One Sling Shot Will Do

One of the enemies of the nation of Israel is a people named the Philistines. They have been Israel's enemies for a very long time. In Judges 3:1-4 you can read of the reason for their existence.

These are the nations the Lord left to test all those Israelites who had not experienced any of the wars in Canaan (He did this only to teach warfare to the descendants of the Israelites who had not had previous battle experience); the five rulers of the Philistines, all the Canaanites, the Sidonians and the Hivites living in the Lebanon mountains from Mount Baal Hermon to Lebo Hamath. They were left to test the Israelites to see whether they would obey the Lord's commands, which He had given their forefathers through Moses.

God has a very specific reason as to why He has allowed this specific enemy to still be able to attack Israel. He wants each generation of Israelites to know they are not just part of any nation who can do what they want and follow after any god they choose.  Instead, each generation of Israelites needs to know they are part of a nation specifically called by Him to worship only Him. Each generation is to be known as the people of the God of Israel and the army in each generation is to be known as the army of the God of Israel. No other nation around them is known as the people of the God of Israel and no army of any of these nations can claim to be the army of the God of Israel. Their enemies know that, including the army of the Philistines. They know that the Israelites serve a mighty God and that their army is not just an ordinary army but an extra-ordinary army because of the God they serve. After all, they have lost a number of battles when fighting the Israelites.

We have one example in Judges 15 which tells us how an Israelite named Samson attacked one thousand Philistines. You can read this in Judges 15:14-15

As he (Samson) approached Lehi, the Philistines came toward him shouting. The Spirit of the Lord came upon him in power. The ropes on his arms became like charred flax, and the bindings dropped from his hands. Finding a fresh jawbone of a donkey, he grabbed it and struck down a thousand men.

We know too from Judges 16:30 that, at the end of his life, Samson killed more Philistines than he has killed before.

Samson said, “Let me die with the Philistines!” Then he pushed with all his might, and down came the temple of the rulers and all the people in it. Thus he killed many more when he died than while he lived.

And we have another example of the Israelites defeating the Philistines in I Samuel 7 when Israel was under the leadership of the prophet Samuel, as you can read in I Samuel 7:10

While Samuel was sacrificing the burnt offering, the Philistines drew near to engage Israel in battle. But that day the Lord thundered with loud thunder against the Philistines and threw them into such a panic that they were routed before the Israelites.

In fact, the Philistines stopped invading Israel altogether, at least for quite some time, as you can read in 1 Samuel 7:13

So the Philistines were subdued and did not invade Israelite territory again.

But as time goes on the Philistines decide to attack the Israelites once again, as you can read in I Samuel 17:1-7

Now the Philistines gathered their forces for war and assembled at Socoh in Judah. They pitched camp at Ephes Dammim, between Socoh and Azekah. Saul and the Israelites assembled and camped in the valley of Elah and drew up their battle line to meet the Philistines. The Philistines occupied one hill and the Israelites another, with the valley between them. A champion named Goliath, who was from Gath, came out of the Philistine camp. He was over nine feet tall. He had a bronze helmet on his head and wore a coat of scale armour of bronze weighing five thousand shekels; on his legs he wore bronze greaves, and a bronze javelin was slung on his back. His spear shaft was like a weaver’s rod, and its iron point weighed six hundred shekels. His shield bearer went ahead of him.

The Philistines decide that in order for them to win they must devise a method by which the army of Israel will not remember they are the army of God and will, therefore, not rely on the power of God to help them have the victory. And in the passage we have just read, it seems the Philistines have found the perfect method or the perfect instrument to make the Israelites forget they are God's army. That instrument is a giant named Goliath. And he truly is a giant of a man for he is over nine feet tall. His height is sufficient in itself to make the army of Israel feel defeated. But it is not just his height that causes them to forget who they really are; it is his voice as well for his voice is loud, as you can learn from I Samuel 17:8-10

Goliath stood and shouted to the ranks of Israel, “Why do you come out and line up for battle? Am I not a Philistine and are you not the servants of Saul? Choose a man and have him come down to me. If he is able to fight and kill me, we will become your subjects; but if I overcome him and kill him, you will become our subjects and serve us.” Then the Philistine said, “This day I defy the ranks of Israel! Give me a man and let us fight each other.”

The Israelite army have heard his shouts every morning since they have gathered for battle. Each morning the message has been the same; he calls them the servants of Saul and challenges them to a battle. Perhaps the first few days they may have questioned his remark for they know they are not the servants of Saul; they are the servants of their God. But then as time goes on doubt has begun to set in and they have begun to believe that he may be right after all, and that they are just servants of Saul for they know no one among them who can fight this man; he is just too tall and too strong and too loud, as you can read in I Samuel 17:11

On hearing the Philistine’s words, Saul and all the Israelites were dismayed and terrified.

The Israelite army may well have forgotten that they are God's army but God has not forgotten. And He knows something has to be done to remind His army who they really are. So God goes to work. And, as God so often does, He uses natural circumstances. For He uses the concerns of a man named Jesse for his sons to fulfil His plans.

Let's read I Samuel 17:17-19

Now Jesse said to his son David, "Take this ephah of roasted grain and these ten loaves of bread for your brothers and hurry to their camp. Take along these ten cheeses to the commander of their unit. See how your brothers are and bring back some assurance from them. They are with Saul and all the men of Israel in the Valley of Elah, fighting against the Philistines.”

And so David sets off for the camp, as you can read in I Samuel 17:20-22

Early in the morning David left the flock with a shepherd, loaded up and set out, as Jesse had directed. He reached the camp as the army was going out to its battle positions, shouting the war cry. Israel and the Philistines were drawing up their lines facing each other. David left his things with the keeper of supplies, ran to the battle lines and greeted his brothers.

