A Vision of David
During our monthly David’s Army meeting I experienced a lingering vision that continued for more than two hours.
I saw David standing to the side of the valley listening to Goliath cursing the Israeli army. He has already delivered the bread and cheese to his snarky brothers. He seems completely unfazed by their rejection and disdain. He asks about the rewards because he is puzzled why no one volunteers to fight the giant. He is about to go before King Saul. But, for a brief parenthetical pause, David steps away from the crowd, leans on a rock, and contemplates the moment.
In the vision, God brings me closer to David. He reveals some insights from David’s situation in order to apply them to us. This is a common form of prophetic communication and process.
The background blurs and accentuates his appearance. He is spotlighted in the vision, captured in a cameo moment.
This is David frozen in the time just before he presents himself to King Saul. The vision details David’s clothing and demeanor.
He wears the tawny-colored lionskin as a mantle, fringed with the monster’s mane. He ties it at the collarbones. He also wears a bearskin vest, brown as tree bark.
I’m aware that this is how David enters the tent of King Saul to tell his story, he refers to the mantle when he tells his lion story. He points to the bearskin vest as he recounts his battle with the bear. The visual evidence of his victories convinces Saul.
David wears his lion and bear skins well!
The Sheep and the Shepherd
When David is with his father’s sheep, he smells like their worst enemies. The sheep smell the lionskin mantle. The sheep smell the bearskin vest. At first, they had been afraid of David when he wore them. An instinctual terror of lion and bear gave them a wild-eyed panic.
Over time, the sheep realized that the lion and bear smell on David represented safety. The smell became part of their trust with the shepherd hero. The instinctual terror faded. They realized that the smell from the Shepherd meant no more lion, no more bear, hence, no more terror! The trophies of monsters became a source of ovine peace. The sheep crowded David when he sang. They rubbed their heads against him as he worshiped. The savior of their rescue was no threat. They no longer felt the dread of lion and bear invasions. The mantle of the lion and the vest of the bear taught them that the voice of the shepherd was also the voice of the overcomer. The rescuer was with them. They felt peace.
God’s people often feel helpless. He will give His helpless people shepherding champions. These champions are not hirelings who run when threatened and leave sheep to the monsters. These champions smell like lion and bear because they faced, defeated and killed them. The lion smell says, “No more lion.” The bear smell says, “No more bear.” He gives them overcomers as leaders. They lead them into fearlessness. The sheep no longer fear the lion and bear. They enjoy so much victory over lion and bear that they never have a problem with those enemies again. The previous enemies terrorized the sheep. Just the smell would awaken instinctive dread. But, now they hear the voice of a champion and smell his victories. The smell of lion and bear no longer produce a stampede.
David speaks of “finished battles.” God intends to His people be led by champions with a history of finished battles.
The sheep follow champions with lion mantles and bearskin vests. The restlessness leaves them. They are secure in finished battles. The bear and lion came to the valley to decimate the sheep. The champion teaches the sheep these enemies no longer threaten them. Instinctive fears are removed from the hearts of the sheep.
The instinct to flee once increased their vulnerability. The champion cures that fear. The flight risk is gone.
In the vision, I see David twist the lionskin mantle to expose one shoulder. He holds the sling in this hand, available for the fight. He moves toward Saul’s tent. He is ready for the valley of giants.
David’s Leadership Influence Upon a Staggering Army
David’s effect upon sheep speaks to his influence the staggering army of Israel. His lionskin mantle and bearskin vest communicate a message to warriors just as the smell spoke to sheep. The lionskin mantle and bearskin vest shout victory! Saul’s armor whimpers defeat.
An army without weapons needs to see a shepherd win the day with a sling. Nothing could move an army facing a giant like a swordless shepherd with a lion’s mantle and bearskin vest. To the army of Israel David’s victories speak instant credibility. If David can kill lions and bears with his bare hands, they can win without armor, sword, or spear. They have stood for forty days like whimpering lambs before the roar of a giant. They would have trembled at the roar of lion and bear. They have no sword. They have no armor. They have no champion.
