Vanquishing The Enemy
“So David prevailed over the Philistine with a sling and with a stone, and smote the Philistine and slew him; but there was no sword in the hand of David.”—1 Samuel 17:50
The Old Testament is not only a book of history which reveals to us the great seed plots of God’s plan of redemption for the human race. It is that. But it is also a book which unfolds something of the great truths of the New Testament, and puts them before us in picture language, that we may apply them to our hearts and lives today.
One such truth of immense significance is in the book of Samuel—the story of David and Goliath, which has been taught to us from our earliest childhood. The history of it, at least in outline, is familiar to most people. What concerns me today is that you and I might grasp the reality of the spiritual significance of this story.
A Magnificent Giant!
In the first place, we see a magnificent giant who is arrayed before us in all his glory in the early verses of this chapter. He is described in verses four to six of this chapter and is a most impressive picture—a magnificent giant! He was brass all over, on his head, shoulders, chest and legs. He was most impressive as he strutted up and down one side of the valley! The staff of his spear was like a weaver’s beam and his spear’s head was six hundred shekels of iron. One bearing a shield went before him. He taunts Israel with, “Why are you come up to set your battle in array? Choose you a man for you and let him come down to me.” For forty days he daily throws the challenge at them.
This giant seemed absolutely invulnerable. Not only that, he was also irrepressible in his arrogance and in his sheer defiance of the people of God. He was calling for a man and suggested that instead of two pitched armies going into the fight, that each should have a representative. He said in effect, “if the man you choose kills me, then will we be your servants, but if I prevail against him and kill him, then you shall be our servants.” He was prepared to be the representative of the Philistines and all he asked was for the people of God to decide upon their representative to decide the issue. What happened to Goliath would happen to his followers. What happened to the representative of the people of God would happen to them also.
A Frightened People
Now look at the other side of the valley and you see a pathetic picture. Here is a people in covenant relationship with God, who belong to God, fighting in a territory which belongs to them, and they are petrified with fear as Goliath lashes out with his defiances [sic].All the Israelites could do was organize themselves to fight, get themselves well trained, well equipped and well acquainted with the situation, and then be in array to meet the enemy.
But when the enemy comes in sight they are afraid—they fear and they quake. Verse 24 tells us that “when they saw the man they fled from him and were sore afraid.” It surely is impossible for any of us to escape the significance of that picture. There could scarcely be a more impressive picture of Satan and his power than this. Impressive, scintillating, glittering, powerful, and far too powerful for any human being to stand against him.
You will find a modern Satan right here in Chicago exactly like this. You will find him in modern education, the philosophy of which says that man is essentially good and all he needs is to be trained and educated to be civilized and perfect. This of course denies the whole truth of the Bible that man is essentially sinful.
You will find him in a great deal of popular literature, especially that which you can pick up in book stalls and restaurants today which appeal to the carnal mind. You will find him, too, arrayed in the fascinating garb of liberty that is given the two sexes long before the marriage vow. You find him in all these things which seem very attractive, very alluring in themselves and tremendously powerful.
You may say you don’t believe in Satan. That is only proof of his power, for the Bible says that the god of this world, the devil, has blinded the minds of them that believe not, lest they should believe in the glorious Gospel of Christ. There are many people, on the other hand, who do believe in him, and know something not only of his power in a city but know his power in their own soul.
But let us look at the people on the other side of the valley pitched against him. We find a great company of Christian people in covenant relationship with God by the blood of the cross. They belong to the Lord Jesus and yet when it comes down to it, they are absolutely helpless to do anything about the powers of darkness which are arrayed against them. We say this to our shame. Here is the church today, very largely well-equipped and well organized, the battle set in array, everything planned, but when it comes down to it to face the enemy, we are fighting a losing battle.
It is interesting to note that the people of God in Samuel’s time and David’s time, were led at the moment by a man who through his disobedience had forfeited the anointing of the Spirit of God. Saul had lost contact with the source of all spiritual authority. Because he was like that, the people were like that, and they could only fear a powerful enemy.
Are we helpless today because we face Satan bereft of spiritual authority? Perhaps our leadership forfeited through disobedience and unbelief the only source of spiritual power. Against the background of a strutting, arrogant, proud adversary, the Apostle Paul says, “We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers, and against spiritual wickedness in heavenly places.” We see this kind of enemy all about us, and we find ourselves without the power to deal with it.
The Way of Deliverance
Now let us look at the mighty deliverance which came to the people of God that day. Notice once more that Goliath wants a representative—“Give me a man.” The issue will be settled by a representative. If ever there was a glimpse of the basic, glorious fact of the Bible, it is there. The whole issue is not the devil arrayed against a multitude of Christian people, but it is the devil against God! It is Satan against Jesus! And the issue is settled not only in the life of a church, but in the life of every Christian. It is settled by ourrepresentative.
There are two pictures here. I see David as a picture of the Lord Jesus Christ who overcame Satan at Calvary. I see him, too, as a picture of every child of God who is being made one with him through faith and obedience. The two pictures are one because He is the Head and we are His body. Therefore, if the victory is won in Christ, then so are we victorious!
Sanctified by the Spirit
Let us look at some of the pictures in this story which immediately direct our thoughts to the Lord Jesus Christ. In the first place, David was sanctified by the Spirit. In other words, before he ever came up to battle in the Name of the living God, he had been anointed by the Spirit of God in private. There was a day, too, in the life of our Lord Jesus, when before He took up the battle on our behalf, He was anointed by the Spirit of God in His baptism.