While he is there, speaking to his brothers, Goliath appears on the scene shouting his usual defiance, as you can read in I Samuel 17:23-24

As he was talking with them, Goliath the Philistine champion from Gath, stepped out from his lines and shouted his usual defiance, and David heard it. When the Israelites saw the man, they all ran from him in great fear.

David hears Goliath, for God has made certain that David does not appear at the scene too early or too late, but arrives just at the right time to hear Goliath shout his usual defiance. The other Israelites hear Goliath as well and all they do is run. But not David, for David knows that this man Goliath, huge as he is, is nothing more than an uncircumcised Philistine, as you can read in I Samuel 17:26b

….. Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living God?

And how dare this uncircumcised Philistine defy the army of the living God. For that is what they are; the army of the living God, not the army of Saul, as Goliath has been able to convince them. And God has sent David to remind the army of Israel who they really are; the army of the God of Israel.

It is now time for action and David, who is not a soldier but a shepherd, looks for the kind of weaponry that he can use successfully, as you can read in I Samuel 17:40

Then he took his staff in his hand, chose five smooth stones from the stream, put them in his shepherd’s bag and with his sling in his hand, approached the Philistine.

Goliath is not impressed with David’s appearance, as you can read in I Samuel 17:41-44

Meanwhile, the Philistine, with his shield bearer in front of him, kept coming closer to David. He looked David over and saw that he was only a boy, ruddy and handsome, and he despised him. He said to David, “Am I a dog, that you come to me with sticks?” And the Philistine cursed David by his gods. “Come here,” he said, “and I’ll give your flesh to the birds of the air and the beasts of the field.”

Goliath looks at David with natural eyes, but he does not realise that David does not rely on his own strength, but on the strength of the Lord, as you can learn from I Samuel 17:45-48

David said to the Philistine, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the Lord will hand you over to me and I’ll strike you down and cut off your head. Today I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds of the air and the beasts of the earth, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel. All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves; for the battle is the Lord’s and He will give all of you into our hands.” As the Philistine moved closer to attack him, David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet him.

It is time for David to use the particular weaponry he has selected, as you can read in I Samuel 17:49-50

Reaching into his bag and taking out a stone, he slung it and struck the Philistine on the forehead. The stone sank into his forehead, and he fell face down on the ground. So David triumphed over the Philistine with a sling and a stone; without a sword in his hand, he struck down the Philistine and killed him.

And so God's instrument, David, kills the Philistine's instrument Goliath, with nothing more than a stone. His actions so encourage the Israelite army that they pursue the Philistine army and defeat them, as you can read in I Samuel 17:52a

Then the men of Israel and Judah surged forward with a shout and pursued the Philistines to the entrance of Gath and to the gates of Ekron….

This is such a great story. But it is not just a great story, it is a story you can learn so much from. After all, you too, as a believer, are part of the army of God, and you too may feel so defeated at times by the challenges you face on a daily basis that you may forget who you are, and forget to rely on God's power to help you be victorious in your battles. Now, you will know that your battles are not physical battles, as was the case with the Israelite army. Your battles are spiritual battles, and you will need spiritual weaponry in order to be victorious, which is described in Ephesians 6:10-17

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power. Put on the full armour of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore, put on the full armour of God so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground and, after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

Your weapon against the enemy is the sword of the Spirit or the word of God, as you can read in Hebrews 4:12

For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.

Moreover, as a believer, you need to make sure that you are dressed in the armour of God to protect you against the onslaughts of the enemy. The first piece of this armour is the belt of truth. This refers to Jesus being the Truth, as you can read in John 14:6

Jesus answers, “I am the Way and the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father, except through Me.”

The next piece of this armour is the breastplate of righteousness. This speaks of the fact that, as a believer, you are righteous in Christ, according to II Corinthians 5:21

God made Him who had no sin to become sin for us so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.

Then Paul mentions that your feet are to be fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace, for Jesus said in John 14:27

Peace I leave with you. My pace I give you.

Thereafter, you are told to take up the shield of faith for, according to II Corinthians 5:7

We live by faith, not by sight.

Next you are to take the helmet of salvation for, according to I Thessalonians 5:9

God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.

As a believer, you need to remember that His power to overcome the enemy is available to you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. All you need to do is to be obedient to God, be dressed in the armour of God and use the sword of the Spirit to defeat the enemy. Jesus used the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God, to defeat Satan when Satan attacked Him in the desert, as you can read in Luke 4:1-13

Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the desert, where for forty days He was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them He was hungry. The devil said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread.” Jesus answered, “It is written: “Man does not live on bread alone.” The devil led Him up to a high place and showed Him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. And he said to Him, “I will give You all their authority and splendour, for it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. So if You worship me, it will all be Yours.” Jesus answered, “It is written: “Worship the Lord your God and serve Him only.” The devil led him up to Jerusalem and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If You are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down from here. For it is written: “He will command His angels concerning You to guard You carefully; they will lift You up in their hands, so that You will not strike your feet against a stone.” Jesus answered, “It says: “Do not put the Lord your God to the test.” When the devil had finished all his tempting, he left Him until an opportune time.

You must learn to use the same method when attacked by the enemy, so you too will be as victorious against the enemy, as David was against Goliath. God wants you to know that no matter the kind of battle you face, He will enable you to be victorious. All you need to do is to use the weaponry He has given you. This weaponry may not look powerful in the eyes of the world but it is powerful in God’s eyes. It will, therefore, cause you to be triumphant over your enemy, and will give God the glory He so richly deserves.

Not Just Any Army