Meditations in 1 Samuel 36. Fighting the right way
1 Sam 17:45,46 David said to the Philistine, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the LORD Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the LORD will hand you over to me, and I’ll strike you down and cut off your head. Today I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds of the air and the beasts of the earth, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel.
In the previous meditation we noted that the first thing to do is always refer the fight to the Lord and seek His wisdom. We are going to now take that as read as we go on to see what happened with David and see what we can learn from it, and what does it teach us about spiritual warfare?
The first thing we see is when David first arrived at the battlefront and his attitude was expressed as follows: “Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living God?” (1 Sam 17:26b) Translated we might say, “Whoever is this character who has no relationship with the Lord to be defying the people of God?” The first and foremost thing is to know who you are – a child of God and your father is the Lord of the universe, lord of everything, the all-powerful, all-knowing and all-wise Creator and Sustainer of everything. “My dad can certainly beat up your dad”, to cite the language of the playground! Know who you are, know the strength and wonder of the relationship you have with the Lord.
When David gets drawn to the attention of Saul and is questioned by him, he says to Saul, “Let no one lose heart on account of this Philistine; your servant will go and fight him.” (v.32) The second and third requirements for facing a fight are availability and courage. Someone needs to face the enemy and the Lord looks on those who will declare, with Isaiah, “Here am I, send me.” (Isa 6:8). A subset of the courage issue, and therefore a fourth requirement, is realism, being aware of the realities of the situation. The enemy is bigger than me but my heavenly Father is bigger than the enemy, and therefore as I rely upon him I can respond to His leading and step into this dangerous environment. That is courage in this context.
But then we find Saul querying David as to what he can do and David replies, “Your servant has been keeping his father’s sheep. When a lion or a bear came and carried off a sheep from the flock, I went after it, struck it and rescued the sheep from its mouth. When it turned on me, I seized it by its hair, struck it and killed it. Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, because he has defied the armies of the living God. The LORD who delivered me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.” (v.34-37) When Isaiah was challenging the resources that people turned to he declared, “To the law and to the testimony!” (Isa 8:20) The testimony is a remembrance of what God has done for you. Remembering your testimony is the fifth requirement.
In Revelation we find, “They overcame him (the enemy) by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony.” (Rev 12:11) The blood of the Lamb, or Jesus’ work on the Cross is at the heart of our testimony, why we are what we are and so that work plus our declaration of what it has meant to us and what he has done for us both in eternity and on this world, is the heart of our testimony. The most simple testimony which undermined all of the aggravation of the enemy through the Jews against Jesus came from the mouth of the man who had been blind from birth: “He replied, “Whether he is a sinner or not, I don’t know. One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!” (Jn9:25) Excellent! That is using your testimony. David’s testimony was that God had delivered him in the past and that made him confident in the present, for the future.
Now we aren’t told this but I would be almost certain that the Spirit of God who come on David when he was anointed by Samuel was there prompting him, so the sixth requirement is faith, which very simply is responding positively to the prompting or word of God coming to you for this situation. We should only be getting embroiled in such a battle either if God sends us to it, or if it suddenly arrives and we find ourselves in the midst of it. In either case we fight knowing who we are, declaring our availability courageously and realistically, and our testimony in faith.
But then we went through the silly situation where Saul tried to equip him with his armour and weapons, but David is not to fight as Saul fights because that is not sufficient for this battle. David simply says, “I cannot go in these because I am not used to them.” So he took them off.” (v.39b) There is another, a seventh requirement here, and it is to resist temptation to do it the way the world does it and only do it the way you have learnt from God, the way you are used to, the ways you have learnt from God previously. This sounds obvious but every battle which confronts us is a challenge to remember this and resist that temptation.
So we watch David: “Then he took his staff in his hand, chose five smooth stones from the stream, put them in the pouch of his shepherd’s bag and, with his sling in his hand, approached the Philistine.” (v.40) All he is doing is re-equipping himself with the things he has used in the past. In the past he’s fought with a sling, so now he picks up five stones. He only needs one but he is not assuming anything. For us I suggest these stones represent elements of truth, God’s words to us. The eighth requirement is to present what God has said. We are often fearful of appearing presumptuous but we need to have the courage to say, “God says…..” and then we leave it to the Holy Spirit to direct it into the head of the opposition which it then brings down!
Now in this battle the enemy will seek to bring you down by fear (see v.43,44) and at that point the ninth requirement is that we faithfully hold to a faith-filled declaration of the truth, i.e. in faith we speak the outcome: “David said to the Philistine, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the LORD Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the LORD will hand you over to me, and I’ll strike you down and cut off your head. Today I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds of the air and the beasts of the earth, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel. All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the LORD saves; for the battle is the LORD’s, and he will give all of you into our hands.” (v.45-47)
David delivers his stone and Goliath is slain but see what happens next: “David ran and stood over him. He took hold of the Philistine’s sword and drew it from the scabbard. After he killed him, he cut off his head with the sword.” (v.51) It may be that there is a tenth requirement: to show by God’s word that the battle is well and truly won. We may need to show the reality what the battle had been, the cause of it, and now the end of it. Enough!