Holy Land Dispatch - Day Eleven: "Valley of Elah"
As part of our pilgrimage to the Holy Land this week, we visited the Valley of Elah where David defeated Goliath.
Most of us grew up with the story of David and Goliath as a story of someone small overcoming someone mighty by trusting in God and being courageous.
But what I've come to believe is this story reveals that not only was David uniquely positioned and prepared to defeat Goliath but when David stepped on to the battlefield against him, the giant never had a chance.
In 1 Samuel 17, the Philistines (a more powerful rival tribe) were threatening the Israelites. Both sides were lined up on either side of the Elah Valley when this happened:
4 A champion named Goliath, who was from Gath, came out of the Philistine camp. His height was six cubits and a span.
The subtext here: The dude was big. Like 9 feet tall big.
8 Goliath stood and shouted to the ranks of Israel, "... Choose a man and have him come down to me. 9 If he is able to fight and kill me, we will become your subjects; but if I overcome him and kill him, you will become our subjects and serve us.”
It was pretty common for warring tribes to elect to have their great warriors go out on to the battlefield and fight like champions.
So at this point, David shows up. He was sent by his father Jesse to bring their required allotment of supplies to keep the troops resourced. Long story short... David ends up squared off against Goliath in his street clothes and brandishing a sling, which seems like suicide without armor or a sword.
Or more precisely, David is going to fight like a Benjamite because he is from the tribe of Benjamin. In the book of Judges, there is a verse that describes how accurate and deadly the Benjamites were with their slings. They could hit a target within a hair's breadth at 100 yards.
So David goes out to meet Goliath armed with his sling. He's literally been preparing for this moment his whole life. He's spent hours and hours practicing with his sling. It is a deadly weapon that he's used to kill lions and bears as he protected his sheep.
And at this point, you are thinking, "Seriously? As deadly slingshot?" Well not exactly. This sling that David was using would be whipped around at a furious speed--some 6-7 revolutions per second. When David let the sling go the stone projectile would have traveled at 100 MPH.
Imagine standing still and having a major league baseball pitcher throw a 100 MPH fastball at your head, only it wasn't a baseball it was a rock, probably made of some kind of iron ore.
David most likely hit Goliath right in the forehead, his weakest spot. The rock would have embedded into his skull. If he wasn't dead before he hit the ground, he would have almost assuredly died shortly thereafter.
It wasn't even a fair fight. It was like David went at the guy with a .45 caliber pistol at 100 yards and shot him in the head.
Saul was trying to get David to fight like everyone else. But fighting like everyone else wasn't ever going to get the job done. David was uniquely prepared and positioned to fulfill God's purpose at this moment to rout the Philistines and to set him up to one day be the greatest king in Israel's history--a man after God's own heart.
So... what does this mean for you and me?
It's a game changer. Because most of us think that we aren't good enough, we aren't prepared, we aren't positioned, we don't have what it takes to fulfill God's purpose. And all because we've been wearing ill-fitting armor and trying to be someone we're not.
You are no different than David. You have been uniquely prepared and positioned to fulfill God's purpose because God made you be you... and the world needs you to be you. The world needs you to step into God's purpose with boldness.
May the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you always. Amen.