John Kitto Morning Bible Devotions: August 20

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John Kitto Morning Bible Devotions: August 20


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The Sling and Stone

1Sa_17:1

Among the events which have, during the past week, been considered, the combat of David with Goliath stands forth most prominently; and to some of the circumstances of that great deed, our attention may this day be profitably directed.

Although we do not, with some, think that “these things are an allegory,” or that this great combat was a type of our Lord’s victory over Satan, or even of man’s combat with the enemy of his soul—it is impossible for the experienced Christian to read it without being reminded of eventful passages in his own spiritual history. There is no doubt some mysterious connection between even the external things of scripture history, and the inner things of our spiritual life, which “the wise” are enabled, by the Spirit’s teaching, to discern, and which renders the seemingly least spiritual parts of the holy writ richly nourishing to their souls.

The reader will remember the feelings with which the son of Jesse undertook this combat. Its is with precisely the same feeling that we should advance to the contest with the enemy of our souls. He is far more powerful than we; and those who have not faith to oppose to him the invincible weapons of the Spirit of God, waver and tremble as he advances. But the experienced Christian, whose faith is unshaken, looks around him, and beholds with wonder so many of his brethren tremble before the defier of God’s sacramental host. Their fear is unknown to him. He inquires with David—“What shall be done to the man who takes away the reproach from Israel?” And the answer is—“The man that killeth him, the king shall enrich with great riches,”—the “riches of the glory of his inheritance.” “He that overcometh,” saith the Lord, “shall inherit all things, and I will be his God, and he shall be my son.” Note: Rev_21:7. Faith in this promise, and hope to attain the reward, determine him to exertion. He heeds not the reproaches of the fearful brother who dares not resist the enemy; he will not listen to those who would persuade him that his strength is not equal to the enterprise; for he knows that the strength on which he relies is not his own, but that of the All-strong—the Strengthener. Firmly, therefore, he advances to the conflict, exclaiming—“I come to thee in the name of the Lord of Hosts, the God of Israel, whom thou least defied.”

This, and no other, is the spirit with which we must struggle with all the temptations of the world, the devil, and the flesh. “Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think anything as of ourselves, but our sufficiency is of God.” Note: 2Co_3:5. With this sufficiency we can do everything required of us. “I can,” says Paul, “do all things through Christ who strengtheneth me.” So can we. But we must remember, that from the moment we renounce His strength and rely upon our own, we are no longer to be compared to the commissioned servant of God, executing his purposes upon the evil and impious; but are rather like the simple unguarded youth which David would have been, had he acted on no other confidence than his own.

Although the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, yet we must use such weapons as we have—such as we best know how to use. The power and courage which David possessed would have availed him little without his sling and his stone; and the powers of resistance which God has graciously consented to afford us, will be equally useless unless we apply them through the appointed means—these are prayer, watchfulness, resistance to sin, resolutions of holiness, and a frequent participation of the means of grace. The gifts of God avail us nothing without the disposition to use them, and this disposition is also his gift, which will not be refused to any that diligently seek it. So God gives the sun, the rain, the soil, the seed—but man must till the field and sow the ground, or else there will be no harvest. It is God that gives the increase; but yet Paul must plant and Apollos water. It is God who gives the talents; but man must put them out to the exchangers, or else Christ at his coming will not receive his own with usury. The grace of God is an invincible weapon; but we must employ it, or it will rust—will no more fight our spiritual battle, than a sword will defend us while we delay to draw it, or than the stones of the brook could avail David while they only lay in the sling. Again, the sling and the stone would both have been useless, had not the Spirit of God, guided the hand of David; and in like manner must the Christian be convinced that the means which are given to him of contending with sin, are only efficacious because “it is God that worketh in us to will and to do.” Php_2:13. The certainty that all our strength is from above, and the determination actively to employ that strength, must go together; neither will effect anything without the other; but the two combined will, by the blessing of God, finally beat down Satan under our feet.

If there be any who, like Eliab, are not only afraid to engage in the contest themselves, but are ready to reproach its with “pride and naughtiness of heart,” because we have determined to follow the Lord wholly, and to subject our conversation to a rule of severer holiness than they can bring themselves to bear—let us answer with David, “Is there not a cause?” There is every conceivable cause. “There is gratitude for love which eternity could never repay; there is love which eternity could never satisfy; and there is even private interest, which is more effectually promoted by the service of God than by any other assignable means.” Note: Rev. H. Thompson’s Davidica.

There may, again, be some who, like Saul, will tell us that we are too weak to contend with all the difficulties which lie before us—and they will offer us, as Saul offered David his armor, a panoply of worldly precepts and maxims for the conduct of life, taken from their own experience, and adapted to persons like themselves; but which, not being founded on the strict and undeviating model of Christ’s law, are no more fitted to our use, than the massive and cumbersome armor of Saul became the slender and unaccustomed David. Our answer must be, we “cannot go with these.” We “have not proved them;” and did we prove them, we should find them useless indeed. We must go in the might of the Lord, and in that alone; and with this, we shall go forth conquering and to conquer the enemies of our peace, till we receive the end of our faith—the salvation of our souls.