A Bethlehemite’s Rules of Engagement

All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves; for the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give all of you into our hands.” I Samuel 17:47 NIV

The hour had come. Jesus Christ went with his disciples to the garden of Gethsemane. Then He said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.” Then Christ went a little away from them and He fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”

            About a thousand years before Christ made this prayer, another Bethlehemite’s turning point in his life had come. He was a young shepherd boy named David. David took his staff in his hand, chose five smooth stones from the stream, put them in the pouch of his shepherd’s bag and with his sling in his hand approached the Philistine warrior. The colossal man was Goliath, who stood tall at 9 feet and 9 inches, 3 inches shy of a basketball hoop. He had a bronze helmet on his head that weighed about 30 pounds and he wore a coat of scale armor of bronze weighing 150 pounds. The Israelite soldiers had already ran away hearing the taunts of the behemoth man and David was the only man courageous enough to face the giant.

            God’s first promise to Adam in the Garden of Eden was, “The seed of the woman shall crush the head of the serpent.” God hadn’t forgotten about that promise and the time was ripening for the promise to be fulfilled. God chose Abraham and made a covenant saying, “I will make you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great….and in you all the families of the earth will be blessed.” Then Isaac became the heir of Abraham, and Jacob the heir of Isaac. Through Jacob the nation of Israel was born. God’s plan of fulfilling His first promise called for an act from this Bethlehemite boy David from the tribe of Judah.

            David’s response to Goliath’s challenge was, “for who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should taunt the armies of the living God?” While most soldiers, including King Saul saw a giant man of war in Goliath, David saw a mortal man defying the almighty God. The young ruddy David accepted Goliath’s challenge and they approached each other for battle. Goliath seeing David, felt insulted in seeing a young boy before him.

            Then David said to the Philistine, “You came to me with a sword, a spear, and a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have taunted. This day the Lord will deliver you up into my hands, and I will strike you down and remove your head from you” (I Samuel 17:45-46). Within minutes, David took one of the stones that he picked up from the brook and he slung it so that it hit Goliath on his forehead. The stone sank into his forehead and he fell on his face to the ground. Then David ran and stood over Goliath and took his sword and drew it out of his sheath and killed him, and cut off his head with it.

            As David faced Goliath, Christ had to face death in the battlegrounds of Golgotha and face the Serpent of Old. Though the opponents were different, the rules of battle were same for David and Christ. David didn’t use a sword or a spear to fight Goliath and neither did Christ use the twelve legions of Angels to fight His opponents.

            It is not by the sword or spear that the Lord saves. This was the Bethlehemites’ rule of battle. The seed of the woman which God promised beforehand was Christ and He crushed the head of the Serpent. This striking blow to the Devil was fulfilled at Calvary when the Savior triumphed over him. Christ suffered on the cross, died, but He arose from the dead, victorious over sin, hell, and Satan.  The victory of Christ is our victory because we are no longer held captive by death and the Devil. We can proclaim that death is swallowed up in victory through the resurrection of Christ. The Lord is victorious in battle and we are saved from the grip of the Serpent. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? To Christ be the Glory, for great things He has done!

George John resides in Hawthorne, New Jersey with his wife Eirene and four children. He is in active fellowship with the believers in Elmwood Park Bible Chapel, New Jersey and serves as the Sunday School Principal. George is also a pharmacist by trade.

Image by Gebhard Fugel