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Reflections For Youthful Readers Upon A Young David
by Rik Charbonneaux
3/11/2018 / Christian Living
"Now Jesse said to his son David, "Take this ephah of roasted grain and these ten loaves of bread for your brothers and hurry to their camp. Take along these ten cheeses to the commander of their unit. See how your brothers are and bring back some assurance from them." 1 Samuel 17:17-18 NIV
To be the youngest of your father's sons was not always the easiest life role to live out in Old Testament times, and for Jesse's son David, it was not made any easier by being the only one of his siblings not actively fighting the Philistine army in the Valley of Elah. He had the responsibility of grazing and protecting his father's sheep flocks, as well as taking supplies as directed to his brothers at the battlefield from his father. Once again, he departed his father's house to do just that.
Q: Have you ever been the only one at home for a day and actually completed all the assigned tasks that your parents asked you to do while they were gone?
A: Yes? Then you are a lot like David because he did this also, only he did this everyday, because he was alone most of the time!
"When Eliab, David's oldest brother, heard him speaking with the men, he burned with anger at him and asked, "Why have you come down here? And with whom did you leave those few sheep in the wilderness? I know how conceited you are and how wicked your heart is; you came down only to watch the battle." 1 Samuel 17:28 NIV
When David arrived at the battlefield site, he heard tell of the Philistine giant named Goliath of Gath and how he was challenging the Israelites to fight him. It was not uncommon for one king to agree with another king to stage a contest to the death between the champions of their armies and let that outcome determine the outcome of the battle by which both kings would abide. This was not exactly the case in this instance, because this Philistine was challenging and insulting the Army of the Living God and assuming that the outcome of his killing anyone challenging him would decide that the Philistines should have the spoils.
David was incensed that Goliath would speak so of the God of Israel and of the Army of God. He asked about the situation and was rebuffed by his own brother and told to go home. Someone over heard David saying that he wanted to challenge Goliath for having spoken in such an arrogant manner and went off to tell king Saul.
Q. Have you ever really wanted to do something, but people told you were too young to do it?
A. That is what David's brothers told him and then ordered him to go home. He would have done that because he was an obedient son who would have done what his older brothers said because that would have been his father's wishes to do so. King Saul summoned David to hear about David wish to challenge the giant and his brothers respected their king and said no more to David about returning home.
"Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, because he has defied the armies of the living God." 1 Samuel 17:36 NIV
"Saul replied, "You are not able to go out against this Philistine and fight him; you are only a young man, and he has been a warrior from his youth." 1 Samuel 17:33 NIV
Saul questioned David and was going to turn him away until David told the king of his earlier successes in killing a bear and a lion bare handed to save his flock of sheep. Saul relented and permitted David to advance against the Philistine. David then removed the armor that Saul had placed upon him, retaining only the king's sword and sheath, and proceeded toward the giant.
Q. Have you ever had a good idea, but no one would listen to you?
A. This is what as happening to David as everyone he spoke with told him he could not defeat Goliath, even king Saul. David knew that the Lord would help him and he thought about things and then told the king of times in the past when the Lord had helped him defeat a bear and a lion that were trying to kill his sheep. King Saul agree that the Lord was with David and agreed that David could go out against the giant, even giving David the king's armor.
"He picked up five smooth stones from a stream and put them into his shepherd's bag." 1 Samuel 17:40 NIV
As he had done many times before, he stopped at a stream to select five smooth and suitable stones to use with his sling and placed them in his bag. Absolutely confident that the Lord would not let this arrogant and bullish Philistine to act as he had against God's people and live. With the hand of the Lord upon him, David made it clear to Goliath was about to die:
"You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the Lord will deliver you into my hands, and I’I'll strike you down and cut off your head." 1 Samuel 17:45-46 NIV
Having no fear of Goliath or the Philistine Army whatsoever, David then fearlessly ran straight toward the giant. With his sling in rapid circular motion he perfectly judged the distance to his target and for the giant's forehead where he intended that the high speed stone would be able to penetrate and then launched the stone at precisely the right moment.
