So there I was,
face-to-face with the tallest, largest man I had ever seen. Some
say he was ten feet tall, but next to me he looked more like
twenty. He had long, straggly hair and a dirty-looking beard. He
wore thick armour made of bronze and on his head was a
fearsome-looking helmet with a strange-looking nose-guard. That in
itself made him look cruel and savage, but when he spoke; no, when
he bellowed, the armies of Israel cowered in their tents. He could
have used a bath; I know this for sure because I was standing
downwind of him. My father's sheep pens were in cleaner condition
than the giant who stood before me.
My job was to take
this man down and save the armies of Israel. So there I stood, a
small shepherd boy, barely five feet tall and a hundred pounds
soaking wet. This man (I found out his name was Goliath) held a
sword that could have chopped down the cedars of Lebanon. I had a
sling and five small river-stones.
My name is
Let me retrace my
steps and tell you how I ended up in this situation. It was a
beautiful, bright sunny day and I was tending my father's sheep.
That's what I did. That's all I had ever done. I am the youngest of
eight boys. My father is Jesse from Bethlehem. My three oldest
brothers, Eliab, Abinadab, and Shimea were full-time soldiers in
Saul's army and were on the front-lines in a battle against the
Philistines. I was too young to join; besides, my father needed me
to tend sheep, as he was quite elderly and found it too hard to do
it himself. I would often travel back and forth bringing
encouragement to my brothers and taking news back to my father,
letting him know how the battle was going. My father worried about
my brothers, and the bits of news I would bring from the
battlefield would cheer him up and help him not to worry so
So it was no
surprise when Father summoned me and asked me to take some roasted
grain and bread to my brothers, some cheese to their captain and in
exchange receive some, hopefully, encouraging news of their
A friend of mine
said he would watch the sheep for me, so I took the provisions and
went to find my brothers. I entered the Israelite camp just as they
were starting the march to the battle-front. Leaving the bread and
cheese with a Supply Officer, I ran to find my brothers among the
ranks. It was an exciting time. Everyone was talking about the war
and the Philistines, especially about the one they called Goliath.
Oh, how I wished that I could fight the battle with them. It's
lousy being the youngest kid.
I walked along with
my brothers and soon we were overlooking a deep valley, with the
Philistine army on the opposite hill, looking back at us. Then he
was there; Goliath. The embodiment of the name that was on
everyone's lips. Goliath; the name that struck fear into the
bravest of warriors. Goliath; the name that was feared by King Saul
himself. A strange, eerie silence fell upon each soldier, and it
seemed as if they were afraid even to look in his direction. He
stood there staring, as if he were looking into the very souls of
men. Then he broke the silence.
What a mouth on that
guy. Such language I had never heard in my life. He spoke
blasphemies that should have been answered by a bolt of lightning.
He cursed the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. He cursed the armies
of Israel. He cursed and he taunted; taunted and cursed. I couldn't
believe what I was hearing; and the worst part? - the brave men of
Saul's army started running for their lives. This was no way for an
army to act, especially the army of God. Where was their faith? Had
they forgotten the stories of how God had rescued our fathers from
the Egyptian Pharaoh and how Pharaoh's army had drowned in the sea?
How the armies of Pharaoh were defeated without the people of
Israel even lifting a finger in battle? Did they think these
stories were only folklore and fables?
I stood there in
disbelief. My anger was mounting and I couldn't take it anymore. I
had to do something - anything. I may have only been a small
shepherd boy, but I serve a God who is greater than any Philistine
army or even their great hero, Goliath. I know this from
experience, for when a lion or bear would come to steal a lamb from
my father's flock, I would go after it with a club and rescue the
lamb. If the animal would turn on me I would catch it by the jaw
and club it to death. This was my experience with the wild animals
that would endanger my father's flocks and I was determined to do
the same thing to this pagan Philistine who was defying the armies
of the living God.
And Saul, the one
who was supposed to be our leader; our king - what was he doing?
Well, it seems the best idea he could come up with was to offer a
reward of one of his daughters in marriage to the man who could
defeat Goliath in a one-on-one fight. He even upped the ante by
exempting that man's entire family from paying taxes. Now I'm
totally in favour of the idea of not paying taxes, but really - is
this what this was all about? Did it not bother him or anyone else
for that matter that the God we serve was being blasphemed and
cursed? Was there no honour left in the camp? Was small personal
gain more important than worship and obedience to the God who
rescued His people out of Egypt?
