When the Armour Doesn’t Fit

Then Saul dressed David in his own tunic. He put a coat of armour on him and a bronze helmet on his head. David fastened on his sword over the tunic and tried walking around, because he was not used to them.  “I cannot go in these,” he said to Saul, “because I am not used to them.” So he took them off.   1 Samuel 17:38-39

There’s always something new in the familiar. The story of David and Goliath is a case in point. Having read, heard, and told the story over and over again you’d think there was nothing new for me to learn. Yet when reading it again for the umpteenth time, a fresh insight unfolded. Good stories are like that, they don’t stay static, they deepen and grow, like a fine wine they mature with time.

And so it was as I read 1 Samuel 17:38-39: “Then Saul dressed David in his own tunic. He put a coat of armour on him and a bronze helmet on his head. David fastened on his sword over the tunic and tried walking around, because he was not used to them. ‘I cannot go in these,’ he said to Saul, ‘because I am not used to them.’ So he took them off.”

I’ve never paused at this point in the story before. I’ve always rushed to join David as he approached the Philistine. The boy against the giant – a sling against a sword, spear and javelin. But I realize now that in my haste to get to the showdown I overlooked something important. Life can be like that if we’re not careful. When we’re intent on reaching a goal, we can miss the lessons along the way.

But I’m digressing. The point of this meditation is to consider what happens when the armour doesn’t fit …

It’s obvious that Saul was concerned for David. He wanted to help, and the best he could do was offer the use of his armour. No doubt it seemed like a good idea at the time. After all, these were weapons with proven effectiveness – weapons that had served Saul well. So if there was anything that would equip David for the task ahead Saul was convinced of the suitability of his weapons.

It’s like that when an amateur enters the arena of the professional. There’s all sorts of advice, all manner of help, loads of good intentions. There’s instruction, training, and plenty of equipment. But when we become encumbered with this knowledge and experience we discover that when we try to walk we can hardly move. The armour doesn’t help; it hinders. The weapons weigh us down. And thus burdened we’re reduced to a stiff, awkward waddle.

That’s when we need to do what David did. Although he admired Saul, served Saul, and loved Saul, it was necessary for David to walk away from Saul. The offer of help was politely refused. For David knew that if he went into battle against Goliath wearing Saul’s armour he would fail – it would be a disaster.

And herein lies the lesson: You can’t wear someone else’s armour. A borrowed tunic never fits. A sword, even a king’s sword, is useless against a giant. For battles are won when you engage the enemy using the skills and weapons with which God has made you familiar. Nothing else will do. Hand me downs will let you down.

So be true blue. Like David, trust in God and what He teaches you. Refuse to defer to the wisdom of man. Say, “No,” to encumbrances. Travel light. Fear God – not Goliath. And walk into the Valley of Elah in the knowledge that little is much when God is in it.

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