All born-again Christians know full well that we achieve Salvation through Faith and not Works. “Faith,” being a belief in something we cannot see. First we believe, then God will work out our Faith and our Salvation. We just need to trust God’s words as to who He is, and what He is, and all will be revealed in due course as the Holy Spirit comes to dwell within us, and works out our Salvation for us, through us. Oh the words flow so easily from the tip of the tongue. As Jesus said in Mark 9:23“Everything is possible for him who believes.”
Yes, we all understand this, and we all can pass an examination on these words and the doctrine behind it, for we have heard it preached and taught so very many times. But who can walk the talk? Who has faith in God, sufficient that he or she will leave God to do His part, while we do our part?
Did you think that God does everything? If He did, would that not make Him our servant, rather than our God? No, God has his works, and mankind has ours. While we cannot do what God can do, God will not do that which man can do, that which mankind has been assigned to do. He made us with a thinking brain and gave us an intellect to work out our lives and solve the odd problem which we comes across. That which man can do, God will not do for us. He expects us to partner with Him in this life, and do our own part. As Second Thessalonians 3:10 says “If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat.”
Our problem, most of the time, is that we get the roles mixed up! We want to do God’s work and we expect Him to do ours; not intentionally, but practically. Under such circumstances and with such misguided expectations, it is hardly surprising that our prayers are not answered and our lives bear no fruit.
Take the typical prayer where we tell God not only the problem, but the solution. Seriously, what can God do for us, if the problem is not what we presuppose and the solution is therefore in error? Instead of just praying for the healing of a friend and leaving to God to do the actual healing, we erroneously tell God the cause of the illness and the cure He should employ. How conceited is that? How haughty is that and how ignorant and disrespectful before God is that? We, mankind, that which was made by the hands of the Master Potter, have the audacity to tell the Potter how to do His job!
Even when we don’t tell God precisely how to do His job, often we cannot leave well alone and instead, insist in giving Him a helping hand – as if God cannot do His own job, without us. It is like standing next to a world champion archer and each time he raised his bow and arrow to the target, we nudge his elbow and give him good advice. I’m sure you get the idea, and yes, God must be very patient indeed, with us! We’re always doing that, aren’t we?
To do our part, and to do it well, means letting God do His part without interference from us. It means doing our job, doing our duty, exactly the way God wants it done; at His timing; at His location; according to His protocol. God’s timing is perfect, so if we “jump the gun” or delay our works, we can cause God to rewrite His plan and go to plan B. We miss out on the blessings which otherwise may have ensured. Alternatively, if we do it His way, exactly the same as He told us to do, at exactly the time, and then we don’t get in the way of God hitting His targets and achieving His goals, all on His plan A, we will reap the benefits.
As I was preparing this article last night, the Lord gave me some new understanding of a very well known Bible story, which I will now share with you; a passage known by Christians and non-Christians alike. It demonstrates the advantage of being in the will of God and doing our part, while letting Him do His.
Let us go back to the Old Testament and the times of David, to First Samuel 16:1-14 which covers the anointing of David, saying:
“And Jehovah said to Samuel, How long will you mourn for Saul, since I have rejected him from reigning over Israel? Fill your horn with oil and go . I will send you to Jesse of Bethlehem . For I have seen a king for Me among his sons.
And Samuel said, How can I go? If Saul hears, he will kill me.
And Jehovah said, Take a heifer of the herd in your hand with you and say, I have come to sacrifice to Jehovah. And call Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will show you what you shall do. And you shall anoint for Me whomever I name to you.
And Samuel did what Jehovah said, and came to Bethlehem. And the elders of the town trembled at his coming and said, Do you come peaceably? And he said, Peaceably. I have come to sacrifice to Jehovah. Sanctify yourselves and come with me to the sacrifice. And he sanctified Jesse and his sons, and called them to the sacrifice.
And it happened as they came in, he saw Eliab and said, Surely Jehovah’s anointed is before Jehovah. But Jehovah said to Samuel, Do not look on his face, nor on his height, because I have refused him. For He does not see as man sees. For man looks on the outward appearance, but Jehovah looks on the heart.
And Jesse called Abinadab, and he passed him before Samuel, but he said, Also Jehovah has not chosen this one. And Jesse passed Shammah by, but he said, Also Jehovah has not chosen this one. And Jesse passed seven of his sons before Samuel, but Samuel said to Jesse, Jehovah has not chosen these.
And Samuel said to Jesse, Are all the young men here? And he said, There remains yet the youngest, and behold, he keeps the sheep. And Samuel said to Jesse, Send and bring him, for we will not sit down until he comes here.
And he sent and brought him in. And he was ruddy, with beautiful eyes and good form. And Jehovah said, Arise, anoint him. For this is he.
And Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the midst of his brothers. And the spirit of Jehovah came on David from that day forward. And Samuel rose up and went to Ramah.
But the spirit of Jehovah departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from Jehovah terrified him.”
This is the first we hear of David, as Samuel, who had retired to Ramah and resolved not to appear any more in public business, but instead to confine himself wholly to instructing and training up of the sons of the prophets, over whom he presided, comes out of retirement at God’s bidding, for a special mission. He is to anoint King Saul’s successor, David. We need to understand the importance of this mission, for as we read, though Samuel was in fear of his life; he completed his mission as tasked. In modern day equivalents, it was as if the Pope arrived to anoint the next Prime Minister, or President or King of a country, while the reigning leader was still at the peak of their powers. This was a very notable and newsworthy event and as we read, as soon as Samuel anointed David, the power went out from King Saul and an evil spirit terrified him. Let there be no doubt about it, King Saul knew that something has happened to him, and it was not for his good. In vv 15-22 we find that the fame of David had now spread, such that all knew the Lord was with him, so when he came to King Saul’s court as a harpist, the King was in no doubts as to who Davis was, the future anointed King of Israel.
