Am I A Pawn?


It was 6th grade English, Mr. Lumpsten’s class, where I was introduced to chess. Somewhat strange now thinking back. Mr. Lumpsten, a little eccentric in his own right, taught us chess when we should have been instructed on the finer points of proper grammar. Maybe this is why to this day I have difficulty with tenses, run on sentences and the like. But, that is a story for another day.

So, we were taught chess. A lot of chess. And I still like the game.

The game of chess is a universally renowned game that transcends cultural and language barriers. Chess tournaments are held throughout the world and it even has its own international governing body, the FIDE (Fédération Internationale des Échecs).

All that being said, it is not known if the inventor of chess considered any spiritual implications of the game or not, but interesting enough there are many. And it is the lowly pawn that we want to investigate here.

The name “pawn” in our world is given a proverbial “bad rap”. Being called a “pawn” or to be accused of being used as a pawn draws negative connotations.

But, let’s step back here for a moment and considered just what this humble creature means within the context of a game of chess and how one can relate that into a spiritual context. You might be surprised to see just how significant this guy really is. Let’s take a look.

Only Forward Until The End

Of all time he pieces on the chessboard, the pawn is the only piece that cannot move backwards. The king, queen, bishop, knight and the rook all have the ability to retreat and move in reverse.

Not the pawn. The word ‘retreat’ does not exist in the pawn’s vocabulary. The pawn understands only one directional mandate – forward. When standing in the face of fire, it just has to stand there and take it.

Is this not like God’s people? We are called not to retreat, but to move onward.

What does God’s Word say about this?

Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:2

For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand.
I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:
II Timothy 4:7-7

Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. (Notice the armor is missing back protection – retreat not an option) Ephesians 6:13-17

I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:14

Strength In Numbers

Standing on the front line of defense, the eight pawns on each side of the board outnumber any one single piece and are equal in number to all of the other pieces (of the same color) combined. Pawns are both defensive and offensive weapons for the player.

Pawns can be positioned to unravel an opponents strategy or be sacrificed to re-calibrate one’s own attack plan. Unlike the other pieces, loosing a pawn or two is rarely catastrophic. The battle will go on. There is strength in numbers.

What does God’s Word say about this?

Rejoice not against me, O mine enemy: when I fall, I shall arise; when I sit in darkness, the LORD shall be a light unto me. Micah 7:8

Again, if two lie together, then they have heat: but how can one be warm alone?
And if one prevail against him, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken. Ecclesiastes 4:11-12

Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! Psalms 133:1

And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart,
Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved. Acts 2:46-47

Lowly, Yet Noble In Stature

Of all the chess pieces, the pawn is physically the smallest and the least ordinate of all  others. Its diminished size, nondescript and smooth contours are not eye-catching or brazenly attractive. A pawn is just plain, plain.

What does God’s Word say about this?

And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted. Matthew 23:12

I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. Philippians 4:12

Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel;
But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.
I Peter 3:3-4

Unmistakable Authority

The pawn is privileged with another unique attribute, its conquering power. Even though the pawn is limited in mobility and directional prowess, it employs as much offensive ‘punch’ when confronting a piece with greater authority. The pawn can capture a queen as easily as its near kin, the bishop.

A lowly pawn can clinch a match and be used to checkmate the opponent.

What does God’s Word say about this?

And what shall I more say? for the time would fail me to tell of Gedeon, and of Barak, and of Samson, and ofJephthae; of David also, and Samuel, and of the prophets:
Who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions,
Quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens.
Hebrews 11:32-34

And he found a new jawbone of an ass, and put forth his hand, and took it, and slew a thousand men therewith.
And Samson said, With the jawbone of an ass, heaps upon heaps, with the jaw of an ass have I slain a thousand men.  Judges 15:15-16

And the LORD said unto Moses, Wherefore criest thou unto me? speak unto the children of Israel, that they go forward:
But lift thou up thy rod, and stretch out thine hand over the sea, and divide it: and the children of Israel shall go on dry ground through the midst of the sea.
Exodus 14:15-16

Transformational Power

The last and most spectacular feature the pawn enjoys is something not shared with the other pieces.

The only chess piece that upon advancing as far as it can go to the extreme opposite side of the chessboard is afforded a most unusual and uncanny privilege – the power of transformation.

That is right. The pawn can be exchanged by the player for any other piece previously captured. The pawn can be transformed into a queen, rook, bishop or knight.

Oftentimes, this power exchange is a game changer.

For a game of chess to progress to the point where a pawn can safely reach the opposite side of the board normally means both players have exhausted their arsenal and are down to their last couple of pieces.

For one player to suddenly be empowered and energized with a new piece high in authority normally turns the tide to his or her favor.

What does God’s Word say about this?

Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,
In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.
I Corinthians 15:51-52

And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. Romans 12:2

But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. Acts 1:8

In Conclusion

Only Forward Until The End
Strength In Numbers
Lowly, Yet Noble In Stature
Unmistakable Authority
Transformational Power

Am I a pawn? I am in the midst of a situation resembling one or more of the characteristics of this piece of chess? Hold on. Just keep moving forward. Don’t retreat or go backwards. The end is near. Your transformation is about to take place.

And just maybe being a pawn is not so bad after all.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s