Five Smooth Stones
By Pastor Hal Mayer
Thank you for listening to this month’s message from Keep the Faith Ministry. We pray that it will be a great blessing to you as you seek the Lord’s will concerning your life and ministry for Him in these last days.
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Today, I will share with you a message that I believe will help you in dealing with problems in your life and ministry for the Lord that seem overwhelming. It is a message about faith in the face of overwhelming odds. It is also about how God prepares and anoints you for service in His cause. He needs you. And as part of the last generation, He wants to place you where He can give you the victory.
As we begin, turn with me in your Bibles to 1 Samuel 16. This is the story of how David was chosen for service to God’s church. Let us remember that Israel was God’s church at that time. They were to be a light to the Gentiles and a glory to the Lord. Yet their experiences seem to reveal their utter weakness. Like the church today, they were prone to wandering from the revealed will of the Lord and stubbornly going their own way.
This is what happened when they demanded a king. God gave them a king whose name was Saul. Had Saul been faithful, God could have used him mightily. But he was not. He eventually thought that he could do what he wanted even if it went against the revealed will of God given to him by His prophet. Let us remember, my friends, prophets are given to the church for a very important reason. They reveal the will of God to us especially in the context of our own times. Israel usually ignored or neglected them. They found excuses to avoid doing what they said. God gave prophets and apostles to the christian church, but they were ignored too. Do you think that God in His mercy has given the last generation a prophet? A messenger who will help us to navigate the unique and difficult circumstances of our times? Of course He would. As the church comes down to the very end of time, there is a crisis looming. God would not neglect to give His people a means of preparing for and working through the challenges that they will face.
When Saul disobeyed God’s direct command to destroy the Amalekites and all their possessions, God told Samuel that he would remove Saul from being king. This was hard for Samuel, but he delivered the message to Saul just as God told him to do. Now God had to find another king for Israel. 1 Samuel 16:1 tell us that Samuel was grieving for Saul, and God reproved him. “And the Lord said unto Samuel, How long wilt thou mourn for Saul, seeing I have rejected him for reigning over Israel? Fill thine horn with oil, and go, I will send thee to Jesse the Bethlehemite: for I have provided me a king among his sons.”
Samuel went to Jesse at Bethlehem. Verse six tells us that the sons of Jesse passed before Samuel beginning with Eliab the eldest. Samuel was very impressed with Eliab. He was a man of stature similar to Saul, dignified and carried himself with a princely bearing. Perhaps he had been well educated and was a good organizer. No doubt he was well connected with respected persons, perhaps all over Israel. Everyone would have thought him a fine choice to be king once it was made known. So Samuel was ready with his anointing oil to anoint Eliab as the next king.
But the angel of the Lord stood by Samuel we learn in Spirit of Prophecy, Volume 1, page 367 and “instructed him that he should not judge from appearances.” Verse 7 says that “the Lord said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.”
Eliab did not know and fear God. He did not know how to listen to His voice, and he would have been a terrible exacting ruler. Moreover, he was prone to jealousy, as we will see later, and was also quick to jump to conclusions and misjudge others, particularly his own brother. He was proud and censorious. He thought he was better than others. No wonder God rejected him. He was not sanctified in his soul. His soul was not drawn out after God.
Friends, there is an important lesson here. If you want to have a place in God’s work, you must have a heart that is drawn out after God. You have to become a man or woman that thinks like God, and acts like God. You have to yearn for Jesus to come into your life every day. You must become a man or woman “after God’s own heart.”
Eliab could never have been this kind of king. David made his mistakes, but they were far less damaging than Eliab’s would have been. God was teaching us something important in this verse. You cannot judge a man or woman by what you see on the outward appearance. This can be very misleading. We human beings will be very surprised, we are told, by the simple and humble means by which God will finish his work.
Listen to this from Testimonies to Ministers, page 300. Speaking of the third angel’s message in Revelation 14, God’s messenger says: “Let me tell you that the Lord will work in this last work in a manner very much out of the common order of things, and in a way that will be contrary to any human planning. There will be those among us who will always want to control the work of God, to dictate even what movements shall be made when the work goes forward under the direction of the angel who joins the third angel in the message to be given to the world. God will use ways and means by which it will be seen that He is taking the reins in His own hands. The workers will be surprised by the simple means that He will use to bring about and perfect His work of righteousness.”
Simple means? Listen to this one from the General Conference Bulletin, July 1, 1902. “In this closing work of the gospel there is a vast field to be occupied; and more than ever before, the work is to enlist helpers from the common people. Both the youth and those older in years will be called from the plow, from the vineyard, and from various other branches of labor, and sent forth by the Master to give His message. Many of these have had little opportunity for education. To human wisdom the outlook for them would seem discouraging. But Christ sees in them qualifications that will enable them to take their place in His vineyard. If they put their hearts into the work, and continue to be learners, He will fit them to labor for Him.”
