USEFUL ARMOR, part 6
David was prepared for battle even before he grabbed his shepherd’s staff, plus five smooth stones and his sling; he set out to engage the task at hand—to slay the giant that scourged God’s people. David was ready to defeat the one who defied the Lord of all glory. This Goliath exhaled threats and intimidation with the very breath and strength the Lord gave to him. Now it was time for the Holy Spirit to require their return. David was ready to meet this opposer and naysayer head-to-head and face-to-face. David was not moved to steer clear from him; he was moved to go where no man was willing to go. With staff and his sling in hand, David drew near to the Philistine; he took the first step toward the enemy. Each heavenly battle begins with someone willing to step forward, directly toward the enemy. A person of faith willingly steps where fear reigns. Faith is not the absence of fear; it is placing trust in the one who oversees all things.
David walked before the armies of Israel, and made his way down the hillside slope. Every eye was fixed on his descent. Imagine the thoughts that saturated every weak mind. Certainly his older brother, who offered reproach earlier, did not step in to confront David now, nor did he offer to go with him. Maybe the older brother looked for David’s demise, thereby opening a way for him to be the anointed king. But either way, David went alone into the valley of Elah. Yet, he was not alone; the Holy Spirit was ever present, ensuring victory with every step that David took toward Goliath. The battle scene was unfolding, the heavens were attentive, devils couldn’t wait to see a victory, but David knew the battle was the Lord’s.
David drew near, and then Goliath moved toward David. The man who bore Goliath’s shield went in front of Goliath, but David’s eye was on the prize. Goliath then looked about and saw only David, and he saw a youth, ruddy in appearance, and good-looking. When the prophet Samuel anointed David to be the king of Israel at an earlier time, Scripture described him as one with bright eyes, good-looking, and ruddy (1 Sam. 16:12). In other words, David had absolutely no appearance that would lead one to think he was a warrior, just as they all thought he could never be the Lord’s choice to be king. David had no battle scars, and obviously no experience, since he was just a youth; and his good-looking appearance displayed an innocence. He was ruddy, that is, there was a reddish look about him. There was nothing dark or sinister in his look; there was nothing about him that would move anyone to think there was anything battle worthy about him. In presence, he was not intimidating in any way, fashion or form. David’s appearance and youth did not impress anyone, not when Samuel was looking for the Lord’s king and certainly not now in the valley standing before Goliath. The giant-sized Philistine warrior in full battle array, and laden down with various weaponry, looked about and his eyes fixed on David. The first words out of his mouth: “Am I a dog, that you come to me with sticks?” (1 Sam. 17:43). Goliath’s adversarial spirit rose up within him and he could do nothing else but curse David by his gods, that being Dagon. Goliath had a deep-seated contempt for all Israel, but this young-man moved him to utter disdain. In Goliath’s eyes, his pride deserved and demanded much more than this worthless pup.
David was not moved by Goliath’s prideful presence, nor his pompous words, nor did he fear his presumptuous threats, nor was David cowering away from Goliath’s pretentious praise of his own gods. In David’s eyes, this sealed the victory. There was no other God; surely this foe shall fall before God Almighty as Dagon fell before the Ark of the Covenant when Samuel was just a mere boy (1 Sam. 5:1–5).
The Philistine looked at David and invited him to draw near. David needed no invitation; he was already determined to come closer; he was the one who took the first steps. Goliath said, “Come to me, and I will give your flesh to the birds of the air and the beasts of the field” (1 Sam. 17:44). Goliath’s end came out of his own mouth. Goliath’s era of boasting and battles, of parties and praise, of revelry and reverence, was now coming to an end. He just spoke his last words on earth. Now it was David’s turn to speak, and he was speaking with a tongue that was tied to the Spirit of the living God.
Surely, we need a faith that is willing to confront those who defy God. Truly, we are in deep need of men and women of faith, who will not rely on natural means and methods. Today, there are many Christians in a variety of ministries and leadership positions who have fallen to the natural way of fending off the wolves. Certainly we are seeing the promotion of pills to cope with life’s anxieties; we are definitely witnessing the rise of fun to help Christians escape their troubles and trials. Many are using a host of worldly endeavors to pass their time and gain some sense of relief from monotony and the mundane. Christians are no longer looking for a time of rest to recover from battling devils and worldly influences; rather, it is to gain solace for their carnal pleasures, in order to escape the pressures and problems of the Christian life. This is not the Lord’s love, and this is not the rest that the Lord offers to His people, and it most certainly is not the battle of the Lord. The faith that David exemplified when facing Goliath is desperately needed in the today’s Christianity.
Churches are trying to make everything easier for their attendees, arranging every program and service to accommodate everyone, always seeking to be non-offensive. Bible verses are posted; no longer does anyone need to bring their Bibles at any time. Discipleship has been reduced to Church attendance and tithing. Children and youth are entertained to keep them happy, then they go astray in the later teens; everyone cries out to God as they boast, “We raised them in a Christian home,” thus minimizing any culpability. Facebook and other social enterprises are a telling sign of where the Christian mindset is today. The Bible they "Like" is right next to the book or movie that is saturated with the demonic and the sensual. The Scripture verse they post is followed with a picture, video, or game that displays their worldliness. Comingling is everywhere.
Christians often reference the armor of God, yet it is so easily set aside or forgotten as they enjoy today's amusements. Time is now spent, rather than invested. It is all about being happy and healthy, after all they say, "Church should be fun." So video games, movies, and a little drink to make themselves feel happy is all deemed good. They think the armor of God is to simply have things go well for themselves. They put on the armor of God to enjoy life instead of do battle. The armor has become a turtle’s shell from which they hide from any imminent danger. The true armor of God is never employed, and really never needed. Many today see the armor of God as a way to go about their day doing as they please; they want to be happy in heart, trusting in their armor to shop, watch TV shows and movies, play golf and paintball, ride ATVs, motorcycles and snowmobiles, right past the very needs they pray and talk about; they simply enjoy life as they declare God’s love for them and how happy they are to have so many people who love them. Today's Church is focused on the sort of praise that gains a sense of release, and a way to feel God’s warming presence, and to feel good about life and living, but it is not the praise that comes forth when someone wins the battle, the shout of victory because the walls fell down, the sea split open, the enemy was crushed, or the Goliath fell before them.
The Church has gone into a culture of coping, instead of conquering. I have seen much of this sort of coping, casual, and carnal Christianity; the Holy Spirit is quite far from their thoughts, though they speak of Him regularly.
The Lord is calling forth a people to believe God! Why, you ask? Look about the land and see the devastation—decadence and defiance is infiltrating the souls of young and old. The Church is quite guilty of permitting and even participating in much worldliness, though it looks about and sees others doing worse, so they say, “I’m not as bad as those over there.” Pentecostals speak in tongues and reason that they are still more holy than others, and in right relationship with God. The Church needs a healthy dose of holiness, a faith that rises up and engages in battles, without fear of being deemed offensive. So many Christians want to prove their love through politeness, but they lack power to overcome devils, always fearing reprisal. The only way revival will come is when man and women of faith take a stand and learn to rely on the Lord, willing to offend what is offensive to God’s holy character. Goliath was offensive, insulting the Lord of glory. One man stood up and said, "Is There Not a Cause?”
Blessings to you!
Your Friend in Christ,
Dr. Gary H. Cote
Part 7 of USEFUL ARMOR is coming next!