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.

Poured Out


And Hannah answered and said, No, my lord, I am a woman of a sorrowful spirit: I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but have poured out my soul before the LORD. 1Sa 1:15

And now my soul is poured out upon me; the days of affliction have taken hold upon me. Job 30:16


Miracles are relevant and only manifest themselves in the midst of impossible situations.

For Hannah it was the cry to heal a barren womb. For Job it was a plea for deliverance from the depths of extinction while facing harrowing circumstances. They both poured out their souls in response to the circumstances they found themselves in.

Have you or have you ever witnessed someone being “poured out” before God where nothing short of a miracle could rectify a situation? Has God ever come through for you at the last possible moment when it looked like an otherwise hopeless situation was about to implode?

Several years ago a family member was in a coma and on life support. The doctor inquired if the father and mother had the life insurance papers in order. It was that desperate of a situation. A request for prayer was made, and miraculously the next morning the daughter came out of the coma and made a full recovery.

Why? Because someone “poured out” their heart to God, God heard it and answered the prayer.

On another occasion, a lady lay in a bed at Johns Hopkins hospital with a diagnosis of pancreatic cancer. Very little hope was given for recovery or any reason given to believe longevity was a liable consideration. Again, prayer was made in the name of Jesus and she miraculously left the hospital a short time later and lived many years cancer-free.

Why? Because someone “poured out” their heart to God and He answered the cry.

Being “poured out” gets God’s attention like nothing else will. It empties the soul of pretense, self-will and purges our spirit of doubt and unbelief with the urgency of desperation.

It is interesting to note that sometimes with God it is only when nothing is left that He can then start to do “something” within our emptiness.

With God it is always the lack that creates the greatest impact.

Broken Pieces

The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise. Psalm 51:17

Jesus is interested in the broken pieces, things that appear to be nothing and of little significance in our estimation:

And Jesus took the loaves; and when he had given thanks, he distributed to the disciples, and the disciples to them that were set down; and likewise of the fishes as much as they would.

When they were filled, he said unto his disciples, Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost. Joh 6:11-12

After the loves were broken, the pieces that remained mattered to Jesus. He did not want any of them to “be lost”. Why? Broken things, things that he makes, can be put back together and used again – like us.

When all we have to offer God is our brokenness, He in turn takes the pieces of our life and turns them into something he can use.

Such it is with what we pour out. God has a way of gathering the pieces we scatter over the ground of our lives and pick them back up to be used again in another application to fulfill His divine purposes.

The Power of Nothing

Recall the O.T. account of the widow at Zarephath who was down to her last meal. We know the story:

And she said, As the LORD thy God liveth, I have not a cake, but an handful of meal in a barrel, and a little oil in a cruse: and, behold, I am gathering two sticks, that I may go in and dress it for me and my son, that we may eat it, and die. 1Ki 17:12

The man of God asked her to give him the last meal and trust that God would honor the sacrifice. That is exactly what happened. She gave Elijah her last meal and from that time forward her barrel of meal and cruse of oil was never empty until the famine lifted. God continually supplied her need.

And in the N.T. we read about someone else who was left with nothing:

And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores, And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. Luk 16:20-21

Materialistically speaking, Lazarus had nothing. A high point of his day was when he found a chicken nugget-sized tidbit in the rich man’s trash can and not the typical meal fragments that were his usual treasure.

Yet, it was Lazarus’ “nothing” that was the difference between him going to heaven and the rich man’s “everything” that prevented him from everlasting life. The power of nothing.

A world renown string theorist and professor of physics at the University of Amsterdam, Erik Verlinde, has written a paper postulating that gravity, the fundamental force that permeates our universe, is not a tangible, identifiable  force. He states that “gravity doesn’t exist”. You read correctly, gravity is essentially …. nothing.

If man (i.e., mankind) would read the book written by the Master Architect he would have discovered that this mystery was recorded a long time ago in the Book of Job:

He stretcheth out the north over the empty place, and hangeth the earth upon nothing. Job 26:7

The power of nothing. When all we have is nothing, we may be in just the right place for God to start something miraculous in our lives.

If  God can hold the universe together with “nothing”, can you think of what He can do with your or my “nothing”? Is there anything too hard for the Lord to accomplish?

The Spirit is Poured Out

Lastly, Jesus emptied out his soul for one reason – to “pour out” his life’s energy back onto those who would believe on his word and call upon him:

Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors. Isa 53:12

And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost. Acts 10:45

Let us remember the power of nothing when we have poured out our all to God and we have nothing left to give. And then allow the Lord to take our “nothing” so He can “pour out” on us “something” better in return.