You see friends, you don’t need some fancy degree from some accredited institution to do a wonderful work for God. You need a heart that loves and believes God first, and then obeys Him. You should get an education, especially in the scriptures. If you go to a school, you should go to one that is not following after the worldly model, but is teaching how to be victorious in the battles of life. But today most educational institutions teach you how to be skeptical of God’s Word. Even many so-called Christian institutions teach evolution and other false theories. They cannot help you prepare to be a soul winner. They can’t help you prepare to survive the time when your beliefs will be challenged in court. You cannot face the last crisis if your faith is not firmly settled on the word of God. If you stand before the courts of the land to defend the truth, you cannot go there uncertain about what you believe. You will not survive.
“No outward beauty can recommend the soul to God,” says God’s last generation messenger in the book Lift Him Up, page 199. “The wisdom and excellence revealed in the character and deportment, express the true beauty of the man; and it is the inner worth, the excellency of the heart, that determines our acceptance with the Lord of hosts. How deeply should we feel this truth in the judgment of ourselves and others. We may learn from the mistake of Samuel how vain is the estimation that rests on beauty of face or nobility of stature.”
Eliab could never have served as king. He could not see God’s hand. He could not hear His voice. His heart was not seeking after God. So Samuel kept his oil to himself. Jesse passed his seven oldest sons before Samuel. All of them were handsome and looked as though they could indeed make a good king for Israel. But the Lord told him each time to hold his oil.
The Lord could have just told Samuel to go find and anoint David, but He didn’t. Why? God wanted to teach Samuel, and us, an important lesson about how God judges. The unseen one sees all. He knows the heart that man cannot discern. That is why we will be surprised by the ones that God chooses to do His work. We expect that God will choose men of learning and obvious talent. We expect that God will use those who are well-connected with His work and educated in the so-called “schools of higher learning.” We expect that God will choose those who are smooth in tongue or powerful preachers. But friends, God can only use them if they are decidedly on God’s side. But often these kinds of people are not. They have become worldly-wise and skeptical of God’s instructions.
Needless to say, Samuel was troubled when the last of the seven sons of Jesse passed by and God did not affirm any of them. You can imagine the painful suspense in Samuel’s heart. “Is this the one?” “No.” “Is this the one?” “No.” “Is this the one?” “No.” “But that is all the sons of Jesse Lord. If not one of these, then whom?” “Ask if there are any more.” So Samuel asked if this was all of Jesse’s sons. Verse 11. “Are here all thy children?” And Jesse said, “There remaineth yet the youngest, and, behold, he keepeth the sheep.”
Imagine the implications of what Jesse said. “You don’t want him. He’s out with the sheep. He’s not educated. He’s not trained in higher learning. He’s too young and inexperienced. Don’t you need someone of real talent?”
Jesse knew that Samuel had called all his sons to the sacrifice, but he had neglected to call David. I wonder why, don’t you? You see, David had a little business that he was caring for. It was a small, self-supporting family business. David was keeping a herd of sheep. He is of those “common people” that God can use. David loved the outdoors, and this humble business kept him out in the fresh air among the birds and other natural surroundings. Yet it was his way of supporting himself and the family while his brothers carried on what they thought was more important work. He had not had the educational opportunities that his brothers had. They looked down on him because he was doing the menial work, and was therefore not on the same level as the other more astute and connected brethren. They viewed him as inferior. Eliab spoke harshly to David later in the story. His words reveal his distain for David and his humble work. He would not dare to express that if it was not the general feeling among the brothers and even their father.
David was different from them. He had strange ways of thinking, and perhaps some difficulty in expressing himself. He was a loner and retiring from human concourse. He did not see himself as overly talented with his tongue. But David had a courage that they did not have. David was tender and soft-hearted, a characteristic which they did not possess. David’s brother’s liked to have fun with the other popular youth in Bethlehem. They would tease and organize mischief perhaps, and generally followed their worldly entertainment. David’s “fun” was to practice with his sling shot. He would put a small stone on top of a rock and go back twenty paces or thirty paces and then sling a stone with great precision. Or he would find a tree with a hole in it, and sling the stone right into the hole. His brothers didn’t think much of that. But it brought David considerable enjoyment.
David learned to play the harp and would write songs and sing. But his brothers thought that this was something too effeminate for them. “He’s a sissy,” they might have said. They would never do such things. They didn’t sing in church. That was too demeaning. Also, it wasn’t popular with the other young people. Perhaps they would even make snide remarks about David to their friends.
