Of Swords and Faith
Sword that is not a Sword. Kusanagi-no-Tsurugi, formerly Ama-noMurakumo-no-Tsurugi. Andúril, Flame of the West, the Sword Reforged. The Sword of Omens.
All of these are swords of legend. You may have heard of some; some are a bit more esoteric. We learn about them from mythology, books, and movies. What many don’t realize is that the Bible has a unique sword of its own.
Goliath was a big guy and he had gear to match. His armor weighed 121 pounds on its own. The head of his spear was 14.5 pounds and its shaft was 2.5 inches thick, so he could hold it in that big hand. And his sword? Well, it was definitely made of iron. That’s all 1 Samuel 17 tells us about the Philistine’s sword. Some say that’s because, besides the sword’s owner, it was a totally unremarkable sword. I’m here to present to you the other theory.
The weights are likely because the spearhead and armor were melted down to be used elsewhere. In contrast, we know where the sword ended up. Right back in 1 Samuel 17, we see that David kept the sword; then, in chapter 21, David retrieves the sword from the priest Ahimelech. David gave the sword up as an offering to the temple, as a testimony to God’s strength. And David says of Goliath’s sword, “There is none like that…” And so because it wasn’t melted down, we don’t know its weight and David points out that it’s an exemplary blade. David then takes that sword and uses it at least while he’s running about fighting battles and fleeing Saul.
So here’s the crux of the point I want to eventually make. Picking up a sword isn’t the hard part. The hard part is wielding the sword. I own a Scottish claymore. It’s about 5 pounds and still feels heavy because all that weight is stretched out away from your hand. Not impressive? The broadsword that Arnold Schwarzenegger used in the Conan movie weighed 15 pounds. We have records of a giant Scotsman that stood 7-feet, 6-inches tall, and his claymore weighed 23 pounds. Here’s the topper: Goliath stood a conservative 9-feet, 6-inches tall, which means his sword weighed at least five times as heavy as a sword designed for an average man. And David, the one everyone said was not the biggest of warriors, ran around in the wilderness with this on his back and waded into battle with this in his hands. It should’ve been nigh upon impossible. How did he do it?
Sometimes we look at faith like the climax of the movie, where all hope is lost and the deus ex machina drops from the sky to save us all. We think about Moses stuck between Ule Brenner and the Red Sea with no other option but to put His people’s salvation into God’s hands. It’s big, grand-scale, mountain-moving faith. But what need have we of mountain moving and legendary swords?
Those swords I talked about before were all great swords wielded by great men. However, God gave us a sword greater than that of Goliath. This sword need not be wrenched from stone, but given freely to the common man. This is a sword that makes the common great.
I speak of course about the Word of the Lord, just like it says in Ephesians 6. Faith isn’t just about the big set piece miracles. It’s about waking up every morning and continuing to fight the good fight. It’s about choosing to pick up that sword, that Bible, every day. And that Bible, just like a sword, isn’t too heavy to lift. We just have to wield it properly. We have to understand it, forge ourselves against it, and be ready to brandish it against our enemy and in defense of God’s people. We have to have faith that God will give us the strength and wisdom to properly handle the Word in the time of need. He chose us to wield this sword; He had faith in us. Let us have faith in Him, who believes in us.