David and Goliath


This post is about two things worth thinking about in the new year. But first of all, a song and a story …..

Even is these less Biblical days, many of us may have heard the story about the Hebrew boy, David. Scoring a bull’s-eye with a stone from his sling, he felled the armour-plated Philistine giant, Goliath. According to the story, Goliath was around nine feet, nine inches tall! And he brandished a spear which “had a shaft as thick as the bar on a weaver’s loom”. 

Gershwin’s song’s reminds us that, “The things that you’re liable, to read in the Bible, it ain’t necessarily so.” But this needn’t trouble us unduly. As someone (whose name I try to let escape me) once said, “Never let the facts get in the way of a good story.” It’s the story, and the meanings we find in it, that matters. So how does the story go?

The Israelite army was camped on one hill, and the Philistine army on a facing one. The giant Goliath, with all his armour and weaponry, had a thunderous voice which roared out a challenge to single combat against any Israelite brave enough. Whoever defeated the other, his side would be the winner of the battle. There was no queue of eager volunteers, just little David. 

As a shepherd boy, he’d had to deal with threats to his flock. If a bear or lion came along, we’re told he would “grab it by the throat and beat it to death”, so why all this fuss about a mere giant? Refusing to put on any heavy armour, he unslung his sling and picked up five stones. Goliath unleashed roars of derision and abuse. David let fly a single stone which met the giant head-on. Moments later, it was head-off. David decapitated Goliath with the giant’s own sword.   

So what meanings can we find in this story? There can be times in life when the odds seem weighted against us. Troublesome things may be about to happen, or aggressive people to have it in for us. The heavy clouds are rolling nearer, or scary threats are being made. What do we do? Sink to our knees and go under, or rise to the occasion and, if so, how?

The story suggests two things worth thinking about. The first is, be alive to risks and dangers, but don’t overestimate them. The second is, be alive to your frailties and limitations, but don’t underestimate yourself. What has life taught you? What discoveries have you made? What skills and abilities have you gained? What resources, however unlikely at first thought, might be available to you? What dangers and threats have you overcome in the past? What you did then, you can do again. So go for it – and may your god be with you.

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