michmash. He still believed, probably with a stronger faith than ever, that the Lord was able to save by many or by few; but he lacked the assurance, which he then had, viz., that the Lord was willing to save through him. Without that conviction he never would have attempted What he did at Michmash. It was only after God had fulfilled the proposed sign that Jonathan said to his armour bearer: "Come up after me, for the Lord hath delivered them into the hand of Israel." But he had not that assurance now. The dark cloud of the Divine rejection, which had fallen upon his father at Gilgal, had encompassed him also, and darkened his spirit with its baleful shadow. It deprived him not, only of the heirship to the kingdom, but also of the golden opportunity of fighting in the name of the Lord of hosts, with the proud giant of Gath. The period during which Goliath was permitted to defy the hosts of Israel was forty days. The frequency with which this period occurs in connection with special incidents in sacred history is remarkable and suggestive. It rained, e.g., forty days at the deluge (Genesis 7:4, 12). Moses on two occasions was forty days with God on Mount Sinai (Exodus 24:18; Exodus 34:28). The intercession of Moses on behalf of the people to avert from them the Divine wrath, on account of their sin in worshipping the golden calf, lasted forty days (Deuteronomy 9:25). The twelve spies were absent forty days during their inspection of the land of Canaan (Numbers 13:25); and because of the rebellion, caused by their evil report, the children of Israel were doomed to wander in the wilderness forty years, corresponding to the forty days spent in the work of inspection (Numbers 14:34). Elijah went, in the strength of the food which he received from the angel in the wilderness of Beersheba, forty days unto Horeb, the mount of God (1 Kings 19:8). The period of respite which was assigned to Nineveh was forty days, as Jonah was commissioned to preach in its streets: "Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be destroyed" (John 3:4). The temptation of our Lord in the wilderness lasted forty days (Mark 1:13; Luke 4:2). And the fact that Saul and his army were subjected to the challenge of Goliath for forty days, seems to show that there was a Divine purpose in permitting it to last so long. The forty days seem to suggest the thoroughness or completeness of the trial. The impotence of Saul and his army without God was thereby clearly and conclusively demonstrated. It was only after this humiliating demonstration that the Lord brought into the field His own champion. "Man's extremity is God's opportunity."
(W. J. Knox Little, M. A.)
One bearing a shield went before him.I. THAT IT IS A GRIEVOUS MISTAKE FOR MEN TO ARM THEMSELVES AS IN TRIPLE MAIL AGAINST GOOD INFLUENCES. Goliath had a "helmet of brass upon his head, and he was armed with a coat of mail, etc., and one bearing a shield went, before him." How many in spiritual matters surround their minds as it were wish a covering of obstinacy and indifference, so as to keep out from their understandings the knowledge of the truth, and case their hearts in an impregnable corselet of selfishness, so as to prevent the entrance of faith. In a different manner from this ought the humble believer, not inflated with ideas of his own righteousness, much less with any notion of bidding defiance of the armies of the living God, arm him for the battle of life.
II. THAT IT IS AS FUTILE AS IT IS SINFUL TO ATTEMPT TO OPPOSE THE WILL OF GOD. The shield of the shield bearer would not stop the stone sent from the sling of David. It is, assuredly, a presumption beyond description for the finite to imagine that he can understand, much less oppose, the Infinite. As well might the fly upon the wheel attempt to correct or to oppose the action of the machinery. If a counsel or a work be of God, "ye cannot overthrow it, lest haply ye be found even to fight against God."
III. THAT WORLDLY FRIENDSHIP, BASED ON A COMPANIONSHIP IN SIN, IS WEAK IN THE HOUR OF TRIAL. When Goliath comes forth to tread vaingloriously before the armies of Israel, we read that this man bearing a shield went before him. He had attended the gigantic champion in the hour of triumph, does he remain faithful to him in the hour of misfortune? Does he attempt to strike a blow on behalf of his fallen master? Does he strive to prevent David from dishonouring that master's body, by cutting off the giant's head with the giant's own sword? We read of nothing of the kind; no effort to aid or to protect his master is recorded of him. Doubtless he fled, as the other Philistines fled, when the great champion fell. So, the friendship of the world is not only enmity against God, but is not lasting to be relied on. It is a mistake to state that there is honour amongst thieves; it is a delusion to think that there is loyalty to each other amongst sinners. The pursuit of unlawful pleasures is essentially a selfish pursuit; and the so-called friendships that are formed in it are evanescent and ephemeral. When such intimacies are found by any of the contracting parties to be no longer pleasant or profitable, the bond of self-interest that was their only connecting link is speedily broken, and the so-called friendship dissolved or ignored. Well is it, indeed, if it can be ended without bitterness and tears and blood. False friendship is like the gaudy but scentless sunflower, that will bloom only in the sunshine of prosperity.
(R. Young, M. A.)
When Saul and all Israel heard those words of the Philistine, they were dismayed and greatly afraid.
(W. J. Knox Little, M. A.)
Eliab's anger was. kindled against David.
1. Observe, then, in the first place, that after David was anointed he went back to his duties as before; for "Saul sent messengers unto Jesse, and said, Send me David thy son, which is with the sheep." For one moment he had been exalted, and then all went on as before. Then a brilliant career seemed opening before him: he was most unexpectedly sent for to the court. But as soon as the benefit was received it was forgotten; for ingratitude is the commonest of faults: David is not wanted now; the king's head is full of war matters; he stands in need of men, and not of boys; he wants swords and slicers, not harps and music. Oh! never be carried away with the love of popularity; it is not worth striving after; there is nothing that may be more quickly lost. Only let some unkind report be raised about you, or some great man sneer at you, and the people will be ready, to a man, to turn against you. And so David goes quietly back, resumes the shepherd's dress, takes the place of the youngest son, and feeds his father's sheep. I declare that seems to me to have been the greatest of the three trials; he must indeed have had strong faith, and he must have been endued with the grace of humility. And was it not so with our blessed Lord Himself? At the age of twelve years He is found "sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them, and asking them questions: and all that heard Him were astonished at His understanding and answers." "He went down with them, and came to Nazareth, and was subject unto them;" (Luke 2:49, 51), and for eighteen years He remained in obscurity. Such was David's first trial here. Flattered one moment, and thrown aside the next; at one time likely to be famous in the court, and very shortly afterwards sent to feed the sheep near his father's homestead. Would it be very trying to be laid aside by illness, to sink into obscurity?
2. And now we come to a trial of a different kind, but equally painful, perhaps, or at all events one that shows the depth of his piety. We can quite understand how anxious Jesse was for the safety of his boys: his three eldest sons are gone to the battle; Eliab is there, the pride of his heart: so David is sent with a little present from home, and doubtless many kind messages, as Joseph was sent by Jacob to visit his brethren at Shechem. And when he comes, then his elder brother takes him to task, and utters the most cruel and vindictive insinuations. And here, too, Jesus can sympathise with His people. When He entered upon His public ministry, the first place at which He preached was His own city Nazareth. As He loved His mother, so He evidently had special affection for His own city, His neighbours, and near kindred: it was this love which made Him preach in the synagogue at Nazareth; but they would not receive Him; for "a prophet has no honour in his own country." There are some people who can bear a long trial, who may yet be thrown off their guard by a sudden temptation; and so perhaps it was quite as difficult to give Eliab back a gentle answer, as it was to go quietly home from the palace to the sheepfold. Gentle natures are often sensitive, and sensitive people are almost always irritable. Oh! temper! temper! what a trial it is to those that are afflicted with it! and terrible is the guilt of those who provoke an irritable person. But David gained the victory, and must have made Eliab sensible of the wrong he had done him. This was a far greater victory, though little noticed, little thought of at the time, and not so much observed even now by those who read this chapter, as the contest with the giant shortly afterwards.
3. And now a word upon the third trial and the third victory. David fells the giant. There is no battle, but flight on the one hand, and eager pursuit on the other; in a few minutes the hills are completely deserted, and we can only hear the shouts of the pursuers gradually dying away in the direction of Ekron. There lies the headless body in the valley of Elah: come and let us stand by it, and learn one or two lessons. Behold in David the type of David's Son. When the great Captain of our salvation was tempted of the devil, He did not contend with him as God, but only as one of ourselves. He just took the "smooth stones out of the brook;" He met and defeated him as any Christian may, with the words of Scripture; as any Jew might then, with quotations from the Book of Deuteronomy. The Philistine, you see, but for David's faith, would have been stronger than the Israelites. The giant did not fall by sword and spear, but David's faith in God brought victory to his countrymen. It was because David was in the camp that Israel conquered. Would we be loyal Churchmen, would we do good service to our Church, let us be men of God; let us so behave, that the Lord Jesus shall still be in the midst of us; let us make use of the stones from the brook, of prayer, and Holy Scripture; and the Lord will yet save us from ruin, though He may see fit to humiliate us. How did David know that he was equal to this emergency? What made him sure that he should conquer the giant? He had had experience of God's help before. So indeed had the Israelites; they had gained a great victory under Samuel, and had reared their "Ebenezer;" but this was forgotten now, and therefore their faith failed them. But not so David. And then David knew nothing about the use of armour, though no doubt Saul provided him with the best; but he was expert in the use of the sling. Ah! those "stones from the brook," how are they dispised! Any other means of grace is more valued than Scripture. No doubt David was regarded as a hero from Dan to Beersheba; the slaughter of the giant made him famous, and his praise was in everyone's mouth. Yet I think I have shown you that the killing of the giant was a very little matter; that what is really to be admired is David's faith; and that either of the other two trials was in reality more severe.
(C. Bosanquet, M. A.)
I. DAVID'S VICTORY OVER HIMSELF. It is not difficult to conjecture the cause of Eliab's ill-will and unjust upbraidings. He had not forgiven David for the distinction that God had granted, and the cruel spirit of envy had turned him from a brother into a foe. This fiendish passion of envy, so common in human nature, can not only destroy the joy of a brother in a brother's welfare, but would also, if it could get into a mother's heart, be hellish enough to make her miserable at the thought of the prosperity of her own first-born boy. What a foul thing that must be which finds the elements of its own perdition in a sight of the paradise God gives to others, and which would be wretched and woebegone in heaven itself if it met with anyone having stronger wings or a higher place than its own! When, in the last judgment, Envy is placed at the bar of God, what an indictment will be laid against the Evil Spirit! The insulting anger of Eliab — the cruelty of Joseph's brethren — the murderous wrath of Cain — and the greatest share in the greatest crime in the world, the crucifying of the Lord of glory — will be charged upon him. The taunts and insinuations of Eliab must have cut David to the quick. If the undeserved rebuke had been administered in private, it would have been hard to bear; but Eliab was base enough to be a public slanderer, and sought, by his foul aspersions, to do irreparable damage to David's reputation amongst those who saw him that day for the first time, and would be too ready to think that there must be good grounds for these charges of pride and arrogance, seeing they were made by the young man's own brother. The temptation must have been strong to answer it with words of burning indignation, and only a man of much meekness and of great self-control could have replied to it as David did. Who likes to be accused of vile motives which he knows have no place in his heart, and to hear his very virtues denounced as being nothing but hideous vices which he tries to conceal by means of pious airs and canting pretensions? It was a cross of this kind David had to carry, and he bore it as if there had been given to him some prophetic foresight of the perfect example of Him who endured such contradiction of sinners against Himself, and who, when He was reviled, reviled not again. The restraint which David put upon his temper under this great provocation was the most godly thing he could have done, and therefore it was the wisest and most profitable. Having regard to the great work before him, it was very important that David should keep his temper. Could the second victory have been achieved if he had failed in the first conflict? That which was right amidst the temptations of one hour was the best preparation for the arduous labours of the next hour. All of her things being equal, he who is most triumphant over temptation and most faithful to duty today will be the strongest for work and warfare tomorrow.
II. DAVID'S VICTORY OVER GOLIATH. History records many instances in which cruelty, and tyranny, and persecution haw thoroughly outwitted themselves and frustrated their own purposes. Charity must not rejoice in iniquity, but it may exult in the defeat of iniquity, and especially when iniquity plays the part of a scorpion and stings itself, and when, like Haman, it unwittingly prepares a gallows for its own execution. The defeat of the Philistines in the downfall of their great champion is a most striking illustration of this kind of self-destruction. "Now there was no smith found throughout all the land of Israel; for the Philistines said, Lest the Hebrews make them swords or spears" (1 Samuel 13:19). This cruel policy was so successful that on one occasion there were only two swords or spears possessed by the entire Jewish army. Saul and Jonathan had them; but all the rest of the people had to use such cumbrous and clumsy weapons as unskilled hands could make without fire or hammer. Necessity has always been the mother of invention, and we may be certain that, when iron weapons were denied to the Hebrews, their skill was largely developed in other directions. The youth of the land could not practise sword exercise, or learn to poise the spear, and therefore they would be driven to make themselves master of other methods of defence and assault. Before this period the Benjamites had become famous for their skill in slinging, for "Among all this people there were seven hundred chosen men left-handed; everyone could sling stones at an hair-breadth, and not miss" (Judges 20:16). When all edged weapons were taken from them, the people would be sure to turn again to those in whose use their fathers had been so renowned, and practice would again make perfect. Thus the issue proved that the Philistines laid the foundation of their own defeat when they took all swords and spears from the Israelites, and compelled them to try other means of accomplishing their deliverance. The foes of God's people meant it for evil, but God overruled it for good. David's skill with the sling would have failed to gain the victory if it had been divorced from faith in God. It was his trust in the Lord which gave such calmness to his soul, as surely as it was the calmness of his soul which helped to make his arm so steady and his aim so sure. His faith, however, was not a fanatical faith, which violates reason and neglects the most appropriate means. When he refused to wear Saul's armour, he proved his common sense as much as he displays his confidence in God. The faith of David was also associated with experience as well as with reason. He remembered past mercies, and thereby encouraged his heart to rest in Him who is ever the same. The most effectual way of chasing away despair and regaining confidence is to adopt the Psalmist's resolve — "I will remember the works of the Lord: Surely I will remember Thy wonders of old. I will meditate also of all Thy work, and talk of Thy doings."
I. JESSE'S ANXIETY CONCERNING HIS SOLDIER SONS. We meet David once more on the road from Bethlehem. Not on his way to the palace of the king, for yet is he the drudge of the family, and is sent laden with presents to the chief of the division in which his brothers serve (vers. 17, 18), to see how they fare. How akin to Joseph, who also was sent by his father to his brethren, and met with no kindly reception! While talking with one and another the boastful challenge of the giant Goliath arrests his attention. Once no such challenge would have come to Saul unanswered, but all valour flees when the Spirit of the Lord leaves a man. David avows his readiness to meet him. Was it a chance that David was sent — that he was sent that morning — that his brethren were to the front when he arrived at camp, or a list of curious combinations?
II. THE DISCOURAGEMENT WITH WHICH DAVID MEETS. David is jealous for the Lord of Hosts. He was instantly discouraged, first by: —
1. His own brethren (Matthew 10:36, with ver. 28). That fine soldierly looking brother who captivated Samuel's judgment is terribly at fault Listen! he twits his brother with neglect of duty (ver. 28). True he does not know; he is only supposing the sheep must have been left uncared for, as David is there. To an angry, jealous nature, truth is of little matter. The probable, or even the possible, is quite near enough.
2. The king discourages him (ver. 33). Doubtless appearances were against David. They have often been against bravo men, and Saul was only the echo of that prudence which is popular today. God's men, who endure as seeing Him who is invisible, cannot be measured by the rule of this world's wisdom. We advance now to another link.
3. Thirdly, in all this David was being fitted for the conflict as the result of the Divine anointing. Discipline is often inward through the outward, and sometimes the outward is proof of the inward. David's offers of service were refused. That the affairs of service are often refused is apparent in the records of the Holy Scriptures. Dr. Ker unfolds this in a sermon from the refusal of the Israelites' offers of service by Joshua. He draws attention to Gideon's band, that not all were chosen who offered; and to Christ's searching answer to the man who would "first go bury his dead." Today, as of old, many offers of service are refused — and why? Thus our sincerity is tested. Only so do we know ourselves; but every "Christian" comes out of the Slough of Despond "on the far side." One result of these discouragements in David's case was, he was thrown on God's promise. His past opens (ver. 34). His own mind is finding wonderful illumination as he tells the king of what he had done. This is the right use of past experience. "I slew him;" surely the God of my strength can give me power over this Philistine lion also. Do you not observe his sense of Goliath's sin increases in proportion as his faith in God expands? There is a rising emphasis of scorn surely. "This uncircumcised Philistine; This Philistine." How terrible is this contempt, coming from God's chosen! Thus early we mark the habit of referring everything to the will and providence of God, which is the key to David's character. Thus there is outward victory. David has gained permission — has won his way; and is not this the window through which we see the inward victory? All through he maintains his humility, yet who could imagine any test more trying than this double refusal of service? And how conspicuous this humility is in his answer to Saul after the victory (ver. 58), and that untrue and supercilious speech of Abner's (ver. 55). He maintains his patience. What restraint he must have put upon that impetuous spirit of his to take the sneer so quietly! (ver. 29). "He that hath rule over his own spirit is better than the mighty."
(H. E. Stone.)
I. A SOUND JUDGMENT. David came to Elah a youth amidst an army of veterans. Yet his judgment was sounder than Saul's, than Abner's, or that of any of the bronzed warriors around him. Why? Because he came to Elah from Bethlehem, from the quiet hills where he had communed with God, and strengthened his faith in Him. The men of Israel had natural courage enough, but this was a combat which, on all natural principles, seemed hopeless. David, however, looked at the matter through eyes that were "full of religious light." David saw God upon the scene. He was the only one who saw Him; and that sight made the shepherd the true tactician. Faith in God gave him at once the true point of view. Mere secular computations had half blinded Israel's eyes. The impressions and the services of the young are sometimes better than those of the old, because the elder may have lost simplicity of faith and have learned to look at life from a worldly point of view. Inexpert in the details of a matter, still the prayerful woman, the believing youth, may have a higher, clearer view of some Divine principle, some promise of Jehovah, which should be His people's guide. So the mother of Mills, a quarter of a century before the leaders of the Church had moved, declared that missions to the heathen world ought to be begun, and dedicated her own son in his infancy to the work. So Mills himself and his young associates, praying by the haystack in the fields of Williamstown, saw what Israel ought to do, saw that was possible which others called chimerical, and planned a bold campaign for Christ while yet the eyes of the fathers were sealed. They were mere striplings who offered themselves first to meet the giant forces of the pagan world. Wisdom dwells not in the noisy camp with the timid multitudes, but on the solitary hills of prayer.
II. AN INDEPENDENT TONGUE. "Swift to hear, slow to speak," is a good rule for youth, but not when it is clearly seen that others have forgotten God's commandments, or have fallen to questioning his promises. Be modest, but be not so cautious a Christian that you shall cease to be a Christian. Whatever you have clearly seen in your study of God's work, be not afraid to speak it out nor to let it be known that you differ from others. You have good examples for it. "His word was in mine heart, as a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I was weary with forbearing, and I could not stay" (Jeremiah 20:9).
III. AND THE FRANKNESS OF DAVID'S TEMPER WAS EQUALLED BY ITS SWEETNESS. It was not easy in the presence of all the. soldiers to listen quietly to a brother's taunts and sneers, to be accosted as an idle runaway, to be contemptuously ordered back by that surly Eliab, jaundiced and spiteful with his jealousy. What an admirable self-control does David show! Have a soft answer for your detractors, and even stay with them if you may, like David, to fight their battles and cover their disgrace.
IV. It hardly need be said THAT HIS COURAGE WAS SIMPLY CONFIDENCE IN GOD. And it was a reasonable confidence. He did not fail to measure the strength of his giant enemy, but he heard him defy the living God, and when he heard that he knew his enemy was doomed. He knew that Jehovah would "make bare his holy arm," and "make all the earth to know that there is a God in Israel." Woe unto him that striveth against his Maker! The most powerful of men, the most gigantic combination which diplomacy or society or capital can frame, are doomed when they set themselves against God's holy law. David had not only heard the word of Jehovah's promise; he had had experience of His faithfulness. This was not the first danger he had met with quick, uplifted prayer. And David's confidence in God was reasonable from another point of view. The hazards he was taking were not encountered needlessly, from a mere exuberance of daring or delight in danger. He might well ask, "Is there not a cause?" The interest of Israel, the honour of Jehovah, were at stake: it was reasonable, therefore, to believe that he would not be left to fight alone. Still less did he seek this public championship of Israel, or welcome it to win for himself a name. But David's confidence in God was attended by no carelessness. Because "the battle was the Lord's," David did not think there was little for him to do. What do we see? He carefully selects the most appropriate means, and then he plies them with intense energy.
