Then Saul gave David his own armor—a bronze helmet and a coat of mail. David put it on, strapped the sword over it, and took a step or two to see what it was like, for he had never worn such things before.
“I can’t go in these,” he protested to Saul. “I’m not used to them.” So David took them off again. He picked up five smooth stones from a stream and put them into his shepherd’s bag. Then, armed only with his shepherd’s staff and sling, he started across the valley to fight the Philistine.
-1 Samuel 17:38-40 (NLT)
One of my favorite cartoon characters has always been the spinach-lovin’ sailor Popeye. In particular, I love his personal mantra, “I yam what I yam.” No matter what his others said about him, Popeye stood firm in understanding his identity.
In 1 Samuel Chapter 17, right as the young shepherd David finally convinces King Saul that he should be the one to fight the Philistine warrior Goliath, an easily-overlooked conversation occurs between the two. Saul gave the boy a helmet, armor and a sword — everything one would need for battle. But when David tries them on, it just doesn’t work. I can imagine the helmet sliding on his head, the mail weighing him down, and the sword almost tipping him over.
A solider just isn’t who David was.
Instead, true to his character as a shepherd, David picks five stones and heads toward the giant with only his staff and sling. And of course, as the story goes, David defeats and kills Goliath with one quick hurl of his sling.
I believe we often think about ourselves in the fashion that Saul thought about David. We essentially try to make ourselves into people we’re not, many times at the suggestion of others. Instead of focusing on maximizing who God has made us to be at this very moment in time, we are enamored with being everything that we think we should be. So we cover ourselves with “armor” — things that are cumbersome and a hindrance. Things that aren’t in accord with who God has made us to be right now.
Despite Saul’s best intentions, the story probably would have ended differently had David waddled out into the valley dressed up as a solider. I wonder what part of God’s story for my life I might have hindered by playing pretend as well?
I can try to make my self into someone I’m not, but who am I fooling? Certainly not God.
I yam what I yam.