Sunday, September 14, 2014

David & Goliath: Factors in Goliath’s Vulnerability

When I read the story of David slaying Goliath recently I started asking myself some questions that I hadn’t thought of before:

--Was David the only slinger in the Israelite army?
--Why didn’t Goliath have anything to shield him?
--Why does Goliath so underestimate David?

I’ve read different things that say how slingers were an important part of ancient armies.  Judges 20:16 tells of 700 chosen men who could sling stones at a hairsbreadth and not miss, so they were a common part of armies.  So there would be slingers among Saul’s army already.

So why hadn’t some slinger already hit Goliath before David came?

The problem was Goliath had a shield bearer who went before him with a big shield.  The shield bearer wasn’t a glorified coat rack; he was supposed to keep Goliath safe from incoming sling stones.  And he was evidently very good at it because Goliath defied Israel for quite a while.

So how does Goliath go so wrong with David?  Why, if David goes to Goliath with his sling in his hand, does Goliath seem to completely underestimate him?  1 Samuel 17:41 tells us that as Goliath begins to come close to David, the shield bearer went before him, so his guard was still up at the beginning.  But Goliath makes a comment in v43 -- “Am I a dog, that thou comest to me with staves?”  This tells us that all Goliath could see at first that David had was David’s staff.   It is possible David had his sling in his hand all rolled up or folded up, or even just held in his hand with his staff, so that Goliath could only see the staff and not the sling.  To Goliath’s eyes, David looked inadequately armed, and maybe this is what gets Goliath out from behind his shield bearer so that David can get a nice clear shot.

The risk to David was that he might not be able to bring his sling into play in time before the Philistine got to him.  Nevertheless, he starts running toward Goliath and as he runs, he prepares his sling for action.  It seems that not only was David excellent with the sling, he was good at the “quick draw” and that too while on the run, with a moving target.

Thus, we can see where David’s courage and faith were.  He knew it was risky to get close to Goliath, but he trusted in God that he would be delivered.  He had previous experience because of the time he trusted in God to help him deliver a lamb out of the mouth of a lion and a bear in a close-up struggle.

Sometimes in our fight against evil we have to get up-close-and-personal in situations with great risk.   David’s story shows us that when we have to, we can depend on God to protect us and then use the skills and training we have. 


Ramona Gordy said...

Malcom Gladwell has an interesting scernario in his book "David and Goliath

Michaela Stephens said...

What does he say?

Ramona Gordy said...

So, there is a wonderful TED TALK by the author, where he has a theory concerning Goliath's weakness's
Here is an excerpt:

" So what's Goliath? He's heavy infantry, and his expectation when he challenges the Israelites to a duel is that he's going to be fighting another heavy infantryman. When he says, "Come to me that I might feed your flesh to the birds of the heavens and the beasts of the field," the key phrase is "Come to me." Come up to me because we're going to fight, hand to hand, like this. Saul has the same expectation. David says, "I want to fight Goliath," and Saul tries to give him his armor, because Saul is thinking, "Oh, when you say 'fight Goliath,' you mean 'fight him in hand-to-hand combat,' infantry on infantry."

"But David has absolutely no expectation. He's not going to fight him that way. Why would he? He's a shepherd. He's spent his entire career using a sling to defend his flock against lions and wolves. That's where his strength lies. So here he is, this shepherd, experienced in the use of a devastating weapon, up against this lumbering giant weighed down by a hundred pounds of armor and these incredibly heavy weapons that are useful only in short-range combat. Goliath is a sitting duck. He doesn't have a chance. So why do we keep calling David an underdog, and why do we keep referring to his victory as improbable?"

Mr Macdowell speculates that Goliath suffered from "giantism or acromegaly" He speculates that Goliath may have suffered from some vision impairment. It reminds me of the change in the trend in warfare during Viet Nam. The world powers fought in a standard way: air strikes and bombing, shelling with tanks and infantry and then foot soldiers (hand to hand combat). Viet nam was a game changer, as was David. A jungle street fight, with no rules and anything could be a weapon.
Check out the TED talk," David & Goliath". It is an interesting take,

Michaela Stephens said...

Good insight; thanks for sharing that.