Richard aspires to live and love like Christ. Among his varied other writing interests, he aims to create good Christian stories.
David versus Goliath is one of the best-known and most exciting stories in the bible. Enthralling because, at its core, it is a story about the victory of the proverbial underdog against all the odds.
It begins as two nations face-off for war. The Philistines, a cruel people, are gathered on a mountainside seeking a fight with Israel's army. Saul, Israel's king, stands his men across the valley from the Philistines upon the opposing mountainside.
Among the Philistines was their champion, Goliath, a warrior of huge proportions who did not know defeat.
Arrogantly confident, Goliath challenges Israel to send their best warrior to meet him in single combat, promising the battle would determine which nation became the servant of the other. So convinced are the Philistines of Goliath’s invincibility, they lay the whole outcome of the war and their future on this lone fight.
Where did the Philistines get this confidence?
Well, Goliath was between nine and ten feet tall, that’s approximately three metres (Note: This is debated. See link below). Nor was he some gangly, awkward man whose size resulted from some genetic flaw. Rather he was a powerfully built, coordinated, extremely strong and quick killer.
Considering his heavy armour may help us to appreciate just how big and strong this man was. Quite possibly this giant of a man carried near 100 kilos (220 lbs) onto the battlefield, including:
- A brass helmet weighing near three kilos (5-7 lbs).
- A coat of mail weighing fifty-seven kilos (125 lbs).
- Brass greaves (overlapping plates of brass) on his legs.
- And a heavy jabbing spear weighing about seven kilos (15 lbs).
- A sheathed sword at his hip.
Even conservatively, we can assume he carried approximately 70-80 kilos (150-170 lbs) of armour and weapons. Place that weight on the average man, and even the strongest would only be able to move at slow shuffle for a short period. Goliath fought in it!
He was a very big and very strong man!
- Goliath's Height: How Tall Was He?
Different biblical manuscripts give different dimensions for Goliath's height. Exactly how tall was Goliath?
“Send out a champion to face me in battle”.
This challenge Goliath repeated morning and evening for forty days. So formidable was his presence that Israel's only response was dismay and fear; cowering on the mountain across the valley.
We read that young David’s three oldest brothers were in Saul’s army, and David went back and forth between tending his father’s sheep and serving them. On one occasion David’s father, Jesse, instructed him to leave his sheep and carry food to his three brothers, bringing back word as to their welfare. And so it happened that while David visited, he heard Goliath shout his daily challenge. Upon hearing he becomes so passionately indignant that he questions the soldiers of Israel,
“Who is this uncircumcised philistine that he should defy the armies of the living God?”
Word of David's reaction to Goliath soon reached Saul's ear; for it was a reaction in stark contrast to the rest of his army. Saul, therefore, summons David before him.
Taking advantage of the royal audience, David affirms his loyalty and faith;
“Let no man’s heart fail because of Goliath. I am your servant and I will go and fight with this Philistine” (1 Sam 17:32)
What a pure faith David had! How often it seems young people can shame the faith and zeal of those older.
Saul has obvious reservations, not least of which David's youthful inexperience against the veteran Goliath. Not one to be deterred, David defends his proposal with tales of killing lions and a bear with his bare hands in defence of his sheep. Boldly concluding that the Philistines would be as the lion and the bear because they had defied the armies of the living God.
Witnessing such courage and deep faith, Saul accepts David's offer, even presenting him with his own personal armour, which David declines.
The scene now changes to two figures alone in a valley between two armies; One figure huge, intimidating and fearsome in his shining armour, the other a young shepherd, hardly more than a boy in sandals.
Goliath stands before David, fully arrayed in his protective gear with his armour bearer by his side. David carried only his sling, five smooth pebbles he had chosen from a brook, and his staff.
There followed the usual parley before the action, where taunts are thrown back and forth. Goliath mocks David’s youthfulness; expressing resentment that one would come out with only staff for defence against him. He threatens to give David’s flesh to the birds and the beasts.
On his turn to jeer, David belittles the sword, spear and javelin of Goliath as of little worth against the God of Israel in whose name David declared he fought.
David then prophesied that God would deliver Goliath into his hand and that the birds and the beasts would consume the bodies of the Philistines,
…So that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel…” (1 Sam 17:46)
Words finished, the foes charge each other. Running, David draws a stone from his bag, slings it, and strikes Goliath in the forehead.
The stone flies with such force that it sinks into the forehead of the giant, knocking him to the ground. The forehead was the only vulnerable part of Goliath’s body, but the stone found its way there with all the force necessary to place Goliath in a position where David could then draw the giant’s sword from its sheath and decapitate him before the armies of both Israel and the Philistines.
Surprised and terrified, the Philistine army turns and flees. Emboldened, the Israelite army takes up the pursuit resulting in the Philistines being overcome and great numbers of them slain.
So many lessons we can derive from this story of faith, courage, determination and action.
Many find the chief challenge of life to be simply walking by faith, not sight. Faith requires dismissing the odds pitted against us in favour of the Gods power, promises, glory and will.
One of the most remarkable things about this story, is not the battle between the shepherd and giant, but the purity of David’s confidence in God’s help.
In the whole of the Israelite army, none had faith enough to stand against this giant. None but a teenager. A faith for which he was confronted by his oldest brother, Eliab, who accuses him of pride. But David faith, being genuine, gave him courage. Courage to stand against his brother, to ignore the fear he saw in his own brethren, and to ignore the odds that seemed pitted against them.
He was ready to face a giant because of one simple thing – genuine faith.
What keeps you from facing the giants in your life?
Above all, take up the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one.
— Ephesians 6:16
David's armour wasn’t the burdensome physical armour that other men relied upon. It was the freeing, light, spiritual armour of faith in God. David was able to run towards his enemy without fear because of his assurance that God was with him, and that God protects his own.
What a lesson for us. We need to exercise such faith! Not just claim it. Not just admire it. But have it.
One boy's faith defeated an army of veteran soldiers. What could we as a Church achieve for God if we had such faith?
“Whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.” 1 Jonn 5:4
Are their things in your life you need to face and defeat, but haven’t because of fear, conformity, apathy? Rekindle your faith. Look to God earnestly, seek him and his strength and rule in your life every morning—and then step out and face your giant. God is faithful; he will not let you down. If your will is to seek and do God’s will, he will make it so in your life.
David had this sort of faith. His reason for facing Goliath had nothing to do with pride, with elevating himself before his peers, with making a name for himself or earning brownie points with God or man. David simply wanted to obey God and give him glory.
You + God are unconquerable.
- Is there any evidence for the giants mentioned in the Bible?
Is there any evidence for the giants mentioned in the Bible? Where did the giants come from? Is there any proof, outside the Bible, that there were giants in ancient times?
© 2020 Richard Parr