Days, weeks or months later, when Goliath and the army of the Philistines drew up in battle facing Israel and King Saul’s army at Ephes Dammin, it was therefore no accident that King Saul heard of the words of David as in First Samuel 14:26-31
“And David spoke to the men who stood by him, saying, “What shall be done to the man who kills this Philistine and takes away this shame from Israel? For who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living God?”
And the people answered him in this way, saying, “So shall it be done to the man who kills him.”
And his oldest brother Eliab heard when he spoke to the men. And Eliab’s anger was kindled against David. And he said, “Why have you come down? And with whom have you left those few sheep in the wilderness? I know your pride and the naughtiness of your heart. For you have come down to see the battle.”
And David said, What have I done now? Was it not only a word?
And he turned from him toward another, and spoke according to this word. And the people answered him again in the same way. And the words which David spoke were heard. And they were told before Saul. And he sent for him.”
We see here that David’s brother Eliab was not a fan of David; indeed, Eliab’s anger was kindled against David, all ready to burst into flame. No, when David was called to appear before King Saul, it may have been a youthful shepherd how turned up, but he was no naïve or callow lad. This was a young lad with a history, and a history which was known by both Eliab and King Saul. This meeting, was not just an accidental encounter.
Then the plan is cast as we read in First Samuel 17:32-37
“And David said to Saul, “Let no man’s heart fail because of him. Your servant will go and fight with this Philistine.”
And Saul said to David, “You are not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him. For you are but a youth, and he is a man of war from his youth.”
And David said to Saul, Your 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 it and struck it, and delivered the lamb out of its mouth. And when it rose against me, I caught it by the beard, and struck it and killed it. Your servant killed both the lion and the bear. And this uncircumcised Philistine shall be like one of them, since he has defied the armies of the living God.
And David said, Jehovah who has 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. And Saul said to David, Go, and may Jehovah be with you.”
As David offered to go and accept the challenge of Goliath to a personal duel, King Saul was now sitting in a win-win situation. Let’s look at this from King Saul’s side. Saul knows that David is anointed by God to be the next King and clearly, as even his own men say in v17:18, “… the Lord is with him (David)“ and he himself knows he has lost God’s anointing. If David fights Goliath in battle and looses, King Saul has done away with God’s anointed successor to his throne and will be no worse off than he presently is, vis-a-vis Goliath. On the contrary, if David fights Goliath and wins, all kudos goes to King Saul and his enemy is vanquished. This is a win-win for King Saul. What’s more, all this is in the open.
Then comes the duel, as First Samuel 17:38-51 continues:
“And Saul armed David with his armour, and he put a helmet of bronze on his head. He also armed him with scaled armour. And David girded his sword on his armour, and he tried to go. But he had not tested it. And David said to Saul, “I cannot go with these, for I have not tested them.” And David put them off him.
And he took his staff in his hand, and chose five smooth stones out of the brook for himself, and put them in a shepherd’s vessel which he had, even in a bag. And his sling was in his hand. And he drew near the Philistine.
And the Philistine came on and drew near David. And the man who bore the shield was before him.
And the Philistine looked and saw David, and disdained him. For he was only a youth, and ruddy, with a handsome appearance. And the Philistine said to David, “Am I a dog that you come to me with sticks?” And the Philistine cursed David by his gods.
And the Philistine said to David, “Come to me, and I will give your flesh to the birds of the air and to the beasts of the field.”
And David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with a sword and with a spear and with a javelin. But I come to you in the name of Jehovah of Hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. Jehovah will deliver you into my hand today, and I will strike you and take your head from you and give the bodies of the army of the Philistines to the birds of the air today, and to the wild beasts of the earth, so that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel. And all this multitude shall know that Jehovah does not save with sword and spear; for the battle is Jehovah’s, and He will give you into our hands.”
And it happened when the Philistine rose and went and drew near to meet David, David hurried and ran toward the ranks to meet the Philistine.
And David put his hand into his bag and took a stone from there, and slung it and struck the Philistine in his forehead, so that the stone sank into his forehead. And he fell on his face to the earth.
And David was stronger than the Philistine with a sling and with a stone. And he struck the Philistine, and killed him. But no sword was in the hand of David.
And David ran and stood on the Philistine, and took out his sword and drew it out of its sheath, and killed him, and cut off his head with it. And the Philistines saw that their champion was dead, and fled.”
In the duel, David won and slew Goliath the giant, the champion of the Philistines.
Now we need to look at the preceding text and pull out that which is normally unseen and unrecognised. First, in v47 we read that for David, “… the battle is Jehovah’s, and He will give you into our hands.”
David knew this was not his battle. He was simply being a vessel for Jehovah God. He was doing his part in offering to fight Goliath, but was acknowledging publically before the duel commenced, that “this battle is God’s”!
What does that mean for the above story and how do David’s actions reflect this position of trust and knowing who he was in God? The answer comes from v49 where we read:
“David put his hand into his bag and took a stone from there, and slung it and struck the Philistine in his forehead, so that the stone sank into his forehead. And he fell on his face to the earth.”
The answer you are looking for is not in what is written in v49, but what is not written in v49. Let’s go through the actions of v49: First David tool a stone from his bag; second, David threw the stone; third, the stone hit Goliath on the forehead, killing him. What’s missing in this, God’s own battle? Quite simple: Nowhere does it say “David took aim”. David spun the stone around his head in his sling and released it. God did the rest.
This is a wonderful example of working in complete co-operation both with and for God. We do our part, He does His. We step out in Faith; God acknowledges our Faith and steps in. That is our God!
Amen and Amen and Amen.