I was watching a news broadcast a few weeks ago about Palestinian youths throwing stones at the Israeli border guards. What stuck in my mind was the number of those youths who were using slings and sending those stones at high speed over long distances with amazing accuracy.
One author (Gladwell) described the sling as an incredibly devastating weapon, not a child’s toy. He said; “If you do the calculations on the ballistics, on the stopping power of the rock fired from David's sling, it's roughly equal to the stopping power of a .45 calibre handgun.”
Having fired a .45 pistol, I know it kicks like a mule (forget the western movies) and makes a big hole in whatever it hits. It’s slow moving (900 ft/second or 2.74m/second) but slow stopping. In effect, it means the bullet has a lot of energy behind it.
The reference to David in what Gladwell has said is what I was most interested in. David, later King David, who we learned about in Sunday School all those years ago, has always been a hero of mine.
Yes, I know all about the wrongs but as Jesus said, “Let him without sin cast the first stone.”
David & Goliath has always been a fascinating read and the words are still in use today where a small opponent faces off against a much larger one, be it in sport, war, business or whatever.
The youthful David, said to have been about 12-years-old, was either a shepherd boy caring for his father’s (Jesse) flocks who took food to his brothers in Saul’s army or was Saul’s armour bearer or later became Saul’s armour bearer, it doesn’t really matter.
What matters is, David was a strong believer in the power of God and he also believed the Israelites were God’s people and should not be afraid of the Philistines and in particular, this giant of a man, Goliath.
Goliath may not have been so tall but there is no doubt he was a very large man. His armour alone is said to have weighed 175lbs (very close to 80kg), add his spear, sword and possibly a javelin.
The Philistines were Israel’s bitter enemies, one of a people of Aegean origin who settled on the southern coast of Palestine in the 12th century B.C, about the time of the arrival of the Israelites.
These were the same people who captured the Arc of the Covenant in battle and, after suffering for some time because of it, returned it to the Israelites
The first mention of them has been tracked to ancient Egypt. On Egyptian inscriptions in the temple of Ramses III at Madinat Habu these people appear under the name prst, as one of the Sea Peoples who invaded Egypt about 1190 BC after ravaging Anatolia, Cyprus, and Syria.
After being repulsed by the Egyptians, they settled - possibly with Egypt's permission - on the coastal plain of Palestine from Joppa (modern Tel Aviv-Yafo) southward to Gaza.
The ancient capital city of Gath is located in the Tel Zafit national park in the Judean foothills and was once a large city in the 10th century BC. It was later destroyed by Hazael, the king of Aram Damascus in 830 BC.
The Philistine people disappeared, believed to have been annihilated by [Babylonian king] Nebuchadnezzar in December of 604 BC and either all killed or the remnant integrated into the enemies population.
Scientific research has revealed there is no Philistine DNA in the Palestinian people today.
Goliath appears in chapter 2 of the Qur'an (2: 247–252), in the narrative of David and Saul's battle against the Philistines. Called "Jalut" in Arabic.
Goliath's mention in the Quran is concise, though it remains a parallel to the account in the Hebrew Bible.
Now King Saul was tall, he was ‘head and shoulders above his countrymen,’ (the average height then was 5ft 6in or 1.67m) so extrapolate Saul’s height to 6ft 6in (1.98m) and as the leader of his people, he should have been the one to tackle Goliath but, ……. he lacked faith in the power and strength of God.
Now we know the story of how David, so small he couldn’t wear Saul’s armour, it would have slowed him down anyway, went down to the brook, selected seven stones, went to Goliath, put a smooth stone in his sling and then put it between goliath’s eyes and either killed him or knocked him unconscious, it doesn’t matter because he cut off his head while he lay on the ground.
David demonstrated what we all should do as followers of Jesus. Have faith, trust in Him and the Power of God and not be afraid to testify of His greatness.
Or, are we Saul, hiding in his tent, afraid of the enemy?
John Skinner served in Vietnam then the Tasmanian Police before taking up the position of CEO of the Australian Rough Riders Association (professional rodeo based in Warwick Qld). Before retirement to his small farm, he was a photo-journalist for 25 years. He is married with 3 children and 7 grandchildren.
John Skinner is a retired journalist who has written ten biographies on famous campdrafting competitors. He was an Australian infantry soldier wounded in Vietnam, served six years as a Police Officer, was CEO of the then Australian Rough Riders Assn (Pro-Rodeo based in Warwick, Qld). He and his wife Marion retired to a small farm 25km south of Warwick 20 years ago. They have three children and now seven grandchildren.