Even though they are all part of God’s church, they were unchristlike to their own brother in their attitudes and actions. And even their father Jesse did not think that God could possibly need David at this event. After all, he was the youngest, the least experienced in the ways of the world, and was doing the most humble tasks. How could God ever choose him? Jesse apparently thought that David was inferior to the others, and had perhaps conveyed this to his other sons subconsciously. When Jesse said “There remaineth yet the youngest, and, behold, he keepeth the sheep,” he was saying this perhaps with a certain tone of voice that revealed his meaning. He loved David, but he could not help but think him somewhat unusual and even inferior to the others. That’s why he had neglected to call him to the sacrifice. And though he tries to say it nicely, he reveals his own view of David.
“Send and fetch him,” insisted Samuel. “For we will not sit down [and eat] until he come hither.” I can’t help but think that this whole procedure was to teach Jesse something about God, as well as Samuel. Jesse needed to understand that God works in ways that are unfamiliar to the carnal or unsanctified heart. God knows whom He can use. Jesse’s mind was going in the wrong direction, and God used this experience to educate him. It surprised Jesse that David was the one that God would anoint. That is because Jesse was not thinking the way God thinks.
The lesson should be clear to us. Do not think in the same way as the majority of your fellow church members. If you do, you will miss out on the Holy Spirit. Do not despise those that they despise. Do not belittle those that they belittle. When a demeaning comment is made about someone else, go and search out that person and try to understand them. If they have fallen in sin, try to restore them to righteous living. When someone is criticized, don’t let that influence your thinking. Go and make friends with that person. Perhaps you can think of times in your life when someone was mistreated in front of you, or you heard about it. What did you do, or not do? How did you think about that person afterward? Perhaps you can think of times in your life when you made a demeaning comment or were unkind to someone else. Did you learn from that experience? Or did you keep on doing it to others.
When David came among his brethren and before Samuel, “the Lord said, ‘arise, anoint him: for this is he.’” Imagine the surprise of all in attendance that Samuel anoints David. No doubt his brothers and father, Jesse, realized that there was some significance to this act by the recognized prophet of the Lord. But they did not understand what it meant. They knew that God had bypassed all of the older brethren for whatever task David was to do.
David was being ordained. Samuel was doing before human eyes what God had already done to David in his heart. This is what ordination is. Human ordination is merely an acknowledgement of what God has done in the heart. It does not add any special power, or virtue. It does not magically change the man and make him effective. Even if no human hand recognizes God’s work, you can still be ordained of God to do a work for Him. And in this day and age, humans get it wrong very easily and ordain those that don’t deserve to be ordained and often neglect those that do. So don’t put your reliance on man to ordain and send you.
Why did God choose David? David’s heart was humble and tender. His mind was listening for the voice of God. He saw his weakness and inefficiency, and God could use him. David was patient. He did not push his way around. And after the anointing, he went back to tending the sheep. Not even David knew what God was planning. He only knew that he obviously had an important work to do for God. Samuel, the prophet, had anointed him. But he knew that he had to continue doing his little self-supporting business of tending the sheep until God revealed to him what he was to do. Samuel left quietly and almost mysteriously. This strange act seemed to the people of Bethlehem to be most unusual and mystifying. What was he up to? Little did they know until much later that they were present at a most auspicious event. God had chosen the next king in front of their eyes, and they would have never suspected it.
Often our lives are that way. Something happens and we don’t realize its significance because we are unspiritual. We think it strange the way God manifests himself through those we do not expect to make much of themselves. But all heaven is interested in the events that often pass us by unnoticed, or unrecognized. But God is working out the counsels of his will. We think His ways unsuitable or even silly, but in reality, they are deep and often unsearchable. If you are open-hearted, God will reveal to you what He is doing. If you are seeking God with all your heart, He will open to you His counsels. Perhaps not all of them, or not all at once, but you will see more deeply. You will recognize God’s hand even if you can’t see the end from the beginning. You will know that the events that happen in your life or in the lives of those around you have a significance that most other people cannot see.
If you are immersed in scripture, brothers and sisters, your mind will be sharp and perceptive. If you are immersed in prayer, the voice of the Holy Spirit, the voice of God Himself will speak to you, and you will understand. If you are obedient, He will lead you in strange ways in the eyes of the world, but He will make sure that you are preserved and eventually placed in a powerful position to bring souls to Jesus.
Listen to this most interesting statement from This Day with God, page 115, “Unexpected talent will be developed in those in the common walks of life. If men and women can only have the message of truth brought to them, many who hear will receive it. Those of every rank of life, high and low, rich and poor, will accept the truth for this time. Some who are regarded as uneducated will be called to the service of the Master, even as the humble, unlearned fishermen were called by the Saviour. Men will be called from the plow, as was Elisha, and will be moved to take up the work that God has appointed them.”