So I went to see
King Saul about the problem and about my own idea. I'm surprised
that he even gave me an audience, but I guess he was getting
desperate for a solution. He didn't think my idea of picking a
personal fight with Goliath was very good. In fact, he told me it
was a ridiculous idea. I told him about my experiences with the
lion and the bear. I told him that if the Lord could rescue me from
these, He could surely rescue me from this Philistine. I don't know
if this convinced him or if he was just more desperate than I had
thought, but he finally consented to my offer.
You should have seen
me trying to put on Saul's armour - yea, that's right, Saul
actually offered me his own personal armour. Well, it wasn't doing
him any good. He was in his tent shaking in his boots. He certainly
had no intention of using it. I tried putting it on, but Saul was a
pretty tall guy. In fact, I think he was the tallest person in the
Israelite army. I tried taking a few steps in it, but didn't get
far. Not wanting to offend the king, I told him I couldn't use it
because I had never worn armour before and didn't know how to use
it properly. I certainly couldn't tell him that offering oversized
armour to a pipsqueak like me was an even more ridiculous idea than
me fighting Goliath.
Well anyway, there I
was. I had made the offer to fight, but I had no weapons and I was
extremely undersized and under-trained for such an exhibition. All
I had was my sling and five small, smooth stones I had collected
from a nearby stream. At least that's all the weaponry people could
see. My real weapon was the power of the Almighty God, whose army
Goliath was defying.
That man was about
to learn a tough lesson.
With sling in hand
and a short prayer, I started across the valley floor. It seemed
like a very long walk. What on earth was I doing? Did I really have
the faith that I thought I had? Would God really do the fighting
for me? I had talked a good game, but what if I was wrong? What if
I lost the battle? I wasn't afraid of dying, but the armies of
Israel would be ridiculed by the Philistines even more than before.
The whole Philistine army would converge on Saul's army and would
defeat them. Not only would they be defeated, but they would be
slaughtered while running in retreat. This would be a terrible blow
to my people's honour. It would mean defeat for the king and more
than likely put my people into slavery to the Philistine
But I couldn't think
that way. Too much was at stake. I had told Saul that the Lord
would rescue me and I knew He would. I believed it; I
had to believe it. The faith of the nation was at
stake. I knew God was on our side; I knew He wouldn't let us
Confident in my God,
yet shaking on the inside, I walked up to Goliath and tried to
stare him down. That's not easy when you're five feet tall and your
opponent is ten feet tall. I couldn't exactly look down to him, but
I sure wanted to. Goliath was insulted by my presence and shouted,
"Am I a dog that you come at me with a stick? Come over here,
and I'll give your flesh to the birds and wild animals."
that moment I felt a strength rising in me that that I can't
describe. I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that the victory would
be mine. I felt at that moment that the battle was already won. I
shouted back in a voice that I did not recognize as my own, "You
come to me with sword, spear, and javelin, but I come to you in the
name of the Lord of Heaven's Armies - the God of the armies of
Israel, whom you have defied. Today the Lord will conquer you, and
I will kill you and cut off your head. And then I will give the
dead bodies of your men to the birds and wild animals, and the
whole world will know that there is a God in Israel. And everyone
assembled here will know that the Lord rescues his people, but not
with sword and spear. This is the Lord's battle, and he will give
you to us."
And then it was
over, almost before it began.
The rest of what happened is rather hazy in my memory, but I do
remember putting one of those small stones in my sling and spinning
the sling 'round and 'round and 'round. My whole concentration was
on that small spot in the middle of Goliath's forehead. I remember
letting the stone fly and watching as it travelled upwards.
Everything seemed to be happening in slow motion as the stone found
its mark. Then I heard a low moan and saw a giant crash to the
That was many, many
years ago. I am no longer known as David the Shepherd Boy. These
days I am known as David, King of Israel. I have fought many
battles since that day. Some say that Saul slew his thousands,
while I slew my tens of thousands. That may be true; I don't know.
What I do know is that every battle, whether great or small, is
already won when God in on our side.
by David Ronald Bruce Pekrul