Tag Archives: 1 Samuel 17

Beware the Armor

38 So Saul clothed David with his armor, and he put a bronze helmet on his head; he also clothed him with a coat of mail. 39 David fastened his sword to his armor and tried to walk, for he had not tested them. And David said to Saul, “I cannot walk with these, for I have not tested them.” So David took them off” (1 Samuel 17:38-39).

 

David has shown up on the battlefield where his three oldest brothers are at war.  He has been sent by his father with supplies for them (17) and is hoping to bring back good news to his father (18).

 

He probably expects to see an intense battle taking place.  Maybe he will get to see something exciting.  But instead he finds an arrogant Philistine army on one side (8-10) and a hesitant Israelite army on the other (3, 11).  No fighting because Israel is terrified (16, 24).

 

Standing there in shock, he hears the taunts of the Philistine champion Goliath (23).  And David is outraged.  How dare anyone challenge God or His army (26)!  He is so upset that he declares that HE, a young shepherd, is ready to fight the taunting giant (32).  King Saul scoffs (33), but David knows he is more than able to defeat Goliath – God has kept him safe in the sheep fields (34-36), and God has not changed.  Therefore “The Lord … will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine” (37).

 

With no one else willing to fight, Saul has no choice but to send David in.  If the boy does not survive, he can say it was his foolish choice to go and he could not be stopped.  But he, as the leader, cannot send the boy in defenseless.

 

So how does one defeat a giant covered in armor (5-7)?  Obviously by dressing up like – and therefore being evenly matched with – the giant.  Right?

 

Beware the Armor

 

Wrong.

 

That is such a simple yet deadly lie we are led to believe.  We are divine warriors, not simpering similars.  Why would we want to look anything like our (spiritual) enemy?  He lost with the cross and is currently biding his time until Jesus returns.  He has no power, no authority, and no wisdom within him or available to him.  So don’t try to imitate him.

 

But Saul did.  Saul thought dressing David up in full armor would work.  “So Saul clothed David with his armor, and he put a bronze helmet on his head; he also clothed him with a coat of mail.” (38).  But it did not.  The armor was so heavy, so awkward, and so unnatural to him that he was stuck.   “I can’t even move with all this stuff on me” (39, MSG).

 

And that is what the enemy wants to do with us.  He wants us to look like him, act like him, think like him, and look like him.  And he always wants us to believe that we are less than God’s best when we don’t.  He wants to overwhelm us with uncertainty and overtake us with indecision.  He wants us to take ownership of things God does not have purposed for us.  Things that are awkward, heavy, and unnatural.  So we become paralyzed and indecisive.

 

David knew he could not fight if he could not move.  So the shepherd boy goes back to what has worked in the past – a simple weapon (40) and an enormous faith (45).  And we are still talking about the power of being yourself all these years later.

 

Saul’s armor didn’t work for David.  So David went back to who God created him to be and what worked best for him.

 

Other people’s expectations and labels won’t work for you.

Don’t own them.  Don’t accept them.  Don’t wear them.

Don’t conform to that awkward character people want you to wear.

 

Be the poetry and the masterpiece God created you to be (Ephesians 2:10).

Walk in what you know to be true about yourself through God’s grace.

 

Claim the truth of who He is and how good He is.

Grab hold of the power He has waiting for you.

Run toward His purpose for you.

 

So I pray today that God has touched your heart – and you are willing to consider the armor in your life.  Let today be the day you take off anything that isn’t of God and is keeping you from moving toward His best.

 

Marie Fremin.  3/1/19, 3/2/19

 

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5 Smooth Stones

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.

5 Smooth Stones

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.

In the Middle of My Pain

In the middle of my pain ….

 

The emotions are overwhelming, like the roar of high tide.  They kick at peace, scream at hope, and laugh at joy.

 

The tears flow like a storm in the summer, heavy then scattered, as the emotions ebb and flow.  They may stop for a moment, but they are never far from being expelled again upon the day.

 

And it feels like being pushed out of a plane at 30,000 feet … without a parachute.

Complete hopelessness.

Complete desperation.

Complete sadness.

In the Middle of My Pain.jpg

I can see God beyond the desert of heart break and hopelessness, but I cannot reach Him.  I am too caught up in the storm, being thrashed and toss, to find the place of escape to run to Him.  I am trapped within my thoughts, a prisoner of grief and anger and hopelessness.

 

I cry out.  Hoping for release.  Praying for escape.  Longing for peace.

 

And then I feel Him come to me, reaching out His gentle hand with great compassion.

He wants to help me.

He wants to hold me.

He wants to heal me.

 

Right where I am.

As the storm rages.

As the skies boom.

As the rivers overflow.