Now that God had chosen David, and David knew that he had an important work to do, God had to bring David into close connection with the court of Saul so that David could learn about governing people. He needed to be able to see what to do and what not to do. He needed to understand the character and nature of ruling. And he needed to see his own character, both strengths and weaknesses. This was to be David’s education and next level of training. He would not get any kind of doctoral degree for it, but it would mature his thinking and help him learn to be flexible and wise.
God brought David in connection with the court of Saul in a most unusual fashion. David was not to be seen as a threat to Saul. He must be put in a position to serve the king so that the king will appreciate him and even tell him or teach him things that would help him later as king.
Please notice what the Bible says next in verses 13 and 14. When Samuel anointed David, “the Spirit of the Lord came upon David from that day forward.” Then in the next verse it says, “the Spirit of the Lord departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the Lord troubled him.” This is a tragic statement. Obviously, the Bible makes it clear that God transferred His authority from Saul to David, even though it was not yet clear to everybody else. But over time God would develop this through various ways and means. Saul began to be troubled by an evil spirit. Listen to this description of Saul’s behavior. Saul’s “character seemed ever after to be marked with extremes. His servants, whom he directed in regard to things connected with the kingdom, at times dared not approach him, for he seemed like an insane man, violent and abusive. He often seemed filled with remorse. He was melancholy, and often afraid when there was no danger. This disqualified him for being ruler. He was always full of anxiety; and when in his gloomy moods he wished not to be disturbed, and at times would suffer none to approach him. He would speak prophetically of his being dethroned, and another occupying his position as ruler, and that his posterity would never be exalted to the throne, and receive kingly honors, but that they would all perish because of his sins. He would repeat, prophetically, sayings against himself with distracted energy, even in the presence of his lords, and of the people.” That is found in the Spirit of Prophecy, Volume 1, page, 368.
How tragic. When God turns from a soul that has irreversibly turned from Him, there are serious consequences, strange manifestations and ominous forebodings. When the rejected soul recognizes that he has fully turned his back on God, there comes a change upon him. Saul had demons in his life that would not give him rest.
Some of Saul’s servants suggested that music would help him relax and be at peace and recommended that he appoint a man who could play music well to soothe him. Saul thought this was a good idea, and asked for recommendations. One of his servants had seen and heard David play the harp and urged Saul to invite him to the court. This Saul did, and David was brought in. Saul greatly appreciated David and the Bible says that he loved him. Eventually, Saul made David his armour-bearer.
From this vantage point, David could watch the workings of the court from inside the palace. He could learn about the issues involved in ruling the people. He could watch the political movements. He could observe logistics, economics, and legislation. But perhaps the most important lesson he learned in being brought close to the center of human power was that he could see that success can only come when relying on Divine power and following Divine precepts. This was important training for David. Saul was not yet aware that David was God’s appointed agency to take his place. So he confided in David and taught him many things. Meanwhile, God was also impressing David with the things in Saul’s life and leadership that were wrong, so that when he was king, he would not repeat them. Eventually David went back to tending the sheep. He needed to see the contrast. Moreover he loved the wilderness. He loved being with God out there in nature. He needed a break from the rigors of city life, and from the play and counter-play of the court. Before putting him in the midst of conflict and before increasing his stature before human eyes, God wanted to speak to David alone, out there in the wilds, so He sent David back to his little business.
Friends, unless God can speak to you alone, He cannot use you. 1 Samuel 17 tells us how God brought David to the attention of the people. Again there are great lessons for us who live in the last generation. The Philistines gathered together to battle against Israel at Shochoh. Verse 2 tells us that “Saul and the men of Israel were gathered together, and pitched by the valley of Elah, and set the battle in array against the Philistines. Verse 3: “And the Philistines stood on a mountain on the one side, and Israel stood on the mountain on the other side: and there was a valley between them.”
So you have two mountains and a valley, and the two armies were on opposite ridges. What is down in any valley? A stream. That little stream was going to play an important part in the battle, but neither side knew it. The water had been smoothing those stones in it for centuries. When everything was in readiness for the battle the Bible tells us in verse 4 and onward that “there went out a champion out of the camp of the Philistines, named Goliath, of Gath, whose height was six cubits and a span. And he had an helmet of brass upon his head, and he was armed with a coat of mail; and the weight of the coat was five thousand shekels of brass. And he had greaves of brass upon his legs, and a target of brass between his shoulders. And the staff of his spear was like a weaver’s beam; and his spear’s head weighed six hundred shekels of iron: and one bearing a shield went before him.”
