“And David said, ‘The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.’ And Saul said to David, ‘Go, and the Lord be with you!’ Then Saul clothed David with his armor. He put a helmet of bronze on his head and clothed him with a coat of mail, and David strapped his sword over his armor. And he tried in vain to go, for he had not tested them. Then David said to Saul, ‘I cannot go with these, for I have not tested them.’ So David put them off.” –1 Samuel 17:37-39 ESV
Any time there is a conflict, whether at church, work or in a relationship, you have to decide how are you going to fight. When there is a conflict, you have to choose how to manage it because that will have a heavy impact on its resolution or not. That decision is determined by the outcome desired and the process to get there.
As to the outcome, what should be desired is a peaceful or a redemptive resolution.
As to the process, basically, there are two ways to fight: fight fair or fight dirty.
Fair fighting is the means of trying to understand the other person’s perspective and also to be understood, respectfully discussing the matter within boundaries so to preserve the relationship. Fair fighting is not trying to get over on the other party, whereby you win, and they lose.
On the other hand, dirty fighting is characterized by yelling, arguing, hurling accusations, humiliation, name-calling and all sorts of “hitting below the belt” tactics. This method only intensifies and exasperates conflict, never resolves it.
In having resolved to fight the Philistine Goliath and having addressed Saul’s skepticism of his ability and capability to fight Goliath (1 Samuel 17:32-37), David makes the critical decision whether to wear Saul’s armor or not in this battle. It is at this point David decided how he would fight this fight. David’s decision determined the outcome of this fight before the fight began.
As it was with David, so is it for us, especially when in a fierce conflict or facing a spiritual battle. We have to make the decision David made — refuse to fight in the flesh. In this context, David refused to put confidence in human means when he took off Saul’s armor.
Saul’s faith in this fight was not founded in the Lord but rested in military might. Since Saul did not think David was physically able to withstand Goliath (1 Samuel 17:33), putting his armor on David was an attempt to put protection on David to potentially go head-to-head in combat with Goliath. But Saul’s armor, as did Goliath’s, symbolized the strength of the flesh (2 Chronicles 32:7-8; Jeremiah 17:5). When Saul attired David in his armor, he not only dressed David in what he knew to wear and how to fight when in a war, he also dressed David just like Goliath (1 Samuel 17:5).
Saul’s armor, which was probably oversized, was so heavy that David could not even take a few steps. This immobilized David so that he would not be able to run and attack his opponent. Saul’s armor would also make David an easy target to some degree just like Goliath was. That is exactly what operating in the flesh does; it weighs and slows you down. It makes you a target. Operating in the flesh also makes one useful to the devil. Hence, reasons why we must refuse to fight in the flesh.
When it comes to spiritual warfare, we do not fight in the flesh for our strength is not found in the flesh (2 Corinthians 10:3, 4). The source of our strength is in the Spirit and the armor of the Lord (Ephesians 6:10, 11). We win and are brought out victoriously by the mighty hand and outstretched arm of the Lord.
Rev. Johnson A. Beaven III is pastor of Citadel of Faith Church of God in Christ. Contact him via email at email@example.com or Twitter @jbeaven.