 

Yet will I let go of the storm cloud I suddenly find myself grasping tightly?  Yes, I look down at my hand and find it closed against God’s goodness.  I find my mind struggling to insert His grace into any crack or crevice … but my heart is too wounded to do anything but shove it aside.  I am too consumed with justification to see His peace wanting to take me over.

 

I am a slave to my emotions.

I am a whipping boy of my thoughts.

I am a prison of my circumstances.

 

But thank God there is always another way!

 

Because in the middle of my pain the choice is always mine.

Stay and sulk.

Or release and renew.

 

I can continue to hold onto the storm that wants to submerge me and drown me.  Or I can stand still, take a deep breath, and trust God to help me out of the storm into His great purposes.

 

So in the middle of my pain, who will I be?

 

Will I be Israel?  As they stood at the edge of the Red Sea, with Egypt chasing hard after them, they allowed fear to rule their hearts and cried out for death (Exodus 14:10-12).  As they stood in the valley facing the armored Philistine warrior, they allowed fear to immobilize them from walking in God’s power (1 Samuel 17:11).  As they heard the reports of the spies, they allowed fear to blind them to God’s ability to overcome every obstacle and every “bad report” (Numbers 13:31-33).

 

Or will I be Moses? Will I hear God say “Do not be afraid. Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which He will accomplish for you today” (Exodus 14:13) and trust Him to make a way?

 

Or will I be young David?  Will I remember all God has done for me and trust Him to work in mighty power with something as simple and unassuming as a stone (1 Samuel 17:47-49)?

 

Or will I be Caleb?  Will I stand boldly and confidently in who God is and declare “we are well able to overcome it” (Numbers 13:30)?

 

So I choose to open my hand, let go of my pain, and lean into God’s grace.  Which is more than enough to calm the storm and redirect me into His unexplainable peace (Philippians 4:7).  And what started as a gruesome day becomes a glorious day!

 

Marie Fremin.  9/8/17

Red Sea Revelations

Exodus 14 13 Then Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid! Take your stand [be firm and confident and undismayed] and see the salvation of the Lord which He will accomplish for you today; for those Egyptians whom you have seen today, you will never see again. 14 The Lord will fight for you while you [only need to] keep silent and remain calm.”

 

When was the last time you had a huge problem?  An intense dilemma?  A giant adversary?  How did it make you feel?  What thoughts ran through your head?

 

I can imagine the dialogue running through Israel – both non-verbal and verbal – as they saw the impenetrable Red Sea in front of them and considered the undefeatable Egyptian army coming up behind them.

 

Sure, they had just marched out of Egypt “confidently and defiantly” (Exodus 14:8b), taking all they owned plus most of Egypt’s treasures (Exodus 12:35-36).  But now they are in the wilderness, the unknown realm, without any “comforts” of their slavery to assure them.  And they are trying to figure out God’s plan.  Probably scared at not having the answers of where they are going and how quickly they will get there.

 

And God tells them to camp by the Red Sea (Exodus 14:2).  And while they are waiting for their next move, God sends Pharaoh after them (Exodus 14:5-9).  Now they are trapped.  The raging Red Sea is in front of them, unable to be crossed quickly or efficiently by the million plus people with all their livestock and possessions.  And coming up fast behind them is a raging Pharaoh with over 600 “war-chariots” and soldiers ready to destroy them.

 

Raging waters in front.  A raging army behind.  Nowhere to run.  No options.  So they are overcome by fear and panic.  In their “very frightened” state, they question God’s purposes and convince themselves God wants to destroy them (Exodus 14:11-12).

 

The same people who just experienced God’s miraculous deliverance in one night have lost their confidence, faith, and hope.

 

Because they saw the size and determination of Pharaoh’s army.  They focused on that instead of remembering the power of God’s hand and the promise of His purpose.  They had walked freely out of Egypt with millions of dollars in jewels and treasures on top of what they already owned.  Not one man, woman, child, or animal was left behind.  Yet with their possible besieging they (quickly) decided Pharaoh’s army was too much for their God.

 

Just like their later generations in 1 Samuel 17, who “were gathered together and they camped in the Valley of Elah, and assembled in battle formation to meet the Philistines” (2).  They stayed on their mountain, too afraid of the almost 10 foot tall Goliath in full armor to engage them in battle.  They were easily intimidated and convinced themselves that the giants were too powerful for their God.  So Goliath came out every day and taunted Israel, and “when Saul and all Israel heard these words of the Philistine, they were dismayed and greatly afraid” (11).  And Israel lost heart.  They refused to turn to God or trust God.  They refused to engage for fear of not being victorious.

 

One nation.  Two different incidents.  One common feeling – great intimidation.  In both instances, Israel chose to look at the opponent – the size, the speed, the intensity – instead of looking at their God.  The God who chose them.  The God who was leading them.  The God who was taking care of them.  The God who was protecting them.

 

They chose to let an obstacle become the defining point of their faith.  But not in the way God intends.  They let the obstacle define them and their faith in a negative way.