Imagine the stature of this man, and his strength. He was huge! Six cubits and a span is about 11 feet. The coat of mail was like a flak jacket and protected the chest and abdomen. This coat of mail weighed 110lbs, and the head of the spear was more than 13lbs. We don’t know the weight of the brass helmet or the greaves on his legs (which were thin metal coverings to protect them). But these must have also added considerable weight. This was a very big and strong man.
But perhaps the greatest thing about this Goliath was his arrogance. He was proud of his stature and his fighting abilities which he had developed since he was young. He was undefeated in any personal engagement. The Philistines must have thought that if they could engage a man of Israel in a one on one battle with this giant, they would certainly be victorious. And if they engaged in a general battle, Goliath would do much damage to the enemy.
So they sent Goliath out to challenge Israel. Verse eight; “And he stood and cried unto the armies of Israel, and said unto them, Why are ye come out to set your battle in array? Am not I a Philistine, and ye servants to Saul? Choose you a man for you, and let him come down to me. If he be able to fight with me, and to kill me, then will we be your servants: but if I prevail against him, and kill him, then shall ye be our servants, and serve us. And the Philistine said, I defy the armies of Israel this day; give me a man, that we may fight together.”
Israel did not accept the challenge of the Philistine, and Goliath made an issue of it. The scripture says in verse 11 that “when Saul and all Israel heard those words of the Philistine, they were dismayed, and greatly afraid.” Imagine the armies of the living God being afraid of the armies of his enemies. Sometimes when we face a giant in our lives, a great difficulty or some challenge, we cower in fear, when we should have faith. Israel lacked faith. The whole army lacked faith. They also lacked leadership. But it was faith that kept them from going out to deal with the one who was so proud and arrogant. His size was daunting, but God was going to teach all of Israel a lesson, that victory does not depend on human prowess or human intellectual ingenuity or raw power. Victory is a result of faith. But you must learn to understand and experience it. You can’t wait until the last moment. It is your experience that helps you understand faith and how God works, so that when you are up against the greatest challenges of your life, you can be fearless. Neither Saul nor Israel’s armies had experience with faith. And when you don’t have faith you only have fear. God is telling the last generation that there can be no fear when there is faith in God’s power. Israel’s fear revealed that they were only thinking at the human level, and did not see the possibilities of what faith can accomplish.
Goliath knew they were afraid, and he became even bolder in his challenge. Every day he would renew it. This must have struck directly at Saul. After all, Saul was a giant among the Israelites and stood head and shoulders above his fellows. Saul should have been the one to go out and fight the giant. No doubt Goliath was really challenging Saul directly, and everybody knew it. He had a helmet of bronze and a coat of mail, but he too was afraid and trembled. He knew not what to do. He was confused and bewildered. He could see that if he went out to fight the giant, it would jeopardize all of Israel because he knew God was not with him. Any other man of Israel would also jeopardize the whole nation. Moreover his spirit was broken and his conscience was troubled. It was as if the Israelites and the Philistines were at a stalemate. Goliath made his proud challenge every day for forty days. And with every passing day and with each passing hour, Saul’s credibility with his people was lessening. Saul was in a bind, but he could do nothing about it.
Meanwhile Jesse sent David with food for his brothers and for their captain. When David arrived, he left his baggage with someone who would look after it and went to see his brothers. Verse 23 says “and as he talked with them, behold, there came up the champion, the Philistine of Gath, Goliath by name, out of the armies of the Philistines, and spake according to the same words: and David heard them.”
When David heard these things he was surprised that the whole camp of Israel did not have a man that was courageous enough to go out and fight this foolish giant. He was shocked when “all the men of Israel, when they saw the man, fled from him, and were sore afraid.” That’s verse 24. Why were they cowering in fear from this man? David heard about this giant from many in Israel. David was not impressed by the stature of this Goliath. He thought him to be little more than the lion or the bear that he had fought out in the wilderness. David could have cowered before these wild beasts, but he ran after them and slew them. David knew that Goliath did not have power because God was not on his side. The trouble was that Israel was trembling in fear, and their cowardly retreat from the battle gave David a greater sense of their lack of faith in God.
“Who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?” demanded David. Notice how David put the giant of a problem in its proper relation. First he noted that this was a pagan that did not follow God’s instructions, and had no respect for God. After all, this giant had defied God, not merely the armies of Israel. He had arrogantly challenged the authority of the “living God.” The god Dagon of the Philistines was not a living god. He was merely a pagan, imaginary deity.
