Comes the hour, comes the man…
It’s the 39th day of the gathering of Philistine’s and Israel’s army at Elah when Israel’s hero arrives, but it’s not according to the divine plan.
“Any of you both know of the whereabouts of my son David?” Jesse asks his two sons who busied themselves playing Mancala. It wasn’t regular to find his sheep roam around the yard this way; David always took care of this.
“I haven’t seen him all morning,” the younger of the two replies.
“I saw him leave at sunrise. Wouldn’t tell where he was headed. But with the sling you got him, I bet he’s just gone off being David,” the other, having a momentary lapse in concentration on the game, responds.
Jesse, an Ephraimite of Israel, father of eight, of which David is youngest, is burdened. It’s quite uncharacteristic of David to wander off home at the expense of his responsibilities. There’s always a conscientiousness about his manner of living, which distinguishes him from Jesse’s other seven sons. He fears David has left for Elah, the battlefront, and his gut feeling doesn’t suggest otherwise. Hopefully, any of his three eldest sons would find him at Elah and see to his safe return home, and that soon. It suffices to have three sons at a battlefront.
All Jesse has left to do is hope and pray Israel gets the victory and his sons Eliab, Abinadab, Shammah, and David return home in peace.
Son, you have no business going to the battlefront. You should be home being about your father’s business.
He hears the same voice that’s troubled him all morning as he approaches Elah, and summons the indulgence to talk back this once: “Word came home from the battlefront about Israel’s harassment at the hands of the Philistine army for so long. Shouldn’t there be a savior? None to rise against the giant who these three dozen days and more has harassed God’s army? Does the seer’s anointing on me not apply in this regard?”
Son, I know how much you’re after my heart, and the good of Israel, my chosen nation. You most definitely have earned more favor before me than your king ever did, who should now be leading my army into battle. Still, I have asked for you not to be out here. Isn’t there a purpose to these things David?
David sighs but walks on till he reaches camp; sling in hand, shepherd scrip strapped across his upper body, somewhat convinced he is the deliverer Israel has unwittingly awaited these many days.
He hopes he avoids meeting Eliab, Abinadab, and Shammah – fearing what their reaction to seeing him here would be, having suffered their reaction to the seer’s anointing of him.
Again, David hears a voice. Only this time it’s not the near silent but probing voice he’s heard all morning, but a bellow, roughened by the shouts of warfare.
“Oh Israel, hear me!”
Again, here comes Terror tabling his challenge before Israel. He no longer waits to get into the valley before beginning his challenge.
“I am Goliath of Gath, champion of the Philistine army and servant to Haphshak the greatest war man alive!” David watches as Goliath unsheathes his huge sword and skillfully swings it in a near vertical circle. “Night and day these thirty and nine days I come requesting for a man with whom to square Israel and the Philistines without having to involve my comrades. And these thirty and nine days, Israel presents me with none.”
“Once again I request, O Israel, servants of the highest God,” he says mockingly, “choose one man of you to come against me, and spare us all the delight of having our swords bloodied by the flesh of you all!”
There isn’t as much as a smirk from him this time. No belligerent laughter echoing from his camp. No response from Israel still. Only mind numbing silence.
“If he defeats me, we the Philistines will be your slaves. But if I defeat him, you all will be our slaves, your women will warm our beds, and our children will serve in our farms and stables!”
A muffled yet audible reaction of some soldiers in Israel’s camp interests David, who manages to overhear the words of one a short distance to his left.
“Do you know,” he hears say, “that the king has promised to enrich any man who defeats this Philistine? He’s promised to also give his daughter in marriage to such a man, and grant his entire family freedom in Israel!”
He turns and approaches the group of men gathered around this fellow who looks anything but a soldier.
“Pray tell what will be done to the man who kills this Philistine, and takes away this reproach from Israel?” David asks. “For how dare this uncircumcised Philistine defy the armies of the living God?”
Soon, David’s words are being echoed in Saul’s ears. It sounds like good news until the one who speaks such swelling words stands before him. Contrary to his expectation of a battled-hardened warrior, all Saul sees is a flushed youth with no signs of having been ever involved in a childhood fight let alone a real life battle against a giant. But he did have the tongue of the brave:
“Let no man’s heart fail because of him; I, your servant, will go and fight with this Philistine.”
Saul is amazed at the young man’s confidence. “I do not see you being able to fight against this Philistine: you are just a youth, but he has been a man of war from his youth. Isn’t that a match quite unfair to you? Doesn’t that guarantee our loss of this battle?”
“I believe, my King, that you still have in remembrance the God of our fathers who fought their battles against Egypt’s armies, the Moabites, Ammonites, Amorites and other nations of the east, until we, as a nation, came into our present rest?”
I approach this Goliath in the name of this God of our father Israel, Who’s ceaselessly wrought numerous victories in battles on our behalf. And who is this uncircumcised Philistine to defy His army!”
“Goliath indeed is no one,” replied Saul.
Having been much acquainted with battles, he could swear he saw a hint of a fear of the unknown in David’s eyes despite his swelling words. Nonetheless, the desperate need for a deliverer for Israel causes him to risk it all on the words of the youth.
“Go David, and may Israel’s God go with you,” Saul offers his blessings as he orders for David to be made ready to face the giant. “Prepare him for the fight.”
David is armed with Saul’s personal armor, crowned with a helmet of brass; and armed with a coat of mail and a sword. But David refuses to assail Goliath in these – they are too unfamiliar for him he says, and rather chooses to go against the giant with his sling, his goad, and his shepherd’s bag containing five smooth stones picked from a nearby brook on his way into the valley: all in the name of the God of Israel.
Despite refusing to admit it, deep down within, David fears what would be in his imminent battle against Goliath.
To be contd…