“As Goliath approached, David ran out to meet him and, reaching into his shepherd’s bag, took out a stone, and hurled it from his sling, and hit the Philistine in the forehead. The stone sank in and the man fell on his face to the ground. So David conquered the Philistine giant with a sling and a stone.” (1Samuel 17:48-51, The Paraphrased Living Bible.)
When reading this account of Goliath’s defeat or hearing one of the numerous sermons or references to this event, I have al ways presumed that David went into battle with the inferior weapon. A mere catapult against a formidable giant armed with a huge spear, sword and shield and ego. That is not so. Let me explain.
According to German archaeologist Dr Manfred Korfman, writing in Scientific American, the sling was a very dangerous weapon that was widely used in warfare and was considered indispensable in the armies of Mesopotamia, Persia, Greece and Rome. Although David is the best-known sling user in the Bible, he is not the only one. In Judges 20:16 we read that 700 specially chosen men from the tribe of Benjamin could all sling-ambidextrously-with accuracy “to the width of a hair’. So proficiently that if you had to rate them by today’s standards, they would be the equivalent of the modern sniper. In 2 Kings 3:25 we read that the Israelite slingers played a decisive role in war against the Moabites, and 2 chronicles 26:14 tells about King Uzziah equipping his army with weapons, armour and stones for slinging. Korfman mentions the fact that the Rhodian members of the Greek army using lead missiles instead of stones could sling the lead further than the Persian archers could reach with their bows and arrows. At that time the Persians were reckoned to be the best archers in the world. The range of the archers was about 180m while slingshots were effective at ranges of 250m and there were even reports of accurate shots of up to 400m. Slingshots were extremely accurate and history records that the Aegean slingers were the best. They could not only hit an enemy in the face at will, but on any part of the face!
Korfman writes that a missile leaving a sling could easily attain a velocity of 100km/h or about 91fps. Vegetius wrote that sling missiles were more effective than arrows against soldiers clothed in leather armour, since they did not need to penetrate the leather in order to cause damage. Should the soldier wear no protective clothing, the missile would penetrate the body easily. Indeed, Celsius, a medical writer from Greek and Roman times, gave detailed instructions in his De Medicina on how to remove lead and stone missiles from the bodies of soldiers.
Taking nothing from David’s achievement when he defeated the giant, it is clear that he had a very dangerous weapon (ask the bear and the lion) in his hand when he approached Goliath. David knew what he was doing, and it was Goliath who misjudged his opponent, not knowing that David was actually armed with a more advanced weapon than his own sword and spear.
Christian, when David went into battle, he knew that he was the best equipped, to take on the giant. Not only was he proficient in the use of the slingshot, but also he had the knowledge and confidence to know that “no uncircumcised Philistine (read unbeliever or enemy of God)” could stand in his way. He did not need God’s intervention, to ensure that the stone could hit Goliath squarely between the eyes. No, through much practice he knew exactly where the stone would land. However, if you take the time to read the story you will notice that David in verse 45 rebukes the Philistine in the name of the Lord and then prophesizes over him. Why? Because David recognized that he was also in a spiritual battle. He knew that our warfare is not against physical forces, but against invisible powers that have clearly defined levels of authority. Our enemies are not flesh and blood, but principalities, powers, rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Goliath was secondary in this battle. First he had to defeat the adversary in the spiritual. Notice how he did it. HE REMINDED THEM OF WHO THEY WERE “UNCIRCUMCISED” (NOT OF GOD) AND THEN “REBUKED THEM IN THE NAME OF THE LORD.”
Christian, it is time to stop playing games. Stop those wet, soppy, long drawn out wails and tales. You have been given everything you need to stand up and defeat the Goliath’s in your lives. The weapons of our warfare are far superior to anything the adversary has to offer. Perhaps we are trying to go into battle wearing the armour and using the weapons of this world. Perhaps we should be wearing our SPIRITUAL ARMOUR given to us in Ephesians 6:10-18 and using the word of God as our slingshot. Remember prayer is not so much a weapon, or even a part of the armour, as it is the means by which we engage in the battle itself and the purpose for which we are armed. To put on the armour of God is to prepare for battle. Prayer is the battle itself, with God’s Word being our chief weapon, employed against Satan during our struggle.
Remember, if you really want to “get a-head” in your Christian walk, learn how to place the stone right between the eyes of your giant. In Christ we already have the victory, those principalities and powers were defeated at the cross, the problem is that, we go to war forgetting that fact. David knew before he went out that he had the victory, that’s why he could with confidence rebuke the spiritual Goliath’s and prophesize, their defeat. Remember, destroy the spiritual forces behind your giants and you will “get a head”.
Love, Ken and Sharon