As David talked to the men in Saul’s army, he learned many things, including what would be done to the man that defeated Goliath. He learned that the victor would be made very rich (which probably didn’t attract David like it would have attracted other men). He learned that the king would give the victor his own daughter as a wife thus bringing him into the king’s family. These were considerable incentives for any red blooded youth. But David was more concerned about the reputation of God than about his own personal gain. He could see that God was being discredited by cowardliness, inactivity and faithlessness of the armies of Israel. This was a time of crisis and Israel should be ready for it. David spoke to the men earnestly that this was not their battle, but God’s and that God would give them the victory.
Listen to this interesting statement from the book Spirit of Prophecy, volume 1, page 371. “As the armies of the living God were in such peril, [David] had been directed by an angel to save Israel.” In other words, the angel of the Lord had given David instructions to go to the front of the battle, and God would open the way for him to deal with the giant. Friends, this is a great lesson. When you are God’s, He will guide you and direct you. You don’t have to wait for instructions from someone in authority, or wait for anyone else to tell you your calling. God ordains you. He sends you. And He will go with you and give you the victory. No matter what the problem. No matter what the difficulty. No matter what the sacrifice you have to make, it is God’s purpose to bring you through it victorious.
But David’s brother Eliab did not know God or see His hand working out His will. He felt offended by David’s questions. Eliab felt the sting of David’s reproof to all of Israel for their lack of faith and he took it as a rebuke to himself. Eliab knew something about David. David’s brothers were jealous and suspicious of David and they “looked upon him as merely a stripling shepherd, and now the questions which he asked were regarded by Eliab as a censure upon his own cowardice in making no attempt to silence the giant of the Philistines. The elder brother exclaimed angrily, “Why camest thou down hither? and with whom hast thou left those few sheep in the wilderness? I know thy pride, and the naughtiness of thine heart; for thou art come down that thou mightest see the battle.” David’s answer was respectful but decided: “What have I now done? Is there not a cause?” That statement is from Patriarchs and Prophets, page 645-646.
“David’s eldest brother, Eliab, whom God would not choose to be king,” wrote God’s last generation messenger, “was jealous of David, because he was honored before him. He despised David, and looked upon him as inferior to himself. He accused him before others of stealing away unknown to his father to see the battle. He taunts him with the small business in which he is engaged, in tending a few sheep in the wilderness.“ That is found in Spirit of Prophecy, volume one, page 371.
Eliab’s public words were cutting and demeaning. David was his youngest brother. As the oldest, he should have helped him instead of criticizing him. This often happens in the church as it did then. When someone asks hard questions or points out an inconsistency, others are offended and lash out by criticism and ridicule. Have you ever had that happen to you? It happens often. It is the voice of the devil trying to discourage God’s workers from doing their work.
Though his brothers did not know that God had directed David to the battle front, they suspected that he was there because he wanted to be involved in dealing with the giant, and presumed evil motives and deception. Even though David had manifested daring and courage in the wilderness, Eliab thought that this challenge was beyond him. This was a real giant. And Eliab let him know that he was not welcome out there on the battle field. He was young. He had never been to boot camp to get training for battle. How could he fight a seasoned warrior as big as Goliath? Eliab let David know that he was inferior to them and that he should not have left “those few sheep” in the wilderness to come out to the battle.
“You have not had any military training David. You can’t go out there?” Friends, there are always those fellow church members who argue that you are out of place and should not do your appointed work. “What right have you,” they say, “to do this thing for God? You just want excitement. You have bad motives. You want self-glory. Go back home and stay out of this.” In reality, they are trying to justify their own lack of zeal and interest in God’s cause. Your action and enthusiasm is a reproof to them.
David did not let his brother’s anger deter him. He kept on talking with the others present and urged them to have faith. Eventually Saul heard about David’s arrival in the camp and his concern about the giant. So Saul summoned David to his tent.
Listen to their conversation. It is found in verse 32 and onward. “And David said unto Saul, Let no man’s heart fail because of him; thy servant will go and fight with this Philistine.” David had courage. He believed that God would give him the victory. So he volunteered! Imagine that. How many of us would volunteer for such a risky undertaking. This was a demonstration of David’s faith.
Reading on, “And Saul said to David, Thou art not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him: for thou art but a youth, and he a man of war from his youth.”
Sometimes even leaders try to stand in the way of those who do some good work for the Lord. “Oh, you can’t do that” they say. “You are too young,” or “you are too old,” or “you are not trained.” “You have never been to the seminary, how can you speak with authority? You don’t have a degree from some accredited university. You just can’t go out and do this work. It is too difficult for you. Leave it to us. Don’t be so rash and impulsive.”