 

And that’s not what God wants for us.

 

So He sends us a voice of truth.  Sometimes it is the Spirit in us speaking to us.  Sometimes it is a trusted friend giving us wise advice.  Sometimes it is a voice of faith encouraging us to be strong.

 

In 1 Samuel 17, it was a young boy named David sent to check on his three oldest brothers.  This young boy comes in full of life and faith, more than any one solider in the army has mustered up.  He looks at the giant and sees a peanut in the sight of his mighty God.  He does not for one minute fear Goliath or cower at his taunts.  “For who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he has taunted and defied the armies of the living God? … The Lord who rescued me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, He will rescue me from the hand of this Philistine.” (26)  Because the giant is nothing when God is involved.  And David knew if he went out it would be “in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel” (45).

 

red-sea-revelations

 

For the Israelites in the wilderness, it was Moses.  Immediately addressing their great fear and calming their chaotic words.  Exodus 14 – “13 Do not be afraid! Take your stand [be firm and confident and undismayed] and see the salvation of the Lord which He will accomplish for you today; for those Egyptians whom you have seen today, you will never see again. 14 The Lord will fight for you while you [only need to] keep silent and remain calm.”

 

And that’s what God is reminding me today.

Stop talking.

Stop thinking.

Stop fearing.

Stop cowering.

Start believing.

Start trusting.

Start moving.

Start going.

 

Because God has a plan (Exodus 14:4,31).  In the wilderness, He wanted to solidify the faith of His people to believe Him wholeheartedly.  Because He wanted His people to cut all their emotional ties to Egypt, which had no benefit except slavery for them.  Because they were going to have to face bigger enemies and tougher foes than Egypt, and He needed them to be prepared to trust Him without wavering.  Because He wanted them to know without a doubt that He was always going to take care of them.  Because He wanted to establish His power for them – and for all the people they would be facing, so His reputation would precede them.

 

And it started at the Red Sea.

 

red-sea-revelations-2

 

When “the Lord swept the sea back by a strong east wind all that night and turned the seabed into dry land, and the waters were divided. The Israelites went into the middle of the sea on dry land, and the waters formed a wall to them on their right hand and on their left” (Exodus 14:21-22).  Showing Israel there was no natural force too great for Him to control.

 

When “the Lord looked down on the army of the Egyptians through the pillar of fire and cloud and put them in a state of confusion. He made their chariot wheels hard to turn, and the chariots difficult to drive” (Exodus 14:24-25).  Showing Israel there was no man-made army too great for Him to control.

 

When “Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and the sea returned to its normal flow at sunrise; and the Egyptians retreated right into it [being met by the returning water]; so the Lord overthrew the Egyptians and tossed them into the midst of the sea. 28 The waters returned and covered the chariots and the charioteers, and all the army of Pharaoh that had gone into the sea after them; not even one of them survived” (Exodus 14:27-28).  Showing Israel that God’s timing is perfect and trusting Him results in seeing miracles.

 

So today you’re facing an army or a giant.

God is asking you to stand firm and stand strong.

God is asking you to not lost heart or give up hope.

God is asking you to trust Him completely.

What are you doing?

How will you respond?

 

Choose to be like David.  He talked the talk, proclaiming God’s goodness.  And then he walked the walk, showing no fear.  “When the Philistine rose and came forward to meet David, David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet the Philistine” (1 Samuel 17:48).

 

He didn’t hesitate.

He didn’t allow himself to be intimidated by taunts and threats.

He didn’t consider Goliath’s size or weapons.

He didn’t consider his own size or lack of armor.

He didn’t go through all the possibilities.

 

He picked up his faith and ran toward the obstacle.  Knowing God was with him.

 

And that’s what Israel should have done in Exodus 14.  They shouldn’t have immediately turned their hearts back to the oppression of Egypt, longing for a false sense of security and a lifetime of slavery.  They should have stood firmly and faithfully at the edge of the Red Sea and loudly declared God’s power.  They should have declared loudly and proudly how God had just redeemed them from Egypt’s hand, and He was more than able to do it again.

 

Because there is always one truth that should ground us and guide us.  God is bigger and stronger and more equipped for victory than anyone who comes against us and anything that comes upon us.  We need to hold onto Paul’s truth – “Now to Him who is able to [carry out His purpose and] do superabundantly more than all that we dare ask or think [infinitely beyond our greatest prayers, hopes, or dreams], according to His power that is at work within us” (Ephesians 3:20).

 

He is a God of miracles.

He is a God of the impossible.

And He is waiting for you to decide how you will respond to the obstacles in your way.

What will you do?

 

Marie Fremin.  10/2/16

 

Battlelines

When was the last time you drew a battleline?  When was the last time you took a firm stand about something?