(Arthur Mitchell, D. D.)
1. These two men give us a picture of the forms of good and evil. Evil in our world is like Goliath — of gigantic stature, immense energy, and imposing aspect. It is a colossus. Good in our world is like David in its appearance — small, weak, and insignificant; possessing nothing to which the world attaches the idea of strength or glory. So it appeared in Christ. "He was a root out of a dry ground."
2. These two men give us a picture of the spirit of good and evil. The spirit of evil, like that of Goliath, is proud, contemptuous, malignant. The spirit of good, like that of David, is that of humble trust and dependence upon God.
3. These two men give us a picture of the weapons of good and evil. Evil, like Goliath, has many and powerful weapons to fight its battles. Like Goliath, it is full-armed. Armies and navies are on its side. The weapons of good are of the simplest kind; the sling and stone of David would symbolise them. "The weapons of our warfare," etc.
4. These two men give us a picture of the ultimate destinies of good and evil. Goliath, notwithstanding his great strength, proud vanities and mighty weapons, was slain, and his body given to the fowls of heaven, and the beasts of the earth. So it will be with evil. Like the imago in the monarch's vision, the little stone of truth shall shiver it into atoms. The end of truth will be like that of David — triumphant and progressive in honour and influence in the empire of God.
Is there not a cause.
I. THE SPREAD OF DRUNKENNESS. This fearful sin is widely spread through our land.
II. LET US CONSIDER ITS EFFECTS.
1. What are its effects upon the soul? It is a dark cloud about the soul, that hides God from it — that shuts out the light of His Holy Spirit, that would shine into the darkness. It hardens the heart, that it cannot feel. It sears the conscience as with a hot iron (Hosea 4:11). Even natural kindness is extinguished.
2. Now mark its effects upon the mind.
3. Now mark its effects upon the body.
4. Mark next its effects on the estate.
III. AND WHAT CAN BE DONE. the gospel of the grace of God can change it, and that alone.
(W. W. Champneys, M. A.)
Thy servant will go and fight with this Philistine.I. SPIRITUAL HEROISM IS SOMETIMES UNEXPECTEDLY DEVELOPED. Little dreamt David, when he left his home at Bethlehem that morning, for the simple purpose of visiting his brethren in the camp, what wonders his single arm would achieve. His heroism was the development almost of a moment. Before he well knew to what he had committed himself, he found himself pledged to a deadly conflict with Goliath. And thus unexpectedly is spiritual heroism sometimes developed. I say developed, not created. The quality must exist before it can be brought out; but, this bringing out is often unexpected. A youth has grown up in the privacy of some country home — quietly, and without attracting any special notice. None have marked him out for "a burning and a shining light." So has youth passed away, in steady pursuit of personal piety, in unpretending labours, in earnest endeavour to be faithful in the little; and manhood has dawned, when, unexpectedly, as to Gideon threshing wheat by the wine press, as to Elisha following the plough, there comes a call to prepare for some great undertaking. Instances will readily occur, illustrative of these observations, and confirmatory of their truth. You will recall names, such as those of Luther, and Hooker, and Baxter, and Carey, and Livingstone, which, though now emblazoned in the church's annals, are names of men whose opening life afforded; even to those who knew them best, but few indications of after distinction and usefulness.
II. SPIRITUAL HEROISM NOT UNFREQUENTLY MEETS WITH DISCOURAGEMENT FROM THOSE WHO SHOULD BE THE FOREMOST TO SUSTAIN IT. What noble plans, and comprehensive enterprises, have been nipped in the bud by the unkindness, and suspicion, and jealousy of Christians! What shackles and fetters have been thrown round the free limbs of many a man, anxious to do great things for God, and to leave the world better than he found it; and this by brethren too — elder brethren — Eliabs!
III. SPIRITUAL HEROISM UNSUBDUED BY DISCOURAGEMENT DOES, IN DUE TIME, FIND OPPORTUNITY FOR ITS EXERCISE AND DISPLAY. Though David obtained little sympathy from his brethren, if indeed any, he had but to bide his time, and God would open up his way. He quietly waited for providential intimations, and they did not tarry. Without seeking to obtrude himself upon public notice, or to run before he was sent he was soon sought out. There is often more real bravery in waiting than in action; more fortitude in occupying the lonely watchtower on the hilltop, that the moment for onward march may be known as soon as indicated, than there is in facing the foe when the rage of battle is aroused. It is no mark of Christian soldiership to be impatient of the Lord's will, and to want to be moving when He has commanded us to be still.
IV. SPIRITUAL HEROISM IS DISTINGUISHED BY A LOFTY AND FIRM RELIANCE UPON GOD.
V. SPIRITUAL HEROISM, THOUGH ARDENT AND IMPULSIVE IN ITS NATURE, IS NOT LESS WISE IN THE MODE OF ITS WARFARE. There was a simple weapon he had learned to use with skill. Mailed warriors might smile when they saw it, and augur that the conflict about to ensue would be only child's play; but the sling and stone in David's hand had done their work erewhile, and he could trust them now. At least, failure with these was only possible, with the other certain; and if he did succeed with such simple means of attack, how much greater glory would redound to God, and in its degree be reflected on him! So with his sling and stone he advanced to meet the vaunting giant of Philistia. Now, there is nothing, respecting which Christians need to be more earnestly counselled than the cultivation of the spirit of wisdom in their endeavours to be good. Zeal is not enough; boldness is not enough; utterance is not, enough; all these may exist in the highest degree, and yet, unless there be combined with them tact, sagacity, address, the amount of possible good which the individual believer may accomplish will be greatly curtailed.
VI. SPIRITUAL HEROISM IS GENERALLY HONOURED OF GOD IN THE ACHIEVEMENT OF ITS AIMS. David slew the giant, and every courageous and heroic Christian slays his giants.
(C. M. Merry.)
(Silvester Horne, M. A.)
I. First of all, THE MISTAKES AND WEAKNESSES OF THE WORLD IN CIRCUMSTANCES OF DIFFICULTY. Whence was it that Israel's fear arose? They "judged after the sight of their eyes" — they looked only on the outward appearance — they made just the mistake that Jesse did. The reason Israel feared was that they looked upon the outward appearance; they were guilty of the same want of faith that the ten spies were who were sent up to spy out the promised land. They saw the Anakims great and tall; and what did they do? They measured the Anakims by themselves, and they said, "We were in our own sight as grasshoppers;" and they were afraid. So it was with Israel: they saw the power, as they conceived it, of the Philistine's host; they saw the number of the men arrayed against them; they saw Goliath of Gath, and their hearts failed. We see that in this case Israel looked only at their own human resources; they measured their own power, by comparing it with the overwhelming power apparently of the host of the Philistines, and they felt that they themselves were as nothing to the Philistines. David had felt a union between himself and God; David was able to identify himself with God; he felt that the cause of the armies of Israel was the cause of the living God, and that the Philistines were arrayed therefore against the power of God. But observe how this language of faith is instantly mistaken, and excites anger. If we look at the remark of Eliab to David we shall see this. You know the truth of this; the moment the world sees a power greater than its own, it calls it pride. It was so of old; it was so in the case of Joseph's brethren; they could revile the "dreamer," as they called him, yet Joseph only spake words of soberness and truth, when he related what God had shown to him; but his brethren, who were not of a like spirit to himself, could not bear it, when he stated what God had told him. So it was with Eliab, and therefore he rebuked David; but the truth is this — David was speaking a language which Eliab knew nothing about — the language of faith. The simple language of faith is to take God at His word, and to build securely upon it; and although the world may call this pride, yet there is nothing so like humility amongst all the graces that we find in the Word of God as that which entirely puts self on one side, and simply depends upon what God says. This is the spirit of a little child; if there be anything for which children are remarkable, it is the implicit confidence that they put in what is told them We often smile at their credulity; but we might learn a lesson from it by which to serve God more faithfully. I say, therefore, that this is real humility — for there is no humility so real as that which ceases from self-confidence and leans on Christ. David lost sight of himself entirely — he lost sight of everything that was human, and he saw only God, and he had learned, by seeing the power of God, that "no flesh should glory in His presence."
II. But now let us look at the other principle — THE STRENGTH AND WISDOM OF THE POWER OF FAITH, Observe what David said in the twenty-ninth verse, when Eliab rebuked him David said — "What have I now done? Is there not a cause?" There was deep cause; David saw the army of Israel as the army of God. It was not Israel that had been defied, in his estimation, by the Philistine, but God, and there was cause to act and there was cause to speak, when God's honour was outraged. And so there is now. Your object in daily life should be identical with David's, as David's was identical with our Lord's. When our Lord stood before Pilate he said — "For this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth." And what was David doing? He was bearing witness unto the truth. David drew from a source which in untouched by circumstances His need was the same, and therefore his resource was the same, and therefore his confidence was the same. It was the Lord; and it was all one to Him to deliver from the bear and from the giant. It was the same principle that animated Caleb and Joshua. When they saw those Anakims, they did not adopt the language of the unbelieving ten, but they said, "Ye are meat, for us" Why? "The Lord is with us." That was the secret of their confidence.
III. And this leads us to consider THE VICTORY OF DAVID. It is not the nature of the weapons, but the arm that wields them; and the smooth pebble from the brook, when winged by the power of God, is able to slaughter the great giant of Gath. So with the preaching of the Word of God. The world despises preaching as an instrument of God; but it is God's weapon. The giant despised David; but still David was God's instrument to overthrow him. David, in his humility, put, himself out of the question; there was no desire to magnify himself, but he was desirous to hide himself, that God's glory might appear. What are we, any of us? What is the strongest believer here? He is before God as nothing But what is God to that man? God is all, and God is everything to him, in all his circumstances.
(J. W. Reeve, M. A.)
Monday Club Sermons.I. And I think the first thing we are to learn is, that THERE ARE ALWAYS GIANTS TO FIGHT. Some of these giants are in our hearts — wicked thoughts, wicked desires, wicked feelings Here is a boy with a bad temper; and what an ugly thing that is to control! How many boys have that Goliath to fight! Here is a girl who is vain, always thinking that she is better-dressed and better-looking, with a nicer house and richer father, than some of her little friends. She has giant Pride to fight and conquer before she can be and do as God wishes. Almost everybody has some particular giant to contend with, who is taller and stronger than all the rest. It may be bad temper, or envy, or carelessness, or disobedience, or laziness, or something else. "I want" and "I wish" are giants that we meet almost every day. Children are interested in stories of a time, hundreds of years ago, when men went about armed and on horseback, fighting robbers and relieving the oppressed; and they wish sometimes that they could have lived in those days of chivalry, as they are called. No need of wishing that: if any boy or girl really means to serve God, they will find that there is plenty of fighting to be done nowadays. To learn to say "no," and to say it quickly when they are tempted to do wrong; to overcome all the persuasions to sin of which the world is full, and so to live good, pure Christian lives — that is the hardest kind of battle, to slay these giants we meet every day — this is the noblest victory of all.
II. A second lesson to be learned is, that DAVIDS ARE ALWAYS WANTED IN THE WORLD. What a happy thing it was for the Israelites that the shepherd boy came down to the camp that morning. The right sort of young people is just what is wanted. If they are brave and conscientious and in earnest to do good, how much they can accomplish. But remember one thing: David did his work in his own way. The world wants young Davids who are willing and glad to do what they know how to do. General Saul with all his army of grown-up men did not succeed in doing as much as David with his sling. There is a song we sometimes sing, called "Dare to be a Daniel." It is a very good title, but we ought to have another, called "Be sure and be a David." The right kind of little people in the right place — what would this great world do without them?
III. And then we are to learn one other lesson from this story: that THE BEST HELP COMES FROM GOD. David found it so. What an idea he had of God's willingness and power to assist him. It seemed to the people as if David killed the giant, but really it was because God helped David that Goliath was conquered. And this is the only way in which anybody gets along well in this world. When we are in any sort of difficulty, the way out of it is to ask God to help us.
(Monday Club Sermons.)
I. THE COMBATANTS. An example of the duel of battle; the destiny of two opposing hosts committed to their representatives. The one was flushed with pass victories, insolent, rancorous towards people of God. The other unskilled in war. As we see Christ and Satan drawing near to the conflict, we feel that there is more than meets the eye. Hell and heaven, light and darkness, are represented there. Life or death eternal for thousands and tens of thousands hang upon the issue. In the temptation for us, and in our stead, Christ met the foe of God and man. He takes up man's cause, and espouses God's quarrel, and enters the lists against our dreadful and exultant enemy.
1. Mark Satan's audacity! We do not marvel at his assailing man; but to confront the Son of God! Shall we think lightly of such an adversary?
2. Bear in mind the admonition of the king. David went not into the battle until he had received a heavenly and qualifying unction. So Christ went forth in might of the Holy Ghost (Luke 4:1, 2). "Lead us not into temptation" is the teaching of One who did not rush into it unbidden.
II. THE COMBAT.
1. The time. Forty days did the champion of Gath draw near; forty days was Christ tempted of the devil. At the close of that period came the decisive encounter. Goliath triply armed with sword, spear, shield; Satan with the same threefold temptation by which he had overcome man in Paradise. Compare 1 John 2:16 with Genesis 3:6, and trace the same elements in threefold temptation of Christ.
2. The armour. David would not go in the armour of Saul; had not "proved them." The armour of Christ not of human fashioning; "armour of righteousness on the right hand and the left" (John 14:30). No flaw in that heavenly panoply.
3. The weapons. David had no quiver but his scrip; no arrows save pebbles from the brook, and with these he conquered. Christ vanquished Satan by sentences of Holy Writ, well directed from the sling of truth: "It is written;" again and again, "It is written."
4. The lesson. What a guide for us in our conflicts and temptations! Lay aside all earthly confidences; discard our own strength. The victory of David was a victory for all Israel. The vauntings of the Philistines silenced by the son of Jesse. The victory of Christ is a victory for His people.
(W. P. Welsh, D. D.)
"And thou imperious! if thy madness wait
The lance of Hector, thou shalt meet thy fate,
That giant corse, extended on the shore,
Shall largely feed the fowls with fat and gore."It was probably not till David had thus confidently replied to the challenge of Goliath, that the champion of the Philistines deigned to rise, and proceeded with his shield bearer before him, be fight with one whom he regarded as an insignificant and presumptuous opponent. Skill in slinging was common in those days; and some had attained to extraordinary precision in the art. It is said of an early period of the Judges, that in the tribe of Benjamin there were 700 chosen men left-handed: everyone could sling stones at an heir's breadth and not miss (Judges 20:16). But when we think of the intense excitement and the great risk of such a duel, the ever-shifting movements of Goliath, and the small part of his forehead left uncovered by the helmet of brass, David's feat in hitting the one vulnerable part of his body, was one of the most extraordinary kind. thus beautifully, though fancifully, improves the incident: "So our Divine David, the good Shepherd of Bethlehem, when he went forth at the temptation to meet Satan — our ghostly Goliath — chose five stones out of the brook. He took the five books of Moses out of the flowing stream of Judaism. He took what was solid out of what was fluid. He took what was permanent out of what was transitory. He took what was moral and perpetual out of what was ceremonial and temporary. He took stones out of a brook, and with one of them he overthrew Satan. All Christ's answers to the Tempter are moral precepts, taken from one Book of the Law (Deuteronomy), and He prefaced his replies with the same words, 'It is written,' and with this sling and shone of Scripture, He laid our Goliath low, and He has taught us by His example how we may also vanquish the Tempter."
(1) (2) I. ISRAEL'S DANGER. The history shows us the Philistines already at Shochoh, three German miles southwest from Jerusalem, encamped on high, level ground. Opposite to them the host of Israel is encamped also on a chain of hills. The Philistines, for the increase of their glory, sought to show to the world that their warlike strength consisted not only in the multitude of their host, but in the personal warlike dexterity and skill in battle of every separate warrior. They challenged, therefore, the enemy to a duel — a practice common in war among the ancients, as Homer testifies. On the issue of this combat he places the fortune and the future condition of the whole kingdom. Contempt, such as that expressed in his challenge to the people of Jehovah, could not be more scornful. The cause which gave rise to this war which had newly broken out, was closely connected with the interests of religion, as was, indeed, the case with most of the wars of ancient times, The heathen fought for the honour of their god Dagon. They wished him to appear to all the world as the true God. Jehovah, on the other hand, must appear to be but a phantom, a shadow without substance, and only worthy of being despised. In these circumstances the children of Israel had reason to trust with joyful confidence in the arm of the Almighty, and, certain of victory, to accept the challenge to battle made by the heathen. But what happened? Israel is afraid because their king is faint-hearted. They ventured not, with child-like faith, to appropriate the promises of Jehovah. The wings of faith, which would bane borne them up to the Lord of Hosts in confident trust, are broken. What will be the result? II. DELIVERANCE WROUGHT BY MEANS OF DAVID. David, as a faithful, obedient son, accustomed without hesitation to do as his father commanded, even when the commands did not correspond with his own inclinations, rose up early in the morning, and came near to the encampment at the very moment when the armies stood in battle array over against each other. With the greatest astonishment David perceives what is now going on. "How," he asks himself. "is the last spark of faith extinguished in Israel? or is His arm shortened, who once buried in the waves of the Red Sea Pharaoh with his horsemen and his horses; who, at the prayer of Moses, destroyed the power of Amalek, and guided Gideon so that with his three hundred men he was able to sweep from the field the thousands of Midian." He was not able altogether to conceal from those that stood near him the feelings that were in his mind; and the impetuosity with which he added the question, "Who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?" fully revealed his inmost thoughts. Eliab sufficiently knew the brave boy to believe that wherever the honour of God was concerned he would courageously undertake the most perilous enterprise. "But what," thinks Eliab, "will be the result of such an undertaking? Not only the death of the boy, but also, at the same time, the overthrow of Israel; and, worse than even this, the defeat of Israel's God in the eyes of the heathen!" Thus with Eliab also thought his two brothers. We see that even with them faith and courage had disappeared. David replied to the reproachful words of Eliab by quietly asking him. "What have I now done? Has it not been commanded me?" But the subsequent conduct of the king showed in him a total misapprehension of the position which David occupied when he announced his heroic resolution. He commanded that David should be armed with his armour, his helmet, and the coat of mail, together with his sword. David did not offer any opposition, seeing that such was the will of his master; yet he doubted not but that the king himself would soon be convinced that such an equipment was not suitable for him. History has presented many and diverse examples in the sphere of the spiritual life similar to this heroic march of the youthful David. I now call to your remembrance only a Luther, who, despite the doubts of timid learned men, threw aside the heavy armour of scholastic wisdom, and, stepping forward in freedom, vanquished the giant of Rome with the five heads, of his Catechism. And might we not here also make mention of such witnesses and combatants in the region of the Church, as with holy courage have broken through the restraints of homiletic or liturgic forms, and, in the free effusions and creations of their divinely-anointed spirits, have given the tone to a new and more animating style of preaching, and thereby have opened the way to a new quickening and elevating of the life of the Church into greater fruitfulness? But what says Saul now, in this unexpected state of affairs? Saul said, "Inquire thou whose son the stripling is." But when, soon afterwards, David appeared in person before the king, with the bead of the Philistine in his hands, be addressed to him the same question, "Whose son art thou, thou young man?" David simply replied, with the expression of genuine modesty, "I am the son of thy servant Jesse the Bethlehemite," and then stood quietly waiting the further commands of his royal master. This incident in the narrative, it must, be admitted, has in it something strange. Saul did not recognise in David the youthful singer, who had formerly, with the melody of his harp, banished from him the evil spirit, and who on that account had gained his love, and had been received into the number of his pages and armourers. Many interpreters, misled by this surprising circumstance, have been induced to regard the chapter from which our text is taken as a historical supplement to that immediately preceding, and to place the battle with the Philistine before the time of the first appearance of David at the royal court. But this is a mere arbitrary proceeding. How can we explain, then, the enigma of Saul's ignorance of David? In the first place, Saul, to heighten the splendour of his throne, had surrounded himself not only with a bodyguard a thousand strong, and a choir of musicians, but also, as already noticed, with a company of pages and young armour bearers; and it was not to be expected that amid the continual storms which marked his reign, he could know and remember the names and descent of each one of all these bands. Further, David, by his return to take charge again of his father's flocks at Bethlehem, had, as it seems, for a considerable time been out of the sight of Saul, who had perhaps now only some dim recollections of the comfortless condition in which he was at the time of the first visit of the shepherd boy, but retained no longer any clear remembrance of his person. Lastly, it might possibly be that it was only of the descent and the birthplace of the boy that Saul had now no longer any recollection; for he put the question to Abner merely as to whose son the youth was. Thus Israel saw themselves honoured with another remarkable evidence that the God of their fathers was still truly with them, and that faith in the promises of their God, when it knows how, with simplicity, to take fast hold of them, can accomplish all things. In the third Psalm, David sings: "Thou, O Lord, art a shield for me; my glory, and the lifter up of mine head. I will not be afraid of ten thousands of people that have set themselves against me round about." (F. W. Krummacher, D. D.)