To watch Saul march around in his armor provides no courage. Saul hides in his tent. Saul can only traumatize them. Saul leaves them alone. He deepens them their shame. He feeds the despair.
David inspires them! He arrives with finished battles. He won without weapons! He has no fear of the giant. He has a fire in his eyes about facing Goliath. It has been a long time since they have seen courage, character, and commitment at that level. David walks around smelling like lion and bear. Warriors understand the language of finished battles.
Just as he put the sheep at rest, David influences them to face their worst fears. The boldness of David tells them: “If David can, so can I!”
The staggered army dispises every minute they cower in fear. No warrior wants to live with a whimper, waiting for someone else to do what warriors do. They need a leader with finished battles. When they see him win the battle with Goliath, their courage burns with furnace heat of the shepherd boy!
Saul wants David to wear his armor so the army thinks that Saul faces the giant.
The army gains no courage from Saul. They are not moved to run forward without a weapon in their hands by someone who sits in a tent. He wears armor for a show. Warriors scoff at a paraded appearance of war that cowers in the face of danger. The story of the shepherd boy with the lionskin mantle and bearskin vest spread through the soldiers standing on the rim of the valley. They forgot Saul thirty-two days ago. They know Saul intends to do nothing.
David is the best news they have heard for a month!
David faces Goliath wearing lionskin mantle and bearskin vest. His trophies testify a real story of God’s deliverance. They testify that God led David to this valley. They remind him of Divine passion and strength that burned him with furnace heat inside him when he ran toward the lion and bear. He feels that recklessness now! The furnace is burning! He is convinced! He will take this giant’s head!
He smells bear fat residue. He smells the lion’s mane. Finished-battles are his armor. Finished-battles are his courage.
When Saul offered him a king’s armor, David tried it on out of honor for the leader of God’s people. But, he did not smell victory on the armor. He smelled fear, defeat, and despair. He smelled the dread of a trapped king with no way out of his dilemma. His arm was not free for the sling. His shoulders were captured by a meal mantle. He thought, “I cannot trust these for victory.”
“Give me back my lion’s mantle and bearskin vest! They smell like victory! I have proven them. They have proven me.” David says.
The Smell of Your Finished Battles
It is one thing to face a lion or a bear. It is quite another to war with the smell of your finished-battles.
If you faced those enemies but failed to defeat them, the former terror rises in your mouth like a gorge of soured milk. The bitter burning of dread panics your soul. You faced this enemy but didn’t finish the battle. Now, you face them again. As they charge for the sheep, you do not hear the sounds of bleating lambs. You are screaming in terror yourself.
“I wounded that bear and he’s back! I scarred that lion. He’s back to make this valley his territory,” you scream.
The smell of finished battles signals “Attack!” It is the only response finished-battles provides. Aggressive forward march overtakes your body! “I face the roar of lion and bear, and the Lord delivered them into my hands! Who is this heathen giant? Let me at him!”
David responds with finished-battle courage. He wears the trophies of finished-battles into this new battle.
David teaches us to finish battles and carry the smell of finished battles into new ones.
We have long been happy to wave a flag and shout about our moral victories. We whistle through the graveyards of great intentions and false starts. Yet, the roar of the giant still freezes the unarmed troops of our church-pew soldiers. They are frozen in fear. They accept giants as part of the status quo. They leaders cower in the tents, hiding from the fray.
God is looking for leaders who finish! It is the champions who smell like finished-battles that influence staggered armies and awaken another roar. The roar of lion and bear. The roar of Goliath. But, David finishes the battle. The roar he awakens comes from the staggering army on the rim of the valley. They feel same furnace flame of passion that burns in David. They rush into the valley with him and chase down the fleeing Philistines. They come back with the enemies’ weapons.
Saul has left them with empty hands and hearts. In one day, David puts heartburn in every chest and a weapon in the hand of every warrior.