There is a standoff in the Valley of Elah. Two armies stand prepared to fight – on one side stands the Philistine giants and on the other stands God’s people Israel. And knowing they had God’s favor, you would think Israel would charge in and claim their victory. But no.
Israel stands “dismayed and greatly afraid” (1 Samuel 17:11), refusing to go forth and fight. They are ready to fight physically, dressed in full “battle array” (1 Samuel 17:21). But mentally they are discouraged by the enormous size and excessive armor of their challengers. And this continues for “forty days, morning and evening” (1 Samuel 17:16). Until a young shepherd boy shows up at the request of his father to check on his brothers (1 Samuel 17:18).
And as David comes on the mountain, he hears the taunt (1 Samuel 17:23) and sees Israel flee (1 Samuel 17:24). So how does the young shepherd respond? Does David cower as the Israelite army? No. David is outraged that someone would speak against his God (1 Samuel 17:26). And he is ready to fight. He goes to King Saul and asks for the opportunity to defeat the haughty Philistine Goliath.
Saul takes an assessment – David is inexperienced, ill-equipped, and in no way able to win. But David will not be dissuaded. He has fought battles in the sheep fields with wild animals (1 Samuel 17:34-36a), and he is fully convinced wholeheartedly that he can win today (1 Samuel 17:36b).
So Saul figures David’s only chance to win is to dress him for battle, like his opponent. Goliath “had a bronze helmet on his head, and he was armed with a coat of mail … bronze armor on his legs and a bronze javelin between his shoulders” (1 Samuel 17:5-6). So David is given “[Saul’s] armor, and he put a bronze helmet on his head; he also clothed him with a coat of mail” (1 Samuel 17:38).
But when David tries to walk away, the armor is too heavy, too awkward, and too ill-fitting. “I cannot walk with these, for I have not tested them” (1 Samuel 17:39b).
David cannot move in Saul’s armor. But more than that, David is uncomfortable in Saul’s armor. He is a simple shepherd. What use would he have had for battle armor? He has spent his days with the sheep, his staff as his main defense. What good would heavy armor have done if he needed to quickly chase a wandering sheep?
He can’t move, therefore he can’t fight. So he has two options – do like the Israelite army and give up or find another way.
And David doesn’t hesitate. “So David took them off” (1 Samuel 17:39c) and allowed himself to be who God created him to be. A shepherd whose mobility could not be burdened by heavy armor and artillery, with little at his disposal. And I wonder how good David had gotten with small stones he found on the ground of the sheep fields. Obviously pretty good, because “… he chose for himself five smooth stones from the brook, and put them in a shepherd’s bag, in a pouch which he had, …” (1 Samuel 17:40).
A whole army’s worth of armor and weapons at his disposal. And David bypasses them all for five simple stones and his shepherd’s gear.
And we know how the story ends. He only needed a simple stone and great faith to beat the giant (1 Samuel 17:49-51).
David was victorious because he did not let the circumstances overwhelm him and he did not bow down to the status quo. He didn’t care about the size of his opponent because he knew the power of His God. He didn’t try to make the awkward armor work because he knew it would be nothing but failure. He knew who he was, he knew his strengths, and he knew how he had been successful. And none of that included Saul’s armor.
So how does this apply to you?
Are you trying to be someone God did not create you to be? Are you putting on the ill-fitted expectations of your parents, siblings, grandparents, friends, coworkers, boss, or children? Are you living an awkward life wearing someone else’s ideology of success, happiness, and goodness? Are you burdened by the heaviness of shame, pain, or fear?
Today is the day to take it all off. To remove whatever awkward, ill-fitting, and heavy expectations, feelings, and relationships don’t fit you.
Because the advice, direction, and influence of people don’t always agree with the purposes, plans, and personality [within us] of God. These people mean well, but they could be steering away from the person God is calling us to be and purposes God is calling us to. So we have to go back to who we know we are through Christ, to be our authentic self and walk in the gifts and talents from God. Because when we fight them, we will be miserable.
And David got this. David knew if he tried to wear the armor not designed or comfortable for him, defeat would have been inevitable. So he took it off.
What armor do you need to take off today?
Marie Fremin. 5/5/18, 5/10/18, 6/6-8/18.