David and Goliath
Tour the Holy Land – The Valley of Elah
“Now the Philistines gathered their armies together to battle and were gathered at Sochoh…
1 Sam 17:1
“And Saul and the men of Israel were gathered together, and the encamped in the Valley of Elah and drew up in battle array against the Philistines.” 1 Samuel 17:2 NKJV
Today’s tour included an excursion outside of the old city area in a different direction. Out of the populated city, roughly 30-45 minutes west towards the Mediterranean Sea.
Looking out the bus windows I noticed there were towns scattered here and there, businesses, both industrial and shopping areas. Like many places in the world, when you leave the crowded city, the landscape becomes spacious, even containing open spaces.
I was admiring one such area when the bus pulled to the side of the road and stopped. The area was very lovely, but I saw no structures or anything that looked to be of significance.
There were green hills by where we parked and a huge meadow filled with long grass and wildflowers. Beautiful to behold, but again that’s about all there was to see.
Exiting the bus, I donned my waterproof poncho again as it looked like rain. We put the whisperers’ (listening devices) back to our ears and tuned into the station as instructed so we could hear our guides. We followed them on a dirt, rather rocky path along-side the highway, then turning away from the road we continued on the path into the valley, careful to avoid
pools of water from the earlier rain. When our guides stopped, we were about 50’ to 75’ away from the base of the hillside and right along-side the lovely meadow. We gathered to hear what Pastor Jack and Amir had to share with us about this scenic valley. It turns out we were standing in the Elah Valley. The valley where the battle between David and Goliath took place! There is a long history of conflict between Israel and the Philistines. Even before the Israelites were Israelites. During the period of The Judges, the Jews alternately conquered them or were conquered by them. Depending on whether the Israeli people were following God or had abandoned God.
When the children of Israel “did evil in the site of the Lord”, He would take His hand of protection from them and deliver them to the Philistines. Eventually, they would cry out to the Lord and He would compassionately deliver them by way of raising a judge to save them. During David’s time, when Saul was king, there were fierce battles between Israel and the Philistines. As a matter of fact, whenever King Saul saw any strong or any valiant man, he took him for himself in order to battle the Philistines. This particular battle had been going on for 40 days – well kind of —. Israel stood on one mountain and the Philistines encamped on another – WITH A VALLEY in between. The mountain we were facing just happened to be the mountain where the Israeli people were encamped.
The Philistines were a large people and Goliath, their champion warrior was one of the largest. Approximately 9’9”! For 40 days Goliath had been taunting the Israeli soldiers
“I defy the armies of Israel this day; give me a man, that we may fight together.” When Saul and all Israel heard these words of the Philistine, they were dismayed and greatly afraid.1 Samuel 17:10-11
I learned that it was common during those days that 1 representative from each army would fight each other instead of the entire army. However, the Bible records many other battles where there was a tremendous loss of life like there are in most wars. In the meantime, or back at the ranch so to speak, David was from the tribe of Judah and lived in Bethlehem with his father, Jesse and eight brothers. David was the youngest. David tended sheep on his father’s land, but he loved to play the harp and write music. Many of the Psalms were written by David. In fact, he played the harp so well, he had been called to the Palace on a number of occasions to play the harp for King Saul who suffered a distressing spirit (another story – Read 1 Samuel – it proves the Bible is not boring as some claim! This book is a really good read with battles, intrigue and everything in between). So, David went back on forth from the palace to his home in Bethlehem to take care of the sheep. David had eight brothers, three of whom were in King Saul’s army and were in the midst of the battle with the Philistines. Jesse, a concerned father, told his son, “
“Take now for your brothers an epah of dried grain and ten loaves, and run to your brothers at the camp. And carry ten cheeses to the captain of their thousand and see how your brothers fare, and bring back news of them.” 1 Samuel 17:17-18
So David went to the camp, dropped off the supplies and ran to the army and found his brothers. As he was talking to them, Goliath once again said the same thing again …
”give me a man that we may fight together!”
As I said early, Goliath was huge, a champion and VERY strong. The helmet, shield and coat of armor were made of bronze and weighed approximately 156 pounds – if my math is correct- hmmm-. He carried a bronze javelin, which is a heavy spear and the tip of the javelin alone was 18 + pounds! While standing there, David also heard something else that struck his interest. The men talking to each other and related
“; and it shall be that the man who kills him (Goliath) the king will enrich with great riches, will give him his daughter and give his father’s house exemptions from taxes in Israel!” 1 Samuel 17:25
David said “what?” – not really, but he did confirm the reward. When David’s older brother heard David talking to the other men, he was angry!
“ Why did you come down here and with whom have you left those few sheep in the wilderness?” 1 Samuel 17:28.
A shot, for sure like any good older brother. As David continued to inquire, Saul finally heard about it and sent for David. David told Saul,
“Let no man’s heart fail because of him; your servant will go and fight with this Philistine.”
But Saul, seeing that David was just a kid, told him you can’t do it. David didn’t take no for an answer. He plead his case convincingly, telling the king,
“ Your servant has killed both lions and bear; and this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, seeing he has defied the armies of the living God.” 1Sam 17:36
We all know how the story ends – victory for David, of course. I think the best part and the lesson is the confrontation itself. Goliath looked down on David with disdain. He saw a good- looking youth with a sling-shot. He must have been laughing to himself, saying “this is going to be a piece of cake!” In fact, he said,
“what am I a dog that you come after me with sticks?”
and here is where he really made a mistake. He cursed David by his gods and taunted him with details of his impending death. But David knew the real God. He knew that God had given him the power to kill lions and bears and had total faith that God was here in the midst of this battle. David told him,
“You come to me with a sword, with a spear, and with a javelin. But I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied.”
David then revealed how Goliath would be killed and continued saying,
“Then all this assembly (and the entire earth from the previous verse) will know that the Lord does not save with a sword and spear; for the battle is the Lord’s and He will give you into our hands.”
When people – and nations – humble themselves before the Lord, fear the Lord, put their trust in the Lord, the Lord will answer. The history of Israel proves this and so does American history. We have been blessed abundantly in my country, America. Our forefathers knew where the blessing came from. George Washington said
“It is the duty of all NATIONS to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor.”
David knew where the power came from and so did George Washington. Do you? God Bless
Debbie lives in beautiful Southern California with her husband Doug and her children and grandchildren.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version Copyright @ 1979, 1980, 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.