Let’s take a fresh look at the brief battle between Davie and Goliath in 1 Samuel. This battle is generally presented as the underdog achieving victory against overwhelming odds and has become a cultural icon. It is true that if David had fought Goliath on the terms that Goliath anticipated he would have been easily defeated. However David didn’t do what everyone else expected. David’s key to victory was thinking about the battle differently and thinking differently about who he represented and was. Below we see some different perspectives.
8 Then he stood and cried out to the armies of Israel, and said to them, “Why have you come out to line up for battle? Am I not a Philistine, and you the servants of Saul? Choose a man for yourselves, and let him come down to me. 1 Samuel 17:8 (NKJV)
10 And the Philistine said, “I defy the armies of Israel this day; give me a man, that we may fight together.” 1 Samuel 17:10 (NKJV)
26 Then David spoke to the men who stood by him, saying, “What shall be done for the man who kills this Philistine and takes away the reproach from Israel? For who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?” 1 Samuel 17:26 (NKJV)
Goliath referred to the Israelite army as the servants of Saul and the army of Israel. David saw Goliath as defying God’s army. Furthermore, David saw the source of deliverance as the Lord not his own skill or strength.
37 Moreover David said, “The Lord, who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, He 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 (NKJV)
I recently read Malcolm Gladwell’s 2013 book David and Goliath. It is not a Christian book but what I appreciate about Gladwell is that he thinks differently and examines his topics in a way that most don’t. His book was about people who overcome against all odds. It is also a book about seeing things differently, like the biblical account of David and Goliath.
In looking at what happened with David and Goliath he references the three kinds of warriors in ancient battles, Calvary (horsemen and chariots), Infantry (foot soldiers in heavy armour) and Projectile warriors (those who used arrows and slings). The battle between David and Goliath would have been quickly over with David dead if David had tried to fight Goliath as an Infantry soldier. However, David fought as a Projectile warrior, not on Goliaths’ terms or the terms all the spectators from both armies were anticipating. Gladwell said a ballistics expert from the Israeli Defence Forces calculated that in less than two seconds David could have fired a stone at Goliath that would have hit his forehead with the force of a bullet from a modern small handgun – a rock traveling at about 200 kilometres per hour. It could have easily penetrated his skull or minimally rendered him unconscious.
David’s key to victory was twofold. First, he trusted in the Lord. Second he did the unexpected and met the enemy from a positon of his strengths and skills. David did what he was good at not what Goliath wanted. In thinking about this I wonder about thinking differently and being a bit paradoxical in our approach.
David took what he had. We can to do the same. He is clear that His ways are not ours. For example He sent Peter the uneducated fisherman to the Jews and Paul the educated Pharisee to the Gentiles. The opposite of what we would expect. So whatever He has called us to do let’s bathe it in fervent and frequent prayer and then we follow His leading based on what He has given us.