Wednesday, July 13, 2011
So I was studying 1 Samuel 17 this morning and it dawned on me... David has to face something big and scary. Goliath is so scary that no one will face him. David stands up in the middle of his brethren and declares that he is going to beat this scary opponent. He then prepares himself for battle. He puts on armor that the King gives him. He refuses to rely on the arm of the flesh. Instead, he selects his weapons - 5 smooth stones and a sling. Then he boldly faces all of Israel's greatest fear. He is successful in slaying Goliath with a stone and eventually chops off Goliath's head with Goliath's own sword.
It is said that he was six cubits and six inches tall. He is describes as wearing six pieces of armor. Goliath was no doubt the height of "opposision to and independence of God"(Brown, "Nag Hammadi Library," 260) and served well as the "manifestation of evil." (Johnston, Numbers in the Biblr, 67).
Ok... I know you know the story. But have you ever thought of it like this? Our trials in life are like Goliath. They are big and scary. Most of the time our trials soundly defeat the people around us... even the ones that should be brave because they know truth and have the gospel. But David is an excellent example of how to defeat the giant.
Start by boldly declaring that there is a high power that will not let us down and will strengthen us in our hour of need.
1. The shoes of the gospel to guide our path (also a symbol of covenant making that leads us back to safety). Our feet represent the path we choose to follow. Shoes help to keep the feet clean and ready for God's presence.
2. The shin guards to cushion our knees as we turn to Him in prayer. Knees can be representative of our fears. All the more reason to rely on prayer. Even better, Knees represent our submission to God's will - our willingness to trust Him and his influence in our lives.
3. The girdle to protect our loins - our future and current family relationships. This girdle also protects our eternal sense and our integrity.
4. The breastplate of righteousness to protect our heart and to help us to be humble and mold-able in His hands. The breastplate also protects our true inner person- our identity as sons and daughters of God.
5. The helmet of salvation as we remember our covenants and protects our thoughts, blesses us with wisdom, power and freedom. OUr heads control the rest of our body. THe helmet of salvation reminds us of truths we have learned. It helps us keep our desires in line with God's desires.
6. I like to throw in chain mail. Chain mail represents all the good deeds and the good choices we make. Each good use of our agency strengthens our armor by connecting each circle to more circles - the goal to have each link connected to 12 more links ( a good number since 12 often represents a fullness of priesthood power or calling and election).
7. Our sword of truth as we study His words and gain greater testimonies of who we are and where we are going and who provides all things for us
8. Our shield of faith that can move around to protect those parts or our hearts, minds, and souls are temptations arise.
After David is dressed for battle he arms himself with 5 smooth stones. I love the symbolism in his selection. My friend asked me, "Why 5 stones?" I pondered this.
David approached this seemingly impossible task relying on the grace of God to see him through to the end. The number 5 represent's God's grace and man's fallen state. David was small and insignificant compared to the problem he faced. But God was merciful and gave him wisdom and strength to carry out what was required to succeed.
The number 5 also represents our agency and the wounds of Christ (crown of thorns, hands, wrists, feet, and side. I know that Catholics consider the 5 wounds to be one in hand and foot and the sides, but I like to think of it as head, feet, hands, side and wrists. I think it is a more power symbol to think of Christ wounds on his head - representing our thoughts and knowledge under attack; the wounds in His feet - representing how our path and our goals are attacked; the wounds in His hands - representing how our actions, our agency and our power to do is under attack; The wound in His side or His heart - representing how our source of true knowledge, inspiration, and our sense of our true inner person is under attack. All these points of attack are the areas that keep us from approaching God. Yet Jesus Christ suffered these wounds in our behalf that we may avoid such loneliness and darkness if we humble ourselves and trust in His love and power for us.).
Perhaps the 5 represent the first principles of the gospel - faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, repentance, baptism, the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end with complete trust in Him who can conquer all things. These would be 5 great revelations (stones/rocks) restored in the latter-days.
Thomas S. Monson said "The five stones might represent courage, effort, humility, duty, and prayer." (October 1967)
It may be that the 5 stones are all of the above, but it amazes me that David concurred Goliath with only one (one often represents unity... especially with God) of his stones. Truly God intervenes for those who trust in Him.
It is interesting that David defeats Goliath with one stone, yet he removes Goliath's head with Goliath's sword. If the sowrd represents the word, then David destroys Goliath with his own words. Funny how that is true in real life. Often the words and actions of our enemies have a way of returning to destroy them.
Why smooth? Smooth stones are polished by lots of water... maybe even "Living Water" and the spirit. As we immerse ourselves in the spirit our testimonies, our character becomes polished as we knock the raw edges from our underdeveloped souls.
The sling shot of truth sends the truth with perfect aim at the heart of the matter.
President Spencer W. Kimball said, "Every David has a Goliath to defeat, and every Goliath can be defeated." (October 1974.)
Of course, Davis in his youthful innocence and purity also stands as a type of Christ. He stood against the Goliath of Sin, the Giant of disappointment, the Mountain of despair, against which all were powerless to defeat. Refusing earthly means to defeat the giant, David relied on the power of God to overcome his enemy who sought to enslave the people. In the same way, Christ stands against the monster of death, despair, disappointment, and sin, which would enslave us all. He conquers the enemy, gaining victory for all who turn unto Him. In all this, He is supported, enabled, empowered by His Father.
Christ gained the victory over Satan just as David conquered Goliath. We can conquer the Goliath's in our lives by following this example. Stand. Stand for truth and righteousness, even when we feel we stand alone. Prepare. Prepare for battle by wearing the Armor of God. Prepare by immersing ourselves in the gospel; in the Word of God. Prepare by trusting in His power to overcome our enemies. Trust. Trust in the Lord. Chooses. Choose wisely the weapons that we will use as our ammunition. Choose weapons under the direction of the spirit of the Lord.
"This day will the Lord deliver thee into mine hand; and I will smite thee, and take thine head from thee;... that all the earth may know that there is a God of Israel. And all this assembly shall know that the Lord saveth not with the sword and spear: for the battle is the Lord's, and he will give you into [my] hands" (1 Samuel 17:45-47).