(2) I. ISRAEL'S DANGER. The history shows us the Philistines already at Shochoh, three German miles southwest from Jerusalem, encamped on high, level ground. Opposite to them the host of Israel is encamped also on a chain of hills. The Philistines, for the increase of their glory, sought to show to the world that their warlike strength consisted not only in the multitude of their host, but in the personal warlike dexterity and skill in battle of every separate warrior. They challenged, therefore, the enemy to a duel — a practice common in war among the ancients, as Homer testifies. On the issue of this combat he places the fortune and the future condition of the whole kingdom. Contempt, such as that expressed in his challenge to the people of Jehovah, could not be more scornful. The cause which gave rise to this war which had newly broken out, was closely connected with the interests of religion, as was, indeed, the case with most of the wars of ancient times, The heathen fought for the honour of their god Dagon. They wished him to appear to all the world as the true God. Jehovah, on the other hand, must appear to be but a phantom, a shadow without substance, and only worthy of being despised. In these circumstances the children of Israel had reason to trust with joyful confidence in the arm of the Almighty, and, certain of victory, to accept the challenge to battle made by the heathen. But what happened? Israel is afraid because their king is faint-hearted. They ventured not, with child-like faith, to appropriate the promises of Jehovah. The wings of faith, which would bane borne them up to the Lord of Hosts in confident trust, are broken. What will be the result? II. DELIVERANCE WROUGHT BY MEANS OF DAVID. David, as a faithful, obedient son, accustomed without hesitation to do as his father commanded, even when the commands did not correspond with his own inclinations, rose up early in the morning, and came near to the encampment at the very moment when the armies stood in battle array over against each other. With the greatest astonishment David perceives what is now going on. "How," he asks himself. "is the last spark of faith extinguished in Israel? or is His arm shortened, who once buried in the waves of the Red Sea Pharaoh with his horsemen and his horses; who, at the prayer of Moses, destroyed the power of Amalek, and guided Gideon so that with his three hundred men he was able to sweep from the field the thousands of Midian." He was not able altogether to conceal from those that stood near him the feelings that were in his mind; and the impetuosity with which he added the question, "Who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?" fully revealed his inmost thoughts. Eliab sufficiently knew the brave boy to believe that wherever the honour of God was concerned he would courageously undertake the most perilous enterprise. "But what," thinks Eliab, "will be the result of such an undertaking? Not only the death of the boy, but also, at the same time, the overthrow of Israel; and, worse than even this, the defeat of Israel's God in the eyes of the heathen!" Thus with Eliab also thought his two brothers. We see that even with them faith and courage had disappeared. David replied to the reproachful words of Eliab by quietly asking him. "What have I now done? Has it not been commanded me?" But the subsequent conduct of the king showed in him a total misapprehension of the position which David occupied when he announced his heroic resolution. He commanded that David should be armed with his armour, his helmet, and the coat of mail, together with his sword. David did not offer any opposition, seeing that such was the will of his master; yet he doubted not but that the king himself would soon be convinced that such an equipment was not suitable for him. History has presented many and diverse examples in the sphere of the spiritual life similar to this heroic march of the youthful David. I now call to your remembrance only a Luther, who, despite the doubts of timid learned men, threw aside the heavy armour of scholastic wisdom, and, stepping forward in freedom, vanquished the giant of Rome with the five heads, of his Catechism. And might we not here also make mention of such witnesses and combatants in the region of the Church, as with holy courage have broken through the restraints of homiletic or liturgic forms, and, in the free effusions and creations of their divinely-anointed spirits, have given the tone to a new and more animating style of preaching, and thereby have opened the way to a new quickening and elevating of the life of the Church into greater fruitfulness? But what says Saul now, in this unexpected state of affairs? Saul said, "Inquire thou whose son the stripling is." But when, soon afterwards, David appeared in person before the king, with the bead of the Philistine in his hands, be addressed to him the same question, "Whose son art thou, thou young man?" David simply replied, with the expression of genuine modesty, "I am the son of thy servant Jesse the Bethlehemite," and then stood quietly waiting the further commands of his royal master. This incident in the narrative, it must, be admitted, has in it something strange. Saul did not recognise in David the youthful singer, who had formerly, with the melody of his harp, banished from him the evil spirit, and who on that account had gained his love, and had been received into the number of his pages and armourers. Many interpreters, misled by this surprising circumstance, have been induced to regard the chapter from which our text is taken as a historical supplement to that immediately preceding, and to place the battle with the Philistine before the time of the first appearance of David at the royal court. But this is a mere arbitrary proceeding. How can we explain, then, the enigma of Saul's ignorance of David? In the first place, Saul, to heighten the splendour of his throne, had surrounded himself not only with a bodyguard a thousand strong, and a choir of musicians, but also, as already noticed, with a company of pages and young armour bearers; and it was not to be expected that amid the continual storms which marked his reign, he could know and remember the names and descent of each one of all these bands. Further, David, by his return to take charge again of his father's flocks at Bethlehem, had, as it seems, for a considerable time been out of the sight of Saul, who had perhaps now only some dim recollections of the comfortless condition in which he was at the time of the first visit of the shepherd boy, but retained no longer any clear remembrance of his person. Lastly, it might possibly be that it was only of the descent and the birthplace of the boy that Saul had now no longer any recollection; for he put the question to Abner merely as to whose son the youth was. Thus Israel saw themselves honoured with another remarkable evidence that the God of their fathers was still truly with them, and that faith in the promises of their God, when it knows how, with simplicity, to take fast hold of them, can accomplish all things. In the third Psalm, David sings: "Thou, O Lord, art a shield for me; my glory, and the lifter up of mine head. I will not be afraid of ten thousands of people that have set themselves against me round about." (F. W. Krummacher, D. D.)
I. ISRAEL'S DANGER. The history shows us the Philistines already at Shochoh, three German miles southwest from Jerusalem, encamped on high, level ground. Opposite to them the host of Israel is encamped also on a chain of hills. The Philistines, for the increase of their glory, sought to show to the world that their warlike strength consisted not only in the multitude of their host, but in the personal warlike dexterity and skill in battle of every separate warrior. They challenged, therefore, the enemy to a duel — a practice common in war among the ancients, as Homer testifies. On the issue of this combat he places the fortune and the future condition of the whole kingdom. Contempt, such as that expressed in his challenge to the people of Jehovah, could not be more scornful. The cause which gave rise to this war which had newly broken out, was closely connected with the interests of religion, as was, indeed, the case with most of the wars of ancient times, The heathen fought for the honour of their god Dagon. They wished him to appear to all the world as the true God. Jehovah, on the other hand, must appear to be but a phantom, a shadow without substance, and only worthy of being despised. In these circumstances the children of Israel had reason to trust with joyful confidence in the arm of the Almighty, and, certain of victory, to accept the challenge to battle made by the heathen. But what happened? Israel is afraid because their king is faint-hearted. They ventured not, with child-like faith, to appropriate the promises of Jehovah. The wings of faith, which would bane borne them up to the Lord of Hosts in confident trust, are broken. What will be the result?
II. DELIVERANCE WROUGHT BY MEANS OF DAVID. David, as a faithful, obedient son, accustomed without hesitation to do as his father commanded, even when the commands did not correspond with his own inclinations, rose up early in the morning, and came near to the encampment at the very moment when the armies stood in battle array over against each other. With the greatest astonishment David perceives what is now going on. "How," he asks himself. "is the last spark of faith extinguished in Israel? or is His arm shortened, who once buried in the waves of the Red Sea Pharaoh with his horsemen and his horses; who, at the prayer of Moses, destroyed the power of Amalek, and guided Gideon so that with his three hundred men he was able to sweep from the field the thousands of Midian." He was not able altogether to conceal from those that stood near him the feelings that were in his mind; and the impetuosity with which he added the question, "Who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?" fully revealed his inmost thoughts. Eliab sufficiently knew the brave boy to believe that wherever the honour of God was concerned he would courageously undertake the most perilous enterprise. "But what," thinks Eliab, "will be the result of such an undertaking? Not only the death of the boy, but also, at the same time, the overthrow of Israel; and, worse than even this, the defeat of Israel's God in the eyes of the heathen!" Thus with Eliab also thought his two brothers. We see that even with them faith and courage had disappeared. David replied to the reproachful words of Eliab by quietly asking him. "What have I now done? Has it not been commanded me?" But the subsequent conduct of the king showed in him a total misapprehension of the position which David occupied when he announced his heroic resolution. He commanded that David should be armed with his armour, his helmet, and the coat of mail, together with his sword. David did not offer any opposition, seeing that such was the will of his master; yet he doubted not but that the king himself would soon be convinced that such an equipment was not suitable for him. History has presented many and diverse examples in the sphere of the spiritual life similar to this heroic march of the youthful David. I now call to your remembrance only a Luther, who, despite the doubts of timid learned men, threw aside the heavy armour of scholastic wisdom, and, stepping forward in freedom, vanquished the giant of Rome with the five heads, of his Catechism. And might we not here also make mention of such witnesses and combatants in the region of the Church, as with holy courage have broken through the restraints of homiletic or liturgic forms, and, in the free effusions and creations of their divinely-anointed spirits, have given the tone to a new and more animating style of preaching, and thereby have opened the way to a new quickening and elevating of the life of the Church into greater fruitfulness? But what says Saul now, in this unexpected state of affairs? Saul said, "Inquire thou whose son the stripling is." But when, soon afterwards, David appeared in person before the king, with the bead of the Philistine in his hands, be addressed to him the same question, "Whose son art thou, thou young man?" David simply replied, with the expression of genuine modesty, "I am the son of thy servant Jesse the Bethlehemite," and then stood quietly waiting the further commands of his royal master. This incident in the narrative, it must, be admitted, has in it something strange. Saul did not recognise in David the youthful singer, who had formerly, with the melody of his harp, banished from him the evil spirit, and who on that account had gained his love, and had been received into the number of his pages and armourers. Many interpreters, misled by this surprising circumstance, have been induced to regard the chapter from which our text is taken as a historical supplement to that immediately preceding, and to place the battle with the Philistine before the time of the first appearance of David at the royal court. But this is a mere arbitrary proceeding. How can we explain, then, the enigma of Saul's ignorance of David? In the first place, Saul, to heighten the splendour of his throne, had surrounded himself not only with a bodyguard a thousand strong, and a choir of musicians, but also, as already noticed, with a company of pages and young armour bearers; and it was not to be expected that amid the continual storms which marked his reign, he could know and remember the names and descent of each one of all these bands. Further, David, by his return to take charge again of his father's flocks at Bethlehem, had, as it seems, for a considerable time been out of the sight of Saul, who had perhaps now only some dim recollections of the comfortless condition in which he was at the time of the first visit of the shepherd boy, but retained no longer any clear remembrance of his person. Lastly, it might possibly be that it was only of the descent and the birthplace of the boy that Saul had now no longer any recollection; for he put the question to Abner merely as to whose son the youth was. Thus Israel saw themselves honoured with another remarkable evidence that the God of their fathers was still truly with them, and that faith in the promises of their God, when it knows how, with simplicity, to take fast hold of them, can accomplish all things. In the third Psalm, David sings: "Thou, O Lord, art a shield for me; my glory, and the lifter up of mine head. I will not be afraid of ten thousands of people that have set themselves against me round about."
(F. W. Krummacher, D. D.)
(W. G. Blaikie, D. D.)
Thy servant slew both the lion and the bear.
1. Violence of temper is the lion with which you have to fight. Angry passions are the first passions that assail you. Anger is natural; and in itself is not wrong. But it is sinful when it masters you. When a lion is in a cage, and allowed no opportunity of tearing and killing, you do not fear him, but when he breaks out of the cage, then everyone takes to flight. Anger is not wrong when the cause is just, the feeling moderate, and the desire of punishment proportioned to the offence.
2. The other enemy you have to contend with is Bearishness. The greatest charm in a boy is politeness, or civility; and this is not so often met with as one could wish. Boys and girls are now allowed so much liberty, that they behave as if they owed no consideration, respect, or deference, to their elders and betters. It used to be said that bears never allowed their cubs to be seen out of the cave in which they were born until they had licked them into shape, for infant bear cubs were misformed hideous little beasts, but the mother by pains and constant licking got them into something like shape. I am afraid that too many little human bear cubs are allowed out before they are licked into shape. Now what is the cause of bearishness? of cubbishness? It is thought of self. The boy or girl whose mind is fixed on self is sure not to have thought of the wants and wishes of others, and to be without the respect due to others. In the upper classes of society it would be thought so disgraceful for ladies and gentlemen to turn out bear cubs into the world, that they are obliged to lick them into shape, and make them learn "manners." They put on manners as they put on their clothes. But it would be much better if the Bear were killed, instead of being hidden in a cupboard. It too often happens with those who have been taught to be polite and courteous, without being taught also to conquer the evil principle which lies at the root of cubbishness, that on occasions the bad beast breaks out, bursts through all restraints, and then we see that gentle manner was put on, and is not real. The bear is in the cupboard and hidden, but it is alive and impatient of restraint, and takes the first opportunity to show itself selfishness is the mother of bearishness. If the lion is feared the bear is loathed And the bearish child is a most offensive child, and grows up into a most offensive man or woman. Bearishness is exactly the reverse of what should be the character of a Christian. The Christian religion softens, and refines, it teaches all to be kindly to one another, to love as brethren, to be pitiful and courteous.
(S. Baring Gould, M. A.)
I. THE CONFIDENCE OF DAVID.
1. The confidence of David was grounded upon his own personal experience.
2. You will notice that in his confidence there is a blending of the human with the Divine. Observe: "Thy servant slew both the lion and the bear, and this uncircumcised Philistine shall be as one of them": — That is the human. "David said moreover, The Lord that delivered me out of the paw of the lion, and out, of the paw of the hear, He will deliver me out of the hand of this Philistine": — That is the Divine side of it. Work for God with all your might, as if you did it all; but then always remember that "it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure." How is that Philistine to be killed? "By God," says one. True; but not without David. "By David," says another. Yes, but not without God. Put the Lord on the march with David, and you put the Philistines into untimely graves.
3. I want you to notice in David's confidence that he had go practically observed the service of the human side that he speaks of it first. If you did work valiantly by the help of the Spirit of God, you did do it, and should not refuse to say so. How are you to glorify God by denying the fruit of His Spirit? It is the glory of God that He led you to holy labour, and helped you in it.
4. Although David thus speaks of the human first, yet be speaks of the Divine most.
5. Now I want to go a little further, and show that David's confidence rested mainly in the immutability of God, the Divine Worker.
6. This leads me to observe that David's confidence also proceeded upon his firm conviction that, the immutable God being with him, he himself would be sufficient for the present emergency.
II. DAVID IS A VERY FIT AND WONDERFUL TYPE OF THE GREAT SON OF DAVID, THE LORD JESUS CHRIST.
( C. H. Spurgeon.)
I. RECOLLECTIONS. Now, what did David recollect, for I want you to remember the same?
1. He recollected, first, that, whatever his present trial might be, he had been tried before, tried when he was but a young man, peacefully employed in keeping his flocks.
2. He remembered, too, that he had been tried frequently. He had been not only attacked by a lion, but also by a bear.
3. David recollected that he had risked all in the prosecution of his duty.
4. He remembered that he had on that occasion gone alone to the fray.
5. David also recollected that on that occasion when he smote the lion and the bear he had nothing visible to rely upon, but simply trusted his God.
6. David recollected also that the tactics which he adopted on that occasion were natural, artless, and vigorous.
7. David remembered that by confidence in God his energetic fighting gained the victory.
II. Now for REASONINGS. David used an argument in which no flaw can be found. He said "The case of this Philistine is a parallel one to that of the lion. If I act in the same manner by faith in God with this giant as I did with the lion, God is the same, and therefore the result will be the same." That seems to me to be very clear reasoning, and I bid you adopt it. Let us now consider the case, and we shall see that it really was parallel. There was the flock, defenceless; here was Israel, God's flock, defenceless, too, with no one to take up its cause. He was alone that day when he smote the lion, and so he was this day when he was to confront his enormous foe. As for that, Philistine, he felt that in him he had an antagonist of the old sort. It was brute force before, it was brute force now: it might take the shape of a lion or a bear or a Philistine, but David considered that it was only so much flesh and bone and muscle, so much brag or roar, tooth or spear The whole argument is this, in the one case by such tactics we have been successful, trusting in God, and therefore in a similar case we have only to do the same, and we shall realise the same victory, I know a man who today says, "Yes, what we did in years gone by we did in our heroic age, but we are not, so enthusiastic now." And why not? We are so apt to magnify our former selves, and think of our early deeds as of something to be wondered at, but not to be attempted now. Fools that we are! They were little enough in all conscience, and ought to be outdone. This resting on our oars will not do, we are drifting down with the tide. David did not say, "I slew a lion and a bear, I have had my turn at such bouts, let somebody else go and fight that Philistine:" yet we have heard people say, "When I was a young man I taught in the Sunday school, I used to go out preaching in the villages, and so on." Oh, and why not do it now? Methinks you ought to be doing more instead of less.
III. The last thing is RESULTS. The results were:
1. David felt he would, as he did before, rely upon God alone.
2. David resolved again to run all risks once more, as he had done before.
3. David's next step was to put himself into the same condition as on former occasions, by divesting himself of everything that hampered him. The ultimate result was that the young champion came back with Goliath's head in his hand, and equally sure triumphs await every one of you if you rely on the Lord, and act in simple earnestness.
( C. H. Spurgeon.)
How may the well-discharge of our present duty give us assurance of help from God for the well-discharge of all future dutiesThis question hath two parts in it, and cannot be so well grounded upon a single text; therefore I shall name three or four, namely, 1 Samuel 17:34-37; Psalm 27:14; Proverbs 10:29; 2 Chronicles 15:2. I name these several scriptures as so many proofs of the truth of the point, that it is a case very agreeable to the Scriptures and to the analogy of faith.
I. WHAT IS OUR PRESENT DUTY?
1. What "duty" is, in the general nature and notion of it. It is an act of obedience to the will of our superiors. Duty is that which is due from man to God: it is "justice toward God."
2. Something is our present duty. God hath filled up all our time with duty: not one moment left at our own disposal.
3. Nothing that is sinful and in itself unlawful can be our duty at any time; and therefore, to be sure, not our present duty.
4. Every thing that is in itself lawful is not therefore our duty. "All things are lawful, but all things are not expedient." (1 Corinthians 6:12.)
5. Everything that is commanded, and is in its time and place our duty, may not be our present duty. Affirmatives bind "always;" that is, we can never be discharged from that obligation that lies upon us to worship God: but we are not bound "at all times" to the outward acts of worship; for then we should do nothing else.
6. That which God now requires of you, and in doing of which you may most glorify God and edify your neighbour — that is undoubtedly your present duty. "How shall we know this?" Always look within your calling for your present, duty; for there it lies. General: As we are Christians, so all saints are of the same calling: "Called to be saints." (Romans 1:7.) Particular: So we differ in our callings. Some are called to the magistracy, some to the ministry; some are masters, some servants; some called to this, some to that, trade or occupation. Much of the duties of our Christian calling do follow us into our particular callings. As duties of worship must be performed in our families every day, let our particular calling be what it will; so the same graces must be exercised in our particular callings, which were required in our general callings: the same graces do follow us into our particular callings and into all the works of our hands. You see, your present duty lies in your present work, in the daily business of your particular callings. Herein lies the nature of all practical holiness — to do everything after a godly sort. The directions I give you relate only to the religious manner of doing what you do; though it is God that "instructs you to discretion" in all worldly business. (Isaiah 28:26.) Whatever your skill and insight is in your calling, prayer may make you wiser: you may obtain a more excellent spirit in your way than you now have, if you seek it of God. (Exodus 35:31-33.) Though you are left to the use of your reason as men, yet faith must go along with it as you are Christians. Therefore I shall show you how to put forth an act of reason in faith How may we know when reason and faith go together? 1 When, at our entrance upon any business, we seek wisdom and understanding from God, stirring up our reason by our faith, looking up to Him from whom "cometh every good and perfect gift" (James 1:17) that He would "instruct us unto discretion."
