Sunday, October 13, 2013

David and Goliath

With God’s help, Moses had led the Israelites out of Egypt and across the sea on dry land. They had seen bitter water become drinkable. Fire fell from heaven on Mt. Sinai, and God gave Moses the Law. Water spilled from a rock in the middle of the desert for the Israelites to drink. Bread fell from the sky every day for them, and quail showed up to be eaten. The Israelites saw God do amazing things every step of the way. He gave them victory in battle over their enemies.

But when Moses sent twelve spies into the Promised Land, ten of them came back with a terrifying report! “There are GIANTS in Canaan! We saw them! We must look like bugs to them, skittering around at their feet! We don’t stand a chance in the Promised Land! Turn around! RUN!!” But Joshua and Caleb had a different report. “There are really tall people in the Promised Land, but compared to God, they’re smaller than bugs skittering around at His feet! God is with us! We can take them! Let’s go!”

But the Israelites listened to the first report and chickened out. So they had to do laps around the desert for 40 years.

The giants in question were known as Anakites. They were descended from a guy named Rapha, and they lived in many parts of the Promised Land. As Moses led Israel almost all the way to the Promised Land, and Joshua led them as they entered it, God let them defeat many of the Anakites. The most famous one was King Og. The Bible doesn’t say how tall he was, but his bed was 9 cubits long! That’s about 13 feet, 6 inches! As they conquered Canaan, they did indeed defeat many of the Anakites. By the end of their conquest, there were only a few left. Joshua and his army had defeated all except a few in Gaza, Gath and Ashdod.

Years passed. After Joshua died, Israel had a period of judges, and then Saul became Israel’s first King. When God rejected Saul as King, Samuel anointed a young shepherd boy named David.

After the anointing, Jesse’s three oldest sons, Eliab, Abinadab and Shammah, went off to war. Meanwhile, David went back and forth from the pasture, where he watched the sheep, to the palace, where he played his lyre for King Saul.

Jesse loved all eight of his sons, and he wanted to check up on his oldest sons. So he sent David with some treats and asked him to take them to his brothers and see how they were doing. As David arrived, the Israelite army was preparing for battle against their enemies the Philistines. He found his brothers, and as they were talking, he heard a loud shout.

A very tall man was standing in the nearby valley shouting a challenge. He was six cubits and a span tall – about nine feet, nine inches! His armor and weapons were huge and heavy. His spear alone was like a weaver's rod. Weaver's rods were typically 10-12 feet long - taller than him!  He looked terrifying! He shouted, “Why are you guys lining up for battle? I don’t need a bunch of people! Have one man come down and fight me! If he can defeat me, we’ll be your servants. If I defeat him, you get to be our slaves! Come on, army of Israel! What are you waiting for? I want single combat!”

The Israelite army was terrified. He was so terrifying that brave Israelite soldiers would run away as fast as they could run when they saw him! This guy was a Philistine Anakite, from Gath, and he was unbelievably tall. He had already killed many people, and now he wanted single combat? The best warriors of Israel didn’t stand a chance! David found out that he had been shouting this every day for forty days.

The Israelites were talking amongst themselves about this dangerous enemy named Goliath. King Saul had promised a huge reward for anyone who could defeat him. Anyone who could defeat Goliath would receive lots of money, his family wouldn’t have to pay taxes, and he’d get to marry the princess. But this guy was so scary that nobody thought any amount of money or marriage to Saul’s daughter was worth that.

David started looking into it more. He asked around about what was up with this loony bat who dared defy the almighty God’s people. The soldiers all told him about how dangerous this man was, and the reward. He wasn’t old enough to fight in battle, so they didn’t see any harm in telling him. After all, what teenager would be crazy enough to go up against a trained, deadly warrior, one of the Philistines’ best? Word got around that David was asking about Goliath, and eventually Saul found out and sent for him.

As David stood before the King, he said, “Don’t worry about this Philistine. I’ll fight him.”

“Are you crazy?” Saul said. "You’re just a teenager! He’s been a deadly warrior since he was young!”

David replied, “Your Majesty, I’m a shepherd. It’s my job to take care of sheep, and my flock has been threatened by scary animals like lions and bears. They have carried my sheep off, and I chased them and saved the sheep. I have killed lions and bears to protect my sheep. This Philistine is no different. If God protected me from lions and bears, surely He can protect me from this dude.”

When he put it that way, Saul said, “OK, go ahead. God be with you.” Then he gave David some armor and started preparing him for the battle. But when David had all the armor on, he realized it wouldn’t work. It was heavy, and it was awkward to fight in armor he wasn’t comfortable wearing. So he took the armor off. He picked up his shepherd’s staff and found five stones from a nearby stream. With his slingshot, he walked into the valley toward the waiting enemy.

Goliath couldn’t believe it. “Oh come on, Israel! Is THIS the best you can do?! You send me a little squirt with sticks like I’m a dog? Puh-leez! All right, come on, shrimp! This’ll be an easy battle, and pretty soon the birds will be eating your dead body!”

David replied, “You have a sword, a spear and a javelin, but I am here in the name of the Almighty God, and you have dared defy Him! He will give me the victory, and you and your army will be the bird food! Then everyone will know that there is a God in Israel. Everyone will know that God saves, and the battle is His!”

Goliath moved closer for the kill, and David ran toward him. David reached into his pouch and pulled out a stone. Before Goliath had a chance to throw a spear or javelin or swing a sword, David put the stone in his slingshot, twirled it around, and let it fly! The stone landed in Goliath’s forehead, and the giant fell. David then ran up to the dead champion’s body and pulled his sword out of its sheath and swung it down.

With a shout, the Israelite army found their courage and chased the stunned Philistines back home to Gath. Just as David had promised, many Philistines became bird food that day.

Saul was very impressed. He asked Army Commander Abner, “Whose son is this?”

Abner didn’t know, so he found David, who was still holding Goliath’s head, and brought him to Saul. David told him, “I’m the son of Jesse of Bethlehem.”

Another general was also watching David that day. Prince Jonathan was very impressed with this young guy’s courage, and he and David became best friends. Princess Michal was also very impressed. She had a new hero, and pretty soon she would have a new husband.

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