1 Samuel 17:39
The past couple of weeks I have been teaching my preschoolers about doing the right thing simply because it’s the right thing, about how wisdom comes from being willing to listen, and about how not giving up because something is hard produces perseverance. Perseverance is a big word for preschoolers… and well it’s a big word for adults too. And walking it out is a big undertaking for me these days.
My preschoolers have been working on learning Colossians 3:17 “whatever I do and whatever I say should be for Jesus and give Him praise” (paraphrased), Proverbs 1:5 “wise people listen, wise people learn” (paraphrased), and James 1:2-3 “consider it all joy when you face trials and hard things knowing that this testing of your faith is being used by God to produce perseverance” (paraphrased). These are tough verses to swallow. Easy to memorize and quote (especially the paraphrased version), but a different story in the actual living it out process. In our chapel time we have been learning from David.
Earlier this week as I read again the story of David and Goliath the Lord caused a verse to jump out to me that He had not before. In teaching the children about perseverance I pulled a “suppose this” out of 1 Samuel 17. I said, Suppose that when David was a boy out with his sheep and he picked up that sling and tried to use it, suppose he missed his target on the first try or couldn’t even get the rock to stay in the sling? Suppose that when that happened he would have thrown that sling down and stomped away and quit. Would he have ever been able to defeat Goliath that day that he stood before him or would he have joined all the others who were shaking in their boots in fear?
David was able to stand in confidence before this enemy with just a sling because he had practiced with it and tested it. God had helped him use it to defeat animals that were coming to kill, steal, and destroy his sheep and therefore David knew he could trust God to help him use it to defeat Goliath as well. This sling had proven to be a faithful tool in the hands of David as he faced lesser foes which allowed David to confidently step before this greater enemy. Through the testing of this sling in the pasture defending sheep David had learned to trust God and this sling and was ready to use it on the battlefield defending all of Israel.
It was 1 Samuel 17:39 and the word tested that jumped out at me as never before as I read it in light of James 1:2-3.
David girded his sword over his armor and tried to walk, for he had not tested them. So David said to Saul, “I cannot go with these, for I have not tested them.” And David took them off.
David refused to use Saul’s armor, not just because it did not fit, but because he personally had not tested it. David would not stand before the enemy and trust in anything that he had not yet proven to be faithful through lesser circumstances.
In James 1:2-3 the word for perseverance in the Greek is hupomoné and it means properly, remaining under, endurance; steadfastness, especially as God enables the believer to “remain (endure) under” the challenges He allots in life.
Precious one are you under some challenges? Are you willing to stay under those challenges until God removes them or changes them?
We can look at 1 Samuel 17:39 in light of James 1:2-3 in at least two ways…
- We are tools in the hands of our God. If He is to use us to fight the powers of darkness and deliver others from the taunting threats of Satan He has to test us. He has to work us against lesser circumstances in order to prepare us for greater ones. We must be proven.
In Romans 5:3-5 we read, “we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us” (underline mine). In order for God to use us for the glory of His Son, His name, and His kingdom we must be tested and proven. The only way to be tested is by facing trials. It sucks, I get it. But we have a choice. We can say throw me down and walk away, I don’t want to be used by You God. Or we can say, alright, Your will be done. Get me ready.
- David had a sling. We have a sword, (“and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” Ephesians 6:17). David had to learn how to use that sling. We have to learn how to use our sword.
In order for David to be able to trust in his sling. He had to have opportunities to use it. He might have started out with just aiming at trees and bushes and rocks, but that’s not the same as facing an enemy that is out for blood. It’s one thing to win Bible drills and ace that Seminary exam on hermeneutics, but it’s another thing to trust in the Word of God when it comes to quoting it in the face of hurt and disappointment. David had to learn to hit a bush before he could learn to hit a bear and he had to be prepared to stand before a bear before he could be prepared to stand before Goliath.
So I ask again… Precious one are you under some challenges? Are you willing to stay under those challenges until God removes them or changes them?