346 David’s Sling & Sword
The Bible tells us in 1st Samuel, Chapter 17 and verse 40 that … (David) “… took his staff in his hand, and chose him five smooth stones out of the brook, and put them in a shepherd’s bag which he had, even in a scrip; and his sling was in his hand: and he drew near to the Philistine”. Most of us, even many who do not regularly attend Church, are familiar with the story of the defeat and death of the Giant Goliath, by the Shepherd boy David, who went on to become the King of Israel. In addition to our familiarity with the story, we are also aware of the detail, in that David used no sword, for the fight, but instead a sling-shot, and it was only after downing and defeating the giant, when he was already dead, that David removed his head from his body with Goliaths own sword.
In my Sermon today, entitled, David’s Sling and Sword, I intend to shine a different spotlight on David’s weapons, in the hope that you will see how comfortable we can become with the things that are really not best for us. God sometimes permits things in our lives, but He does not always prefer them. It is to this issue then that I want to focus my attention today.
I began my study of these things, in the land of Israel some time ago. If you have been there you may well identify with what I am going to share right now. There are many sheep and many shepherds still in that wonderful countryside today, as there were in the times of Joshua, Jesse and in the days of Jesus. There are too, many expert young men, expert in using the “sling-shot” to prevent the sheep from going astray. I recon a boy, skilled in the use of sling and stone can release a stone from several hundred meters away, and it will land exactly a millimetre from the sheep’s nose as she grazes.
In Judges 20:16 reference is made to the single hair breadth of accuracy! This will of course startle the sheep and she will quickly move her location away from the danger foreseen by the Shepherd or hireling. Their skill is truly amazing, and I am sure that the same sling-shot is used with precision to other advantages. Maybe the boys now-a-days can bring the apples down from the trees, or the football down from the power cables? Dotted all over that entire region there still exists to this day, those who, like the boy David, are expert in the use of the sling! This is why David refused initially to accept King Saul’s Armour or his sword when he was about to face Goliath. (v38-39) David had not “proved” these in any previous encounter with danger, but he had proved his sling, he was comfortable with the sling and uncomfortable with the sword. The sling was old, the sword was new, the sling was light, the sword was heavy, the sling was familiar, the sword was strange.
I have given some thought to all of this in recent times, and reached what I think you will agree is an interesting conclusion. David was not always a boy, he did grow up and he became a Man. He was not always just the son of Jesse his father, He was also King Saul’s Musician, and he did himself become King. He did not always need his sling, He moved up to the ready and regular use of the sword. He dressed up too, in the Armour of a Soldier, and led his warriors into battle. So assuming all this to be correct, which without doubt it is, this then is what I have
asked myself, …
“What became of David’s sling?”
What do you think became of it? After all it had downed the greatest threat to the Armies of Israel on that occasion, it had not failed David, it had been a constant reminder to him of his
victory, a victory which the whole world has spoken of ever since! So what happened to that sling? Do you think he just threw it away one day? Did he perhaps assign it to the “attic” of his history? Do you imagine that he lost it? The Bible does not give us any answer to this riddle? But let me tell you what I think. Let me tell you what I believe human nature does in this kind of circumstance. Let me tell you what I would have done, and I very much expect you too. I don’t think David lost that sling, neither do I think he stored it away in a box in the attic, nor did he give it away. I expect he folded it up neatly, and put it in his pocket, so that if he ever needed it, it would be lurking there, near his hand, that if his sword should ever fail him, then his trusty sling would step in to succeed!
It would be to him …
“a very present help in trouble.”
Does that make sense to you?… it does to me!
