The Training Field
They say that ‘practice makes perfect’. That’s hard to remember and not much of a comfort when you are in the middle of training, eh? Especially when you were a kid. Remember when you were forced to take piano lessons and practice everyday?! As we grow up though, we are better able to keep the big picture in mind and press on through training.
But are there things in life that can’t be prepared for? Sure. Lots of things. Things we can’t foresee happening. These fall more in the category of character issues rather than life skills. The unexpected often comes up in the form of circumstances. The competency aspects of life we are generally prepared for through the blanket preparation called the education system. We can’t be prepared for everything. By the time we are in high school we get a general sense of what we enjoy or what we wish to pursue vocationally, and so we begin to make decisions about what we are going to prepare for, and by default what we are choosing to steer clear of.
In our continuing series on Covenant and Kingdom, we have come to the life of David. What is the most widely known story from the life of David? Yup. You guessed right. David and Goliath. (I’m sure the picture below didn’t tip you off at all!)
This narrative is found in 1 Samuel 17. Up until this point David is a shepherd boy. As the youngest in the family, this task has fallen to him. And so he has spent probably thousands of hours tending to this mundane task. We find out in the previous chapter that David is an accomplished musician-proficient on the harp. And we find out in this account of David and Goliath that he is extremely skilled with a sling for a weapon. I think that it is safe to say that David’s environment with the sheep was a pasture of preparation. David must have seen great opportunity in those uninterrupted monotonous hours and days. But aside from developing those “life skills” of harp and sling, David also evidently developed a deep and intimate understanding of, and relationship with, the Covenant God of his people. This relationship wasn’t nurtured with ulterior motives, with expectations of utilitarian use in the future.
When David has conversations with King Saul and then with Goliath as the fight is about to take place, we see a stark contrast between David’s courage and everybody else on the side of Israel. What exactly was it? “David said to the Philistine, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied..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.”(verses 45,47). David had incredible confidence that was based, not on his own ability, but on his identity. Someone has beautifully summarized this as “Kingdom courage flows from Covenant confidence“.
This narrative reminds us that identity comes before obedience; authority comes before power. It challenges us with the question: Do we have the Covenant confidence that David showed, as we face the giants in our lives? So I ask you for reflection: Are you still in a pasture of preparation where you are learning your identity and gaining confidence in your Covenant relationship with your Heavenly Father? Or are you able to stand on the security God gives you in your identity?