Have you heard these kinds of things before? Maybe not these exact words, but perhaps you have heard these concepts. Friends, when God calls you to do something for Him, He is the one who ordains you and He is the one who directs you, not some organization or leader or others. You have a responsibility to fulfill God’s call in your life. You will not be able to use the excuse that the church board or the pastor didn’t agree. Of course, we should try to work in harmony with all of God’s children, leaders and laymen. But there are times when the Holy Spirit wants to move, and somebody tries to stand in the way by criticizing like Eliab, or arguing like Saul. Both tend to discourage those that have a burden to work for God.
But David had an answer for Saul. Verse 34 says, “And David said unto Saul, Thy servant kept his father’s sheep, and there came a lion, and a bear, and took a lamb out of the flock: And I went out after him, and smote him, and delivered it out of his mouth: and when he arose against me, I caught him by his beard, and smote him, and slew him.”
I like that. Just imagine David out there in the wilderness. Suddenly there comes a lion racing out of the bush. He grabs a lamb and tries to carry it away. David is instantly on his feet and races after the lion. The lion is surprised by David’s speed. Perhaps David popped him on the head with a stone from his sling. In any case, the lion drops the lamb, but now has to deal with David. He turns to attack David but as he rises up, David gabs him below the chin by his beard, and perhaps dispatches him with a knife across the throat. What a scene. There lays the lion, and the lamb flees back to its mother. And David is standing over it in triumph. David repeats this process with a bear. He knows how to exploit their weaknesses.
No doubt there are other predators or dangers, such as wolves, snakes, and who knows what else. But David’s accurate sling shot, his speed, and his knife successfully defend the flock from harm and danger. David is an experienced warrior. He sees nothing different in the giant from the lion and the bear. “Thy servant,” he says in verse 36, “slew both the lion and the bear: and this uncircumcised Philistine shall be as one of them, seeing he hath defied the armies of the living God. David said moreover, The Lord that delivered me out of the paw of the lion, and out of the paw of the bear, he will deliver me out of the hand of this Philistine.” David knows Goliath’s weakness; he doesn’t have God on his side. He only has a deaf and dumb idol called Dagon. David’s confidence is winsome. Saul says, “Go, and the Lord be with thee.”
As David turns to go, Saul says, “But wait David, before you go, you should put on my armor. Here, put on my brass helmet,” as he places the helmet over David’s head. It wobbles because it is not fitted for David. Then he tells him to stretch out his arms as he puts on his coat of mail. Its too big for David, and is heavy. Then Saul gives David his sword. “Here put this belt around your waist. You’ll need a sword like this.” As David staggers around in this oversized and overweight armor, he realizes that God will never give him the victory in Saul’s equipment. He must fight the battle in his own armor. Do you know what that was? Instead of a shield, David had a rod and a staff. Instead of a sword, David had a slingshot and pouch, and some ammo from the brook. Most of all, David’s coat of mail was his faith and complete confidence in God.
These things were rather unconventional equipment for war with the Philistines, and especially Goliath. Aren’t you supposed to match armor for armor, weapon for weapon? Don’t you need to be equipped by a degree in theology? Friends, often a theology degree can be a replacement for the Holy Spirit. Don’t you have to be sent by some church board or committee? Friends, you must be sent by God. You need a good knowledge of scripture, not theology, and you only need the heavenly committee to send you. Do you need ordination? Yes, you do but not human ordination. If men recognize heaven’s anointing and place their hands on you, so be it. If they do not, it doesn’t really matter. What matters is that God sent you.
Friends, you must never try to fight in someone else’s armor. There are those that will say that you have to proceed through certain committees and bureaucracy in order to do effective work. They will try to tell you that you have to use pre-packaged programs, and of course, your work has to be done in the regular way. If you don’t work that way, then you will be perceived as uncooperative, and sometimes as if you are even “against the church.” But friends, in the last days, God needs self-supporting laymen who are not bound by committees. They need to be men and women of faith and who will use the talents they have and the tools they have, no matter how unconventional. In fact, God specializes in the unconventional. That makes for a powerful element of surprise. Those who are so deeply loyal to systems and certain ways of doing things will be shocked by the simple means God will use to finish His work on earth. Eliab was certainly surprised by what David did. So were his other brothers, and for that matter the whole church gathered there on the mountain top facing the Philistines.
Friends, let us not forget that there is a giant of a trial coming upon God’s people at the end of time. It is called the Sunday Law Crisis. We need to get our experience now, out there in the wilderness. We need to learn how to sling stones, meaning to use the Bible, and fight the lions and bears, meaning to overcome our sins. Then when we face the last giant, the last great crisis, we will have confidence that the God who delivered us out of the paw of these beasts, will deliver us out of the hand of His enemies.
