Saul clothed David with his armor; he put a bronze helmet on his head and clothed him with a coat of mail. David strapped Saul's sword over the armor, and he tried in vain to walk, for he was not used to them. Then David said to Saul, "I cannot walk with these; for I am not used to them." So David removed them. - 1 Samuel 17:38-39
Saul's armor was undoubtedly the best to be had. It was, in fact, fit for a king.
But the effectiveness of the armor — of any tool, really — has more to do with whether it suits the one who needs it. Saul's helmet and mail and sword were good for Saul, but not for the youthful David.
The passage brings to mind a scene from the movie, Willow, in which the village leader, High Aldwin, is seeking an apprentice. At the village gathering High Aldwin examines three candidates for the job. He holds up his fingers and says, "Forget all you know, or think you know…. The power to control the world lies in which finger?" He goes from one candidate to the next, allowing them to guess. Finally, he gets over to Willow, who hesitates, then selects one of the leader's fingers. High Aldwin snaps shut his fist: "No apprentice this year!"
Later, the High Aldwin asks Willow, "When I held up my fingers, what was your first impulse?"
Willow just hangs his head in shame, saying "Oh, it was stupid."
"Just tell me," High Aldwin insists.
Willow finally confesses, "Pick my own finger."
"Ah, that was the correct answer!"
Willow, an unlikely hero, came to learn what the unlikely hero David learned: he could not make use of someone else's gear. Actually, he would go into conflict with no external armor at all. God had selected him not for his equipment or warrior's prowess but for his heart, both flawed and faithful.
Equipping God, supply us with wise ones to call out our best, true selves, that we may go confidently in the ways you lay out. Amen.
John A. Nelson is the Pastor of the Niantic Community Church (UCC/UMC) in Niantic, Connecticut.