20 June 2022

David wasn't an underdog

In the story of David and Goliath, it is commonly read as David is an underdog, a young boy that faces off against a giant of a man, clearly outmatched, but overcomes.

This is the wrong interpretation of this story.

In 1 Samuel 17, the setting is laid out. The Philistines and Isrealites are gathered on opposite mountains overlooking the valley of Elah. Neither really wants to go down to the valley, and whichever tries to take the other in the mountains is looking at a slaughter from dug in forces in a higher position.. It was much like Normandy.

So Goliath, champion of the Philistines, went down to the valley to challenge the Isrealite champion to single combat to decide the battle.

4 ¶ And there went out a champion out of the camp of the Philistines, named Goliath, of Gath, whose height was six cubits and a span. - 1Sam17:4

10 And the Philistine said, I defy the armies of Israel this day; give me a man, that we may fight together.

A cubit is the measure of the tip of your middle finger, commonly the longest finger, to the tip of your elbow. Common measurement is about 17-1/2". A Span is the measurement from the tip of the thumb to the tip of the little finger, when extended, or about 9".

So a little math, Goliath was ((6*17.5)+9)/12 = 9.5' tall. That's a big guy.

Saul asked around, but his soldiers were too afraid to face him. For forty days he asked, but no one would come forward.

David was there bringing his brothers lunch on the 40th day. David was a shepherd, not a soldier.

15 But David went and returned from Saul to feed his father’s sheep at Beth-lehem.

16 And the Philistine drew near morning and evening, and presented himself forty days.

17 And Jesse said unto David his son, Take now for thy brethren an ephah of this parched corn, and these ten loaves, and run to the camp to thy brethren;

24 And all the men of Israel, when they saw the man, fled from him, and were sore afraid.

David heard Goliath issue his challenge, and he asked around to the soldiers, won't anybody go out and face him? And they told him, no. He'll kill us.

So David went to Saul and told him don't worry, I'll do it.

32 ¶ And David said to Saul, Let no man’s heart fail because of him; thy servant will go and fight with this Philistine.

Saul tried to give him armor, David wouldnt take it, he instead insisted that he be allowed to fight Goliath his own way.

David wasn't just a shepherd.. he was a skilled hunter (probably with a bit of boasting):

34 And David said unto Saul, Thy servant kept his father’s sheep, and there came a lion, and a bear, and took a lamb out of the flock:

35 And I went out after him, and smote him, and delivered it out of his mouth: and when he arose against me, I caught him by his beard, and smote him, and slew him.

36 Thy servant slew both the lion and the bear: and this uncircumcised Philistine shall be as one of them, seeing he hath defied the armies of the living God.

37 David said moreover, The Lord that delivered me out of the paw of the lion, and out of the paw of the bear, he will deliver me out of the hand of this Philistine. And Saul said unto David, Go, and the Lord be with thee.

He picked 5 stones from the ground.

40 And he took his staff in his hand, and chose him five smooth stones out of the brook, and put them in a shepherd’s bag which he had, even in a scrip; and his sling was in his hand: and he drew near to the Philistine.

Now, the stones of this mountain are not just the normal granite-quartz stones you might find in the back yard, or in the field. These stones are of a Salt mineral called Barium-Sulfate, which is desired for both it's white appearance and it's high density. For comparison, it is equivalent to the density of Titanium, about 280lb/ft³ or 4500kg/m³.

David had his sling in hand. Probably less likely than grabbing a bear and lion by the beard, he killed it with his sling, which was why he was confident he could use it to take out Goliath. The slinger was an important part of the military.

An advantage of the slinger over the armor-clad swordsman or spearman was his effectiveness from a distance. It is claimed that their range of effectiveness was up to 400 feet (c. 122 meters) with stones, and even farther with lead pellets. - Watchtower OL

Lead has a density of 708lb/ft³, so two-and-a-half times that of Barium-Sulfate, for comparison.

Even still, common riverstone, like what is normally thought of, and usually made up of granite, limestone, or flint, is significantly lighter.

Density of:

Granite: 168lb/ft³
Flint: 163.69 lb/ft³
Limestone: 169lb/ft³
Common stone: 157lb/ft³

citation: https://www.aqua-calc.com/page/density-table/

Goliath was a foot soldier. He wore bronze armor and caried a sword. Goliath was literally bringing a knife to a gunfight.

So David walked down there, was mocked by Goliath, David loaded his sling and BANG! right between the eyes, dropped Goliath, picked up the giant's sword, and cut off his head to deliver to Saul as a trophy, taking the armor for his own trophy.

David wasn't the underdog, he was a skilled marksman with a deadly weapon. He knew his skill, and he knew God was with him.

Goliath is often, like the giants from my previous post, alegorically seen as a challenge we need to overcome.

But instead of seeing ourselves as the underdog, try looking at it this way: You are more equiped to handle the challenges that come your way than you might at first realize.

Further study:


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