2. When, in answer to faith and prayer, thoughts do come in that clear up our way to us, and do put us into a right method, pointing out such probable means, inclining to such apposite counsel, as in a rational way tend to the expediting of that business which we are about.
3. When, under the greatest assurances of our own reason, we yet live in a humble dependence upon God for success. He puts forth an act of reason in faith, who trusts to God, and not to his own reason. It is our duty to make use of it as men, though as Christians we ought not to trust in it.
(1) (2) (3) (4) (5) 1. Sit down once more, and consider. 2. If of two duties you cannot resolve which is most your duty at present, then resolve upon both, and begin where you will. God will not be extreme in that case. Do one, and leave not the other undone, but be sure to find time for that also. 3. Beg of God to resolve thee. "O that my ways were directed to keep Thy statutes!" (Psalm 119:5.) "Shall I go up to Hebron? or shall I not?" (2 Samuel 2:1.) God will "teach" thee what to do. (Psalm 25:12) "He shall direct thy paths," (Proverbs 3:5, 6.)Application. 1. All the sins of your lives break in upon you, through the omission of your present duty. 2. Whatever you do in the room of a present duty is not acceptable to God. 3. If you do not now perform your present duty, you can never perform it. 4. You can have as trial of your spirit, nor of the truth of your state: it is impossible that you should ever prove your sincerity, but by a conscientious discharge of your present duty. 5. You cannot walk evenly with God, if you do not your present duty. Some men walk very unevenly: there are so many gaps in their obedience; they move from duty to duty, quite "leaping" over some, and lightly touching upon others, as if they had no great mind to any: they act grace so abruptly that it gives no continued sense; we know not where to find them. There are so many vacant spaces, so many blanks of omission, so many blots and blurs of commission: they drop a duty here, and another half-mile off; so that you cannot say, "A man of God went this way." (1 Kings 13:12.) 6. You must begin somewhere, at some present duty: why not at this? It will be as difficult, nay, more difficult, to come to Christ tomorrow than it is today: therefore "today hear His voice, and harden not your heart." (Psalm 95:7, 8.) Break the ice now, and by faith venture upon thy present duty, wherever it lies: do what you are now called to. II. HOW THE WELL-DISCHARGE OF OUR PRESENT DUTY MAY ENCOURAGE US TO HOPE IN GOD FOR HIS HELP AND ASSISTANCE IN ALL FUTURE DUTIES. 1. It is promised. (2 Chronicles 15:2.) 2. Present grace is a pledge of future grace. To him that hath, more shall be given. (Luke 19:17, 26). 3. The experience of the saints confirms this. See Psalm 18:26, 80-82. 5. A conscientious discharge of our present duty fits and disposes our minds to the next duty. 6. By the well-discharge of our present duty we may attain assurance of salvation. (Colossians 3:23, 24.) (Thomas Cole, A. M.)
(2) (3) (4) (5) 1. Sit down once more, and consider. 2. If of two duties you cannot resolve which is most your duty at present, then resolve upon both, and begin where you will. God will not be extreme in that case. Do one, and leave not the other undone, but be sure to find time for that also. 3. Beg of God to resolve thee. "O that my ways were directed to keep Thy statutes!" (Psalm 119:5.) "Shall I go up to Hebron? or shall I not?" (2 Samuel 2:1.) God will "teach" thee what to do. (Psalm 25:12) "He shall direct thy paths," (Proverbs 3:5, 6.)Application. 1. All the sins of your lives break in upon you, through the omission of your present duty. 2. Whatever you do in the room of a present duty is not acceptable to God. 3. If you do not now perform your present duty, you can never perform it. 4. You can have as trial of your spirit, nor of the truth of your state: it is impossible that you should ever prove your sincerity, but by a conscientious discharge of your present duty. 5. You cannot walk evenly with God, if you do not your present duty. Some men walk very unevenly: there are so many gaps in their obedience; they move from duty to duty, quite "leaping" over some, and lightly touching upon others, as if they had no great mind to any: they act grace so abruptly that it gives no continued sense; we know not where to find them. There are so many vacant spaces, so many blanks of omission, so many blots and blurs of commission: they drop a duty here, and another half-mile off; so that you cannot say, "A man of God went this way." (1 Kings 13:12.) 6. You must begin somewhere, at some present duty: why not at this? It will be as difficult, nay, more difficult, to come to Christ tomorrow than it is today: therefore "today hear His voice, and harden not your heart." (Psalm 95:7, 8.) Break the ice now, and by faith venture upon thy present duty, wherever it lies: do what you are now called to. II. HOW THE WELL-DISCHARGE OF OUR PRESENT DUTY MAY ENCOURAGE US TO HOPE IN GOD FOR HIS HELP AND ASSISTANCE IN ALL FUTURE DUTIES. 1. It is promised. (2 Chronicles 15:2.) 2. Present grace is a pledge of future grace. To him that hath, more shall be given. (Luke 19:17, 26). 3. The experience of the saints confirms this. See Psalm 18:26, 80-82. 5. A conscientious discharge of our present duty fits and disposes our minds to the next duty. 6. By the well-discharge of our present duty we may attain assurance of salvation. (Colossians 3:23, 24.) (Thomas Cole, A. M.)
(3) (4) (5) 1. Sit down once more, and consider. 2. If of two duties you cannot resolve which is most your duty at present, then resolve upon both, and begin where you will. God will not be extreme in that case. Do one, and leave not the other undone, but be sure to find time for that also. 3. Beg of God to resolve thee. "O that my ways were directed to keep Thy statutes!" (Psalm 119:5.) "Shall I go up to Hebron? or shall I not?" (2 Samuel 2:1.) God will "teach" thee what to do. (Psalm 25:12) "He shall direct thy paths," (Proverbs 3:5, 6.)Application. 1. All the sins of your lives break in upon you, through the omission of your present duty. 2. Whatever you do in the room of a present duty is not acceptable to God. 3. If you do not now perform your present duty, you can never perform it. 4. You can have as trial of your spirit, nor of the truth of your state: it is impossible that you should ever prove your sincerity, but by a conscientious discharge of your present duty. 5. You cannot walk evenly with God, if you do not your present duty. Some men walk very unevenly: there are so many gaps in their obedience; they move from duty to duty, quite "leaping" over some, and lightly touching upon others, as if they had no great mind to any: they act grace so abruptly that it gives no continued sense; we know not where to find them. There are so many vacant spaces, so many blanks of omission, so many blots and blurs of commission: they drop a duty here, and another half-mile off; so that you cannot say, "A man of God went this way." (1 Kings 13:12.) 6. You must begin somewhere, at some present duty: why not at this? It will be as difficult, nay, more difficult, to come to Christ tomorrow than it is today: therefore "today hear His voice, and harden not your heart." (Psalm 95:7, 8.) Break the ice now, and by faith venture upon thy present duty, wherever it lies: do what you are now called to. II. HOW THE WELL-DISCHARGE OF OUR PRESENT DUTY MAY ENCOURAGE US TO HOPE IN GOD FOR HIS HELP AND ASSISTANCE IN ALL FUTURE DUTIES. 1. It is promised. (2 Chronicles 15:2.) 2. Present grace is a pledge of future grace. To him that hath, more shall be given. (Luke 19:17, 26). 3. The experience of the saints confirms this. See Psalm 18:26, 80-82. 5. A conscientious discharge of our present duty fits and disposes our minds to the next duty. 6. By the well-discharge of our present duty we may attain assurance of salvation. (Colossians 3:23, 24.) (Thomas Cole, A. M.)
1. Sit down once more, and consider. 1. All the sins of your lives break in upon you, through the omission of your present duty. 2. Whatever you do in the room of a present duty is not acceptable to God. 3. If you do not now perform your present duty, you can never perform it. 1. It is promised. (2 Chronicles 15:2.) 3. The experience of the saints confirms this. See Psalm 18:26, 80-82. 5. A conscientious discharge of our present duty fits and disposes our minds to the next duty. (Thomas Cole, A. M.)
1. Sit down once more, and consider.
1. All the sins of your lives break in upon you, through the omission of your present duty.
2. Whatever you do in the room of a present duty is not acceptable to God.
3. If you do not now perform your present duty, you can never perform it.
1. It is promised. (2 Chronicles 15:2.)
3. The experience of the saints confirms this. See Psalm 18:26, 80-82.
5. A conscientious discharge of our present duty fits and disposes our minds to the next duty.
(Thomas Cole, A. M.)
Go, and the Lord be with thee.
(S. D. Hillman.)
I cannot go with these. I have not proved them.
I. First HE MIGHT HAVE FORFEITED IT BY A CARELESS NEGLECT OF THE SIMPLE OPPORTUNITIES OF A BOY. He had only to keep the sheep. It would have been boy-like to have gone after play or after comrades and leave the flock. It would have been the different but equally fatal mistake of a gifted nature to dream away the hours with his back on the turf and his face to the sky, building air castles of future exploits, the while the beasts preyed on the straying sheep. David avoided the one mistake and the other. He had his play, indeed; that skill which sends the stone like bullet to the Philistine's brow will not have come to such perfection without many a shot at passing quarry or jutting rock; but it was play which made him fitter for work, training him in the free use of the favourite weapon of his tribe; making his arm suppler and stronger, and his eye more keen. And he had his battle, too, in his own way; he was watchful to detect and bold to face the prowling and preying beast. And though these may seem simple things, yet to the doer of them there was a strong sense and clear knowledge that there was a power with him in them, and if his conflict with the lion and the bear prepared him to face Goliath by steadying his nerve and strengthening his self-reliance it did so much more by giving him proof of the supporting and protecting presence of his God. Is it not the fact that one of the most frequent, causes of waste and loss here is to be found in what I may call the adjournment of responsibility? I am not thinking of the man who wants to taste the pleasures of sin for a time; nor of the man who shirks all his work and fails in his examinations. I am thinking of men who take things as they come and do not look beyond; who interpret the phrase "sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof" as a charter for postponing troublesome thoughts of future responsibility; who think that it will be time enough to attend to those things when they come.
II. But David had a second danger to avoid: IT WAS THE DANGER OF UNPROVEN ARMOUR. We can feel that a twofold instinct guided him right; the royal armour was grand, but he knew that he would be uneasy in it; and meanwhile his fingers twitched on the sling strings with the half-conscious sense of how they could hurl against that blustering front. What is the danger of unproven armour for any of us? It is not difficult to see; and it may seem to be the very opposite of that which we have considered. It is the danger of those who look forward, not too little, but too confidently, and who do so because they believe themselves amply ready to face life. They feet full armed with well-appointed mail and weapons; it may be with all the adaptable resources of high academical and social culture; it may be with the keen thoughts, and bright ideals, social and philanthropic, which they deem to characterise their generation. Or, most probably of all, it may be with confidence in the strength of Divine truth and a Divine system, which they have themselves embraced, and in the strength of which it would be faithless to doubt that they will succeed with others. Far be it to speak disparagingly of such as these, they have much in them of the mettle of the future warrior: the day was to come when David too would do valiantly with sword and spear. But they have much to learn. The shield and sword, the spear and armour of God and of His Church are not for the first comer to wield with mastery. Doctrine the most true, arguments the most convincing, ideas the most lovely, will somehow be found not to strike home; and it will be well for the user if hampered and perhaps wounded he is not tempted in reaction of disheartenment or cynicism to cast them all aside and turn his back upon the battle. We have, then, here another danger, and opposite though it seems, it may really be combined, and often is combined with the other. The man who adjourns responsibility will think that he can put on the whole armour at pleasure in the future, and that in the strength and completeness of a professional outfit he could be a match for any enemy. There are giants in these days, and "surely to defy Israel are they come up:" evils which are monstrous in their proportions and which have the peculiar note of scornful and cruel defiance towards God and man. There is the giant of sensuality in all its forms. There is the giant of worldliness: the domineering power of prevailing fashion, or of so-called public opinion, or of stolid indifference to every higher call. And third brother to these there is the giant of unbelief. These are giants, and now as then we want men to meet them. And not seldom it is to the stripling that the task should fall. He is not dazed and weary with the daily bellowing of the giant's challenges. He comes with a fresh eye, with an unbroken nerve, with a quick fire of zeal. Place for the young man against the giant! But at that moment all will depend upon what he is and what he brings. They must be well proved, he must be master of them, and they may have in them an unsuspected force of swift and piercing strength. What, to drop the figures, will this mean? It will mean first that a man who is to do good service against public evils must have first fought his own fights. He will have known, perhaps, in very plain reality, what it is to have the beasts come up against him. To meet the lion and the bear is specially the young man's task. It is from the wilderness of temptation that David and David's Lord go forth to the help of the Lord and His people against the mighty. And then next, the men who are to be champions must bring with them genuine, first-hand, realised truth. We want men who have put things to the proof and can speak of that they do know: who can not only repeat, but testify, who can wield the great appeal "experto crede." It is not much truth of which to a young man at the outset of experience this can be true: it may be only as the few smooth stones out of the brook: but, believe me, these may be enough. But what I mean is this: that while a man may fairly start by taking on trust many parts of that which he believes, there must be some part in it, some aspect of it, which he has proved for himself. It has been truly said that it is unchristian to assert that to rightly understand the faith one must have passed through doubt. But it is Christian in modesty and truthfulness to say that in a real and adequate sense a man can hardly be a champion who has not felt the stress and strain upon his faith of the mysteries and difficulties round about us, whose imagination they have never awed, whose reason they have never puzzled, whose sympathies they have never wrung. But there is one thing which must yet be said, for it underlies the whole. The victory of David was won not only by the sling and stone, but by the proved and trusted presence of God. Theirs is the strength which speaks in words which we have not yet learnt to separate from David. "The Lord is my strength in whom I will trust. By Thee I have run through a troop and by my God I have leaped over a wall. It is God that girdeth me with strength."
(E. S. Talbot, D. D.)
(C. J. Vaughan, D. D.)
(C. J. Vaughan, D. D.)
(A. Maclaren, D. D)
And he took his staff in his hand, and chose him five smooth stones out of the brook.
1. Now though David was yet but a stripling, he was evidently acting on the principle which he afterwards expressed in one of his Psalms. "Because Thou hast been my help, therefore in the shadow of Thy wings will! rejoice." He was already using past, mercies as a pledge or promise of future; and encouraging himself by what God had done, in expecting Him to do yet more in his behalf. There is something singularly emphatic in those words of St. Paul to Timothy, "I know whom I have believed." They are the words of a man who was his own storehouse of evidence, who had gathered into himself so much of testimony to the origin of Christianity and the faithfulness, of God, that he had no need in any moment of difficulty or trial, to have recourse to books or external witness in order to be assured that he trod a safe path. "I know whom I have believed;" there may have been a time when I required the evidence of miracle and prophecy in order to be convinced that I followed "no cunningly devised fable" — when I had to turn to the registered histories of the saints of other days to satisfy myself that I served a God who would never fall His people; but now my own experience has come into the place of external testimony and Christian biography; I have but to descend into myself, end there do I find graven on the tablets of memory such records of fulfilled promises and gracious interpositions as leave me nothing to seek from the archives of creation, or the volumes of history. And there can be given no reason why this should have been the ease with St. Paul or David rather than with any amongst ourselves. We would, therefore, call on you all, to turn your own experience to account, and to go on, adding page after page to the volume whose want is not to be supplied by whole libraries of the narratives of others: for there is a warrant in the recorded account, of favours shown to ourselves which is incomparably beyond that of much greater favours shown to another. And will you tell me that nothing has happened to yourselves, of which you might make the use which David made of a former great deliverance? Aye, if this be your assertion it can only be because you receive mercies only to forget them. And we speak now to those who profess some attention to religion. Can you deny that God takes care of you in the midst of your sorrows — either wholly delivering you from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, or administering such supports as enable you to feel the tribulation to be good? We are persuaded that this has been your experience, though you may have given but little heed to the storing the mind with mementoes of Divine love. You should keep the past before you if you would look the future calmly in the face. Every obstacle surmounted, every sorrow soothed, every want supplied, every fear dissipated, every tear dried, should be in reserve, ready to give evidence, on any new trial, as to the goodness and watchfulness of your Father in heaven. Shame on you if you cannot say, "I know whom I have believed." It is likely that the older you grow, the sterner will be the forms of trouble which you will have to encounter, and you will encounter them confidently in proportion as you bear well in mind how the milder forms were vanquished.
2. We have shown you how strong was the faith of David. It is true. that finally he went with no weapons but a stone and a sling: he went, that is, with none of those appliances which seem required, whether for his own defence or for the defeat of Goliath. But, then it is just as true, that he did not determine to go thus unequipped to the field until he had done his best to ascertain that it was not God's will that he should wear a warrior's arms. There seems no reason to suppose that David tried on Saul's armour merely out of compliance with Saul's wish: on the contrary, it appears to have been his intention to have used his armour, and the intention was only given up because, on trial, the armour proved an encumbrance. If ever man might have ventured to say means might be neglected, the result is ordained, and will be brought round without any of the common instrumentality, David might have been warranted in refusing the armour without trying it on. But this is just what David did not do: he proceeded on the principle that no expectation of a miracle should make us slack in the employment of means; but that so long as means are within reach, we are bound to employ them, though it may not be through their use that God will finally work, And can you fail to see how David thus became a great example to ourselves? I know not in what precise way God may design to effect the conversion of anyone in this assembly, or to give anyone victory over some great spiritual adversary; but I know thoroughly what is the business of every one of you, if you look to be converted, or hope to be made victor. There are appointed means through which God is ordinarily pleased to bring round such results: and the readiest mode of frustrating the results is, to take for granted, that means may be neglected. These means are prayer, the study of the Bible, and the ordinances of public worship. That you can show me that the Goliath is often finally slain by stones taken out of the brook, and not by any of the more massive weapons is nothing against our argument; for our argument is, that, though slain at last by the pebble, the slayer has commonly first put on the armour; in short, that no man has a right to have recourse to the stone and the sling until he have first made trial of the coat of mail and the sword. We are quite prepared, we say, for occasionally finding, that a casual remark in conversation, a text quoted, or a passing observation while engaged in his ordinary occupation, will effect what the public ministrations have failed to effect, — penetrate the heart, and overthrow the strongholds of pride and unbelief: and here Goliath falls before the pebble, and not before the armour of the thoroughly equipped warrior. But, nevertheless, the man of whom we speak, had recourse to the armoury before he had recourse to the brook; and, probably, had he refused to appeal to the armoury, that penetrating stone would never have been drawn from the brook; at all events, no man can have a right to be looking for miracle who is not diligent in the employment of means: man is to be trying on the armour, though God may at last use the pebble. And there is one particular case to which we would apply these more general remarks. I know not a more difficult or delicate undertaking, than that of defending the cause of God and of truth against some champion of infidelity and error. It is probably better to keep silence than to throw one's self into discussion, and have the worst of the argument. And you are not to feel sure, that because you have undoubted truth on your side, you will conquer in the struggle: the proof by which truth may be substantiated is quite different from the truth itself; just as is the guilt of a prisoner from the evidence which will make a jury determine on his conviction. Goliath is not always to be slain with a pebble, though he defy the armies of the living God to which his opponent belongs. And the question is, whether the man who has really nothing but the sling and the pebble should be forward in every company where a Philistine may be, in accepting his challenge. There are cases indeed in which the unlettered believer is distinctly called on to engage with the giant, and whenever such case arises, we have no fear but that God will strengthen him for the fight. If called like David, like David he will be protected. But the evil generally is, that our youthful champions, eager, however unprepared, to throw themselves into argument, fancy themselves imitating David, because he went forth with nothing but a sling and a stone; but they forget that he first tried to put on the armour of Saul. We want them to imitate David in each successive particular. To complete the destruction of Goliath, David ran and seized the giant's sword, and with that sword he cut off his head. And how was Satan finally vanquished, and, as it were, decapitated by Christ, if not with his own sword? Was not, death emphatically the sword of the devil, seeing that he is expressly said to have had "the power of death," and that it was through death that he had laid waste successive generations, and swept them into his own place of torment? And, remember ye not how it is declared that Christ died "that through death he might destroy him that had the power over death, that is, the devil?" It was by dying that he slew the devil; he vanquished him by taking death for his weapon: And what was this but David using Goliath's sword to cut off Goliath's head? It may therefore well be called a parable of redemption, which is written in the incidents of the chapter before us. These incidents may have furnished a significative lesson to David, just as did those of the offering up of Isaac to Abraham. And thus do we draw from our subject a lesson for the nation. But let us not overlook that which belongs to the individual. The paw of the lion, the paw of the bear, the uncircumcised Philistine, in every case, needs strength God alone can give the strength — God alone can give victory in every struggle with corruption, and in the final struggle with death. But if you will fight as followers of Christ, regarding him as the Captain of your salvation, and depending simply on the aids of His Spirit, you shall be made more than conquerors; the giants one after the other shall fall before you, and the last enemy shall do the work of a friend in consigning you to glory and honour and immortality.
