Whose Sword Are You Holding? - Part 4

You’re on your own when you stop flowing in God’s strength

What was the first sign that David’s faith was beginning to falter? It happened before he arrived at Nob. He made a telling remark to Jonathan when he said, “But truly as the Lord lives, there is hardly a step between me and death” (1 Samuel 20:3). His previous confidence in God is now but a memory as his new enemy, King Saul, pursues him. When he faced Goliath, he had looked beyond that formidable foe through the clear eyes of faith—and his God was bigger than his adversary. Now he only sees through the cloudy mist of circumstances, and he stands on the brink of disaster.

God hides his bread and sword if you face your giants, trusting in your own resources

The little village of Nob, situated among the hills five miles south of Gibeah, was a peaceful, secluded spot where 86 priests lived. No highways of commerce or wars invaded the tranquility of that place. Therefore no weapons could be found expect one—Goliath’s sword. Somehow the slain giant’s immense blade had found a resting place there. Also, the food supply was short, so no bread to spare could be located except the “shewbread” or the “bread of Presence”, representing God’s faithful provision for any need among his people.

Now picture this scene: When David arrives at Nob, Ahimelech asks, “Why are you alone and no one with you?” (1 Samuel 21:1) In other words, why are you traveling like an ordinary pilgrim? Kings’ messengers, especially of David’s status, traveled with a kingly entourage, but David is alone. This is just too unusual to Ahimelech. David’s hasty explanation about being on a secret mission attempts to cover his double-mindedness. Where he once knew victory when he depended upon God, he has now turned to self-sufficiency.

Friend, are you secretly running from God and trying to face your enemies in your own strength? Think about it. When you leave the battle, God hides the bread and the weapons, and you, like David, are cast upon your own feeble resources.

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Originally published in the April 1998 issue of Reaching Higher

Whose Sword Are You Holding? - Part 3

Don’t be afraid to risk for God

You, like David, may be ridiculed by those who refuse to confront the giants in their lives (1 Samuel 17:28), or by those who say you can’t (1 Samuel 17:33). But David dared to trust God instead of listening to the despairing voices around him. To be a Christian is to be a warrior against all opposition, and running from battle is not an option.

God wants you to enjoy a complete victory, in which all the adversary’s power over you is broken. However, to experience this, you must:

·      Look away from your own inabilities

·      Cast yourself wholly upon the One “who goes with you, to fight for you against your enemies, to save you” (Deuteronomy 20:4)

·      Charge ahead into battle against the enemy.

When you retreat from the battle, you’re only pretending to be on a mission from God

By now Goliath is defeated. The crisis is behind. How does David handle the next difficulty? David enters the little village of Nob. He looks exactly the same as before. Ahimelech, the priest, recognizes him instantly (1 Samuel 21:1). David’s voice sounds as it always did, and nobody questions him when he explains that he is on a mission for King Saul (1 Samuel 21:2).

What they don’t know is that this man who once needed only God to fight is battles is now depending upon his own strength. He is not on the King’s errand as he says. He’s actually fleeing from him and living in fear and living a lie. David is in precarious straits, but he doesn’t know it yet.

Once we get in the flesh, we only pretend to be on the King’s mission. In our hearts, we’re not fighting against sin any longer, but outwardly we still appear to be the same as always.

A divine law that applied to David still operates today. Whenever you trust in yourself and your own sufficiency, you are doomed to failure. Your first step in that direction takes place with God—allowing something to interfere with your prayer life.

You can count on it, my friend—there is no shortcut to a life of faith. Consistent periods of secluded meditation and fellowship with God are essential. Remember, David’s great victory over Goliath followed his solitary life as a shepherd on the lonely hills of Galilee.