Q. Have you ever had a very hard job to do? One that took all of your talents and ability? Did you carry out your task?
A. David did. He went against the giant without any fear or hesitation, using all of his natural ability as a slinger to defeat Goliath. Yes, David was much younger than Goliath, but the hand of the Lord was upon David and that makes all the difference.
"So David triumphed over the Philistine with a sling and a stone; without a sword in his hand he struck down the Philistine and killed him." 1 Samuel 17:50 NIV
From the early days of his youth, like many other young people in the middle east, using a sling was something he would be expected to learn and become expert at. Some cultures even had their young children sling stones at a post until one struck the post before they could eat their breakfast bread. David would have used a sling for driving off pests from around his sheep, or just to entertain himself and build his skills in using one. He was proficient with his sling and was fully confident in the power of God to prevail against this giant.
Q. Have you ever accomplished a task that you had never done before, but things went so well that you thought your previous life experiences had somehow prepared you to do well at the task?
A. So did David with the Lord's hand upon him. David had been successfully guarding his sheep againt attacks by pests and predators for as long as he could remember and this expereince helped him to remain calm and confident in defending his nation under the hand of his God in defeating Goliath to win the battle.
"David ran and stood over him. He took hold of the Philistine's sword and drew it from the sheath. After he killed him, he cut off his head with the sword." 1 Samuel 17:51 NIV
This day, he used his sling against a man who had challenged the Army of God and Goliath paid for such arrogance with his life. True to what he had told Goliath he would do, David rushed upon the fallen Philistine and beheaded him with Goliath's own sword. David took Goliath's head to Jerusalem as a sort of calling card to the fact that he would be back in the future to defeat the Jebusites that lived there and take the city, which he did in 1010 BC.
Q. Have you ever been challenged by a bully? Did he begin to fail or falter after you stood up to him?
A. David stood up to the Lord's enemy and defeated him. Goliath had just started forward to meet David when he was stopped dead by David's well placed stone. David stood up for his God and nation, and someday you will stand up for something, or someone else
"When the Philistines saw that their hero was dead, they turned and ran." 1 Samuel 17:51c NIV
When Goliath had fallen to David, the Philistine army ran from the battlefield and the Army of Israel pursued them, inflicting great damage to them. One reason for them to bolt and run was that it was highly likely them would be enslaved by the Israelites. More importantly, they knew of the power of the God of Israel from just having witnessed it in the killing of Goliath by a youth. As their numbers in the field were superior to that of the Israelis, the most likely inspiration for their retreat would have been to keep from being destroyed that day by God, just as their champion had been. With our God, all things are possible.
Q. Do you pray for strength and guidance from the Lord? The Lord loves those who trust in Him and ask for his blessings. Some of the strongest leaders in the bible prayed that the Lord strengthen them when they were chosen for the Lord's work. You too might be chosen for some part of the Lord's work among those around you who are in need. Will you ask Him to strengthen you for the task?
A. Yes? You are a lot like David because that is what hi did all of his life. Did you know that earlier to his fight with Goliath, that David had been anointed by the prophet Samuel to become king of Israel after king Saul? Young David was a great choice and he became Israel's greatest king.
A little history about the use of slings in warfare:
Easy to make and carry, slings are highly accurate with much practice. In the ancient middle east, slings were not only short and long-range impact weapons but were also used to propel stones high enough to arc them over a wall and down upon the defenders inside of a fortress. As with David, "slingers" could become very accurate with years of practice and were very valuable for an army to inflict blunt force trauma upon the enemy from a distance. There are several instances of slingers being used by Israel in the Bible, but a very good description of how good they were with their slings is the following verse:
"Among all these soldiers there were seven hundred select troops who were left-handed, each of whom could sling a stone at a hair and not miss." Judges 20:1 NIV
If you enjoyed reading this brief story about David, please read about the rest of his life as portrayed in the Books of 1st and 2nd Samuel and of 1 Kings in the Holy Bible. It is a great story about a great king who was truly loved by the Lord, who considered David to be a man after His own heart!
Rik Charbonneaux is a retired NE Iowan who loves all of God's creatures.
Read more articles by Rik Charbonneaux
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