 

I remember distinctly drawing three battlelines.  All have been with long-time friends who questioned the depth of my faith and impugned my relationship with God.  My life philosophy is simple: agree to disagree respectfully.  In each of these relationships, that did not happen.  The first friend was blatant about how she felt – outright calling me a moron because of my beliefs.  When I called her out on her obvious disrespect, she stopped speaking to me.  She changed her email, moved out of state, and cut me off completely.  The second one started a conversation on my Facebook page because she disagreed with something I posted.  When I pointed out that the conversation could be viewed by all our friends and suggested we take it offline of the public Facebook arena, I became a judgmental, unevolved, and angry person.  I repeatedly tried to talk to her about it, showing her what I actually said and assuring her I was not maligning her.  I finally had to draw a battleline about her behavior and her accusations.  I was proclaimed unworthy and hostile, and thus I was banished from her life.  She changed her cell phone number, unfriended me, and moved.  The third was with a friend who made comments in response to emails discussing devotional readings and Bible verses.  Her commentary was that I was unable to read Scripture clearly or with rational interpretation.  At one point I was told that I was “reaching” to find verses to prove my weak point.  When I finally responded with my drawn line, I was positive but firm.  And I finally had a positive result – we are still speaking.  Now conversation is tenuous, but the door is open.

 

Looking back on all these events, I am sad.  I am sad for the friendships that could not withstand some pressure.  I am sad that there are once close friends who I haven’t spoken to in years by their choice.  I am sad that people once important to me chose not to do life with me.  I am sad that we could not find a way to stay friends – because it had to be all or nothing.

 

And then I start thinking about a recent episode where the line was drawn for me.  I kept telling myself I was crazy at the beginning of this year, when I felt a battleline was drawn in a group setting after a disagreement.  I told myself that surely I was imagining that teams were being formed and everyone would have to choose a side.  This morning I found out I was not wrong.  The situation was escalated to the point where people were asked to choose sides.  Feelings were hurt when someone refused to declare one of us the “winner”.

 

I didn’t want the battleline.  I didn’t want the battle.  I just wanted a chance to speak and the respect of being heard.  I wasn’t asking to be right, and I wasn’t trying to prove I was smarter.  I just had something to say, and it was supposed to be a setting where everyone was free to speak and share.  But there were boundaries, and the minute one person got uncomfortable, a battleline was drawn.  It was made clear to me where it was, and it was made clear to me that the support of the group was not on my side of the battleline.  So I chose, for my peace of heart and the peace of the group, to walk away.  To give everyone time to breathe, to think, to consider.

 

And again I had a moment of sadness.  Because the battleline was unnecessary.  The battleline isolated.  The battleline destroyed.  The battleline glorified the enemy’s schemes.  And we were all left wondering – why can’t we, as adults, get along?

 

Sometimes a battleline is necessary.  More often than not, a conversation is the better option, and mutual respect is the best way.

 

The Bible shows us the power of battlelines.  1 Samuel 17 says Israel had a clear battleline – “Now the Philistines gathered their forces for war and assembled at Sokoh in Judah. They pitched camp at Ephes Dammim, between Sokohand Azekah. Saul and the Israelites assembled and camped in the Valley of Elah and drew up their battle line to meet the Philistines. The Philistines occupied one hill and the Israelites another, with the valley between them.”  Two armies, each on their side of the battleline.  Israel was too afraid to move because the enemy was big and intimidating.  Instead of trusting God, they wallowed in fear and cowered behind the battleline, refusing to engage.  Until young and fearless David came along.  He threw off the borrowed armor of the army and charged the battleline with faith and a slingshot.  His meager size was not an obstacle.  The giant’s size was not a deterrent.  The battleline was the place where God was going to show up and show out.

 

Jesus also drew a line.  Not a battleline but a grace line.  A woman caught in adultery is dragged before Him, probably half dressed, “as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him” and separating Him from the people’s affections (John 8:6).  The religious leaders wanted Him to point an accusing finger at her or outright forgive her – so they could draw a battleline.  But Jesus knows our every thought, every breath, and every heartbeat.  He knew their scheme and refused to participate.  So “Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger” (John 8:6).  Did He draw a line?  Maybe.  Did He make a point?  Definitely.  “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first” (John 8:7).  He sent the adulterous woman on her way, redeemed, forgiven, and (hopefully) changed.

 

So what’s the lesson?  There is always a line.  It will sometimes be your choice to draw the line.  You are always on one side of the line.  And as you stand at the line, you always have a choice.  What choice will you make today?  Will you forgive?  Or will you foster negativity?  Will you heal and hug?  Or will you hold onto the grudge?  Will you love?  Or will you linger in your pain and hurt?

 

God doesn’t draw a battleline with you.  He draws a circle of grace to encompass you.  Will you do the same for people today?

 

Marie Fremin. 7/17 and 7/23-24/16.