For the next few weeks in Youth Group, we will be looking at the life of David and the trials he faced with King Saul and as a King himself. David’s life was certainly a storied one, and so many of his struggles are ones that we can heavily relate to in modern life. For our first lesson, I wanted to start somewhere familiar: The story of David and Goliath. However, when I was preparing for the lesson, I wasn’t moved by the classic story of impossible triumph, but rather, I was drawn to David’s interaction with Saul.
In 1 Samuel 17: 38-40 we see a scene play out that is well know. In an attempt to help David, Saul adorns him with the best armor at his disposal. David attempts to move in the armor and finds it too cumbersome and instead opts to take only his trust in the Lord, a sword, and the classic sling/smooth stone combo. Of course, this proves to be the right move. David launched a stone that “sinks into [Goliath’s] head” (ouch) and then seals the deal with a beheading. David chose to trust in the Lord and victory was given to him.
That scene is so classic that even non-believers can tell you about it! But there is a moment in that story that I want to pay particular attention too. The part where Saul tries to give David armor. It is so easy to brush past this as Saul simply asserting his resources and tactical understanding, and while that is accurate, there is one point that needs to be realized. Saul is legitimately trying to help. He truly believes that his aid is the best option, and he earnestly wants to help his trusted employee. I couldn’t shake that. It seemed so simple and clear but I had never looked at it critically.
So why does that matter? What does Saul’s failed attempt to help David mean for us in 2018? In the context of the passage, David has a very literal Goliath to confront and conquer. In our modern world, we also are given a Goliath to face. Life itself. Society would have us believe that Life is an opponent that we must strive to defeat in pursuit of the ultimate prize: Happiness. To the secular mind, the best thing any person can achieve is a sense of personal happiness. This being the case, there are many well meaning people who have advice, “armor”, for us to use. People who truly care about us. Love us. Want what they think is best for us. Their words are kind and heartfelt and come from a good place, but is their advice good? Will being happy by our own personal human measures bring us closer to God? That is exactly the question I want you to ask yourself.
When I was younger, 13 to be exact, I was horribly unhappy. Years of being bullied by my classmates at my private Christian school had finally pushed me to rejecting the faith entirely. During this time, I had a group of older friends outside of school who were truly kind and loved me. They watched out for me, they supported me, and they genuinely wanted me to be happy. Their attempts to bring me happiness were, in hindsight, questionable at best. They encouraged me to develop several habits that might have been fun in moment, but only created fleeting feelings of “happiness”. I became self-possessed, dangerous, and often cruel to others if it meant coming out on top. These habits were in no way bringing me closer to God, and in fact, pushed me father away over the next few years.
There I was, seeking happiness. Trying to conquer life in my own personal way. Saul, with a heart full of care and love, had given me armor that I was not comfortable with and I charged forth towards my perceived enemy. I was destroyed. Utterly defeated. I was nowhere close to David.
See, when David moved in his gifted armor, he knew it would only bring him down. As a shepherd in the desert, David faced many dangers. Lions, wolves, bears, bandits, all things what would come between him and the safety of his sheep. David had trained with his sling and his staff. He could do more than hold his own; he was a deadly force. It was necessary for survival. Above all, David was devote in his faith in God. He knew that if God had wanted him to dawn the armor, than it would have fit and felt right. It didn’t.
In 1 John chapter 4 verse 1 we are told, “Dear friends, do not believe all spirits, but test the spirits to see if they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.” When we come back to that question of being happy and how it will bring us closer to God, we would be smart to remember David. Not all nice advice is good advice. Not everyone who cares about you is actually helpful. Not all good people have God in the center of their worldview. Their words may sound sweet and sound, but they may be miles away from the path God would have us take. God loves it when we are happy, and so He offered us the immaculate unending Joy of his love and eternal life with him.
When we are given “armor” in this life, we need to be careful not to call it good on face value alone. In all things, we must strive to look at our lives through the lens of scripture. We must seek to be discerning and careful. Will we fail? Of course! But there is no failure God does not forgive, so never let fear keep you from turning to the Lord when you have a misstep. My goal for this series is not only to show the Youth of Christ Church how David’s life is full of problems we can all relate to today, but to also teach them how to use scripture as a guide when we face those problems. Just as God anointed David, He anointed each of us who believe to be his representatives in this world. And when the going gets tough, remember, His word and love is all of the armor we need.
Follow Up Questions
Please consider asking these questions to your children, family, and loved ones.