(H. Melvill, B. D.)
And the Philistine came on and drew near unto David.
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.)
I. THE WISDOM OF FOLLOWING THE SPIRIT'S SUGGESTIONS AS TO THE METHOD OF A WORK OF FAITH. "And Saul clad David with his apparel, and he put an helmet of brass upon his head, and he clad him with a coat of mail." For the moment Saul was allowed to array David in the heavy war suit of the day. A sense of the ridiculous may have come first to the relief of the lad. He was not so large a man as the king, and the clanking plates of metal would impede the free movement of the volunteer. There are times when an appreciation of the humorous elements of a situation will prevent serious folly. If good people who overwork prophecy on every possible occasion had only a slight intuition of the appearance of their performances, they would be aware that something must be wrong in their outfit. Scripture does not lend itself to grotesque interpretations without exacting penalties from its manipulators. There are fads of false science which are so silly that they cannot be meant to be incorporated into the great body of the world's dignified truth. The boy in his grandfather's coat is not counted a serious actor on the stage of life. But beyond this feeling of unfitness there was this reason, "I have not proved them." The youth felt the seriousness of the crisis, notwithstanding his bravery. He knew the long practice required to get an unerring aim with the sling. Beyond all these motives which influenced David would be the assurance that God, who gave him a work to do, would show the method of it. The Lord who called to the bold undertaking would give the plan.
II. THE RANGE OF GIFTS WHICH THE SPIRIT CAN USE AND BLESS IN AN ENTERPRISE OF FAITH. "And he took his staff in his hand, and chose him five smooth stones out of the brook, and put them in the shepherd's bag which he had, even his scrip; and his sling was in his hand." This was not the first experience of the Lord's consecration of the youth's gifts. "Thy servant smote both the lion and the bear." The Lord often makes use of men's gifts to get them to a position of vantage from which they can do more efficient service. Sir Hope Grant when a youth was selected because of his skill in playing the flute for the staff of Lord Saltoun, who was going out to take command of the British forces in China. The long voyage of months around the Cape of Good Hope to their destination was thus to be made more tolerable for the officers. Grant soon became the foremost Christian in the English army in the East and one of its most successful generals. David's reputation for music got him a place at the court of Saul, and perhaps the story of his rugged valour among the shepherds secured him a hearing as a champion of Israel. Guizot's gifts as a diplomat made him necessary to his Catholic sovereigns and gave him a position from which he could exert a beneficent influence for an oppressed church in France. John Wycliffe's parliamentary skill and zeal for liberty mede him an important ally of the House of Lancaster and gained him the protection which he needed to spread the doctrines of the Gospel. Many accomplishments of the Christian may be of service in gaining an entrance to doors and hearts closed to direct religious appeal. Dr. Asa Gray, the botanist, records of his long and singularly successful career as a Christian and a man of science that when he was ready for any forward movement he almost always found that things were prepared for him. Let one have himself in training for a useful life and he will find a place and opportunity awaiting the employment of his gifts.
III. A CONSECRATED YOUTH EARLY BEGINS TO BEAR HIS COUNTRY'S BURDENS AS A WORK OF FAITH. "But I come to thee in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, which thou hast defied." David belongs to a legion of those out of every nation who have consecrated their youth to their country's freedom and to God. They are a nobler band than Sons of the Revolution. They have been the sires of States. "The war song that has made all Germans merge their local differences in one great purpose — the common fatherland — that united Bavarians, Prussians, Saxons, end Wurtembergers in 1870, and the Imperial Crown to the House of Hohenzollern — that song is 'Die Wacht am Rheim.' "It was written at the age of twenty-one by a poor German roused against the French aggressions upon his native land. Not all such heroic souls have been permitted to take up arms. Their stanzas, their speeches, their deeds of mercy have made them members of this patriotic and Christian fraternity. Every nation has contributed its quota for this ancient peerage to which David belonged. It is older than all orders, chapters, and lodges. The people who are to be preserved in their inheritance and liberties must still be able to call forth the devotion of these volunteer champions of law, institutions, faith, and native land.
(W. R. Campbell.)
I come to thee in the name of the Lord of Hosts.
I. THE CONFLICT OF FAITH. Before David proceeded to the conquest he had to encounter many obstacles from without; while, there is not the least doubt he was exercised by many trials within.
1. In the first place he was tried by the gigantic stature and martial appearance of his adversary, whilst he was a stripling, and a stripling unarmed. It is in vain to suppose that David was divested of human feeling: however strong in faith a men may be, still he is but man, end has about him all the weaknesses and infirmities of human nature.
2. He was exercised, also, by the rebukes of his brethren.
3. And after this, he was discouraged by Saul himself. There seems to have been here some misgiving of mind on the part of David; at all events he seems to enter into the views of Saul, and thinks it would be better to be armed to meet an armed champion And, in the midst of all this, the devil would be no unconcerned spectator of the transaction: there is not a question but that David would be inwardly exercised, and agitated, perhaps by the very same thoughts which he has often put into the hearts of God's people, and had, before this, put into the heart of Saul: and he might have argued, "Is it not presumption in me, a stripling, to meet a giant? Is it not rashness?" And might he not consider the taunt of his brother, and the remonstrance of Saul, to be to him the voice of God? Which things are an allegory; for herein we see the camp of the living God, the Church of Christ assailed by Apollyon the destroyer. I am now, then, to call your attention to his mode of attack. You will find it is, in the first place, by open assault, and, secondly, by sudden and hidden device.(1) It is, in the first place, by open assault. It is the method which is adopted by the great deceiver and accuser of the brethren. He tries and harasses the people of God in the early stages of their experience by open assault, by bringing against them open railing accusations, and thereby attacks their faith.(2) But if faith holds out then he will raise the siege for a season; he will appear to retire, and he will assail your faith in another direction; and that wilt be by subtle, wily, hidden device. Transforming himself into an angel of light he will try you as he did David, by your friends — by false friends, and by true friends.(3) The people of God are further tried through the instrumentality of those who are true brethren. Satan, you will remember, dared to try the great Head of the Church by one of His Apostles. Peter said unto Him, "Be it far from Thee, Lord: this shall not be unto Thee." Our Lord saw the spirit of Satan working in the mind of His Apostle, and said, "Get thee behind Me, Satan."(4) But if faith remains inflexibly firm against this attack, then the devil tries the children of God by ungodly people. If may be by those of their own household — by father, or mother, or those who are in power and authority. Thus it is that the serpent winds his wily folds round the heart of the people of God, even unto hesitation. Here is the struggle. They say, "May I not make this little surrender? May I not give up this little thing but for once? Will not the peculiar delicacy, or the peculiar difficulty, of my case extenuate the concession? Then put on the armour and go forth." Yea, Satan brings the people of God to this pass; and they have put the armour on, end they have gone forth in it. But it would not fit the gracious soul; he cannot fight in this armour, he has never been accustomed to such weapons as these. And then faith revives. What! shall I give up my leaning on the everlasting arm of the Most High, to lean on an arm of flesh? What! shall I lose all my peace, and my comfort, and the happiness of my soul in God, for the smiles of men and the favour of the world?
II. THE CONQUEST OF FAITH IN THE HOUR OF TEMPTATION. There are two things that are notable in the exploits of David: the one was the strength of his confidence — the other, the weapons of his warfare. The one, you know, was God: "I come to thee in the name of the Lord of Hosts, the God of Israel, whom thou hast defied:" his weapons were the sling and the stone. Not that David was without armour: every soldier of the Lord Jesus Christ has armour on: and so had David; but it was not Saul's armour, not man's armour. God equips all His believing people for their warfare, as soon as He inclines them into His service: He leads them into His armoury. Thus harnessed, David went forth to meet the uncircumcised Philistine. Alas, for the apathy of the day in which we live! Where is the man that will even dare to risk his name, or his reputation, or his interest? Scarcely one will be found willing to hazard his ease or his credit to vindicate the honour of the God who has bought him with His blood. Not so David. He, full of faith, went out, because he heard the name of his God dishonoured, and his Israel reproached. "What! against, a giant, and a champion, in arms!" "No matter; he has blasphemed the name of my God, and in the strength of that God will I go out and meet him, yea, unarmed as I am." Thus went David forth. So it is when the Christian champion, the soldier of Jesus Christ is tried, and he goes forth to fight; he takes up his sling. By faith he takes a well-directed aim, and by prayer and supplication he slings the fatal bolt, and wounds his enemy in the head.
(T. J. Holloway, D. D.)
1. This is a faith that is in action. Nothing is said of prayer, though David may have spent the whole night in prayer before the fight. His is a faith that acts, rather than begs. There are times when even prayer is out of place. God once said to Moses, "Why criest thou unto Me? Speak to the children of Israel, that they go forward." It was a time for marching. The spirit of prayer may be continued, though the form be suspended. Faith here stands alone in the person of David. A grain of mustard seed rather than a can of dynamite is the chosen type of Divine working. A single soul like Luther is filled with God's thought and power, while the community is not in sympathy with that thought. Vox populi is by no means Vox Dei. The voice of the people killed Jesus Christ, it killed Socrates, it killed the martyrs. It is the minority, often, that more truly represents the right and the truth.
2. Faith controls forces or forces will control faith. There was a young man who once was sent out by our missionary board reluctantly, for they doubted his efficiency; but in a single year he led ten thousand to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. John Clough was a surveyor, and he preached to companies of men under him on one verse, "God so loved the world," etc., till 15,000 were reached and two-thirds of them accepted Christianity. This was in connection with a mission field so apparently unfruitful that it was thought hardly worth continuing. He dedicated his surveying talent to Christ Where is your confidence — in faith or forces? Which? Michael Angelo worked so long on ceilings and on things overhead that it is said he had formed the habit of looking upward as he walked the street or field The true believer is "looking unto Jesus" He brings all he has to Him. "My faith locks up to Thee," in his language.
3. Faith is simple and unchanging It can overcome one difficulty or form of opposition as easily as it can another. Not so in the play of material forces David subdued the bear in a different way from that employed with the lion, and Goliath was met with still different methods of physical action; but the training in faith which the son of Jesse had received enabled him to meet and overcome all things through God's power. But petty, pestering trials are sometimes harder to meet than great ones. A Turkish army once forced their way into a German city, but were driven back by swarms of bees, whose sting was harder to meet than the blows of a battering ram. It may require less faith to meet some great Goliath of difficulty than to preserve one's Christian equanimity during a single night's siege of mosquitoes in a New Jersey hotel. The housekeeper loses her temper at home amid dust and din, and the merchant amid the buzzing annoyances of the store. For great ills and small ones alike, faith in God's promised presence and strength will alone avail.
4. Faith is protected, though its power seem vain; and force alone is vain, though it may seem protected. Bystanders at this duel doubtless said: "Goliath is safe and David is in danger." But the giant died and the boy returned in triumph. The three Hebrew youths in the fiery furnace were in the safest place in all Persia. was unharmed trusting in God. After he confided in the sovereign a promised protection he was betrayed and burned at the stake. Finally, temporary defeat is to the believer the highest victory. He may be "killed all the day long, and accounted as sheep for the slaughter," but none of these things need to move him. None of them can separate him from the love of Christ.
(A. C. Dixon, D. D.)
I. DAVID'S PREPARATORY DISCIPLINE. During his retirement, David was receiving that nurture or Divine preparation which should fit him for great achievements, especially for the overthrow of the adversaries of Israel. Sick of the world, he had to live entirely with God, and left of every solace but His presence, he had, in his lonely condition, to learn the way of Providence, and the supernatural power which can be communicated through faith.
II. DAVID'S PREPARATORY DISCIPLINE IS CONCLUDED AND HE IS NOW CALLED TO THE FIELD AS THE LORD'S CHAMPION. David is a stranger to the science of war, knows nothing of the dexterity which long experience alone can give in the use of martial implements, and come to the field ignorant of all that belongs to the deadly encounter. Was not this hardihood mare madness? Madness undoubtedly, were it not for certain considerations, which prove his valour to have been most rational. Look, now, upon his preparation for the conflict. There was settled within his soul a deep and holy confidence in the existence and absolute rule of the Divine Being. Further, he had been before in perils, perils in which there were as fearful odds against his life as in the approaching encounter. Lastly, he was assured of God's interposition. His cause was a most righteous one generally; he was a citizen of a holy state, his adversary was an idolater, and the champion of idolators; sad, in particular, having insulted the God of truth, David felt assured that God would vindicate His own cause, and give the victory into his hands against the blasphemer. And so it came to pass, the adversary of Israel fell. There is no discharge in this war; you must fall or conquer, and the struggle is for eternity itself. Go out, then, boldly, in the name of the Lord of Hosts, in the name, and faith, and experienced aid of Jesus Christ; and while it is said by one victor, "Resist the devil, and he will flee from you," and by another, "Whom resist steadfast in the faith." he himself who triumphed over all the powers of hell upon the cross, will renew in you his victory. Go out in faith, and conquer. We know that the Reformation was a blessed deliverance, and that the encounter which won for us this deliverance, lay between one man, a solitary monk, who had found the truth in sacred Scriptures, and the whole host of superstition. You remember the weakness and timidity of the man at first, ere his views of truth were perfected; his consent to lay down opposition to the Pope, provided that some adequate reform in the Roman Church should be effected. You remember how he replied to the discouraging taunt. " Luther, the whole world is against you" — "Then Luther is against the world!" how he prospered, on principle, on truth, and with the truth, of justification by faith only, inflicted defeat on superstition, and won for us the liberty of the Gospel.
(C. M. Fleury, A. M.)
I. IT WAS A FAITH IN THE LIVING GOD. We find these words, "the living God," many times in the Old Testament Scriptures. Joshua, referring to the sure destruction of his enemies, speaks thus: "Hereby ye shall know that the living God is amongst you" (Joshua 3:10). Jeremiah writes: "The Lord is the true God; He is the living God, and an everlasting King" (Jeremiah 10:10). "We trust in the living God," were Paul's words of encouragement to Timothy; whilst David sang with gladness: "The Lord liveth: blessed be my Rock, and let the God of my salvation be exalted." Surely this shepherd lad had gripped the truth when, in the midst of the trembling army of Israel, he cried out of a full heart, "Who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?"
II. IT WAS A FAITH THAT WAS TRIED. "Eliab's anger was kindled against David." The people, too, seemed to have caught the spirit of Eliab, for they answered him "after the former manner." If we would work the works of God, we shall surely have to encounter our Eliabs. May we meet them in the quiet, firm spirit, of this son of Jesse.
III. IT WAS A FAITH STRENGTHENED BY PAST EXPERIENCE.
IV. IT WAS A FAITH THAT WORKED BY MEANS.
V. IT WAS A FAITH THAT NEVER WAVERED.
VI. IT WAS A FAITH THAT TRIUMPHED GLORIOUSLY. "Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ."
I. IT HAD BEEN BORN IN SECRET AND NURSED IN SOLITUDE. This is the unfailing secret. There is no short cut to the life of faith, which is the all-vital condition of a holy and victorious life. We must have periods of lonely meditation and fellowship with God.
II. IT HAD BEEN EXERCISED IN LONELY CONFLICT. What we are in solitude we shall be in public. Do not for a moment suppose, O self-indulgent disciple, that the stimulus of a great occasion will dower thee with a heroism of which thou betrayest no trace in secret hours. The Griefs will only reveal the true quality and temper of the soul.
III. IT STOOD THE TEST OF DAILY LIFE. There are some who appear to think that the loftiest attainments of the spiritual life are in. compatible with the grind of daily toil and the friction of the home. "Emancipate us from these," they cry, "give us nothing to do, except to nurse our souls to noble deeds; deliver us from the obligations of family ties, and we will fight for those poor souls who are engrossed with the cares and ties of the ordinary and commonplace." We must not forsake the training ground till we have learnt all the lessons God has designed it to teach, and have heard His summons.
IV. IT BORE MEEKLY MISCONSTRUCTION AND REBUKE. Eliab had no patience with the words and bearing of his young brother. A marvellous exhibition was given that day in the valley of Elah that those who are gentlest under provocation are strongest in the fight, and that meekness is really an attribute of might.
V. IT WITHSTOOD THE REASONINGS OF THE FLESH. Saul was very eager for David to adopt his armour, though he dared not don it himself. He was taken with the boy's ingenuous earnestness, but advised him to adopt the means. "Don't be rash; don't expect a miracle to be wrought. By all means trust God, and go; but be wise. We ought to adopt ordinary precautions." It was a critical hour. But an unseen hand withdrew David from the meshes of temptation. It was not now Saul's armour and the Lord, but the Lord alone; and he was able, without hesitation, to accost the giant with the words, "The Lord sayeth not with sword and spear." His faith had been put to the severest tests and was approved. Bring more precious than silver or gold, it had been exposed to the most searching ordeal; but the furnace of trial had shown it to be of heavenly temper. Now let Goliath do his worst; he shall know that there is a God in Israel.
(F. B. Meyer, B. A.)
I. NOTE THE GLOWING YOUTHFUL ENTHUSIASM WHICH DARES THE CONFLICT. He who trusts in God should be as a pillar of fire, burning bright in the darkness of terror, and making a rallying point for weaker hearts. When panic has seized others, the Christian soul has the more reason for courage. David conquered the temptation to share in the general cowardice before he conquered Goliath, and perhaps the former fight was the worse of the two. While David is the embodiment of the courage of faith, Saul is that of worldly wisdom and calculating prudence. David's eager story of his fights with wild beasts is meant, both to answer Saul's objection on his own ground, by showing him that, youth as the speaker was, he had proved his power, and still more to supply the lacking element in the calculation. As Thomas Fuller says, "He made an experimental syllogism, and from most practical premises (major a lion, minor a bear) inferred the direct conclusion that God would give him victory over Goliath." Faith has the right thus to argue from the past to the future, because it draws from God, whose resources and patience are equally inexhaustible.
II. THE EQUIPMENT OF FAITH. Saul meant to honour as well as to secure David by dressing him in his own royal attire, and by encumbering him by the help of sword and helmet. And David was willing to be so fitted out, for it is no part of the courage of faith to disdain any outward helps. But he soon found that he could not, move freely in the unaccustomed armour, and flings it off, like a wise man. His motive was partly common sense, which told him not to choose weapons that his antagonist could handle better than he; and partly reliance on God, which told him that he was safer with nothing on but his long shepherd's dress and his sling in his hand. The weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but they are mighty. Faith unarmed is armed with more than triple steel, and a sling in its hand is more fatal than a sword. Sometimes in kindness and sometimes in malice the world tempts us to fight evil with its own weapons, and to take the unfamiliar armour. The church as a whole and individual Christians have often been hampered, and all but smothered, in Saul's grand clothes. The more simply we keep ourselves to the simple methods which the word of God enjoins and to the simple weapons which ought to be the easiest for a Christian, the more likely shall we be to conquer.
III. NOTE FAITH'S ANTICIPATION OF VICTORY. The dialogue before the battle has many parallels in classical times and among savage peoples. Goliath's bluster is meant by him for contempt of David and truculent self-confidence. Its coarseness is characteristic — he will make his boyish antagonist food for vultures and jackals. It is exactly what a bully would say. David's answer throbs with buoyant confidence, and stands as a stimulating example of the temper in which God's soldiers should go out to every fight, no matter against what odds. The great name on which David's faith rested, "the Lord of hosts," appears to have sprung into use in this epoch, and to have been one precious fruit of its frequent wars. Conflict is blessed if it teaches the knowledge of the unseen Commander who marshals not only men, but all the forces of the universe and the armies of heaven, for the defence of his servants and the victory of His own cause. The fulness of the Divine name is learned by degrees, as our needs impress the various aspects of his character; and the revelation contained in this appellation is the gift of that fierce and stormy time, a possession forever. He who defies the armies of Israel has to reckon with the Lord of these armies.
