A Guide to John Bunyan's The Pilgrim's Progress

 

Notes and Commentary on
The Pilgrim's Progress

by Ken Puls

Armory at Palace Beautiful

48. Into the Armory

The next day they took him and had him into the armory, where they showed him all manner of furniture, which their Lord had provided for pilgrims, as sword, shield, helmet, breastplate, ALL-PRAYER, and shoes that would not wear out. And there was here enough of this to harness out as many men for the service of their Lord as there be stars in the heaven for multitude.

They also showed him some of the engines with which some of his servants had done wonderful things. They showed him Moses' rod; the hammer and nail with which Jael slew Sisera; the pitchers, trumpets, and lamps too, with which Gideon put to flight the armies of Midian. Then they showed him the ox's goad wherewith Shamgar slew six hundred men. They showed him also the jaw-bone with which Samson did such mighty feats. They showed him, moreover, the sling and stone with which David slew Goliath of Gath; and the sword, also, with which their Lord will kill the Man of Sin, in the day that he shall rise up to the prey. They showed him, besides, many excellent things, with which Christian was much delighted. This done, they went to their rest again.

 

Notes and Commentary

As Christian continues his tour of Palace Beautiful, the family takes him into the armory. Here Christian sees vast weapons of warfare and notable armaments from past and future conflicts. Learning to wear the armor and wield the weapons provided by his Lord will be crucial for Christian to successfully complete his journey.

The presence of the armory at Palace Beautiful highlights an important reality. Living the Christian life is a battle. We must daily fight against temptation and sin. We have an enemy of our souls who desires to keep us from our intended destination. Christian learned this lesson earlier in his pilgrimage while he was at the House of the Interpreter. He was shown a Stately Palace and watched as a valiant man fought past enemies to gain entrance. Like the valiant man, we must resist the enemy, "fight the good fight of faith" and "lay hold of eternal life" (1 Timothy 6:12).

Christian saw something else in the lesson at the Interpreter's House. The valiant man was equipped and prepared for battle. Before he rushed the door of the Stately Palace, he drew his Sword and put on his Helmet. Now at Palace Beautiful Christian sees how his King fits His servants for battle. We are not capable of resisting the enemy in our own strength and resources. On our own we will fail and fall. But God has provided in Christ all we need to fight this battle.

Bunyan's description of our weapons for war points us again to the Word of God. In Ephesians 6 Paul explains the armor of God that we must put on to stand firm against sin and Satan.

Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. 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. Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints—and for me, that utterance may be given to me, that I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak (Ephesians 6:10-20).

Paul draws these weapons of spiritual warfare from the Old Testament. He uses words and phrase from passages that speak of Christ, the coming Messiah and Redeemer. Paul helps us make an important connection: the armor we need to engage in spiritual warfare is Christ Himself.

The prophet Isaiah describes Jesus as "a Rod from the stem of Jesse" and "a Branch" that grows "out of his roots" (Isaiah 11:1). We read in 11:5 "Righteousness shall be the belt of His loins, and faithfulness the belt of His waist."

In chapter 59 Isaiah testifies: "The Lord's hand is not shortened that it cannot save" (59:1). When God sees the failings and sufferings of Israel, He Himself raises up a champion for justice and truth.

He saw that there was no man,
And wondered that there was no intercessor;
Therefore His own arm brought salvation for Him;
And His own righteousness, it sustained Him.
(Isaiah 59:16)

Isaiah describes how this Warrior is clothed:

For He put on righteousness as a breastplate,
And a helmet of salvation on His head;
He put on the garments of vengeance for clothing,
And was clad with zeal as a cloak.
(Isaiah 59:17)

There is a Redeemer who "will come to Zion" (59:20). This is the Redeemer we need. We need to put on His truth as our belt. We need dressed in His righteousness as our breastplate. We need His salvation as our helmet. We need faith in Him to shield and protect us. We need to devote ourselves to prayer in His name. We need to take up "the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God," the very weapon the Savior used against the devil when he was tempted in the wilderness (Matthew 4:1–11). And we need feet prepared to carry His gospel to the ends of the earth.

How beautiful upon the mountains
Are the feet of him who brings good news,
Who proclaims peace,
Who brings glad tidings of good things,
Who proclaims salvation,
Who says to Zion,
"Your God reigns!"
(Isaiah 52:7)

The provisions that God has given us in Christ will never wear out or run short. There is no end to the supply of what we need to fight the spiritual battles of this life. There is an abundance to the strength and might of Christ in the gospel that will clad "as many men for the service of their Lord as there be stars in the heaven for multitude."

In the armory Christian sees the testimony of God's provision reaching back through history. He marvels at some of the unusual weapons supplied by God in the Old Testament. He sees the rod of Moses (Exodus 4:1-5, 17, 20; 7:8-12), the hammer and nail used by Jael to slay Sisera (Judges 4:21), the pitchers, trumpets and lamps used by Gideon to scatter the armies of Midian (Judges 7:19-22), the oxgoad used by Shamgar to kill six hundred men (Judges 3:31), the jaw-bone of a donkey used by Samson to kill a thousand men (Judges 15:15), and the sling and stone used by David to slay the giant Goliath of Gath (1 Samuel 17:40).

Christian also sees the sword by which the Lord will bring judgment upon the nations. The apostle John describes the scene in Revelation 19:

Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war. His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns. He had a name written that no one knew except Himself. He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. And the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses. Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations. And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron. He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written: King of Kings and Lord of Lords (Revelation 19:11-16).

The armory underscores our need to be watchful and courageous in our pilgrimage. And it reminds us that we cannot and must not engage this battle in our own strength. We need the might and power only God can provide in Christ. Spiritual warfare calls for spiritual weapons.

For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ" (2 Corinthians 10:3-5).

We must fight this battle daily, walking in the light of the gospel and living together for Christ in the church.

But let us who are of the day be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet the hope of salvation. For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him" (1 Thessalonians 5:8-10).

Christian will soon discover the value of the armaments supplied by His King. To reach his journey's end, he must first descend into the Valley of Humiliation. There he will face his fiercest foe.

Continue reading 49. A View of Immanuel's Land
Return to 47. Instruction at Palace Beautiful

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The text for The Pilgrim's Progress
and images used are public domain
Notes and Commentary ©2014 Ken Puls
"A Guide to John Bunyan's The Pilgrim's Progress"
was originally published from January 1993 to December 1997
in "The Voice of Heritage," a monthly newsletter
of Heritage Baptist Church in Mansfield, Texas
Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are from
the New King James Version (NKJV) ©1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.
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