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Originally published in the April 1998 issue of Reaching Higher

Whose Sword Are You Holding? - Part 2

Confront your giants directly

David wasn’t afraid to respond fearlessly to Goliath’s threats. No matter that Goliath was twice David’s size, carried weapons to match his giant stature, and possessed an arrogant spirit to exceed both. Without flinching, David bravely shouted, “For who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should taunt the armies of the living God?” (1 Samuel 17:26b)

Though only a youth, David possessed a triumphant faith—and a willingness to depend on God, and God alone. The Lord of hosts was such a reality to him that he could say, “You come to me with a sword, a spear and a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have taunted. This day the Lord will deliver you up into my hands, and I will strike you down and remove your head from you…that all this assembly may know that the Lord does not deliver by sword or by spear; for the battle is the Lord’s and He will give you into our hands.” (I Samuel 17:45-47)

Think of the audacity of this mere child in the eyes of seasoned warriors. Who did he think he was? Even his oldest brother, burning with anger, demanded of him, “Why have you come down?...I know your insolence and the wickedness of your heart…” (1 Samuel 17:28b)

But the strategy of Israel at that point would appear strange to any observer. When they saw this giant, “they fled from him and were greatly afraid” (1 Samuel 17:24). Goliath emerged day by day shouting insults, and Israel promptly ran and hid.

But trouble doesn’t disappear like that. You can’t run and hide. Unless you face your problems directly and in conflict, they become worse and gain ground on you. If you conceal even a small offense such as anger, lust, greed, pride, fear or unbelief, it will not stay small. You must attack it and defeat it in the power of God. And the easiest time to do this is before the thing grows into a giant and threatens to swallow you.

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Originally published in the April 1998 issue of Reaching Higher

Whose Sword Are You Holding? - Part 1

Imagine facing Goliath, the giant. At about 9’7”, he was two feet taller than the tallest basketball player in the NBA today. Clothed with scale-armor and wearing a heavy bronze helmet, Goliath probably weighed nearly 450 pounds, more than any lineman in professional football.

In his huge hands, he carried a spear four to six inches in diameter and 12 to 15 feet in length. Its iron head alone weighed 30 pounds. It’s hard to picture a soldier throwing such a weapon accurately, but Goliath could. He so terrified the entire Israeli army that they fled in panic. And yet a young boy named David dared to oppose this incredible hulk.

David wore no armor, only a flimsy shepherd’s garment. And he carried no sword. But against all odds, David prevailed. With a single stone from his sling, he struck the Philistine on his forehead, so he fell on his face to the ground. Then David drew Goliath’s sword from his sheath and cut off the giant’s head.


Are there giants in your life?

Probably you, like I, face giants of varying sorts. Not long ago I found myself facing a Goliath I couldn’t even name. I just felt a heaviness settling over me. It didn’t feel like depression, but it was so enormous that I felt weak and hopeless. Nothing I could do made it go away. Absorbing myself in the promises of the Word, praying, plunging into the work of the ministry-all proved futile.

Feeling utterly overwhelmed while alone in a hotel room one day, I began to pray. I’d done this many times without success, but this time was different. Because I was hurting so deeply, I cried out to God in utter abandonment. Before long I caught myself humming a little tune I hadn’t sung in years:

Through it all, through it all, I’ve learned to trust in Jesus, I’ve learned to trust in God…”

Suddenly I felt something move through me. A new courage began to rise up, and I started to worship God all over that room. I sang, I cried, I laughed until finally the dark cloud was gone. The words, believe in God, do not be afraid, coursed through my mind. Then I remembered John 14:1—“Believe in God, believe also in Me.” And I knew I didn’t have to let this Goliath shout at me and wound me every day. Morning and evening he had taunted me, threatened me. But now the living God was in control.

I think I know how the Israelites felt as Goliath shouted at them, “If you don’t overcome me, I’ll force you to serve me the rest of your life.” That’s what it feels like when we face our Goliaths, doesn’t it? And there we stand confronting a mammoth hulk with a huge sword who demands, “What weapon do you have?”

“Only God,” we meekly reply. But God is enough!

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Originally published in the April 1998 issue of Reaching Higher