Then Saul dressed David in his own tunic. He put a coat of armor 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: 39-40) (NIV)
I am writing this blog post in Las Vegas while attending the New Media Expo Conference. Las Vegas is known for many things. Before your mind wanders down unintended corridors, what I’m referring to in this case are the slew of celebrity impersonators — everyone from Elvis, to Marilyn Monroe to Michael Jackson. Some impersonators have gone to great lengths, including cosmetic surgery to pull of their grand illusions. While we might admire their skill, dedication and uncanny ability to mimic, in the back of our minds we know we are see imitators and not the genuine article. We are left longing for the authentic.
The scripture above is from the almost universally known story of David and Goliath. Even atheists use the idiom, “David versus Goliath” to describe a situation when there are opposing forces and one side has a seemingly overwhelming advantage over the other. Although David killed the giant with a well struck stone hurled from his sling, the sling was not the first weapon placed in David’s hand. David was first given Saul’s sword along with his armor and helmet. Scripture tells us that Saul was a head taller that his countrymen (1 Samuel 9:2). David was not yet an adult (1 Samuel 17:34). He must have looked like Tom Hanks in the Movie, “Big” when he transformed from being an adult back to a kid but was left wearing his adult clothes. David quickly realized that Saul’s armor did not fit him. If David was going to be successful against Goliath he would have to do on his own terms using the weapon that God allowed his to master. Before taking on Goliath, David recounted his past victories over a lion and a bear (1 Samuel 17:36). The Bible does not state, so we cannot say empathetically, but we can surmise in these instances that David’s weapon of choice was his sling.
We all know the outcome of the story. David’s skillfully flung stone found its mark embedding deeply in Saul’s forehead. “So David triumphed over the Philistine [Goliath] with a sling and a stone; without a sword in his hand he struck down the Philistine and killed him (1 Samuel 17:50) (NIV). What if David had attempted to kill Saul with a sword? He would have likely failed miserably. A sword is an effective weapon when used in close quarters. Goliath dwarfed David and it highly improbable that David would have been able to get so close as to wield a lethal blow. On the contrary, a sling is most effective when there is a bit of distance between the person using it and the intended target.
What is the lesson for us in this? God has created us all from the same basic building blocks, but has arranged the blocks in such a way that we are each a one of kind, unique design. Even identical twins who share the same genetic makeup do not have the same fingerprints! God has gifted each of us with unique skills, abilities, temperaments and personalities. We can all learn from and attempt to emulate the positive traits of role models, but we must apply these lessons in our own way. We must each wear our own clothes! You might earn a living being a member of a cover band, but doing so does not add any “new material.” Cover bands do not leave a legacy. If you want to leave your mark on the body of Christ and the world at large, be the authentic, one of kind creation God intended you to be!