1 Samuel 17: 38-40
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.
Then he 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.
Eventually Saul gives in and says: 'OK David, you can go and fight Goliath.' It was probably more out of desperation that anything. No one else was volunteering and Saul didn’t want to do it himself.
But before David steps forward Saul says: 'I want you to wear my armour.'
Remember the things we learned about Saul - he's very tall and He’s also the King which means he will be the best protected soldier there is. His armour is going to be the heaviest and the biggest.
So he takes his armour and places it on David. But it just doesn’t work. It’s too big and too heavy. It’s similar to me at a wedding I went to when I was a student. I didn’t have a decent suit so my flatmate let me borrow his. The only problem was that he’s 6' 2" and I’m 5' 10" – it just looked ridiculous. Saul’s armour is like that on David. It’s weighing him down. It’s holding him back. It’s tripping him up.
Saul was trying to make David do things the way he would do them. He was pushing David to copy him - wear my armour, look like me, do it my way.
Let’s face it. The armour wasn’t what was going to win or lose the battle, it wasn’t going to be the deciding factor. 9 foot Goliath. 5 foot something David. It’s not like everyone can relax now because David’s wearing the armour.
David tries it on anyway. But the problem was – Saul’s armour was made for Saul, not for David. It fitted Saul perfectly – but it didn’t fit David. It was comfortable on Saul – it was incredibly uncomfortable on David.
The point is simply this: God has given you certain gifts, abilities, talents, passions, desires, dreams, ambitions, burdens – that are completely unique to you. There is nobody else that God has made just like you. You are an original - so don’t become a cheap imitation of somebody else.
It’s good to admire other people and to learn from them – but as soon as you try to copy them – you will have to sacrifice something of who you really are.
David was going to be at his most effective being David, not trying to be Saul. And you will be at your most effective when you are the best original you that you can be – not the best copy of someone else.
It doesn’t mean we don’t learn from others, or don’t take advice or improve when we see someone doing something better than we do it. But whatever we take on has got to fit us. It’s got to feel natural and real for us.
For Saul and his generation – armour was the right thing. For David it wasn’t.
The way your generation does things is different to the way your parents’ generation did things. The way you do church is totally different. The challenges you face in life are different. The culture you live in and the giants you have to face will be different.
And so while it’s helpful and good to listen to those in the generation above us - parents, grandparents etc – there will be times when we have to say: 'I can’t do things the way you would do them. Things have changed. Times have changed.'
David knows what gifts and abilities God has given him – and one of those abilities is that he can use a sling and a stone with great accuracy and skill. It may not look that impressive a skill – but David knows what he’s best at and what he can’t do. He knows what he feels comfortable with, and what he feels awkward with. He knows his strengths and he knows his weaknesses, and he wants to play to his strengths.
We have to discover what fits us and like David we may have to try something on for a while and try to walk about in it, before we realise that it just doesn’t work for us. It might be fine for Saul or for someone else – but we can’t do that.
Another thing is this. Those who try to make us wear Saul’s armour, often mean well, they’re not trying to do us wrong. In David’s day to wear the King’s armour was actually meant to be a huge honour – Saul was just trying to protect David, not do him harm.
There’s a lot of well meaning people who will try to place things on your shoulders, and they may not be bad things, they may even be really good things – but they’re just not a good fit for you.
Some Christians get caught up on certain moral issues or focus on particular things and they get really passionate about them – and that’s great for them – but it doesn’t mean that you have to be really passionate about them.
At times you can even feel guilty because you’re just not really into something the way someone else is. You feel like you should be, you even want to be, but it’s just not the way you’re wired.
It could be social action, it could be anti-abortion, sexuality issues, it could be certain theological issues, it could be caring for the elderly – it could be any one of many good things. And that’s great for them – it fits them. But as much as you try – you just genuinely have zero interest in any of these issues. That’s OK.
The fact is, that you are probably passionate about things that they’re not interested in. And that’s OK too.
Find what fits you – discover the way God has wired you. It doesn’t mean that you rigidly never try anything new. Sometimes we try a shirt on that we think we’re going to hate – and we end up loving it. But if you try something and it just doesn’t fit you – don’t try and force it. Like Saul’s armour, you’ll find it becomes more of a burden you have to carry than a weapon you can use.
When David steps up with just a sling, trusting God fully for the outcome, that’s when he wins the victory against Goliath.