Now bearing this in mind, I am prompted by the Holy Spirit to shine a fresh or new light on David’s sling, and this is what I see in that light. For many of us, our coming to repentance and faith in Jesus Christ (unless we did so as very young children) will have involved to some greater or lesser degree, the leaving down, or laying aside of some familiar treasure. I use that word “treasure” of course not in any monetary sense, but rather in terms of “value”. There were things like David’s “sling” with which we had become familiar or comfortable, maybe even sentimental? We had grown up with them, proved them, and they had become increasingly valuable to our sense of identity, they had helped or assisted us socially or materially. We were given to understand that as Christians such things were of no value in our new found walk with God, and reluctantly perhaps
we laid them aside or laid them down in our effort to show true or real repentance. It may be that you have laid down a smoking habit, or a regular gambling flutter, or an interest in pornography, or some other selfish or destructive pastime? After all the writer to the Hebrews says “…let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us…” Heb 12:1
This is all very commendable and we thank God for His enabling grace to do so, and more especially for His continuing grace to remain free and faithful in our daily walk with Christ. Over the years and over time you will have heard the Christian Church describe such things as “weaknesses” or “hindrances” even “sins” and the believer as either an “Over-comer of Sin” (Rom 12:21) or as one “Over-taken by Sin” (Gal 6:1) and that’s exactly how the Bible shows it and says it! This brings me back to the query regarding David and his sling. Seemingly he had moved on, moved up to the use of the SWORD, or had he? Remember it is possible to have a “sword” in your hand, and a sling in your pocket. DHG It is possible to look like the “Over-comer” but in reality to be the “Over-taken”. I am convinced that as I speak with you today there are those listening me who are still hiding the sling in their pockets, even though the Church-going folks, can only see them with the Sword, (otherwise known as the Word of God) in their hands?
There was a time, when you did in true repentance lay down that sling, that weakness, that habit, that sin that was keeping you from God, weakening your witness, deadening your decisiveness and crippling your character. But today, Satan has gotten to you, he has you on the run, you are hiding from God, from the Church, and from your friends. That old sling which long ago you ought to have laid down for ever, you still carry around with you. It has now become a burden, holding
you down, and keeping you back, but you cannot or will not see that! You truly wanted to let it go, to give it up, to surrender it to God, but you have become familiar with it, it is like an old friend, you feel you could not live without it, and the Devil knows it, and therefore it is back in your pocket, where once you had thrown it away. Dear friend, I am here to remind you that it is back to drag you down, and you may not be able to live without it, but you dare not die with it! It is time to seek for Gods grace to lay it down and to do so, this time for good, for ever. The sling is for the boy, the sword is for the man.
God had more for David, and God has more for you!
Now I recon that David might have felt exposed, naked without his sling, vulnerable, lifeless, hopeless, finished and spent. But Gods plan for David was that as a MAN he would become King. God cannot bring greatness from those pre-occupied with self seeking and self pleasing. Greatness is always only the result of Sacrifice. Only those who have given much, are given much. Let me say that again. In Gods Kingdom,…
Only those who have given much, are given much. DHG
God gave the whole world to Abraham, but only after Abraham, had shown a willingness to put the “love of his life” his son Isaac on the alter of Sacrifice. (Gen 22:10) Did you know that? God actually gave Abraham, a man of great Faith, gave him the whole world… “Blessing to every family on earth that’s your inheritance” God said (Gen 22:18 ) God gave the whole Power of Heaven & Earth to Jesus who gave His love and His life for a fallen humanity (Matt.28:18 ) and God wants to give to you too. But you can never come into your inheritance in God unless and until you have surrendered everything in repentance before him. God cannot have agreement with a man or a woman who had two occupants on the throne of the heart!
If there is any thing, or any love, or any past-time, or any activity, or any possession, or any position, or any person challenging God for his rightful place there in your heart, … then you are out of step and out of sorts with God.
God wants you to depend on the Sword, not on the sling.
Now what is the difference? Are they not both weapons?
Yes – they are both weapons but as I observed earlier, the sling is for the youth, while the sword is for the man! A man who never grows up is weak amongst other men. Imagine a King leading a great company of trained and skilled swordsmen into battle wielding a sling shot and not a sword… why the very idea is laughable, one recons that kind of thing as “Childs-play”.
