Power and Weakness
1 Samuel 17:45
Then said David to the Philistine, You come to me with a sword, and with a spear, and with a shield…

Providence would not permit him to remain long in obscurity. Once more the Philistines assemble their hosts together, and suddenly appear on the frontiers of Judah. Two reasons might have led them to resolve on this enterprise with a degree of confidence. They might have received tidings of Saul's madness; of the recent rupture between Saul and Samuel; and they knew that Samuel was God's prophet; the probability, therefore, was that God had. withdrawn from his people the protection with which He had hitherto surrounded them. The condition of the Israelites at this juncture gives us a clue to the real cause of the Church's weakness during many periods in its history, and suggests the reason why it has oftentimes been so desperately attacked by its enemies. When its leaders are men of piety, wisdom, and power, when God's glory is conspicuous in the midst of it, the Church is unassailable. But when its leaders are afflicted with madness, when the Divine presence takes its departure, then its antagonists are inspired with boldness. David was not to be dissuaded from his purpose by the unjust accusation of his haughty brother. If you do what is right, you must expect opposition: if you strictly follow the dictates of conscience you will not fail to be censured by the world, if you determine to improve in any way the condition of your fellow men there will always be plenty of people to ridicule your efforts. Be, therefore, constantly prepared for it; and let this, instead of depressing your spirits, spur you on to greater determination, to renewed activity, to more strenuous exertions. It is the voice of weakness which says "Give up;" there is a nobler voice which says. "Quit you like men, be strong; never falter when duty calls." David adopted the likeliest means, by far, to ensure success. Let us be men of faith by all means, let us implicitly rely on God's strength, let us acknowledge that without Him we can do nothing; but then we should not rest content with this alone, as it nothing further were required of us It is our place to employ means, the best means we can think of. the likeliest means to be successful, if we would secure the results which we most desire. We know that this is true in reference to worldly concerns, and we act accordingly. But let us bear in mind that it is not less true in connection with spiritual matters. This narrative brings before us a striking contrast, a contrast between the weakness of self-confidence and the power of faith Goliath may he taken as the representative of brute force; blustering, showy. Confident, but in reality, the very incarnation of weakness. You will always find men who will magnify this kind of force, who will give it the highest praise, who will even worship at its shrine. But let us remember that there is something nobler, higher, and more enduring than this — moral grandeur, compared with which, mere force is a mean, worthless, despicable thing Goliath may also be taken as the representative of that fierce opposition to God's truth, which has, at all times, been more or less prevalent in the world. Atheism has sometimes put on a bold front, and threatened to sweep away the very name of religion from among men. We might refer to the mad proceedings of France, during the Revolution, as a notorious instance of this. But to what a miserable issue these impious attempts led in the end! And God's truth has its enemies still, even in our own land. Infidelity, indifference, and corruption unite their forces against it. They love to display their strength, they indulge in scornful language, they predict the speedy downfall of true religion. "He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision." Self-confidence may manifest itself in the conduct of God's friends, as well as in that of His enemies. But, wherever it is found, it is invariably associated with weakness. Peter was never so confident as when he said to our Lord, "Lord, I am ready to go with Thee both into prison and to death." But he was never so weak as at that hour. We may take David, on the other hand, as the representative of simple, child-like, earnest faith. Yes, faith is a power — a wonderful power — a power even in this life. These were men in whose vocabulary the word impossible was not found, and consequently they achieved the most extraordinary results. By faith Alexander conquered the world; by faith Hannibal crossed the Alps; by faith Columbus discovered America. These men believed in their ultimate success, and triumphed over every opposition. But it is in the Bible that we have the most remarkable, the most illustrious, the most substantial instances of the power of faith, for here we have faith of the highest kind, faith in God. Our constant prayer, then, should be, "Lord, increase our faith." Our support in trial, our strength against temptation, our ability to perform our duties, depend upon the measure of our faith.

(D. Rowlands, B. A.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: 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 God of the armies of Israel, whom thou hast defied.

WEB: Then David said to the Philistine, "You come to me with a sword, and with a spear, and with a javelin: but I come to you in the name of Yahweh of Armies, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied.

Faith and Force
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