David could not go out in Saul’s armor. And you cannot go out in Saul’s armor either. Saul was still the leader of the church, though an apostate one. He thought David needed some things that he didn’t have. So he gave him some things to help him. Often leaders think that if we don’t do it their way, we will not succeed. But friends, you need God and Him only. He will anoint you. He will equip you. You have to work in your own harness. Just follow His leading and don’t worry about what other people think.
Imagine what the soldiers of Israel thought when they saw David come back to the front line and then start down the mountain into the valley. “What is that shepherd boy doing?” “Is he nuts?” “Is he crazy?” “Hey you, David, this is a war zone. You can’t go down there! Your sheep are not there. Go home David.” His brothers must have been getting a little angry with Him. “David, stop now. Go home. Leave the battlefield and go tend those few sheep.”
All eyes are on David. Both the camp of the Israelites and the camp of the Philistines watch his movements. What is he doing? They watch as David gets to the brook. He stops and looks around and then reaches down and picks up something and puts it in his pouch. Then he reaches down again and picks up something else and puts that in his pouch. Then he does it again and again five times. He’s getting five smooth stones for his slingshot. But since he is not dressed in battle armor, they don’t suspect that defeat is imminent.
Have you ever wondered why David picked up five smooth stones? We find the answer in 2 Samuel 21:15-22. There we are told that four more giants were in the land. One by one they were slain by David’s servants. Verse 22 tells us that “these four were born to the giant in Gath…” David picked up five smooth stones because he planned on meeting the other giants too. He was prepared. Friends, you have to be prepared with whatever tools the Lord gives you. Don’t go into the battle unprepared. Know your Bible and the truth for this time. Know the Spirit of Prophecy. Especially know God’s voice. That is the best thing you can do to prepare.
Then David left the brook and started up the other mountain where Goliath and the Philistines were standing. Goliath suddenly realized that David was the man chosen to fight him, though he was unaware that it was God that chose him. And he was indignant. How could Israel insult him by sending a shepherd boy to fight?
Israel may well have been horrified too, as they realized that David was going up the mountain to meet the giant. A hush fell upon both camps. Then echoing down the canyon Goliath’s booming voice rang out. “Am I a dog, that thou comest to me with staves?” Then he started cursing David. “Come to me, and I will give thy flesh unto the fowls of the air, and to the beasts of the field.”
When the giant had stopped speaking, David’s voice rang out so that all could hear it. No doubt David wanted to give courage to Israel to trust God for the outcome. “Thou comest to me with a sword, and with a 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, whom thou hast defied. This day will the Lord deliver thee unto mine hand; and I will smite thee, and take thine head from thee; and I will give the carcases of the host of the Philistines this day unto the fowls of the air, and to the beasts of the earth; that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel. And all this assembly (both the Philistines and Israel) 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.”
David’s ringing testimony reveals his utter confidence in God. No doubt Israel’s hopes begin to rise. They ready their swords. They stand at attention waiting for the signal to attack. David’s words are like fire to Goliath. He charges down the mountain toward David. David starts to run uphill toward the giant. David is at great disadvantage. Goliath has everything going for him. But God is with David, not with Goliath.
When the last great crisis comes upon God’s people, just before Jesus comes again, God will need people like David. There will be a giant test for them too. Every earthly advantage will lay with their enemies. But they do not have God on their side. God’s people will be tested. They will have to be different, perhaps as different as David was from the armies of Israel. They will have an experience quite different from the vast majority of their fellow church members.
They are the “marines” in the Lord’s army. They must be quick to move, and flexible enough to react to rapidly changing circumstances. They work in their own armor and do exactly what He tells them to do.
As David nears the giant, he takes a stone out of his pouch and while on the run, puts it in his sling just as he has done many times before. He begins to whirl the sling above his head and then lets the stone fly. No doubt, guided by providence, that stone hits the giant square in the forehead and he staggers and then falls to the ground. David continues to run toward him.
Notice verse 50, the last part. It says that “there was no sword in the hand of David.” God was going to use His enemies’ own weapons against them. Verse 51. “Therefore David ran, and stood upon the Philistine, and took his sword, and drew it out of the sheath thereof, and slew him, and cut of his head therewith.”
God provided David a sword to slay the giant. He did not need Saul’s armor. What shock and horror must have fallen on the Philistines. Now who has fear? They flee like cockroaches when the light is turned on. And Israel purses them to their own cities.
Friends, the story of the anointing of David and his subsequent victory over the giant is especially written for those of us living in the last days. May the living God help you to have the courage to face the difficulties in your life, to stand with Jesus in the last great crisis, and to walk with Him in the streets of the new Jerusalem.