Day 9 1 Samuel 17:4-7, 16-50 ... Giant-killer

King David dominates much of the Old Testament, and much of Jewish history. This exciting story from his boyhood, told in colorful, eyewitness detail is one of the most famous of all Bible stories, a beacon of hope for all out-sized underdogs.

David spent the better part of a decade trying to escape the wrath of King Saul, and much of Saul's enmity probably traced back to this one scene. Saul, leader of a large army, sat in his tent, terrorized by the taunts of the colossal Goliath. Meanwhile David, a mere boy too small for a suit of armor, strode out bravely to meet Goliath's challenge. Little wonder that Saul came to resent and even fear the remarkable youth.

The scenario related here is not as farfetched as it may seem. "Single Combat" or "representative" warfare was an acceptable style of settling differences in ancient times. As Tom Wolfe explains it in The Right Stuff, "In single combat the mightiest soldier of one army would fight the mightiest soldier of the other army as a substitute for a pitched battle between the entire forces . . . Originally it had a magical meaning . . . They believed that the gods determined the outcome of single combat; therefore, it was useless for the losing side to engage in a full-scale battle."

During many lonely hours as a shepherd boy, David had hones his slingshot skills to a state of perfection. But he took no personal credit for the victory. "You have come against me with sword and spear and javelin," he shouted to Goliath, "but I come against you in the name of the LORD Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied." In the tradition of Joshua and Gideon, he placed complete trust in God alone-a lesson that King Saul had never learned.

Once Goliath had fallen, the rest of the Philistines quickly succumbed. Soon the Israelites were dancing in the streets and singing, "Saul has slain his thousands, and David his tens of thousands." The nation was beginning to recognize in David the qualities that had marked him for potential kingship. Saul, however, was not about to relinquish his throne without a fight.

Point to Ponder: : Have you ever been forced to rely utterly on God at a time of great fear and danger?