His armor-bearer responded, “Do what is in your heart. You choose. I am right here with you whatever you decide.” -- 1 Samuel 14:7 (HCSB)
Monday, June 16, 2014
People like Jonathan’s armor-bearer show up in Scripture and in history and sometimes in our everyday lives. It’s like Mary saying, “Let it be to me according to your word,” or Thomas saying with resignation, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.” I am greatly humbled by the Virgin’s willingness to bring the Anointed One to us. I am moved by the willingness of individuals to move forward in the face of what they believe to be certain death. On June 6, we were reminded that, seventy years ago, tens of thousands of such men scrambled out of landing craft onto the beaches of Normandy.
The armor-bearer was the man who watched the warrior’s back, who sought to keep him from being struck down by a flying arrow or flung javelin. It wasn’t a particularly safe occupation, and, while he might not have been swinging the sword, an armor-bearer was certainly in the midst of the battle. In the case of Jonathan’s armor-bearer, it would not have been unrealistic to think that he was following the prince on a suicide mission. Jonathan proposed going up and challenging the Philistine garrison. That the Bible records the two of them slaying twenty men on an area of about a half-acre indicates the odds were at least 10 to 1.
I have heard that, in some of the more upscale congregations, there is a position of “armor-bearer” for the pastor. I suppose it sounds more biblical and less eeewww-inducing than “body-man” or “butt-boy”. By the way, having lived an unsophisticated life, the first time I heard “butt-boy” was when an evangelist friend said in regard to pastor who had acted duplicitously toward him, “What does he think I am? His butt-boy?” I had to ask for clarification. Personally, I don't want to have anything to do with a body-man unless it's one of my friends who is helping me bury the bodies. Like the FBI agent who says to Swagger in "Shooter", "I'll get his legs."
There is no friend like the friend who won't run away and leave you hanging when things get tight. If you don't have a friend like that, you can still be that kind.
As Christians we do need to bear armor for one another. The church would be stronger, congregations more cohesive, and pastors and leaders a lot less apt to fall into sin and abuse their offices if we covered our brothers and sisters. We do not need an official position to shout a warning, to defend, to challenge, or to pray for someone.
Most of all I wish that I could be as willing as that armor-bearer to say to the Lord, “You choose. I’m right here with You.”
It is God’s will for man to have free will, to experience liberty. It is man’s joy to surrender that liberated will freely to God, to follow Him in whatever He decides.
We might think God doesn’t need an armor-bearer, but there is a familiar passage that suggests otherwise: Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. When you think about it, that was the armor-bearer’s job, to stand firm, keeping the king was covered and holding the ground he had taken. Jonathan was knocking the enemy down and his armor-bearer was making sure they did not get up again. Christ has won the victory, but a lot of the enemy’s enterprises could use a right good coup de grâce.