10 January 2010

In the valley of Ellah: Goliath

After Samuel cried all night and tore his skirt over Saul's incomplete genocide, he finished the job the next day by hacking Agag to pieces before the Lord.

But God and Samuel were still upset by the whole thing. It broke their little hearts. After all, God told Saul to kill all the Amalekites, and Saul saved one guy alive, along with some animals he planned to sacrifice to God later on. (How would you feel if you told someone to commit genocide and then they went and left one person alive?)

Samuel never saw Saul again (not with his clothes on, anyway – See 1 Samuel 19.24), but "mourned" for him. And God repented of making Saul king.
Samuel came no more to see Saul until the day of his death: nevertheless Samuel mourned for Saul: and the LORD repented that he had made Saul king over Israel. 1 Samuel 15.35
So God and Samuel found another king, someone who would gladly kill anyone at any time for any reason, a man after God's own heart: David.

I'm going to skip the details about how God and Samuel selected David so I can get on with the story at hand. But since the same pair (God and Samuel) that conspired to produce the Amalekite massacre selected David as king, you know it was a good selection!

When Samuel anointed David as king, the Spirit of the Lord came on David and it was with him for the rest of his life. At the same time, of course, the Spirit of the Lord departed from Saul and was replaced by an evil spirit from God, as required by the first law of spiritual thermodynamics.
Then Samuel took the horn of oil, and anointed him ... and the Spirit of the LORD came upon David from that day forward. ... But the Spirit of the LORD departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the LORD troubled him. 16.13-14
This dastardly evil spirit from God caused Saul lots of problems. And only one thing seemed to help: David and his harp.
David came to Saul, and stood before him: and he loved him greatly ... And Saul sent to Jesse, saying, Let David, I pray thee, stand before me; for he hath found favour in my sight. And it came to pass, when the evil spirit from God was upon Saul, that David took an harp, and played with his hand: so Saul was refreshed, and was well, and the evil spirit departed from him. 16.21-23
And now we finally get the the story I'm supposed to be telling. The one you already know. David and Goliath.

It begins with a Philistine named Goliath, who was a big guy, even by NBA standards. At 6 cubits and a span, he would have been about 3 meters (nearly 10 feet) tall.
There went out a champion out of the camp of the Philistines, named Goliath, of Gath, whose height was six cubits and a span. 17.4
Goliath had a plan to limit the smiting that was always going on between the Philistines and the Israelites -- a fair fight between two guys: him and whomever the Israelites chose.
He stood and cried unto the armies of Israel, and said unto them, Why are ye come out to set your battle in array? am not I a Philistine, and ye servants to Saul? choose you a man for you, and let him come down to me. If he be able to fight with me, and to kill me, then will we be your servants: but if I prevail against him, and kill him, then shall ye be our servants, and serve us. 17.8-9
David heard about it and volunteered for the job. It might have had something to do with the reward.
What shall be done to the man that killeth this Philistine, and taketh away the reproach from Israel? for who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God? 17.26
And the men of Israel said … it shall be, that the man who killeth him, the king will enrich him with great riches, and will give him his daughter, and make his father's house free in Israel. 17.25
(OK, the verses are out of order, but hey, this is the Bible.)

Then Eliab, David's oldest brother, said that David was just doing it because he had a proud, naughty heart and wanted to get out of watching the sheep.
Eliab's anger was kindled against David, and he said, Why camest thou down hither? and with whom hast thou left those few sheep in the wilderness? I know thy pride, and the naughtiness of thine heart. 17.28
But David ignored Eliab and went to talk to King Saul.

David finds Saul and offers his services as giant killer but Saul is skeptical.
David said to Saul … thy servant will go and fight with this Philistine. And Saul said to David, Thou art not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him: for thou art but a youth, and he a man of war from his youth. 17.32-33
So David tells him a confusing story about how once, while tending sheep, he killed a lion (and a bear?) with his bare hands. God helped him kill the lion (and the bear?); he'll do the same with the 10 foot giant.
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: 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. 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. 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. 17.34-37a
So Saul gives David the job, putting his own sword, helmet, and coat of mail on him.
Saul said unto David, Go, and the LORD be with thee. And Saul armed David with his armour, and he put an helmet of brass upon his head; also he armed him with a coat of mail. 17.37b-38
But David wasn't used to it, so he decided to go with just his staff, a sling, and five stones instead.
David said unto Saul, I cannot go with these; for I have not proved them. And David put them off him. 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. 17.39-40
As he was leaving, Saul said to his captain Abner, "Who's son is that boy?"
When Saul saw David go forth against the Philistine, he said unto Abner, the captain of the host, Abner, whose son is this youth? And Abner said, As thy soul liveth, O king, I cannot tell. And the king said, Enquire thou whose son the stripling is. 17.55-56
(In the previous chapter, Saul sent a messenger to tell Jesse to send his son David, David came and played his harp for Saul to get rid of God's evil spirit, and Saul "loved him greatly" for it. Yet now he doesn't even know who David is.)

So David goes off and confronts Goliath, after making a little speech.
Then said David to the Philistine, Thou comest to me with a sword, and with a spear, and with a shield: but I come to thee in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom thou hast defied. This day will the LORD deliver thee into mine hand; and I will smite thee, and take thine head from thee; and I will give the carcases of the host of the Philistines this day unto the fowls of the air, and to the wild beasts of the earth; that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel. And all this assembly shall know that the LORD saveth not with sword and spear: for the battle is the LORD's, and he will give you into our hands. 17.45-47
And you know the rest of the story: David killed Goliath, cut off his head and brought it to Jerusalem.
David put his hand in his bag, and took thence a stone, and slang it, and smote the Philistine in his forehead, that the stone sunk into his forehead; and he fell upon his face to the earth. So David prevailed over the Philistine with a sling and with a stone, and smote the Philistine, and slew him; but there was no sword in the hand of David. Therefore David ran, and stood upon the Philistine, and took his sword, and drew it out of the sheath thereof, and slew him, and cut off his head therewith. And when the Philistines saw their champion was dead, they fled … And David took the head of the Philistine, and brought it to Jerusalem. 17.49-54
(There is a completely different Bible story about Goliath's death, but I'm going to ignore that for now. 2 Samuel 21:19 says that Elhanan killed Goliath.)

Note: Although the Bible doesn’t explicitly say that God helped David kill Goliath, David claims that he did. (“This day will the Lord deliver thee into mine hand.” 1 Sam 17.46) But whatever God’s involvement may have been in this killing, he clearly approved of it. So I’m including it on the list.

God's next killing: David buys a wife with 200 Philistine foreskins

1 comment:

Earl Purple said...

I sometimes wonder if you have to count people legitimately killed in battle as victims in these stories.