But David said to the Philistine, "You come against me with a dagger, spear, and sword, but I come against you in the name of the LORD of Hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied.
1 Samuel 17:38-54. (EPHES-DAMMIM.)
1. David was specially prepared for the conflict by the whole of his previous life, and especially by his successful attack upon the lion and the bear, and his victory over himself.
2. He was providentially led into the conflict. "Jesse little thought of sending his son to the army just in the critical juncture; but the wise God orders the time and all the circumstances of actions and affairs so as to serve his designs of securing the interest of Israel and advance the man after his own heart" (M. Henry).
3. He was inwardly impelled to the conflict by the Spirit of the Lord that had come upon him (1 Samuel 16:13), and had formerly inspired Saul with fiery zeal against the Ammonites (1 Samuel 11:6). If he had gone into it in any other manner he would doubtless have failed.
4. He rendered invaluable service to Israel by the conflict, not only thereby repelling the invasion of the Philistines, but also teaching them the spirit they should cherish, and the kind of king they needed. "It is not too much to assert that this event was a turning point in the history of the theocracy, and marked David as the true king of Israel, ready to take up the Philistine challenge of God and his people, and kindling in Israel a new spirit, and in the might of the living God bringing the contest to victory" (Edersheim).
5. He became an appropriate type of Christ by the conflict. "It is a rehearsal of Christ's temptation and victory a thousand years afterwards" (Wordsworth's 'Com.').
6. He was also an eminent pattern for Christians in the conflict; exhibiting the spirit which they should possess in their warfare with "the world, the flesh, and the devil." "David's contest with Goliath will only be apprehended in its true light if the latter be regarded as a representative of the world, and David the representative of the Church" (Hengstenberg). Notice -
I. THE WEAPONS which he chose (vers. 38-40).
1. He neglected not the use of weapons altogether. To have done so would have been rash and presumptuous; for it is God's method to grant success to those who employ the legitimate aids which he has provided for the purpose. Although David did not trust in weapons of war, he did not throw them away, but used them wisely. We must do the same in the spiritual conflict.
2. He rejected the armour, defensive and offensive, which seemed to others indispensable. "I cannot go in these; for I have not proved them. And David put them off him" (ver. 39). Some weapons may appear to others, and even to ourselves, at first, to be the best, and yet not be really such. Some weapons may be suitable to others, but not to us. We must learn by experience. We must be simple, genuine, and true to ourselves. And above all, we must look for Divine guidance in the matter. "The weapons of our. warfare are not carnal," etc. (2 Corinthians 10:4).
3. He selected the weapons which were most effective. "And he took his staff in his hand, and chose him five smooth stones," etc. (ver. 40) - selected them carefully, knowing well which were the best for his purpose; and he was not satisfied with one or two merely, but provided a reserve. His weapons were insignificant only in the view of the inconsiderate. They were the most suitable that can be conceived, and gave greatest promise of success; and his genius was shown in their selection. Intelligence was opposed to brute force. "It was just because the sling and the stone were not the weapons of Goliath that they were best fitted to David's purpose. They could be used at a distance from the enemy; they made his superior resources of no avail; they virtually reduced him to the dimensions and condition of an ordinary man; they did more, they rendered his extraordinary size a disadvantage; the larger he was, the better for the mark. David, moreover, had been accustomed in his shepherd life to the sling; it had been the amusement of his solitary hours, and had served for his own protection and that of his flock; so that he brought to his encounter with Goliath an accuracy of aim and a strength and steadiness of arm that rendered him a most formidable opponent" (A.J. Morris). The lesson here taught is not that anything will do to fight with, but that there must be in spiritual, as well as in secular, conflicts a proper adaptation of means to ends.
II. THE SPIRIT which he displayed (vers. 41-48).
1. Humility. His heart was not haughty and proud (Psalm 131:1), as Eliab said it was, but humble and lowly. He was conscious of unworthiness before God, of utter weakness and insufficiency in himself, and ready to do and bear whatever might be the will of the Lord concerning him. Humility (from humus, the ground) lies in the dust, and is the root out of which true excellence grows. It is the first, the second, and the third thing in religion (Augustine). "Before honour is humility" (Proverbs 15:32). "He giveth grace to the humble." "Be clothed with humility."
2. Faith. "I come to thee in the name of the Lord of hosts" (ver. 45; see 1 Samuel 1:3). He looked beyond man to God, and relied upon his help. "He did not compare himself with Goliath, but he compared Goliath with Jehovah," who was the Leader and "God of the ranks of Israel." He believed, and therefore he spoke, and fought, and prevailed (2 Corinthians 4:13). "Although unarmed in the estimation of men, he was armed with the Godhead" (St. Ambrose).
3. Zeal. He was little concerned about his own honour and renown, but he was "very jealous for the Lord God of hosts" (1 Kings 19:14). He heard the gods of the heathen extolled (ver. 43), and the name of Jehovah blasphemed, and he was desirous above all things that he should be glorified. "All the earth shall know," etc. (ver. 46). "All this assembly shall know," etc. (ver. 47). When we fight for God we may confidently expect that he will fight for us. "The battle is the Lord's."
4. Courage, which stood in contrast to the fear with which Israel was smitten, and was the fruit of his humility, faith, and zeal. It was shown in his calm and dauntless attitude in going forth against his opponent, in the presence of the two armies, in breathless suspense; in his bold and confident answer to the contemptuous challenge of the foe; and in his eagerness and energy in the actual conflict. "David hasted, and ran," etc. (vers. 48, 49, 51). "So David prevailed."
III. THE VICTORY which he achieved. Not only was the boastful Philistine overthrown, speedily, signally, and completely, but also -
1. The enemy fled in terror (ver. 51), and their power was broken (ver. 52).
2. Israel was imbued with a new and better spirit (vers. 52, 53).
3. He himself was honoured - by God in giving him the victory and opening before him a wider sphere of activity, by the king (vers. 55-58; 1 Samuel 18:2), and by all the people. Even the Philistines long afterwards held his name in dread (1 Samuel 21:11). "This first heroic deed of David was of the greatest importance to him and all Israel, for it was his first step on the way to the throne to which Jehovah had resolved to raise him" (Keil). "Raised by the nation, he raised and glorified it in return; and, standing at the crowning point of the history of the nation, he concentrates in himself all its brilliance, and becomes the one man of greatest renown in the whole course of its existence" (Ewald). - D.
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.)
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