READ: 1 Samuel 17:31-40
(31) The thing David was saying were picked up and reported to Saul. Saul sent for him.
(32) “Master,” said David, “don’t give up hope. I’m ready to go and fight this Philistine.”
(33) Saul answered David, “You can’t go and fight this Philistine. You’re too young and inexperienced–and he’s been at this fighting business since before you were born.”
(34-37) David said, “I’ve been a shepherd, tending sheep for my father. Whenever a lion or bear came and took a lamb from the flock, I’d go after it, knock it down, and rescue the lamb. If it turned on me, I’d grab it by the throat, wring its neck, and kill it. Lion or bear, it made no difference–I killed it. And I’ll do the same to this Philistine pig who is taunting the troops of God-Alive. God, who delivered me from the teeth of the lion and the claws of the bear, will deliver me from this Philistine.
Saul said, “Go. And God help you!”
(38-39) Then Saul outfitted David as a soldier in armor. He put his bronze helmet on his head and belted his sword on him over the armor. David tried to walk but he could hardly budge.
David told Saul, “I can’t even move with all this stuff on me. I’m not used to this.” And he took it all off.
(40) Then David took his shepherd’s staff, selected five smooth stones from the brook, and put them in the pocket of his shepherd’s pack, and with his sling in his hand approached Goliath.
THINK: What one particular event, character, or feature of the story stands out to you? Take time to concentrate on that. Are you drawn to David’s courage? Are you repulsed by Saul’s disbelieving “God help you”? Maybe you’re surprised when David rejects Saul’s armor. Consider what your own reaction would be, and then consider how the characters in the story reacted. As you meditate, allow God to show you more about yourself, him, and the way life is.
Of course, David’s courage intrigues me. But to be honest, what stands out to me in this passage is what he tells Saul. “I’ve been a shepherd, tending sheep for my father. Whenever a lion or bear came and took a lamb from the flock, I’d go after it, knock it down, and rescue the lamb. If it turned on me, I’d grab it by the throat, wring its neck, and kill it.” Not many weeks ago, our newest Pastor – Mr. Ryan Cox – gave a sermon on James and referenced the part of David’s life he spent as a shepherd. He was “just” a shepherd. So unimportant in the ways of the world that when Samuel went looking for a man to replace Saul – who had fallen out of favor with God – David’s father, Jesse, didn’t even bother to call him from the field. He was the youngest of 8 and only tended sheep. But, from this passage, we can tell that “only tending sheep” had served him pretty well.
Many times, I overlook what I’ve been through, thinking that it’s “just” me. If I can do it, then anybody can; so, what’s the big deal. But, I’m coming to realize that the things I’ve gone through have prepared me for my life so far, and they will continue to do so for the rest of my life, if I learn the lessons available at each stage.
I’ve always been surprised that David rejected Saul’s armor. Why on earth would anybody do that? But, mostly that reaction stems from the fact that I have always tried to hedge my bets and make my life as safe as I possibly can. Why…when you have a perfectly good set of armor, would you walk out onto a battlefield without it, to fight a person – a giant – who has slain every soldier that has ever come up against him. What I’m learning about God, the longer I walk with Him, is that there is NO ROOM for a Plan B. God’s way is the plan. Period. He is THE WAY. Putting on a suit of armor in order to satisfy some “just in case” notion is the same as telling God, “Yes, I know you SAY you’ve got this, but I think I should help you out some.” What arrogance! What pride! To think that God has so little control over a situation He placed us in that He would need us to help Him. And if we needed to help him, would He be a God worth worshipping? Couldn’t we just find someone strong enough to help us if we couldn’t do it ourselves?
PRAY/LIVE: Priest and author Henri Nouwen wrote, “Make the conscious choice to move the attention of your anxious heart away from [the] waves and direct it to the One who walks on them and says, ‘It’s me. Don’t be afraid.’…Look at him and say, ‘Lord, have mercy.’ Say it again and again, not anxiously but with confidence that he is very close to you and will put your soul to rest.” (To read the rest of the story, see John 6:16-21)
What do you feel anxious about, if anything? What might happen if you shifted your attention” away from [the] waves” and “to the One who walks on them”? What concrete thing could you do to help redirect your attention?
Admittedly, at this point in my life, I feel like I have plenty that I could be anxious about. Oftentimes, I am, or rather, I have been. FREQUENTLY. At times, I have given in to the helplessness that threatens to overtake me, and I have spent the day (or two) whining in my bed about how much I can’t stand the way things have gone for me, for my husband, and for our children. But…God has been faithful. We are not just making it. Given the circumstances, we are thriving. It’s hard to make sense of it. It’s hard to believe the words coming out of my mouth even as I tell people that we really are fine, that we are making it. But that’s the truth. God has not left our sides. He has led us through this and we are finally to a point where none of us feels like this thing is going to define our lives. Change them? Yes, absolutely. Change us? How could it not? But, define us? No. Defeat us? Absolutely not. So, when I’m done whining, I remind myself that I have been through hard times before (none harder than this), and I made it through, and had plenty of strength and faith to draw off of for later hard times. I am convinced that this time will be no different. But, this time, it won’t be because I have gritted my teeth and just endured. It will be because I have put my faith in the One who has been leading us through this ordeal and who will continue to see us through to the end.