They told him he’d been too small. They told him he was too inexperienced. Naturally, he didn’t listen.
When he was young, David would watch his father’s sheep. He’d spend his days reclining in the shade of the large tree just behind his home. It was the perfect spot; from that distance, he could watch the hefty animals grazing about and still hear his father’s low hum as he worked the farm. His father wasn’t a good singer at all but he loved to hear his discordant tunes above the gentle breeze on summer afternoons. Sometimes he would gather his lyre and play along, most times he would simply listen and wonder what the words to his songs could have been, what stories they told, what message they sent. When he was young he was free but he soon realized it was time to grow up.
Now, standing on the battle field, David realized he was a long way from home. He remembered those monotonous days fondly; mornings that had become so routine he’d nearly fainted when his father came to him with a request.
“Take some supplies to your brothers,” he’d said, his wrinkled skin shifting to form an old man’s smile. “They’re in a stalemate with the Philistines and need provisions.”
David had been to the Israeli camps on rare occasions but not to visit his burly older brothers. Most of his visits were straight to the King, a man who suffered from horrific demons which caused him to fall into violent fits of rage. Only the sound of this small shepherd boy’s music soothed the King’s spirit.
David smirked, he would give anything to play his lyre and get back home now. How did I get myself into this? he thought, feeling the wind brush against the exposed skin of what some called scrawny arms and shoulders. Somehow, this scrawny boy’s trip to deliver supplies to his older brothers had turned into a challenge which would determine the entire outcome of the war waging in his country. To him, it was just a small skirmish that would earn him gold and a pretty, new wife.
A shepherd boy. A musical genius. A scrawny, curly haired teenager.
David had been described as many things by his friends and family, one thing they’d never said, however, was tough. As the youngest of eight boys, three of whom had made a name for themselves in the King’s army, David didn’t stand out much. He didn’t have large muscles, fast reflexes, or experience in battle. That fact hadn’t been clearer until David’s eldest brother confronted him at the Israeli camp.
“What are you doing here?” he’d shouted over the usual clamor of the army’s camp. Heads and helmets turned to see the ruckus, a common event when David and his brothers united. “Shouldn’t you be at home where it’s safe?” Eliab jeered. “And with whom did you leave those few sheep?”
David resisted the urge to roll his eyes, thinking of his brother’s remarks; those few sheep. The words rang in his ears like a piercing noise in the back of his head—the beginning of a terrible headache. Eliab had poked fun at his job as a shepherd boy, comparing his duties to that of a soldier but he didn’t know. He wasn’t there when David wrestled a bear with nothing but his hands or took one of his few sheep from the mouth of a lion. He hadn’t been there to watch the flurry of fists and fur, claws and teeth. Eliab didn’t know his little brother had a secret.
God. His heavenly Father had always protected him, had always given him strength when he’d needed it; during his fight with the beasts and now, with the monster standing across the open plain.
Goliath is what they’d called him—David had sighed at the name, one befitting a giant. The monster shouting insults before him certainly fit the description given by the soldiers of King Saul’s army. He’s taller, stronger, and heavier than any man on this earth! they had cried, cowering as the giant tromped around using his most vicious weapon against them; his tongue.
“Why do you come out and line up for battle?” he shouted. “On this day, I defy the armies of Israel!”
David heaved a sigh, palming the back of his neck. This has gone on for long enough, he thought, stepping forward from the frontline of soldiers. Goliath noticed the small, unsuspecting boy and frowned, his anger reconfiguring his large face.
“Am I a dog that you should come at me with sticks?” His anger grew and he cursed David by his gods. “Come here and I’ll give your flesh to the birds and the wild animals!”
The shepherd boy took a deep breath and shouted back. “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied.”
Goliath squinted and dropped his spear. “I won’t need this to kill you.” He moved to untie the sword sheathed to his hip. “Or this—”
“Keep that!” David insisted, a smirk claiming his boyish features. “I’ll need something to cut off your head once I’ve killed you!”
Outraged, the giant unsheathed his sword and began his charge toward David. As he moved closer to attack him, David took off, quickly closing the gap between them. His legs moved like fire, eating up the ground below them as he ran. In the distance, he could see the look of surprise etched onto Goliath’s face, shocked by his speed, but the battle wasn’t over yet. Sprinting as fast as he could, David reached into the small bag at his hip and took out a stone. His hands moved without waiting for his mind to catch up.
David didn’t remember loading the sling, lining up the shot, or even sending off the rock. His mind escaped him, lost in the overwhelming rush of the battle; the only thing he could comprehend was the distinct pop! that came from Goliath when the rock made contact right in the center of his head. It was a sound that, even though the soldiers had been roaring and cheering in the background, David heard loud and clear. The giant’s skull had been cracked.
Goliath stumbled a few steps forward, that look of utter shock still claiming his ugly visage, and then fell face-down on the ground. David slowed his pace but didn’t stop running until he met his body, silently taking note of the thick, carmine liquid pooling around his head. Using his sandaled foot, he nudged the sword from the Philistine’s oversized hand and picked it up, flexing his fingers around the hilt, enjoying its feel in his own hands. Then, David raised the blade over his head and, in one swift swing, brought it down across Goliath’s neck to severe his head from his body.
The surrounding armies watched with rapt attention, the silence stretching taut. They came alive when the young boy raised the bloody head into the air, declaring himself the winner. When the Philistines saw that their hero was dead, they turned and ran but the men of Israel and Judah weren’t finished with them. Shrieking a battle-cry, they surged forward and pursued the Philistines, sprinting past David with swords in their hands and an unmistakable thirst, not just for blood but for vengeance, in their eyes.
David did not run with the men. He did not pursue the enemy. He did not gather his weapon. Suddenly exhausted, David held tight to the head in his hand, picked up Goliath’s sword, and went to claim his reward from the King.