And David said, “The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.” And Saul said to David, “Go, and the Lord be with you!” 1 Samuel 17:37(ESV)
Unlike other heroes of ancient epic battle stories, such as Beowulf or Achilles, this young man was just a shepherd. He was but a boy, never trained for warfare or battle. Yet, his courage and bravery allowed him to stand for a cause greater than self. His stature was small, but his heart was large. He stood against a giant and was used to give a nation confidence and assurance.
The enemy army was immense. They were brutal. They gathered at a place called Sochoh. Saul, the King of Israel and his army were encamped in the Valley of Elah. The imagery was epic. The enemy, the Philistines stood upon a mountain on one side. Israel’s army stood upon a mountain on the other side. The valley lay between.
The Philistines chose their champion. His name was Goliath. Amazingly, he stood about nine and a half feet tall. He wore a bronze helmet and a coat of mail with bronze armor on his legs. The size of his javelin and sword were immense. This guy was frightening, to say the least.
He came to the forefront and yelled across the valley to the Israelites, “Choose a man for yourselves, and let him come down to me. If he is able to fight with me and kill me, then we will be your servants. But if I prevail against him and kill him, then you shall be our servants and serve us.” It was a daunting challenge and resulted in a stalemate for a short time.
Meanwhile, back home in Bethlehem, the young shepherd boy, David, was watching his flock. His father, Jesse had called him home and instructed him to travel to the frontline of battle, for his older brothers were there. He was to deliver some food for them. David made the journey.
When David arrived, he noticed the armies standing on their respective mountains. He heard Goliath spewing his challenge and denigrating the Israelites and their God. This greatly angered David for no Israelite had stepped up to battle the giant.
Consequently, David, the young teenage shepherd from Bethlehem volunteered. Saul, the King, offered David his armor. David tried it on, but it was too large. He could barely move. Therefore, David, armed with a slingshot and five smooth stones he picked up from the river bed, made his way to the valley.
Goliath was there, as he had been for days, throwing down his challenge. David, stepped forward on his side of the valley. Goliath and his soldiers stepped forward, but seeing the young boy, responded with ridicule “Am I a dog, that you come to me with sticks?” This was not exactly a statement showing concern or fear on behalf of the Philistines.
David responded, “You come to me with a sword and with a spear and with a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the Lord will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you down and cut off your head. And I will give the dead bodies of the host of the Philistines this day to the birds of the air and to the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel, and that all this assembly may know that the Lord saves not with sword and spear. For the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give you into our hand.”
With that, David placed a stone in his sling and began swinging it above his head. Then, with a “whoosh” the stone was away. The aim was incredible, almost as if it were guided by an angel’s hand, and centered upon the forehead of the giant, Goliath.
The giant fell immediately. David had no sword, so he ran to the collapsed body of the giant and took Goliath’s sword in hand. Holding it as best he could, he raised it and removed the enemy’s head.
Victory had been achieved.
The Israelites had won. The God of Israel’s power had been shown. David stepped into the story, not willing to watch from the sideline.
A young boy, not a soldier, but a shepherd, standing on a battlefield he was never intended to be on, at least by man’s plans, rejected passivity that was so rampant in the camp and entered the story. The victory was won and Israel was saved.
David’s legacy was being built and he would go down in history as a “man after God’s own heart” and the greatest king the nation of Israel would ever have.