David had gone to the battle line; heard Goliath’s roaring challenge to Israel; volunteered to engage him; been outfitted in Saul’s gear and found them wanting; dressed in his homespun and went to meet the foe.
To achieve victory David had to focus on God, not Goliath.
Lest we forget: Goliath represented all the terrible fear Satan engenders when we think of opposing him. All nine feet, five hundred pounds reeked of contempt for ordinary mortals. His military hardware matched his size. The Bible writer left nothing unsaid of Goliath’s impregnability. A coat of scale armor—one plate lying on another—not the usual iron rings linked together—weighed 125 pounds. Bronze greaves covered his legs and a bronze helmet his head. Goliath effortlessly flung a bronze, not a wooden javelin, over his shoulder, and for sport extended his 20 pound spear at arm’s length, holding it there as an expression of titanic strength.
As such behemoths often do, as playground bullies did and do, he intimidated his opponents into surrender. Like Frankenstein he stalked out of his lines everyday to stand in valley center: to issue his challenge, to strut back and forth, then return to his tent, his day’s work done—and not a minute too soon, with the sun glaring at him from a clear blue sky.
His appeal was simplicity itself. “Let’s not have your army fight our army. Let me stand for my side and someone stand for yours, and whichever one of us wins will be the same as our whole army winning.” The brute could afford the swagger. No warrior in Israel came close to his size. And Saul, more terrified than the rest, suffered the opprobrium by being taller than anyone else and, therefore, the likeliest candidate to meet the enemy.
Abhorring the challenge, the king instead ordered skirmishers out regularly to engage their counterparts in brief, bloody battles of clubs, spears and swords. Then the troops broke contact and retired from the field until the next day’s skirmish. War by boredom: hurry up and wait; hurry up and fight; hurry up and retire.
David stood on the valley floor and looked up the hillside where Israelite warriors peered down. He instinctively jerked his hand into the air and screamed the name of God Almighty. And, from the summit, waves of cheering washed over the lad, flooding him with excitement.
Forward to the battle. Across the swells in the valley floor David marched to his destiny with greatness. And, seeing an Israelite at last advancing alone, Goliath began his death march from perhaps 75 yards.
At 50 yards he stopped, looked, gaped, and began to swear in thunderous disdain against the insult Israel had delivered. Had Saul no code of honor? Didn’t he know that personal combat demanded at least somewhat-equal combatants? Did Saul consider him so little worth honor he treated him like a dog! For 40 days he’d been licking his chops waiting a fight. And Israel had at long last sent someone out—and he turned out to be a runt, an unarmed child. Oh, the rage the giant felt. Oh, the curses with which he poisoned the air.
Then he finally decided: O.K., that’s the way Saul wants it, it will have to do. He would take revenge on Saul later. Just now he’d consume the pup standing insolently 50 yards away. He’d use that boy as an example of his prowess. He’d hoist him on his spear, holding him aloft to the shame of Israel, then toss him off to die in a heap.
“You want a fight, boy?” he sneered at David. “Fine; let’s fight. But I’ll warn you now, you’ll lie in this field until birds eat your eyes out and animals bare your bones.”
This is what we call a boast.
David stood those yards apart, listening. When Goliath finished, David began, answering boast with boast. Only he out boasted Goliath in length and in content.
In God’s name he had come, not with sword or spear, David shouted. And the God he served, whom Goliath had disgraced, would deliver him up. David would strike him, cut off his head and see to it that Goliath’s corpse remained on the field to be consumed by carrion. It would all be done to prove that Israel had a God who saved by his power alone.
So…all the talking was over; all the bragging was done. Who could deliver the goods? The two stood closer now, less than 40 yards, Goliath sneering in contempt at David, David dripping with scorn for Goliath. – End Part II –
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