Perhaps it was an attempt to lay his hands on the
memory of a better day. Perhaps it was a reaching for an old
testimony from the past when none was near today. Perhaps it
was just the glint of steel. David's fear took charge of faith
when he reached for the Giant's sword, forged in a Philistine
It is always better to be led by our faith than driven by our fears. Fear is the goal of the world’s oldest terrorist, Satan. Woe to the man or nation who allows fear to drive him away from a simple faith in God. That is what happened to David. There was a time when he was filled with a “child-like” faith that could descend into the valley of the Shadow of Death and face Goliath. He did so, to the amazement of Israel’s army, sword-less, armor-less, and fearless. Goliath had both sword and spear as well as someone designated to carry his shield. God was David’s shield. Goliath did not stand a chance against the Almighty. When David faced off with evil he was not alone. Later he would write, “I will fear no evil, for thou art with me.”
Unfortunately, as it is with most of us, at times we are in danger of forgetting our faith and following our fears. There was a day when God was more real to David than Goliath. Now, as he is dodging Saul’s wrath, his faith begins to fail. God had long since left Saul to his own devices. His heart was like an old rusty oil tanker breaking up after running aground. The contents of his dark disposition covered everything around him like a toxic oil slick blackening everything it touched. We either bless those around us with grace, or we leave a spiritual slick of crude oil on all we touch. If we are not filled with the Holy Spirit (love, joy, peace, etc), we may become like tankers filled with things more toxic.
Fear took over. David began (with the best of intentions) to devise and scheme with Jonathan about the best way to live with Saul and survive. They came up with plan “A” and with Plan “B.” If one thing did not work, they would try another. So it is when we are afraid and trying to defend ourselves. As David’s fears increase, he resorts to deception, half-truths, and out right lying. David became spiritually ill. Fear like some kind of spiritual influenza sends a chill racing through his body and brings a fever that clouds his reason. He flees to the tabernacle, but not to pray, not to worship. He lies to the priest and seeks a weapon. When we are afraid, any sword will do. Sure enough, there was a sword in the temple. It was Goliath’s sword, a trophy left from a better day. David says, “there is none like that, give it to me.”
Now this is a most pitiful sight. He who once refused to wear Saul’s armor and carry Saul’s sword to fight the Philistine, now wears the very weapon that was worthless to the infidel before the name of the Almighty. Then to make matters worse, with the sword dragging in the dirt (no doubt, for it was large and heavy) David enters the city of Gath and changed his behavior, feigning to be a mad man.
Woe to us when fear replaces faith and we strap on the weapons of the world, change our behavior, and pretend to be a Philistine in order to be saved, succeed, or be successful. Woe to the church that reaches for the carnal weapons of worldliness in order to live another day. Woe to the believer who thinks he has to fight the Lord’s battles and then behaves like a mad man in the process.
The saint has access to a better sword. It was true that there was none like Goliath’s sword, but it was more true of God’s sword. No saint is weaponless who has the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. That which is flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. As a believer, I have access to the light saber of God’s eternal Word. No evil can stand against it. There is none like it in sharpness or in glory. Sad is the church which reaches for a lesser weapon.
Thank God that David comes to his senses. The fever breaks, so to speak, and his faith recovers. Yes, he finds himself in a cave, but better alone in a cave with God than sitting with many in the seat of the scornful. David will fight again another day, but when he emerges from the cave he remembers, that "the Battle is the Lord's."