Pin It

Fleshing out David and Goliath

This post originally appeared in the blog, Noah Gets a Nailgun.

david and goliath 1The Bible is filled with tons of great stories but my favorite is David and Goliath from 1 Samuel 17. Its one thing to read the story in the Bible – it’s fascinating for sure – but the story becomes much richer when you have a better understanding of the details surrounding it. I found some out about David and Goliath and thought I’d share them with you if this particular story strikes your fancy. If not, no worries but you probably want to stop reading now and check out another one of our posts!

Centuries ago a seafaring group of people from the island of Crete had settled onto the coast of Palestine. Once settled, they desired to expand their territory, as most nations did back in the day – and some like Russia are doing now. They had their sights set on this nation that was settled in the mountains under the leadership of King Saul. In the second half of the eleventh century BC, the Philistines began to move east, winding their way along the Elah Valley. Their goal was to capture the mountain ridge near Bethlehem and split Saul’s kingdom in two.

The Philistines set up camp along the southern ridge of Elah. The Israelites set-up on the north ridge, which left the two sides looking across a ravine at each other. To attack meant descending down the hill you were camped on and then making a suicidal climb up the enemy’s ridge on the other side. Thus the reason they kept lining up for battle but never actually did any fighting.

Finally the Philistines had enough of the staring contest and sent down their greatest warrior into the valley to resolve the deadlock in a one on one battle. Goliath would come down twice a day and shout over to the Israelites, “Choose a man and have him come down and fight me. If I beat him you all become our servants but if he beats me, we’ll become your servants.”

What Goliath was doing was asking for what was known as “single combat.” This was a common practice in the ancient world. Two sides in a conflict would seek to avoid the heavy bloodshed of open battle by choosing one warrior to represent each in a duel. Mano a mano with the winner’s country taking all.

By most accounts Goliath stood 9’ 9”, covered head to toe in armor that all combined weighed more than 150 pounds, came to battle packing a spear, rod and sword and had an armor bearer that stood in front of him with a large shield. I still haven’t figured out why he needed a guy in front of him with a shield but that’s what it says.

Over on the Israelites side there wasn’t anyone who could go toe to toe with Goliath. But they also couldn’t rush down their hill and then back up the Philistine’s side and win the battle, so their options were few and none you’d want to choose from.

Enter into the story the young kid David. He’s is in his early teens. He’s already been anointed King of Israel but he’s still tending his father’s sheep. His dad sends him to the war zone to take food to his three older brothers who are in the army and to bring back a report about how things are going.

As he’s checking up on his brothers, here comes Goliath down to the valley. He of course makes his usual announcement and all the soldiers tremble with fear. David looks around going, what’s wrong with all you people, why are you afraid of this guy?

Word gets around to King Saul that someone is willing to fight Goliath so he summons David and David tells him, “Let no one lose heart on account of this Philistine; your servant will go out and fight him.”

To which Saul replies, “You can’t go out and fight him; you are only a boy and he has been fighting since his youth.”

Let’s pause here real quick. Put yourself in the shoes of King Saul and having this responsibility. You have to pick one person to go fight this giant and the result of the throw down determines if your country becomes slaves to this other nation. When your soldier gets beat it means you are no longer king, you end up in prison or something worse, your people are no longer free, you no longer have a country, etc. Kind of a big deal. And the one person who volunteers isn’t even old enough to drive a car yet. What would you have done?

david and goliath 2David responds to Saul’s hesitation with, “Hey look, I’ve killed a lion and I’ve killed a bear. I grabbed them by their hair and struck them down. This Philistine will come to the same end because he is defying the armies of the living God.” Very interested the worldview David has and his trust in God.

Saul of course thinks David is going to partake in this “single combat” style of fighting so he tries to dress David up in his armor and gives him his sword but David has other plans and has no intention of doing this one on one deal. Instead, he goes down to a stream, picks up 5 smooth stones, puts them in his shepherd’s bag – which was basically a fanny pack before fanny packs were cool – get’s a “Go get ‘em and may the Lord be with you” from the King and heads down the hill toward Goliath.

I envision Michael Buffer standing in the middle of the valley making the fight introductions: Fighting out of the blue corner standing 9 feet and 9 inches tall, wearing 150 pounds of armor, being guarded by an armor bearer, armed with 3 weapons designed for close-combat fighting, the undisputed champion of the world, Goliath!

And fighting out of the red corner standing half as tall as the other guy and weighing less than the armor the other guy is wearing, carrying a stick, five stones, a sling shot and a sweet little pouch to carry the rocks in, David “The Underdog” son of Jesse.

I’ve never bet on sports but in this case I’d probably dare to wager some money on Goliath taking this one early in the first round.

As David and Goliath start coming closer to each other Goliath sees who’s been sent to fight him and he’s a tad insulted, “What, am I a dog that you come at me with sticks?” He throws some curse words out just for good measure and then tells David he’s going to feed his flesh to the birds.

To which David replies, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty. This day the Lord will hand you over to me, I will strike you down and I will cut off your head.”

David clearly holds his own when it comes to the pre-battle jawing.

David then takes off running full throttle toward Goliath. As he’s running he pulls out a stone, puts it in his sling, starts whipping it around faster and faster – six or seven revolutions a second – and aims for the one small and only spot where Goliath isn’t protected.

For a quick side note: A typical size rock flung by an expert slinger from about 100 feet would have the same effect as someone using a fair-size modern handgun. Not quite the same kind of slingshot my mom bought me from the dollar store when I was a kid.

Everything happened so fast that Goliath had no idea what hit him. But David put the stone right between his eyes, Goliath drops straight down, David takes Goliath’s sword cuts his head off and the route is on.

You can envision all the Israelite soldiers pouring down the side of the ridge whizzing past David as he stands there holding Goliath’s head up high for all to see and at the same time all the Philistines go from celebrating a sure victory to turning tail trying to escape.

Check out this short video from FamilyLife’s Stepping Up Men’s Study:

YouTube Preview Image

To apply it to our own lives:

How many of us feel overwhelmed with a temptation or a trial in life that we feel there is no way to conquer? Romans 8:37 tells us that we are more than conquerors through Christ. Don’t lose heart when you come up against an insurmountable obstacle or a besetting sin. God gives us the power and the victory, just like he did with David, if we are willing to be obedient and trust Him for the outcome. Don’t lose heart like the other Israelites did. We can say with confidence just like Isaiah, “Surely the arm of the Lord is not too short to save!”

And a HUGE thanks to Scott Edge for allowing me to use his images for this post!

Todd NagelTodd Nagel is a 36-year-old man who has been a husband to Sarah for 11 years and a dad to four kids, two girls and two boys, ages 9 – 3. He loves outdoors and especially likes to hike, mountain bike, kayak and golf, but doesn’t have a ton of time or money to do much of those things (see info about having a wife and four kids). Todd has been with a ministry called Cru for 14 years and has a desire to see men grow spiritually and lead their families well.

Similar posts

No Comments Yet

Leave a Reply

Subscribe via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.