David walked quickly down the road, his harp and sling shot bouncing gently on his leg from the rope at his waist. He carried the bread, roasted grain and cheese in the sack that he held over his right shoulder. The fibers of the sack scratched the back of his shoulder. He thought of his brothers and had mixed emotions about seeing them again; he had been tending the sheep when they went off to battle. Saul would be there too, and David wondered if he would be called on to play again to ease the king’s mind.
Before leaving, David gave Hazor instructions to watch the lambs carefully at nightfall. The lions were getting close to the pastures again and he had killed one the previous night when it was stalking about. His hands were scratched from the battle and he could still hear the fight in his mind; a loud screech, the gnashing of teeth, the breaking of bones as the creature succumbed to his strength.
David shook his head willing the memory away. It wasn’t fear that he was trying to control. Every time he thought of something trying to hurt one of his lambs, he felt a visceral urge to fight. He cared about each and every one of them and had secretly named them. When little Birkah was hurt, David didn’t sleep for two nights so he could tend her. He prayed earnestly and often for the small one and praised God when the creature started walking again.
Since the visit with Samuel, David felt a stronger fervor to know God. Samuel had mentioned the presence of Spirit of God; David was sure that was it. He wanted to please God, to do His will and was certain that God had a plan for his life. All David could do was to stay true to the path God had chosen for him and be willing to follow wherever that may lead.
The camp was in sight and David could smell the smoke from the cooking fires. It looked like the army was moving into formation. He didn’t want to miss any of the fighting, so he ran the last quarter mile ending at the supply tent. He found the attendant, left his bundle with him and then ran off in search of his brothers. Metal clinked as soldiers walked nearby.
“Eliab! Abinadab! Shammah!” David called, searching the ranks as he approached the battle line.
Several men looked towards David as his brothers walked towards him, chastising him for leaving the safety of the tents. They were all dirty and had dark circles around their eyes from lack of sleep. Eliab had a superficial wound on his head that had dried to a dark crusty scab. Only Shammah looked happy to see David.
“Why did you come out this far?” asked Abinadab. “It’s not safe for you here shepherd boy.”
Here we go, thought David. “I’m happy to see you too.” He looked at his brothers and then nodded toward the tents. “Father sent me with grain, bread and cheese. He is worried about you all and requests I bring back word. But what are you guys doing now?”
Shammah put his hand on David’s shoulder, gently. “I’m happy to see you little brother, but it is not safe here. This is real battle and we have to go. Please go back home.”
There was a loud grumbling in the distance. The men turned their attention towards it and saw a group of five giants, each with large swords and shields. One of them walked onto the battlefield shouting obscenities, provoking the Israelites out to war.
“Today I defy the armies of Israel! Give me a man I can fight.”
David’s pulse quickened, he could hear his heart pounding in his ears. Sweat formed at his brow. He noticed Abinadab’s hand clench the sword at his side and looked down. Eliab shook his head and lowered it. Shammah backed away.
“Well, what are we going to do about him?” asked David.
“We?” replied Abinadab. “We are not going to do anything. You are going to go back home where you belong.” He placed a hand on David’s shoulder and pushed him away.
“Yes, little one,” Eliab said. “This is not your place. Go home and let the adults figure this out.”
A buzzing sound filled David’s ears as he walked away from his brothers. He felt the urge to protect his people against this giant much the same as with his sheep. He was angry at these giants for mocking God, confused as to why the Israelite army could not defeat them and determined to find a solution to put an end to this chaos.
He walked up to a group of soldiers. “What will be the reward for the man who defeats this giant, ridding our people of this disgrace?”
The men looked at David with bewilderment. A hand seized him and turned him around bringing him face to face with Eliab.
“Are you crazy David?” he shouted. “Go home!”
David straightened and glared at his brother. The buzzing sound in his ears returned, his heart was pounding so hard he thought it would leap out of his chest. He steadied his breath and felt heat in his face. “You brother, have little faith. As God is my witness, I will fight this giant and be victorious.”
“Don’t be conceited David!” Eliab pounded his fist down on the armor he was wearing.
“It is not conceit, I assure you.”
“Here, here,” a man’s voice came from behind David. “Let me see this one who would fight the giant.”