IV. Observe THE CONTRAST IN VERSE 48 BETWEEN THE SLOW MOVEMENTS OF THE HEAVY-ARMED PHILISTINE AND THE QUICK RUN OF THE SHEPHERD, whose "feet were as hind's feet" (Psalm 18:33.) Agility and confident alacrity were both expressed. His feet were shod with the preparedness of faith. The vulnerable heel of Achilles and the unarmed forehead of Goliath illustrate the truth, ever forgotten and needing to be repeated, that, after all precautions, some spot is bare, and that "there is no armour against fate."
(A. Maclaren, D. D.)
I. THE TALISMAN OF VICTORY. "The name of the Lord of Hosts." Throughout the Scriptures, a name is not simply, as with us, a label; it is a revelation of character. The names which Adam gave the animals that were brought to him were founded on characteristics which struck his notice. And the names which the Second Adam gave to the apostles either expressed qualities which lay deep within them, and which He intended to evolve, or unfolded some great purpose for which they were being fitted. Thus the Name of God, as used so frequently by the heroes and saints of sacred history, stands for those Divine attributes and qualities which combine to make Him what He is. In the history of the early Church the Name was a kind of summary of all that Jesus had revealed of the nature and the heart of God. "For the sake of the Name they went forth, taking nothing of the Gentiles." The special quality that David extracted from the bundle of qualities represented by the Divine Name of God is indicated in the words, "the Lord of Hosts." That does not mean only that God was Captain of the embattled hosts of Israel; that idea was expressed in the words that followed, "The God of the armies of Israel." But there was probably something of this sort in David's thought. To come in the Name of the Lord of Hosts did not simply mean that David understood Jehovah to be all this; but implied his own identification by faith with all that was comprehended in this sacred Name. An Englishman in a foreign land occupies a very different tone, according to whether he assumes a private capacity as an ordinary traveller, or acts as representative and ambassador of his country. In the former case he speaks in his own name, and receives what respect and obedience it can obtain; in the latter he is conscious of being identified with all that is associated with the term Great Britain. For a man to speak in the name of England means that England speaks through his lips; that the might of England is ready to enforce his demands; and that every sort of power which England wields is pledged to avenge any affront or indignity to which he may be exposed. Thus, when Jesus bids us ask what we will in His Name, He means not that we should simply use that Name as an incantation or formula, but that we should be so one with Him in His interests, purposes, and aims, that it should be as though He were Himself approaching the Father with the petitions we bear. There is much for us to learn concerning this close identification with God before we shall be able to say with David, "I come to thee in the name of the Lord of Hosts."
II. THE CONDITIONS ON WHICH WE ARE WARRANTED IN USING THE NAME.
1. When we are pure in our motives. There was no doubt as to the motive which prompted David to this conflict. His one ambition was to take away the reproach from Israel, and to let all the earth know that there was a God in Israel. We must be wary here. It is so easy to confuse issues which are wide asunder as the poles, and to suppose that we are contending for the glory of God, when we are really combating for our church, our cause, our prejudices, or opinions. To fall into this sin, though unconsciously, is to forfeit the right to use His sacred Name.
2. When we are willing to allow God to occupy His right place. David said repeatedly that the whole matter was God's. His skill must direct us; His might empower us; His uplifted hands bring us victory.
3. When we take no counsel with the flesh. It must have been a hard thing for a youth to oppose his opinion to Saul's, especially when the king was so solicitous for his welfare. He could not have served two masters so utterly antagonistic. To have yielded to Saul would have put him beyond the fire ring of the Divine environment. How perpetually does Satan breathe into our ears the soft words that Peter whispered to his Master, when He began to speak about the cross. "Spare Thyself: that shall not come unto Thee." There is so much talk about the legitimacy of means, that no room is left on which the Almighty can act.
III. THE BEARING OF THOSE WHO USE THE NAME.
1. They are willing to stand alone. The lad asked no comradeship in the fight. There was no running to and fro to secure a second.
2. They are deliberate. He was free from the nervous trepidation which so often unfits us to play our part in some great scene. Our heart will throb so quickly, our movements become so fitful and unsteady. He did not go by haste or flight, because the Lord went before him and the Holy One of Israel was his reward.
3. They are fearless. When the moment came for the conflict, David did not hesitate.
4. They are more than conquerors, The weakest man who knows God is strong to do exploits.
(F. B. Meyer, B. A.)
Homilist.These two men give us a picture of the forms of good and evil. Evil in our world is like Goliath: of gigantic stature, immense energy, and imposing aspect. It is a Colossus. Good in our world is like David in appearance: small, weak, and insignificant; possessing nothing to which the world attaches the idea of strength or glory. So it appeared in Christ: "He was as a root out of a dry ground."
2. These two men give us a picture of the spirit of good and evil. The spirit of evil, like that of Goliath, is proud, contemptuous, malignant. The spirit of good, like that of David, is that st! humble trust and dependence upon God.
3. These two men give us a picture of the weapons of good and evil. Evil, like Goliath, has many and powerful weapons to fight its battles. Like Goliath, it is full-armoured. Armies and navies are on its side. The weapons of good are of the simplest kind: the sling and stone of David would symbolise them. "The weapons of our warfare," etc.
4. These two men give us a picture of the ultimate destinies of good and evil. But the subject on which at present we would fasten attention is, A true spirit the pledge of victory in the battle of life. Life is a battle. Physical life is a battle against danger and disease; intellectual life is a battle against ignorance and error; moral life is a battle against selfishness and wrong, he who has not felt life to be a battle, has not woke up as yet to the reality of existence. Now, a true spirit alone will make us victorious in this battle.
I. THAT A TRUE SPIRIT IS SUPERIOR TO THE GREATEST MATERIAL STRENGTH OF OUR FOES. What was the cause of the victory? It was to be found in the spirit that animated the breast of David — the spirit of dependence upon God.
II. A TRUE SPIRIT IS SUPERIOR TO THE GREATEST SOCIAL PRESTIGE OF OUR FOES. Goliath had obtained great fame as a warrior. Prestige is a wonderful thing — a mighty power. Give a man or an institution a prestige, and however feeble and worthless it may be, people will be disposed to yield to its influence. Many institutions, governments, books, live not on the ground of their merits; but because of the prestige they have obtained. But the true spirit will overcome this. Goliath, with all his prestige, fell. Whatever may be the prestige of evil, the true spirit will overcome it. Idolatry, war, etc., have prestige, but they shall fall.
III. A TRUE SPIRIT IS SUPERIOR TO THE COMPLETEST ACCOUTREMENTS OF OUR FOES. Huge evil, in our world, is well-armoured — defended by armies, navies, governments, customs, learning, wealth; but a man with the true spirit will overcome it. "This is the victory that overcometh the world," etc.
IV. A TRUE SPIRIT IS SUPERIOR TO THE PROUDEST VAUNTINGS OF OUR FOES. But how does this true spirit ensure victory in the battles of life?
1. It enables man to employ the best means. It is fanaticism that makes men regardless of means. Enlightened devotion is ever anxious to select the most fitting. Though it feels that all success is from God, it presumes on no supernatural help. David could stand at a distance from his huge antagonist, could calmly take his aim, and make his calculations. He could hurl the pebble at the vulnerable spot. The whole instrumentality seems well adapted. No miracle was used — for no miracle was wanted.
2. It enables man to use the best means in the best way.(1) With undaunted courage.(2) It inspires the possessor with invincible determination.
3. It ensures the aid of God in the best use of the best means.
Homiletic Review.I. THE VICTORY OF THE CHURCH IS MADE CERTAIN:
1. By the promises of God.
2. By the necessary triumph of righteousness over unrighteousness, of truth over error, of love over hate.
3. The glory of God and the establishment of universal and eternal harmony in all the domains of His moral government require it.
II. THE SOURCE OF THE VICTORY IS NOT HUMAN, BUT DIVINE. A Divine Leader, Christ, to whom all newer in heaven and earth is given. The weapons He employs are spiritual.
III. THE SPOILS OF THE VICTORY OURS.
I. DAVID WAS ON GOD'S SIDE. This was a religious war. Goliath fought for Dagon, and cursed David by his gods. David fought for Jehovah. The battle is the Lord's, David said truly. David was careful not so much to have God on his side, as to be on God's side, and do only God's will. Goliath rose before him like a mountain plated with iron and flashing brass: his spear a beam, his voice thunder. At first we pity the stripling as being devoted to certain death. Yet without a quiver, or a moment's delay, he offers himself as the champion of Israel. People speak about the giants you have to fight, but really you, like David, have one giant before you. He is the great adversary, the evil one, the Goliath of hell. Stripling as you are, you must accept his challenge for the duel. If you conquer your Goliath, all his hosts will take to flight. You must not think lightly of this war in the town of Man-soul. Our soldiers in Zululand despised the Zulus, and hundreds of them were slain at Isandula. The remnant still despised their foes, and at Intombi lost their lives for their error. An old Christian, who had hewn his way through the bloodiest scenes at Waterloo, laid his hand upon his breast, and said to me, "I never knew what fighting was till I began to fight with the enemy here. Waterloo was child's play to this." But fear not, for you can be on God's side. Wellington once ordered a captain to take a Spanish fort, before which many of his comrades had fallen. "Give me first a shake of your conquering hand, general," said the captain. They shook hands; the captain dashed forward, took the fort, and declared that the victory was owing to the touch of the general's all-conquering hand. What courage must it then give you to know that God is your shield, and Jesus Christ the Captain of your salvation.
II. IN GOD'S STRENGTH DAVID FOUGHT, ELSE HE WAS MAD WHEN HE FACED GOLIATH. God's Spirit gave him his holy courage, suggested his weapons, and guided the stone from the sling to Goliath's crashing temples. Was not David the man after God's own heart because he so frankly owned God in everything? His spirit shines in his beautiful confession, "Thy gentleness hath made me great." No feature in boy or girl, in man or woman, is more beautiful than this gentle and modest spirit, which makes its possessor even as a weaned child; and you shall have a good share of it if you feel that you owe every good thing to God's boundless and unbought mercy. This spirit is no mark of a soft and cowardly nature, for it was the spirit of Israel's champion and Goliath's conqueror. Now the humblest person in the world may cherish the same spirit. Yes, David's lofty spirit may be put into the humblest events. A poor needlewoman in her garret one day told me how she fought the Goliath of poverty. Though lonely and in poor health, she had won the battle. She looked a real heroine as her eyes expanded with exalted feeling, and she thus closed her story, "I may well say with David, 'Blessed be the Lord God, for He teacheth my bands to war, and my fingers to fight.'" Her needle was perhaps used as nobly as David's conquering sword.
III. DAVID THE CONQUEROR. If on God's side you shall win in the end, because God shall win, and all His shall win with Him. Their cause must triumph in His. True, God's good soldiers do not always fare on earth as David did when his stone entered the giant's resounding skull; but in their darkest days faith made them sure of utter and eternal victory. "Where wilt thou remain then?" asked the Emperor of Basil, who had refused to forsake Christ for idols. "Either under heaven, or in heaven," he calmly replied. David, you know, is a type of His Son and Lord, our Saviour. He is our champion, who, in our defence, has slain hell's two Goliaths, Sin and Death. You should love to think of Jesus Christ as having conquered all His and our foes. This grand fact makes the Bible full of holy triumph. Ours is a grand faith, as of men whose foes have been routed. As David triumphed not for himself only but for all Israel. So Christ triumphed for all His people. Our faith should then claim a share in all His triumphs.
(James Wells, M. A.)
(D. Rowlands, B. A.)
1. Now, observe with what exactness the person and the accoutrements of this champion are noticed, as if to show us that there was nothing wanting to render him a most formidable adversary. His height, six cubits and a span — about ten or eleven feet; His strength, it must have been prodigious, as may be collected from the weight of the armour in which he was clothed, and from the ponderous size of his spear. He seemed prepared to crush any opponent, and so fortified as to be almost invulnerable. Nothing was probably more remote from his thoughts than being overcome in a contest; and he therefore spoke in those taunting and boasting words. He was thinking of conquest, and confident in his own strength. "Pride goeth before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall." So it was with this unbelieving Goliath. His defiance of the Israelites, and in them of the God of Israel, was the sealing of his own fall. Whenever it so pleases God, He can make the meanest creature an instrument in His hand, can raise the poor out of the dust, and the beggar from the dunghill, and set him among the princes of his people. "He shall deliver thee in six troubles; yea, in seven there shall no evil touch thee: in famine He shall redeem thee from death, and in war from the peril of the sword." Goliath's armour was only of human proof, the weapons of mere human invention: his boasting and defiance came from an unbelieving and self-confident tongue. And Satan, the spiritual Goliath, is his armour impregnable? Are his weapons sure to destroy thee? Is his address to thy fears such as should appal or intimidate thee? Has not a stronger than he already come upon him, and overcome him? Hath he not taken from him all his armour, in which he trusted, and divided his spoils?
2. Let us now turn to the conduct of that remarkable person, who was designed by God to be the conqueror of the boasting and unbelieving Goliath. Now, you may observe that David attributes the conquest which he gained over the furious beasts which attacked his fold, not to his own strength or prowess, but to the Divine help and deliverance: he looks to the same God who had before delivered him, for protection now, and feels confident that he shall be prospered in the approaching struggle. And to whom should the Christian look in the day of trial and difficulty, but to the same almighty and gracious hand which has holden him up ever since he was born? What should he call to mind to encourage him but God's tender mercies and loving kindnesses, which have been ever of old? And he will find, as David did, that it is "good for him to hold him fast by God, and to put his trust in the Lord God." To one of less courage than David, a courage which nothing but a firm trust in God and the aid of the Spirit of the Lord could have given him, the appearance of this formidable giant, armed at all points, and a warrior from his youth, might well have caused dismay; but David "looked not on his countenance, or the height of his stature," persuaded that God would "deliver him from his strong enemy;" that He who can save by many or by few would "break the shield, the sword, and the battle," would make all human strength but weakness. So, in all your trials, of whatever kind they be, do not flatter yourselves in your own strength; do not lean to your own understanding, skill, or power: without God you can do nothing; with Him you may surmount the most appalling dangers.
3. Here I shall close the history of this wonderful event, the result of which was the deliverance of the Israelites from the power of their enemies, and from the fears and apprehensions which had so oppressed them. Let me remind you that our blessed Lord triumphed over the power of Satan, our great spiritual enemy, destroyed his works, and frustrated his malice, by the same aid by which David triumphed over Goliath — he had the arm of God with him; and, "if God be for us, who shall be against us?" And be assured that you have no reason for fear if you hold you fast by God. Remember how man's natural fears are apt to magnify difficulties and dangers. There is a lion in the way. Had David shrunk back at the sight of Goliath, where would have been his crown of rejoicing? If the Christian looks back with fear, what will be his reward? Set thy face as a flint, and constantly endure, and make not haste in time of trouble.
(Thomas Loveday, B. D.)
1. In one respect every Christian resembles David: he has been anointed by the Holy Ghost for an especial purpose: called and selected from the world to be "a member of Christ, the child of God, and an inheritor of the Kingdom of Heaven." As our condition and duties are spiritual, so our enemies are spiritual. No considerate person will deny that these opponents are as far more powerful than our best unassisted resolutions as Goliath was than David. There is, therefore, without any forced or fanciful parallel, this decided resemblance between the cases of David and ourselves; both are endowed with the strength of the same Spirit: both are exposed to very unequal enemies. The first prevailed.
2. Can we learn, from his example, how we may prevail also? After David had received an extraordinary effusion of the Holy Ghost, and was solemnly appointed to the highest dignity to which any of his countrymen could aspire, we do not find that he assumed that superiority to his brethren and even to his father, to which he was most undoubtedly entitled; he went back to his pastoral occupation, and remained in the discharge of his duties as a respectful son and an affectionate brother. This conduct of David will astonish none who understand the real spirit of the Gospel. If there be one here who values himself on his spiritual acquirements, and his growth in grace; who supposes himself to have been arbitrarily selected by God, for no other purpose, it appears, than to be saved without exertion; who trusts in himself that he is righteous and despises others; let him be entreated to review the conduct of a character manifestly and confessedly actuated by an extraordinary portion of God's Holy Spirit, and let him compare this conduct, with his own. Living in strictness, after God's own heart, David, as be did not seek power or grandeur, even when the Kingdom of Israel was conferred on him by the most unquestionable title, so neither did he court, difficulty or danger. His eldest brothers had gone to win glory in the cause of their God and their country; but he, God's chosen servant and his country's anointed king, lingered in the fields, inactive and obscure. It is therefore the duty of the Christian not ambitiously to throw himself in the way of temptation in order to exhibit his zeal for his profession, or his confidence in victory. This is becoming a tempter himself, and acting in open violation of a positive command, "Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God." Had David, contrary to his father's will, rushed to the battle and accepted the challenge of the Philistine champion, it is most probable that he would have been ruined by his ill-judged and unauthorised temerity. David, at length, finds an opportunity of reconciling the gratification of his noble desires with the strictest observance of duty. He is sent by his father to the camp. He feels that Goliath's audacious boasting must be opposed at all hazards; and he also feels that the Spirit of God is sufficient to enable him, a weak unarmed youth, to enter the lists with the gigantic challenger. With the same feeling it is that we should advance to the contest with the enemy of our souls. He is far more powerful than we, and those who have not faith to oppose to him the invincible weapons of the Spirit of God, cower and tremble at his advances. He defies us all, who are "the armies of the living God," "Christ's church militant here on earth." The Christian whose faith is unshaken wonders when be looks around him and beholds so many of his brethren tremble before the wily foe: but their terror is a stranger to his breast. He inquires with David, "what shall be done to the man who takes away the reproach from Israel?" And the answer is, "the man who killeth him, the king will enrich with great riches," "the riches of the glory of his inheritance." "He that overcometh," saith the Lord, "shall inherit, all things, and I will be his God, and he shall be My son." Faith in this promise, and hope to attain the reward, determine him to exertion. He heeds not the reproaches of a fearful brother who dares not resist the enemy; be will not listen to those who would persuade him that his strength will not sustain him, for he knows that it is not his own strength, but that of the Almighty, on which he relies. Firmly, therefore, he advances to the conflict, exclaiming "I come to thee in the name of the Lord of Hosts, the God of the Armies of Israel whom thou hast defied." The grace of God is an invincible weapon, but we must employ it, or it will no more fight our spiritual battles, than a sword will defend us while we delay to draw it; or than the stones of the brook could avail David, while they only lay in the sling. We must therefore, as in everything else, so in resisting temptations, not only pray for God's grace, but do our own diligent endeavour to overcome them. And, if we do this sincerely, we may be quite sure that we shall be carried through Again, the sling and the stone would have been useless, had not the Spirit of God guided the hand of David; and in like manner the Christian must feel convinced that the various means which are allowed him of contending with sin, are only efficacious because "it is God that worketh in him to will and to do." The certainty that all his strength is from above, and the determination actively to employ that strength, must go hand in hand; neither will effect anything without the other, but the two combined will, by the blessing of God. finally beat down Satan under, our feet.
3. In our warfare with sin we shall occasionally find the armies of Israel ready to fly before the face of the enemy. We shall find some of our brethren, like Eliab, afraid to engage in the contest themselves, and yet ready to reproach us with pride and haughtiness of heart," because we have determined to live a life of severer holiness than any which they can bring themselves to bear. In our conduct towards them we must imitate that of David. How eloquent and forcible is David's appeal to his injurious brother. "Is there not a cause" why we should persist in the firmest adherence to a practice conformable to our professions? There is every conceivable cause. There is gratitude for love which eternity could never repay; there is love which eternity could never satisfy; and there is even private interest, which is more effectually served by the service of God than by any other assignable means. By this appeal our brother may be convinced that there is some cause for what we do, and, through the mercy of God, may himself be reclaimed, and be our comrade in the battle, and our witness and companion in the triumph above. We shall also find persons in the world like Saul, equally afraid with Eliab to engage, but who will hold towards us a different language. They will tell us that we are too weak to contend with all the difficulties which we speak of, and they will offer us, as Saul offered David his armour, worldly precepts and maxims for the conduct of life, taken from their own experience and adapted to persons like themselves, but which, not being founded on the strict and undeviating model of the law of God, are no more accommodated to the use of the Christian, than the massive and cumbersome panoply of Saul became the slender and unaccustomed David. But we "cannot go with these." We have not proved them, and assuredly, did we prove them, we should find them useless.
