By Harry L. Lewis
Sometimes it is difficult to determine just who is making the trouble for God’s people. In 1 Kings 18:17-18, we find this statement, “And it came to pass, when Ahab saw Elijah, that Ahab said unto him, Art thou he that troubleth Israel? And he answered, I have not troubled Israel; but thou, and thy father’s house, in that ye have forsaken the commandments of the Lord, and thou hast followed Baalim.” In this instance, it would be almost impossible to tell just who was the real trouble maker if we did not know more about the situation than is stated here in these two verses. If you had been an ordinary soldier in Ahab’s army, just who would you have thought the troubler of Israel was that day? Many times the people of God have been accused of causing trouble when, in reality, Satan’s helpers were the real culprits. Sometimes it is even those who do not want to take sides, but just want to stand and do nothing who cause trouble.
Let us take the case of David and Goliath to illustrate how someone might be taken for a trouble maker when in reality he is just doing what must be done (1 Sam. 17). When David came upon the scene, there was peace and quiet on the battle front. Two armies were peering at each other across the valley, but there was no open war – all was quiet. It was kind of like the spiritual battle that God’s people wage day after day with Satan and his helpers. There is an open battle once in a while, but most of the time there are two armies just glowering at each other. Some sort of like it that way. Everybody knows which side that they are on. Everybody knows there is a war, but there doesn’t have to be any open fights so long as some hothead does not show up. Enter David! “Is there not a cause? ‘ ” David said in 1 Samuel 17:29. His brother, Eliab, who we learn in 1 Samuel 16:7 was a fine specimen of a man, talks down to David for butting into this war. Some are happy with an armed truce when winning the battle may cost them personally. Eliab knew that he was not going to risk all to fight an all-out war with the giant, but he felt badly when someone came along who would. He accused David of coming out to see the battle. What battle? There will be no battle so long as Eliab or King Saul, who also was head and shoulders above all in Israel, are depended upon to meet Goliath. Eliab and King Saul try to discourage David in every way they know how, but to no avail. David is a troublemaker and he sees a chance to stir something up. He saw a chance to make a name for himself. He wanted to be known as the brotherhood gunslinger. David became a disturber of the peace, it was all his fault! Eliab was a great peacemaker. He paints a dark picture of David with his few sheep and his foolhardy notions of fighting the giant.
You know, my brethren like the idea of drawing up battle lines against Satan and sin, but they sometimes, like Eliab, get hostile at those who engage the battle. It seems to me anger at the fighter is getting worse instead of better. It seems some of our champions of truth would rather stare at the enemy from a safe distance than go down with sling in hand and look him in the eye. The giant can come out forty days in a row and curse God and His Son, but when some gospel preacher goes out to do battle, the sideline saints have nothing but good things to say for the poor giant who got his head cut off after getting hit with a rock.
I remember some of the debates I have been to: the Hafley-Parnell debate, the Welch-Bayer debate, the ChappelearWelch debate. There were others which I have heard about; the Grider-Totty debate, the Porter-Bogard debate, etc. I have heard backhanded remarks about each of these debates. “Hafley, Welch, Porter and Grider, as well as others, were too harsh,” some are heard to say. If some of these folks had reported what happened to Goliath that day I wonder if they would have said, “That bully with the sling-shot hit the poor man with a big rock, and then wasn’t satisfied, so he went up and actually cut the poor man’s head off while he lay unconscious! ” Yes, I get the impression that some of our champions of right and justice would be in favor of starting a fund for poor defeated giants and take the money out of the church funds to keep it going.
Shame on you David! You trouble maker! You came upon the scene and all was peace. The battle was drawn, and all the champions of Israel were standing tall, but then you came along and made it very plain what the problem was. Some would rather talk about fighting against sin than to do any of the fighting. Not only that, they don’t want anyone else to do it, lest some other might get the reputation of being a real giant killer.
One of the deacons at Plainfield, Indiana made me an elephant chaser when I was located there in 1968. That thing worked very well for I have never had one bit of trouble with elephants since. Some of our giant killers do the same thing. They do fine so long as there are no Goliaths around!
Guardian of Truth XXIX: 8, pp. 227-228
April 18, 1985