David turned to see an older soldier limp up to him. The man was not in armor, in fact he carried nothing. He had a scarlet cape on over his tunic. His hair was grey, his skin worn like leather and his eyes a dark grey blue. He took David’s hand and gestured him to follow.
David looked at Eliab, nodded slightly and turned away. “You can’t!” the older brother yelled.
David ignored him and followed the man. He brought him a big tent and told him to go in. The space was darkened, and he had to squint to regain his vision.
“So, you want to fight the giant David?” It was Saul.
David’s felt his heart jump at the sound of his voice. It had been a long time since he had seen the king. He was happy to see him. Saul embraced him.
“I heard that your brothers aren’t too happy that you are here.”
“That’s true,” David smiled and nodded. “They fear the giant.”
Saul snickered, “So do I, and all the other people camped here.” He patted him on the back. “What do you think you’re going to do about it? He’s been a warrior since he was small, if he was ever small. How are you going to defeat him? You are just a shepherd boy who plays a great tune on the harp!”
“You’re right, I have been watching over sheep. But you don’t know what kind of work that is. When a lion or bear comes and carries off one of my sheep, I go after it and rescue the sheep from its mouth. I have killed those malicious creatures with my own hands.” He held up his hands, “See these scars, that’s from last week. I have killed these creatures and this repulsive Philistine will be like one of those, because he has defied the armies of the living God. The Lord who rescued me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will rescue me from the hand of this Philistine.”
Saul cleared his throat and walked to the other side of the tent. He stopped by a pile of armor and picked up a shield, trying its weight. “You may go, but you need to wear this.” He gestured to the protective steel.
David walked to him and started putting it on. He quickly found that he needed help as the armor was big and bulky. Saul summoned an assistant. After a few minutes of struggling and clanging noise from the material, he was fitted with the finest protection money could buy.
He put a foot forward only to find resistance in the metal and it took much effort to step forward. He tried lifting the shield and sword and was met with the same material opposition. If I’m going to fight in this, I’m going to have to fight this first. “No,” he said, turning with a creak to Saul. “I can’t fight in this.”
Saul looked upset, took a deep breath and exhaled. His eyes were furrowed, the ambivalence evident on his face.
“I can’t move. How am I supposed to fight? Plus, I’m no swordsman.”
Saul nodded slightly, took a deep breath and sighed. “Very well.” He shook his head and lowered it.
The assistant appeared again and helped David out of the armor. He placed the shield and sword down carefully on the floor and then turned to leave the tent.
“The Lord be with you!” Saul shouted after him.
The air outside of the tent brought refreshment to his lungs. David looked around and saw the river nearby. He drank from it and then selected five round stones. He prayed as he untied the rope at his waist and checked the sling shot for dependability.
As he walked toward the battlefield, his pulse quickened again, and he felt his blood boil. He was oblivious to the snickers of the soldiers as he passed them, he didn’t notice the small crowd following him or his brothers wiping tears from their cheeks. The debris of fighting was scattered on the uneven ground, but he maneuvered this as well, without notice.
The giant approached David and yelled obscenities. “Come here and I’ll feed you to the birds and the wild animals.”
Continuing toward the giant, David readied his slingshot. “You come against me with fancy weaponry and protection, 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 I will kill you. All the people here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves. The battle is the Lord’s, and he will give all of you into our hands”.
The giant laughed and then replied with more obscenities. He walked back and forth heaving his giant mass around.
David took aim at the giant, swung his slingshot over his head and sent the stone towards him. The stone hit him in the forehead, and he fell face down, dead on the ground.
This story is adapted from 1 Samuel chapters 16 and 17. David exhibited great faith and obedience in defeating the Philistine giant. He was prepared for this event by the Holy Spirit; after his anointing by Samuel he continued to allow the Spirit to lead him. This was a big deal because the Spirit was not available for everyone in Old Testament times like it is now for us (the reason for this is beyond the scope of this article). He was tempted to rely on human protection, the tangible suit of metal, but instead he put his confidence in God’s protection and guidance from the Holy Spirit.
We all have access to the same Holy Spirit that helped prepare David for battle with the giant. Although our giants likely take another form than what David faced, the Holy Spirit remains the same. Allow the Spirit to dwell in you, seek Him for wisdom when studying the Bible and let Him lead you.