(H. Thompson, M. A.)
I. I ASK, AND I PROPOSE TO ANSWER, THE FOLLOWING QUESTION, — WHY IS ALL THIS STORY SO PARTICULARLY SET ON RECORD?
1. And first, I am of opinion, that viewed only as a passage in sacred history — a singularly life-like piece of very ancient narrative — the chapter before us might reasonably occupy a most conspicuous place. Such a page could not be spared from Jewish history.
2. Then further, — the indications which it contains of a providential purpose and plan, would better still account for the presence of the chapter we have been considering, in the Book of Life. It sets forth how man's extremity is God's opportunity; and how He works by humble instruments; and how, from the very first he "hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty."
3. But it requires little familiarity with the method of the Holy Spirit to be aware that another and a hatter reason may be given, than any of these, for the large and curious details in which this narrative abounds, as well as for the prominence given to the story of David's encounter with Goliath of Gath. Be persuaded that a greater than Goliath — a greater by far than David is here. This is none other than a parable or a prophecy in action. Call to mind also our Saviour's method with the Tempter. As "there was no sword in the hand of David," so was no carnal weapon employed by David's Son when He encountered Satan and overcame him. But at least you will see that in slaying Goliath with Goliath's sword, David did in emblem the very thing which David's Son did in His last encounter with the Prince of this World. But what says the Apostle? St. Paul declares that Christ died, in order "that through Death He might destroy him that had the power of Death, that is the Devil." It was suggested that the true reason why the history of the encounter of David with Goliath is recorded with such memorable minuteness of detail, is to be found nowhere but in the Gospel.
II. I PROPOSE TO ENFORCE AND EXPLAIN IT. Does anyone then inquire how can there really exist such a correspondence between a type and its antitype; seeing that the two histories are severed from one another by full a thousand years?
1. Let us not err, like the Sadducees of old, because we "know not the Scriptures, neither the power of God." So many and such remarkable points of resemblance and analogy cannot be all accidental. It is simply incredible. All antiquity cannot be mistaken. The wisest of the moderns cannot be dreamers all. The loom in which the stuff was woven proves to be of Heaven, not of Earth: and the workmanship is in consequence Divine, not Human. Images of Divine mysteries are to be seen in wrought here and there: colours other than were imagined: forms and faces which recall the things of Eternity: words which would be meaningless — deeds which would be very trifles — unless they are freely interpreted, as they claim a right to be, of God and of Christ.
2. Then, as for the use of such an exhibition of things future. I can see at once very many uses. No stronger proof of the Divinity of the narrative can be imagined. That the same inspiring Spirit was at work with the writers of either covenant, is plain. That the Gospel was contemplated before the Delivery of the Law, becomes abundantly established. This entire system has a kind of prophetic cogency and convincingness of its own; which will, with some minds, outweigh every other proof of the entire Inspiration of Holy Scripture. The consequences of our Saviour's victory over Satan we can, of course, only guess at. That some very mysterious circumstances of triumph were transacted in the unseen World, cannot be doubted; but express Revelation is silent. Note, however, that "the spoiling of the Egyptians" at the Exodus, is again and again spoken of: nay, is brought, into marked and mysterious prominence. Lastly, when our Saviour Christ, describes His own victory over Satan under the figure of the Stronger than the strong — who cometh on the strong man armed and taketh from him the armour wherein he trusted; — He is careful to add, as one consequence of His victory, that He "spoiled the other's house;" and again, that He "divided his spoils." And to this agree the words of the prophet Isaiah, — "He shall divide the spoil with the strong, because He hath poured out His soul unto death."...And now with all this before you, confess that the circumstantial relation concerning what David did with Goliath's armour — Goliath's sword — Goliath's head — becomes doubly interesting, doubly precious! "Glorious hint of the completeness of Christ's victory!" cries the Christian student. "So may all Thine enemies perish, O Lord!" We eagerly confess that there are other lessons, another class of lessons, lying on the surface of the narrative. This may be called the moral side of Holy Scripture.(1) "The Lord that delivered me out of the paw of the lion, and out of the paw of the hear, He will deliver me out of the hand of this Philistine." He made God's past mercies a pledge of mercies yet in store: God's past deliverances he regarded as an earnest of deliverances yet future.(2) "Then said David to the Philistine, Thou comest to me with a sword, and with a spear, and with a shield: but I come to thee in the name of the Lord of Hosts." The contrast here is between the World's weapons and those which God commands; — the secular, as contrasted with the Divine method. It is the Church's confidence against the World's might. Divested of its accidental shape, these words of David express the faithful soul's individual readiness to fight in God's strength; to conduct its warfare (and what is our whole life but a warfare?) — to conduct its warfare, I say, in implicit reliance on God.
(J. W. Burton, M. A.)
I. IN THE BATTLE OF LIFE GOOD MEN HAVE TO FIGHT A POWERFUL FOE. Satan is strong, subtle, and experienced adversary. No opponent is too powerful for him; no attack too difficult, and no place too sacred for assault.
1. In the battle of life we have to contend with numerous adversaries.
2. In the battle of life we are often hindered by those who ought to help us. "A man's foes," etc.
3. In the battle of life we are animated by various feelings
4. In the battle of life past victories strengthen us for future conflicts.
II. IN THE BATTLE OF LIFE GOOD MEN NEED DIVINE ASSISTANCE. "I come to thee in the name of the Lord of Hosts, whom thou hast defied." This dependence was right for four reasons.
1. It ensured the right help for the combat.
2. It awakened a right spirit for the combat. Goliath was an idolater; he treated the God of Israel with contempt. David had a profound faith in God's supremacy.
3. It led to a right selection of weapons for the combat. The sling multiplied David's chances of success, and afforded him greater protection by keeping his opponent at a distance. It is wise to keep our enemies as far from us as possible.
4. It secured a right issue in the combat. Appearances are often against true men and sound principle. Appearances are against the Church now, but ultimately the Church will triumph. Appearances were against, Christ, but a momentary defeat was turned into a glorious victory. It is sufficient for us to know the issue will he right.
(J. T. Woodhouse.)
Servant of God, well done; well hast thou fought
The better fight, who single hast maintained
Against revolted multitudes the cause
Of Truth: in words mightier than they in arms;
And for the testimony of truth hast borne
Universal reproach, far worse to bear than violence
For this was all thy care to stand approved
In sight of God, though worlds judged thee perverse.—
(Montague Butler, D. D.)
(R. J. Campbell, M. A.)
The battle is the Lord's.
I. THE SURPRISES OF FAITH. Forty days; and is he ever to be met in combat? Who will meet him? No Hebrew veteran. No well-panoplied soldier, but a young shepherd, and he with well-slung stone will be victor! Unlikely warrior! unlikely weapon! unlikely victory! A victory of faith. A surprise of faith. So has it ever been. The surprises of history are the surprises of faith. Who are the men who have "entered the kingdom" of influence wherein with abiding sceptre, they rule the human generations? Men of faith. The great men whose names are in the Old and New Testament chronicles were less likely, according to human judgment, to leave the impress they have upon the ages. And what surprises await us if we but emulate such faith? We "can do all things through Christ who strengtheneth us!"
II. THE HINDRANCES TO FAITH. It is easy to go in company. It is easy among the faithful to deem our faith strong. But solitude tries the spirit. Celebrated is the poet's Abdiel, because "faithful found among the faithless, faithful only he." And where was another faithful beside David through all the camp of Israel.? It was no ordinary foe against whom his courage kindled. Much, too, had he to hinder him in the craven spirit of Israel. Nothing in this to help David. His eye, lit with indignant courage, met no answering light in any other. Israel's only answer to Goliath's challenge was — flight! Enough in this to arrest David from offering himself for the combat. Who is he to stand forth as the pick of the nation's valour? He is brought into the presence of the king. But David had to beat down hindrance sharp and strong before he reached Saul's tent. Sharper, I think, than from any other. To be thus rebuked and slandered by a brother! But his faith stood fast. He answered not bitter with bitter. Eliab was his brother, not his Lord. "The battle was the Lord's," the battle within him as well as against Goliath And the Lord gave him the inner victory before the outer. Had his faith failed him before Eliab he had never stood before Goliath. Hindrances to faith! "How many hindrances we meet" in the way of our heart's supreme surrender to, and reliance on, Christ! Hindrances from tyrannic evil habit whose power Christ only can break. Hindrances from our circumstances; our business methods; the worldly faithless atmosphere in which we long have lived. From those who nearest us can affect us the most, from kindred as close as — closer than — was Eliab to David. What then? All the more need for earnestness. But whether within or without, "the battle is the Lord's."
III. THE ARGUMENT OF FAITH. Faith has varied arguments. God's promises are one. God's character is another But experience is the argument of David. This he urges with Saul. A valid argument is that of experience. Has God ever forsaken David. even when life depended upon well-aimed blow against wild beast? As He had never forsaken him, so he never would. One victory carried with it the assurance of another. One enemy slain that all enemies should be destroyed. We too have personal memories of deliverance. These are to be cherished. They are silent promises. To the listening heart they speak of goodness to come as well as past. "Jesus Christ" is "the same yesterday, today, and forever."
IV. THE SIMPLICITY OF FAITH. With what naturalness David enters and moves through this wondrous story! He "runs" into the camp and against Goliath with a boy's eagerness, and yet stands among the soldiers, before the king, and face to face with the loud-tongued foe with the calm heroism of seasoned warrior. He will have no controversy with Eliab. He presumes not on his former service to the king; others open for him the way; the king sends for him. He is not boastful, but tells enough of his previous prowess to secure the king's assent to his championship. If faith be simple, not marred by any self-seeking, fixed only in the Lord, set only on His glory, difficulties drop asunder into a pathway for our feet. No matter of what kind they may be. Only trust in God and do the right; let that be the constant rule of life, and you can safely leave the result with Him. Be fearful of criticism; be swayed by the opinions of men, and then the path darkens, troubles gather, and even when the right thing is done it has no acceptance with God, being done to please men and not Him.
V. THE VICTORY OF FAITH. Calmly forth went David, a spectacle to two armies. On he went alone, yet not alone, "being," in the words of Josephus, "accompanied with an invisible assistant, who was no other than God Himself." He teaches us to fight. He assures us of victory. Under His banner "the weakest saint shall win the day." He helps to every prayer and effort of resistance.
(G. T. Coster.)
And David put his hand in his bag, and took thence a stone, and smote the Philistine in his forehead.
I. DAVID POSSESSED A STRONG AND UNWAVERING CONFIDENCE IN GOD. From whatever grounds that assurance proceeded, he felt it; and it was the secret of his calmness and strength. The inquiry may occur to us, How came David to have this faith? We do not read of any Divine declaration made to him on the subject; it is not written that God told him that he should triumph: whence then did it proceed? was it holy trust, or vain presumption? It is possible to possess a sure confidence of success, and to succeed in consequence of that confidence, and yet to have no just grounds for it; and David might have felt securely and wrought gloriously without any reasonable basis for his trust. The only ground he himself assigned was past Providence. But in connection with something else, that deliverance would have a special argumentative force. Along with his predicted destiny it would be valuable. The Lord had said, "Arise anoint him: for this is he." Thus set apart by the prophet, immunity was assured him; and the immunity already granted would justly bear the character, not of a mere fact, but of a kind of pledge and guarantee. And might there not be something more still? Is it unlawful to suppose Divine suggestion and impression? We are told, in connection with his selection as Saul's successor, that "the Spirit of the Lord came upon David from that day forward." A like confidence may be possessed as to particular events. Who has not read of instances of strong presentiment in men having no religion, in relation to their worldly destiny, or the success of their enterprises? They were determined to reach a certain goal; they felt that they could reach it; and they did reach it: power and purpose became prophecy. The history of saints furnishes like instances.
II. DAVID'S FAITH WORKED WISELY. If he had confidence in God that victory would be his, he expected victory in the way of applying his own powers and resources. It was not a miracle, but a natural operation, that he looked to for triumph. God must be in it, but not in it so as to dispense with means. The opinion is very prevalent, and the impression still more so — though neither so prevalent as they used to be — that God is in the habit of employing unlikely instruments; that, for the purpose of revealing His all-sufficiency and bringing honour to Himself, He delights to contrast results with their secondary causes, and to disappoint the calculations founded on the supposed efficiency of human agents. To hear some men talk, you might conclude that God cannot be properly said to employ instruments at all; that in Nature, and still more in Providence, and most of all in grace, they are not so much instruments that He employs as obstacles, not so much things having a tendency and fitness to accomplish His designs as things altogether unsuitable and inappropriate. Now this belief or feeling is entirely erroneous and woefully mischievous. Many are the connections in which this important truth is lost sight of, and men imagine that they do honour to God by denying or ignoring it Sometimes the grand central truth of the Gospel is adduced as an illustration of important results brought about by unlikely means; and Paul's statements respecting "the foolishness of preaching" are made to sanction this use of the doctrine of the cross. Yet surely this is to mistake the matter altogether. We admit and maintain the need of Divine influence to render even this truth effectual — and that influence is one of the most glorious proofs of the virtue of Christ's death — but we also assert that never was truth more adapted to produce the effects proposed, to open the deep fountain of human affections, than the truth of "Christ; crucified." Much the same may be said of faith, as the appointed instrument end condition of spiritual blessing. The importance attached to faith in the Bible, and the marvellous virtue ascribed to it, are often regarded as a proof a mere arbitrariness on the part of God, having nothing to do with its inherent qualities and powers. And truly, if faith were what many deem it, a simple reception of historical facts or theological opinions, it might properly be so regarded. But if faith is, as any careful student of the New Testament may easily ascertain it to be, spiritual insight and sympathy as well as intellectual credence; if it is the reception of Gospel facts in their moral meaning and relations; it would be difficult to discover how anything except faith could realise the effects which Christ came into the world to secure. How can truth operate except by being believed? How can spiritual truth operate but through spiritual faith? The truth we are now asserting requires to be applied to spiritual human agency. Many need to be convinced of the propriety of this application of it; they do not see that the power of Christian workers has a regular relation to their qualifications. Doubtless in Greek and Roman and even Jewish eyes, the agency which Christ appointed and honoured was feeble and worthless, ridiculously so; considered simply as "of the world," and in connection with merely worldly works and aims, it was foolish, weak, base, yea nothing at all: but that is very different from saying that in God's eye, and according to spiritual laws, and for the production of spiritual effects, it was so. The doctrine we have in hand should be recognised in the sphere of physical and secular affairs. We are not perhaps in most danger here; it is in the department of God's spiritual works that we cleave to the faith and expectation of the irregular and unusual: yet is there on some minds an impression that law does not preside over our material and worldly interests, and that God does interfere to avert the natural consequences of actions and conditions. David had confidence in God, the simplest and firmest, that he would overthrow Goliath, but in the strength of that confidence he employed his familiar weapons of offence. He did just what he would have done if he had sought the destruction of the giant without any confidence in God: but his confidence doubtless enabled him to do it better than with a faithless heart he could have done it; it was an inspiring, a strengthening principle. And true faith is always such.
(A. J. Morris.)
Sunday Companion.A short time ago a geologist heard of a builder's yard where an enormous heap of stones might be purchased. The man of science bought the whole stock for a few pounds, and had the collection removed to his own premises. From the heap the geologist was able to discover many unique specimens of fossils, and today several of our leading museums have been enriched and smaller museums supplied with collections worth in all a large sum. Common weapons in the hand of a good man are often used by the Lord to achieve victory. God can use the simplest gifts of His workers if consecrated to His service.
So David prevailed over the Philistine with a sling and with a stone.I. DAVID WAS A TYPE OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST. The early fathers of the church were very great in opening up typical analogies. With regard to this particular transaction let us note, at the outset, that before he fought with Goliath, David was anointed of God. Samuel had gone down to Bethlehem and poured a horn of oil upon his head. The parallel will readily occur to you. Thus hath the Lord found out for Himself one whom He has chosen out of the people. With His holy oil hath He anointed him. Jesus, the antitype of David, is anointed with the oil of gladness above his fellows. Grace and truth came by Jesus Christ. The Spirit was not given by measure unto him. See how the correspondence goes on. Our Lord was sent by his Father to his brethren. As David was sent by Jesse to his brethren with suitable presents end comfortable words, in order to commune with them, even so in the fulness of time was our Lord commissioned to visit his brethren. Jesus was roughly handled by his brethren, whom He came to bless. David, you will remember, answered his brethren with great gentleness. He did not return railing for railing, but with much gentleness he endured their churlishness. In this he supplied us with but a faint picture of our beloved Master, who, when He was reviled, reviled not again. We pass on to observe that David was moved by intense love of his people, he saw them defied by the Philistine. The name of Jehovah was dishonoured! That braggart giant who stalked before the bests defied the armies of the living God! A further motive was present to stimulate his patriotic ambition. How could David's bosom fail to glow with strong emotion when he was told that the man who should vanquish and slay that Philistine should be married to the king's daughter? Such a prize might well quicken his ardour. Now in all this he plainly foreshadowed our Lord Jesus Christ. He loved His own: He was always ready to lay down His life for the sheep. And then there was the joy that was set before Him that He should have the church for His spouse. Goliath is called in the Hebrew, not "champion," as we read it in the English, but the middle-man, the mediator. If you put the whole case fairly before your own minds, you will readily see the fitness of the word that is used. There is the host of the Philistines on the one side, and there is the host of Israel on the other side. A valley lies between them. Goliath says, "I will represent Philistia. I stand as the middle-man." Now, it is exactly upon that ground that the Lord Jesus Christ fought the battles of His people. We fell representatively in the first Adam, and our salvation now is by another representative — the second Adam. He is the Middleman, the "one Mediator between God and man." Mark you well that David did smite Goliath, and he smote him effectually — not in the loins, or on the band, or on the foot — but in a vital point he delivered the stroke that laid him low. He smote him on the brow of his presumption, on the forehead of his pride. So when our Lord stood forth to contend with sin, He projected His atoning sacrifice as a stone that has smitten sin and all its powers upon the forehead. Thus, glory be to God, sin is slain. It is not wounded merely, but it is slain by the power of Jesus Christ. And remember that David cut off Goliath's head with his own sword. , in his comment on this passage, very well brings out the thought that the triumph of our Saviour Jesus Christ is here set forth in the history of David. He, "through death, destroyed him that had the power of death, that is, the devil." You will find the analogy capable of much amplification. Make a picture of it at your leisure, and it may prove a beneficial study and a profitable meditation.
II. DAVID AS AN EXAMPLE FOR EVERY BELIEVER IN CHRIST.
1. You cannot do David's work if you have not David's anointing. When you remember that your Divine Master tarried for the heavenly anointing, you can hardly expect to do without it.
2. David, too, stands before us as an example of the fact that our opportunity will come, if our efficiency has been bestowed, without our being very particular to seek it. David fell into position.
3. Learn from David, too, to return quiet answers to those who would roughly put you aside from your work.
4. Learn, again, from David's example, the prudence of keeping to tried weapons.
5. Next, observe that from the work which David begun he ceased not till he had finished it. He had laid the giant prone upon the soil, but he was not satisfied till he had out off his head. I wish that some who work for Christ would be as thorough as this young volunteer was.
( C. H. Spurgeon.)
I. The first giant I am to speak of is the GIANT HEATHENISM. This giant doesn't live here. He is found in countries where the Gospel is not known. His castles may be seen in Africa, and in India, in China, and in the islands of the sea. He is a huge giant. This giant is very strong, and very cruel. Well, what are we to do to this giant? Why, we must fight him, as David did Goliath. The Bible is the brook to which we must go. The truths which it contains are the stones that we must use.
II. The second giant I would speak of is the GIANT SELFISHNESS. The giant selfishness never sees, or hears, or does anything for anyone but himself if you find that you are getting to think more of yourself than of others, then be sure the giant is after you. We must fight this giant by self-denial.