If you notice in the 17th verse of this chapter, David was sent by his father—sent from isolation and keeping sheep, sent into public conflict. It was said of our Lord Jesus that “the Father hath sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world.”
In the 28th verse, I find that no sooner does he arrive on the scene than David is scorned by his brethren. Listen to his brother Eliab, “Why comest thou down hither? With whom hast thou left those few sheep? I know thy pride and the haughtiness of thine heart for thou art come down that thou mightest see the battle.” See the battle? There wasn’t any! There was none to dare take it up! It was said of our lovely Lord, too, that “He came unto His own but His own received Him not.” Scorned by his brethren! “Despised and rejected of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.”
To carry the similarity a bit further, David is strengthened by his past experiences. In verses 34 and 35, when Saul challenges young David for his credentials as a warrior, David just looks at him and reminds him of the day—a tremendous day in his life—when he kept the sheep, and when a lion and bear attacked a lamb, he smote them both. In many ways David had proved the power of God before, and he relies upon his God in this situation as well. Our wonderful Lord Jesus, too, had a private conflict face-to-face with the Devil in the wilderness and defeated him, before He ever went into the public “arena” of Calvary. Strengthened by past experience, David could say, “Thou comest to me with sword and with spear and with a shield, but I come to thee in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel who thou has defied.” “All this assembly shall know that the Lord saveth not with sword and spear for the battle is the Lord’s and He will give you into our hands.”
The Lord Jesus, strengthened by His experience in the wilderness, defeated Satan time and time again by “It is written, it is written, it is written.”
Finally, David was successful in his conflict by faith and faith alone. “There was no sword in David’s hand…” Saul offered him one, but David renounced the whole business because he knew that the victory was not by might nor by power, but by the Spirit of God. And the most wonderful thing about it is that the victory of David was a victory that belonged then to every Israelite—the very weakest became a conqueror that day because of David’s victory. The Bible tells us that when the people saw David’s triumph, they arose and shouted and pursued the Philistines until they were routed.
What Jesus conquered at Calvary is shared by His people. But again I say that the vanquishing of the enemy is not merely city-wise, not merely nation-wise, but a personal triumph in my life. The vanquishing of the enemy of my soul who constantly attacks is entirely dependent upon my submission to David’s greater King and my acceptance of the principles upon which He won the fight.
I am suggesting that the reason for the ineptitude of the Christian church to tackle the social problems, the moral problems, the youth problems—in spite of our correctness, organization, techniques and our head knowledge of the Truth—lies in that lack of submission to our King. What are we doing really to cope with the power of the Devil in this city today? Mighty little.
Principle of Victory
Let us look at David again. The anointing of the Spirit came upon David because of his faithfulness in the obscurity of his home life before he ever came out into the public eye. Friend, what are you like at home? Is your life and behavior with your family one which would have His approval? Is our ineptness caused by the fact that, if the curtain were drawn back, behind the scenes in our personal life we have forfeited all rights to His anointing and His authority? Is the forfeiting of His power the reason for our reliance upon planning and organization and scheme and technique?
Anointed by the Spirit, sent by the Lord. The only thing that will give courage in the face of the enemy is the knowledge that God sent you there. With the sovereignty of the Lord behind you, you can bear the scorn of brethren, too. I wonder how many have experienced a day when you stood before loved ones, a wife, brothers, parents, and took a stand for Christ in the face of scorn and the curved lip. Ah, but David was strengthened by experience! And the confidence which you and I can have as we go out in the Name of the Lord Jesus today, is that behind us there has been a situation when we faced an impossible situation and the Lord stepped in and gave the victory. Strengthened by experience and sustained by the Word of God, we triumph!
How many of us really believe that God is a present living power in our hearts today? Not the God of the yesterdays or of the tomorrows, but today the God of absolute power. David knew perfectly well it was no use to imitate the enemy. It was no use being dressed like him, no use going with Saul’s armor. He saw the futility of such a thing. Rather he must put on the whole armor of God and go forth in absolute faith and absolute reliance upon the power of the Lord.
May I add one little postscript to this story? Have you noticed that there is a spectator to this whole battle, watching with keen interest and concern? His name was Jonathan, the son of Saul, and as he watched his soul was knit to David and he loved him as he loved his own soul. Somehow if only today you and I could catch a glimpse of David’s greater King who fought and triumphed at Calvary for us! Would not our first response be:
“My Jesus, I love Thee,
I know Thou art Mine!”
Doesn’t your soul go out after the One who conquered not for Himself but on your behalf and mine?
Will you notice further that Jonathan stripped himself of his robe, his garments “even to his sword and to his girdle” and gave them to David. In other words, that man saw that the principle of victory lay in identifying himself with the same principle by which David had won. He was giving away all the carnal weapons of Saul’s armor that he might cast himself in faith upon David.
I think what could happen today, beloved, if in the life of a church we did just this. What would happen if all of us just laid down our arms, swords and spears, our confidence in programs, in outward things, and substituted a total dependence upon God and the power of His Spirit. Oh, that’s when the victory of David is imparted to your life and mine and we become more than conqueror, where hitherto we have been defeated. May God make this real to us today.