Now it is not without significance that the WORD of God is likened to the “Sword”. (Eph 6:17) It is the Sword that brings strength out of weakness, courage out of despair, and hope out of failure. Holding on to things from the past, the old habits, the old life style, the old way, will only weaken and hinder the Christian Character, and provide no real help in times of testing. But if we take the sword, the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God, then therein lies strength. It is the word, written on the fabric of the heart and loved, written on the focus of the mind and then learned, written on the firmness of the will … and then lived out, that will make us strong in battle and victorious in every fight. Without that word within us, Satan has more freedom to defeat and destroy every one of God children. When Jesus faced his onslaught in the wilderness, – at every temptation Jesus used the Word, and the Devil had to lie down under it. Your Experience, your Expertise, your Enthusiasm, or your own Endeavours are never enough to conquer Satan’s “fiery darts” (Eph 6:16)
That is why you need the word. Leave the world aside, leave the past behind, leave those trinkets and treasures that you lean on, and instead begin to lean on Jesus and His word. There is no strength in those other things, no real or lasting help. Instead the Bible, the word will provoke you to victory, it will provoke you to Praise. In the midst of life’s troubles, tests and trials you will be able to say,
“I have Lost my Job, but I can still Praise Him, I have Lost my Health but I can still praise Him, I am Pregnant, but I can still praise Him , I am Broke but I can still praise Him, I am Divorced, but I can still praise Him, I am Homeless but I can still praise Him. I am Depressed but I can still praise Him, I am Hospitalised but I can still praise Him, I am Disabled but I can still praise Him, and I am Hungry but I can still praise Him. Only those who can swap the sling for the sword can live like this, only those who can set weakness down for strength
can experience this kind of victory.
Many people struggle all of their lives without ever being able to know the joy of total surrender to Jesus Christ. The story is told of a young Bible College Under Graduate who was eager to give up a smoking habit, so that that habit would not become a stumbling block to another Christian. He had heard a sermon in Chapel on Sunday speaking of the power or enabling of God
to help us give up our worldly ways.
Remember that I said earlier, God often permits things that He does not prefer to see in us. Many of the things we hold on to, as comforts from our past, may not in themselves be essentially sinful, and there may be no mention of them in the Bible, this does not mean that they are right, or right for us, or helpful for others. If they could become a stumbling block to another – it is best to lay them down for their sake as well as for
our own. So this young student pinned SIX large letters on the back of his bedroom door, a reminder to L.E.T. G.O.D. (let God) help him. The six letters remained there for several weeks and he continued to struggle seemingly without any Divine help? One afternoon while leaving his room, he slammed the door and the “D” fell off onto the floor. On his return the slogan read “Let Go” and he got the message. God cannot take away from us the things we are unwilling to let go. Once we have surrendered those things and those temptations to His Hand, then it is surprising just how easy it is to be weaned off those former things. Take that “sling” (whatever it may be) out of your pocket, and give it to God. I mean do it literally, do it today as soon as this service ends. Then wait and see just how strong God will make you in removing the desire to hold on to those things. Then as you have let go the “sling” take a firmer grasp of the “sword” Gods Word, and begin to rely on it, to strengthen and support you into the days ahead.
NOW THIS FINAL WORD.
Many years ago, Indian youths would go away in solitude to prepare for manhood. One such youth hiked into a beautiful valley, green with trees, and bright with flowers. There he fasted. After three days, as he looked up at the surrounding mountains, he noticed one tall rugged peak, capped with dazzling snow. I will test myself against that mountain, he thought. He put on his buffalo-hide shirt, threw his blanket over his shoulders and set off to climb the peak.
When he reached the top he stood on the rim of the world.
He could see forever, and his heart swelled with pride.
Then he heard a rustle at his feet, and looking down, he saw a rattle -snake. Before he could move, the snake spoke to him.
“I am about to die,” said the snake. “It is too cold for me up here and I am freezing. There is no food and I am starving. Put me under your shirt and take me down to the valley.”
“No,” said the youth. “I am forewarned. I know your kind. You are a rattle-snake. If I pick you up, you will bite,
and your bite will kill me.”
“Not so,” said the snake. “I will treat you differently. If you
do this for me, you will be special. I will not harm you.”
The youth resisted for a while, but this was a very persuasive snake with beautiful markings. At last the youth tucked it under his shirt and carried it down to the valley. There he laid it gently on the grass, when suddenly the snake coiled, rattled,
and leapt, biting him on the leg.
“But you promised…” cried the youth.
“You knew what I was when you picked me up.”
said the snake and it slithered away.”
It may be today that there are things that you have picked up again, once you had let all those things go, but now you are hooked on them. Don’t you know they will deceive you and then destroy you? There is still a “snake in the grass” out there looking for you, and his name is SATAN. Right now he is disguised as that trusty “sling” … so take the Sword, and cut the head off him! If you don’t, this time his bite may kill you.
And may Almighty God give us all Grace to lay down the past grief’s, for the present glories. For Jesus Sake.