III. The third giant I want to speak about is the GIANT COVETOUSNESS. This giant is very large in size, and very strong in limb; but he has the tiniest tittle bit of a heart you ever saw, might put it in a nutshell. The only wonder is how so huge a frame can be supported by so little a heart. But this is not all, for little as his heart is, it is hard as stone. He is ashamed of his name, and won't answer to it. He pretends that his right name is — frugality. But this is a great story. Frugality is a very different person. He is a good, true, honest fellow If you ask, How are you to fight him? I answer, by learning to give.
IV. The fourth giant of which I will speak is the GIANT ILL-TEMPER. But how are we to fight against, this giant? I answer, By trying to be like Jesus. We always think of Him as — the "gentle Jesus, meek and mild." Do you suppose that this giant ever got a single link of his chain on Jesus? No.
V. The last giant I wish to speak about is the GIANT INTEMPERANCE. He is a very ugly-looking fellow When he is in a good humour, and feels jolly, he puts on a silly face, and looks very foolish. But when he gets in a passion he is awful looking, and it makes one shudder to see him.
(R. Newton, D. D.)
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.)
I. OBSERVE, FIRST, FROM THIS ACCOUNT, THAT A HUMBLE STATION IS NO HINDRANCE TO THE GRACE OF GOD. David, unknown and unnoticed, feeding his father's sheep at Bethlehem, was chosen by God to be an instrument to promote His glory, and to do great good in the world.
II. OBSERVE, AGAIN, THAT FAITHFULNESS AND DILIGENCE IN APPOINTED DUTIES IS THE WAY TO HONOUR AND RESPECT. It was so with David. In the performance of his daily duties, in obedience to his father, in submission to man, be was prepared for great and noble deeds.
III. BUT THE LESSON ESPECIALLY TAUGHT US IN THIS CHAPTER IS THAT WHICH THE APOSTLE PAUL ELSEWHERE ENFORCES: "MY BRETHREN, BE STRONG IN THE LORD, AND IN THE POWER OF HIS MIGHT." "If God be for us, who can be against us?" If we trust in Him through the merits of Jesus Christ our Saviour, we need not fear our spiritual enemies — the enemies of our souls.
(E. Blencowe, M. A.)
(T. L. Cuyler, D. D.)
And the men of Israel and of Judah arose, and shouted and pursued the Philistines.
(H. O. Mackey.)
Whose son art thou, young man?
I. My first word is to those of you WHO SAVE SPRUNG FROM A LOWLY PARENTAGE. If there is anything more utterly contemptible than for one who has risen a bit in the world to be ashamed of his humble origin, it is the conduct of him who ridicules his low-born brother. Sometimes we hear it remarked, with a sneer and a curl of the lip, concerning some young man who is doing well, and carrying all before him, "Oh, he has risen from the ranks!" Well, the more honour to him, if it is so; and the more shame upon the silly, contemptible snobbishness that could be guilty of such an utterance. It is in no spirit of cheap Radicalism that I say this. It is not a question either of patrician or plebeian sympathies at all. I will venture to say it is simple common sense. Blue blood, as it is called, is by no means the purest blood. I believe that some of you have far more reason to be proud of your pedigree than could you trace it to Tudor or Plantagenet.
II. My next word is upon the heavy responsibility that rests on you WHO HAVE BEEN BORN IN THE LINE OF A CHRISTIAN PARENTAGE. We shall not talk of rank now, but of character. You come out of a godly nest. Your father was a man of God, your mother a sincere believer. A long line of Christian inheritance is something to rejoice in. When a man can make out a genealogical tree of his own family, and point cub to me, that root, stem, branch, and twig were all holy, I say he has good cause to thank God, and esteem himself as belonging to the peerage of the skies. Well did William Cowper say —
"My boast is not that I deduce my birth
From loins enthroned, the rulers of the earth;
But higher far my proud pretensions rise —
The son of parents passed into the skies."Whose son art thou, young man? It is a frightful aggravation of a man's guilt when his whole life is a contradiction given to his father's counsels and his mother's prayers; when the child of a godly ancestry tramples on all the holy traditions and memories of the past, and determinedly breaks through the moral fences that had been set around him. Such persons generally make an awful rebound. The worst of men are apostates from the purest faith. Tell me what good influence a young man has resisted and defied, and I will give you the gauge of his depravity.
III. I am not afraid to put the question even to those of you WHO HAVE HAD NO SUCH ADVANTAGE. I thank God that I have seen many a clean bird come out of a foul nest. If ever a man might have been supposed to have had bad blood in his veins, it was Hezekiah, who was the son of one of the worst monarchs that ever reigned over Israel. He was cursed with a most polluted parental example. One might have said of that young man that he was born to vice. And yet he turned out a devout and holy man of God. Yes, Divine grace is stronger even than blood. History can supply many an instance, to the praise of Him who ofttimes finds the brightest diamonds in the darkest mines, and the richest pearls in the deepest seas.
IV. I feel that I cannot part with the text without giving it A PURELY SPIRITUAL MEANING, in respect of which there are but two paternities, and one or other of these each of you must own. Would to God that, as I address to you all the question, "Whose sons are ye, young men?" you could with one voice reply, "Behold, now are we the sons of God." "Ye are of your father, the devil," said Christ, with awful plainness of speech, to the unbelieving Jews; and let it never be forgotten that, unless we are the subjects of Divine adoption, we are all "the children of the wicked one." I tell you that, whether you realise it or not, you have, each of you, Royal blood in your veins. Your pedigree traces back to the King of kings. St. Luke goes right up to the fountain head when he finishes his genealogical table thus: "Which was the son of Enos, which was the son of Seth, which was the son of Adam, which was the Son of God." Awake to the glorious fact, and claim your high inheritance! Amen.
(J. T. Davidson.)
I. I ACCOST ALL THOSE WHO ARE DESCENDED OF A CHRISTIAN ANCESTRY. I do not ask if your parents were perfect. There are no perfect people now, and I do not suppose there were any perfect people then. You have a responsibility vast beyond all measurement. God will not let you off with just being as good as ordinary people when you had such extraordinary advantage. Ought not a flower planted in a hothouse be more healthy than a flower planted outside in the storm? Ought not a factory turned by the Housatonic do more work than a factory turned by a thin and shallow stream? Ought not you of great early opportunity be better than these who had cradle unblessed? Your Heavenly Father charges against you all the advantage of a pious ancestry — so many prayers, so much Christian example, so many kind entreaties — all these gracious influences, one tremendous aggregate, and He asks you for an account of it. Ought not you to be better than those who had no such advantage? Better have been a foundling picked up off the city commons than with such magnificent inheritance of consecration to turn out differently. Oh, the power of ancestral piety! Oh, the power of ancestral prayer!
II. I TURN FOR A MOMENT TO THOSE WHO HAD EVIL PARENTAGE, and I want to tell you that the highest thrones in heaven and the mightiest triumphs and the brightest crowns will be for those who had evil parentage, but who by the grace of God conquered — conquered. Find out what the family frailty is, and set body, mind, and soul in battle array. Conquer you will. I think the genealogical table was put in the first chapter of the New Testament not only to show our Lord's pedigree, but to show that a man may rise out of an ancestral line and beat back successfully all the influences of bad heredity. See in that genealogical table that good King Asa was born of vile King Abia. See in that genealogical table that Joseph and Mary and the most illustrious Being that ever touched our world, or ever will touch it, had in His ancestral line scandalous Rahab and Thamar, and Bathsheba. Perhaps the star of hope may point down to your manger. Perhaps you are to be the hero or the heroine that is to put down the brakes and stop that long line of genealogical tendencies, and switch it off on another track from that on which it has been running for a century. Estranged children from the homestead come back through the open gate of adoption. There is royal blood in our veins; there are crowns on our escutcheon. Our Father is King, our Brother is King; we may be kings and queens unto God forever. "Whose son art thou, thou young man?" Son of God! Heir of immortality! Take your inheritance!
(T. De Witt Talmage.)
Great Thoughts.I confess I am rather interested in the whole subject of heredity. I have been at some pains to inform myself as to the calling or occupation of the fathers of many men who have risen to honourable distinction in the world; and, perhaps, you would like to have some of the results of that inquiry. I shall select a few at random taken from a very varied list. The distinguished astronomer Kepler was the son of an officer in the army; the poet Wordsworth and Sir Walter Scott, of attorneys; Chatterton, of a schoolmaster; Handel, of a surgeon; Thomas Hood and Samuel Johnson, of booksellers; Mozart, of a bookbinder; Blackstone, the eminent lawyer, of a silk mercer; the poet Pope, of a linen draper; Sir Isaac Newton, of a farmer; Thomas Arnold, of a tax collector; De Foe and Akenside, of butchers; Dr. Jeremy Taylor, of a hairdresser; the artist Turner, of a berber; Christopher Columbus, of a wool comber; the great astronomer Halley, of a soap boiler; Haydn, of a wheelwright; Luther, of a miner; Lord Eldon, the famous lawyer, of a collier; George Fox, of a weaver; Captain Cook, of an agricultural labourer; and last, but not least, John Bunyan, of a tinker.
2 Timothy 1:5.) Oliver Wendell Holmes remarks that most people think that any difficulty of a physical sort can be cured if a physician is called early enough. "Yes," Dr. Holmes replies, "but early enough would commonly be two hundred years in advance." There is the tremendous law of heredity, the awful sweep and reach of which science is just now beginning to throw some adequate light upon. But this law takes in its strong grasp not only features and damages and incitements which are physical; it pushes onward into coming generations characteristics which are mental and moral also. And if one be budded out of a religious ancestry, it is a vast boon and blessing. And to be steadily determined to he true to such ancestry, and to refuse to run athwart the strain of it, is a tremendous help and impetus in warring the good warfare.
(W. Hoyt, D. D.)
I am the son of thy servant Jesse, the Bethlehemite.
1. Learn that men may be anointed long before their power is officially and publicly declared. God may have put his secret into their heart long before he puts the diadem upon their brow. We do not know to whom we are speaking.
2. Learn that God's arrangements are not extemporaneous. The men who shall succeed to all good offices are known to Him from the beginning to the end. To us the prospect may be dark, but to God the whole course is clear; the successor is anointed, but, not yet declared.
3. In studying the period of David's history which is comprised between his anointing and the killing of Goliath, we shall discover some qualities in David which we may well imitate. Soon after his anointing, David became harp player to the king. This seems to be a descent. Are there not many apparent anti-climaxes in life? Is this a conspicuous example of them? "Play the harp! Why, I am king," David might have said. "Why should I waste my time in attempting to prolong the life of the man who is upon my throne? The sooner he dies, the sooner I shall reign; not one soothing note will I evoke from my harp!" Had David spoken so, he would have dropped from the high elevation which becomes the spirit of a king. Are we skilled in music? Let us help those who are sad. Have we this world's goods? Let us seek out the poor, that, they may bless us as the messengers of God. Have we power to say beautiful words? Let us speak to men who are weary of the common tumult which is around them. To help a man is the honour of true kingliness. After this engagement as harp player, David went home to pursue his usual avocations. How well he carried the burden of his prospects! We see no sign of impatience. He did not behave himself as a child who, having seen a toy, cries until it is put into his hands. David had the dignity of patience. He carried the Lord's secret, in a quiet heart. When David came to see his fighting brethren, by the express instructions of his father Jesse, he disclosed a feature in his character in true keeping with what we have seen. When he had become acquainted with the case, he at once looked at outward circumstances in their moral bearing. Other men, including Saul himself, were talking about, mere appearances. They did not see the case as it, really was. Their talk, in fact, was strongly atheistic. Now for another tone! David called Goliath, not a giant, not a soldier, but an uncircumcised Philistine, who had defied the armies of the living God! This is a moral tone. This is precisely the tone that was wanted in the talk of degenerate Israel! As used by David, the very word uncircumcised involved a moral challenge. This tone retrieves the honour of any controversy. It brings strength with it, and hope, and dignity. Oh, for one David in every controversy! Men lose themselves in petty details, they fight about straws, they see only the surface; David saw the spiritual bearing of all things, and redeemed a controversy from vulgarity and atheism by distinctly and lovingly pronouncing the name of God. The atheist counts the guns, the saint looks up to God; the atheist is terrified by the size of the staff, the saint is inspired by his faith in right and purity. Such a man cannot fail. David interpreted the past so as to qualify himself for the future. When Saul doubted his inability to cope with the Philistine, David recounted some of his recollections as a shepherd. The past should be our prophet. David confided in the unchangeableness of God. Forms of danger vary; but the delivering power remains the same. The great fight of life is a contention between the material and the spiritual. Goliath represents the material; he is towering in stature, vast in strength, terrible in aspect. David represents the spiritual: he is simple, trustful, reverent; the merely fleshly side of his power is reduced, to the lowest possible point, — he fights under the inspiration of great memories, in a deeply religious spirit, not for personal glory but for the glory of the living God. As a contest between strength and strength, the scene was simply ridiculous. Viewed materially, the Philistine was perfectly right when he disdained David, and scornfully laughed at the weapons which the stripling produced. Goliath showed a most justifiable contempt; as a materialist he could indeed have adopted no other tone. David made no boast of his weapons. He pronounced the name of God, and put his life in the keeping of the Most High. The application of the truths of this lesson is easy as a matter of inference, but hard as a matter of realisation. Some men save, others are saved. Such is the law of sovereignty. This law of sovereignty penetrates the whole scheme and fabric of life. David saved, Israel was saved; activity and passivity make up the sphere of this life. Without any attempt at fanciful spiritualising, we see in David the type of the one Saviour of the world, Jesus Christ, who bruised the serpent's head, and won for us the one victory through which we may have eternal life. "Crown Him Lord of all."
(J. Parker, D. D.)
1. David was one of those great and original men, whom humanity at rare intervals produces. His mind was of that order which creates the age in which it lives, and that saves or destroys the nation which it rules. His character was that which Time, if it would, is not able to kill; that which History is forced to remember. It is the destiny of transcendent power, whether it be good or whether it be bad, to leave everlasting impression on the affairs of mankind. David was a man of power, various and exalted. Strong in intellect, and wise in experience; strong in will, end commanding in expression; strong in every attribute which compels obedience, he was accomplished also in the qualities that win it. Poetry, music, architecture, he loved with extreme desire; he advanced them with a noble zeal. In some points he resembled Bonaparte. Like Bonaparte, he arose from the people, and sat upon his throne by their will; like Bonaparte, his people adored him, and would endure to the last extremity of human nature for his interest. Like Bonaparte, he was a conqueror. His circumstances were created by the age, and not by himself. He had to meet and to subdue them as best be could. Like Bonaparte, he was a dictator. He had, to be sure, his great and mighty men, for he knew, by the glance of a look, the man who was born to control his associates; and as he knew the man, he selected him. Like Bonaparte, he was a legislator. He gave his people laws, and he established among them a settled and systematic administration. But he had a piety, and a faith, and a devotional sensibility, of which the mighty modern had not a single impulse. There is another modern, to whom David also bears, in some degree, a resemblance — Peter the Great, of Russia. David, as Peter, found only barbarism in the land; but, ere he died, it was exalted and civilised. The great king of Israel, as the great czar of Russia, was the patron of every art, and the friend of every genius who could raise his country into prosperity and dignity. He found his brethren dwelling in tents; he departed from among them living in palaces. He found them scattered tribes; he left them a collected and compacted nation. Under the guidance of his stupendous mind, the land was filled with plenty, the sea was covered with commerce, literature was encouraged, industry was successful, victory waited on arms, and wisdom prevailed in counsel. If we contrast David with Saul, David appears as superior as heaven is to earth. It is superiority, not of an improved succession, but of a new creation. Saul, like David, was exalted from common to kingly life. Saul, like David, was a man of battle, and a man of blood; and here the resemblance closes. To the end, Saul was only the savage warrior, a man of might and daring, a man of prowess and enthusiasm. This agrees fully with his personal qualities, and is in nowise opposed to his original condition. It is all that we might imagine, and our expectations are neither surpassed nor contradicted. Commanding in the qualities which make a man of war, David had, in more signal perfection, those which in a better period would have made a man of peace.
2. The history of David leaves one impression on the mind deeply and plainly; and that, is. that moral principle does not always correspond with devotional sensibility. I do not say that devotional sensibility is not a fine element in moral action; nay, I hold that,, without it, the highest beauty is wanting to character and to virtue. But still, devotional sensibility may be found in many persons, who are weak in right principles, and unstable in right purposes. How fervently could David pray, but bow feebly did David practise! Yet David was not really insincere. It is well and wisely written — "The heart is deceitful above all things; who can know it?" Much and strange contradiction there is in life, but less of positive hypocrisy than is imagined. David is a type of many kings and many men. The example, in this character which Scripture gives us, is ever and ever repeated in history; and it is as often corroborated in daily life. And, in our own experience, how changeful and uncertain are our characters? In an hour we passionately resolve, and in another as recklessly break our resolution. Instability and inconsistency there are in this, but sincerity there is in it also. The real philosophy of the matter is that the religious element, like the other elements of our nature, must be good or bad, as it is directed. By the religious clement I mean, in this connection, the faculty which connects us with the invisible and eternal world; and this, directed by ignorance and passion, may do, without remorse, deeds that have no name, but, influenced by knowledge and by benignity, raises a man, not simply to be a little lower than the angels, but to be their equal and their companion. But the merely devotional man is not necessarily a virtuous man; nay, he is not necessarily a benevolent man; he may fail in rectitude, or he may fail in humanity. Of this principle, the whole history of the Church gives sufficient evidence; for many a devout man has been dishonest, and many a devout man has been cruel. I do not join in the common cry which stigmatizes all such as hypocrites. I do not believe that the failings of those on whom the world charged inconsistency always sprang from deceit: I simply believe that they were men of partial development, and that, in the exaggerated expression of some faculties, others were disproportionately, and thence injuriously, weakened. Wickedness there is abundantly in the world, and so far there is, in the world, a universal subject and cause of grief. But, when sin unites with noble gifts, it is exceedingly sinful. Let me offer a few words — a few words on that, blood-guiltiness, for which some men, through David, assault the Bible. We are to judge David as we judge other men, by his times and by his circumstances. His age was one of rudeness and it was one of blood. It was a period when men got readily into conflict, and when conflict was associated with little that was forbearing or magnanimous. The barbarian instincts to contention were those which then were the most developed. Prowess was the great test of excellence. Might was the principle of right. The military hero was "the highest style of man." Shall we make that David's sin, which was David's fate? Was he not a warrior by the necessity of events, rather than by any personal contrivance? What else could his life have been, but that of warfare? By what means could he have avoided being, throughout his course, a warrior? David's career was splendid and successful. Was he happy? Was he even moderately happy? When David sat upon the throne of Israel did he never recall, in melancholy vision, the green pastures and the still waters, where his breast, was calm, and where his step was free. David was not a happy man. Despondency settled on his soul, and calamities, treading fast upon each other, haunted all his latter days. He is an example that no grandeur, no prosperity, no impunity from station, no glory of command, no flattery of obedience, can strip sin of its hatefulness or rob it of its sting; that God's eye is on the monarch as thy, beggar; that, in the depth of millions, their transgression can find them out; and that, in the stern truth of God's own sentence, it can shriek within their conscience the terrible rebuke of Divine condemnation. David, too, is an evidence, if evidence were wanted, that grandeur is a poor shelter against grief. When shame fell upon David's house, when hatred placed one child in deadly feud against another, the glare of royalty was a small matter in the sadness of nature. What was kingship to the English Charles, when, after arraignment before his own people, he clasped his children for the last time to his bosom, before his going to the block? What was kingship to the French Louis when he felt he must leave his helpless wife and orphans to the mercies of the mad avengers, who began in his own blood the retaliation for centuries of suffering, which was only to be accomplished in a wilderness of death? What was kingship to David when his own flesh were his enemies? I have spoken of David as I proposed, as one within the circle of our imperfect humanity, and I have spoken of him in the spirit of humanity. In this spirit I view in him an incarnation of its capacities, and an example of its weakness. In this spirit I cannot think of him otherwise than in solemn reverence and solemn sorrow. With this solemn sorrow and solemn reverence, I contemplate his mighty mind; with reverence I see its grandeur; with sorrow I behold its fall from that grandeur, to wilder itself in madness, or to lose itself in folly. I learn how strength may work for wretchedness, how privileges may turn to penalties. Looking upon David comprehensively, in his greatness, in his abasement, in his repentance, in his guilt, in his aspiration, in his affliction, I am reminded of his own words, suggested doubtless by his own experience — "Verily, every man at his best estate is altogether vanity!"