What is the meaning of Phil 4:13? “I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me.” What exactly does “all things” include? Can I fly, make a million dollars, sing beautifully, or overcome cancer? Ok. If it obviously does not include these impossible things, then what impossible things does it include? And how about “strengthens? Does that mean we are given strength at the moment we need it, or is it talking about the process of being strengthened, being prepared by the Lord for the upcoming challenges? Or is it both? The context of Philippians would suggest it is the process. (See Phil 4:11-12)
The reason I ask is because between 1Sam 17:33 and 1Sam 37 Saul makes a 180 and reversed his judgment regarding David. “All things” suddenly included David killing Goliath. With all that was at stake he agreed to send this shepherd boy without armor and without a sword into battle against a giant of a man who was “a man of war from his youth.” (See 1 Sam 17:39-40) What could have possessed him to gamble the fate of a nation on such a move which only a few moments before was utterly unthinkable? Well, it wasn’t the depth of David’s emotions, or the rightness of his idealism, or even the certainty of his faith, although David had all three. It was the evident preparation of David by God for the moment at hand. (v34-37) When Saul learned of this, only then did he agree to let David go. Only then, and against all odds, was he willing to risk the fate of a nation on the shepherd boy.
As the family went through this chapter yesterday, I could hear the emotions is Gosia’s and Sara’s voices, and I’m sure that was in mine, too, as we read the story:
“Who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?” (v. 26)
“And David said, What have I now done? Is there not a cause?” (v. 29)
“The LORD that delivered me out of the paw of the lion, and out of the paw of the bear, he will deliver me out of the hand of this Philistine.” (v. 37)
“This day will the LORD deliver thee into mine hand; and I will smite thee, and take thine head from thee; and I will give the carcases of the host of the Philistines this day unto the fowls of the air, and to the wild beasts of the earth; that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel.” (v. 46)
Man, that’s a good story. I wondered if there was ever a time when I read these verses that I was not inspired. It is a story crafted by God to inspire His people to do great things for Him against impossible odds. Praise the Lord! It makes me feel good just to write about it.
But I would be remiss if I didn’t remind you all, myself included, that David didn’t just walk in from herding the sheep and kill a giant warrior without grooming from the Lord for just such a day. If we would be inspired to do great things for God, and we should be willing to do so, then we should also be willing to be prepared by God for the challenges we will face. Just what does that mean, and what will that look like? If 1Sam 17 is meant as a pattern, then it will look like a lion and a bear that robs a lamb from your flock. You won’t have a Smith&Wesson either to meet the challenge. You’ll have the everyday tools of a shepherd…and the Lord God of Israel. And guess which one will make the obvious difference to you. Like David, and like Paul in Phil 4, you will “have learned” you can do all things through Christ Jesus who strengthens you.
Want to do great things for God? You may never deliver a nation, fill a stadium to hear you preach or sing, or any number of “great things” you can imagine. Let God choose your goals. Allow Him to conduct the training you need. Was David interested in heaping glory unto himself? Even so, let God choose the way for you to best glorify Himself. After all, he is the reason for it all. “But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus. Now unto God and our Father be glory for ever and ever. Amen.” (Phil 4:19-20)