TITLE: The Legend of the Six Foot Sword parts I-VI
By David (The Goliath Assassin)
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Also, if you think this story is a bit too long, and it might do better broken up into its parts, then I'd like to hear about it. If, on the other hand, you believe that length isn't an issue, and I'd compromise my readership by splitting it up, then I'd like to hear from you as well. Thanks and peace!
It is said that among the heirs to the throne of King David of Israel, there was one heir who has long been forgotten. Not much is known about the boy, because his name and story both were entirely erased from history with the help of David’s begotten sons. This “Forgotten Son” was not begotten, but adopted by David after the defense of Keilah, while Saul was still king.
According to scripture, David was told, “Look, the Philistines are fighting against the town of Keilah and are looting the threshing floors,” he inquired of the Lord, saying, “Shall I go and attack these Philistines? The Lord answered him, “Go, attack the Philistines and save Keilah.”
But David, himself, was on the run from Saul at this time. The Philistine attack on Keilah took place shortly after David fled from Saul to the temple of Nob, where he re-claimed the Giant’s Sword, which he took from the hand of Goliath. It was there that Doeg, the Edomite, one of Saul’s most ruthless officers, witnessed the priests at Nob giving David the Giant’s Sword and other food provisions, inquiring of the Lord for him for the journey ahead. Doeg went back to Saul and reported this to his jealous king, who was bent on David’s destruction.
Saul questioned the priests at Nob, with their destruction already in his jealous heart. After the priests had given their defense, Saul ordered his officials to put them to death, but none of Saul’s men would lay a hand on the priests of the Lord. Saul then turned to Doeg, who followed his king’s command, slaying eighty-five of the men who wore the linen ephod. Doeg also went out to the town of Nob and killed all of its men, women, children and infants, and its cattle, donkeys and sheep. Only Abiathar, a son of one of the priests at Nob escaped and fled to join David.
Had Abiathar caught up to David in the kingdom of Gath, he would have seen the “giant slayer” address Gath’s king, Achish. David went to Achish for protection from Saul. But the servants of Achish made a spectacle of David and his reputation against the Philistines, so David became afraid of Achish and desired to leave Gath. I have often heard that David pretended to be insane in their presence, making marks on the doors of the gate and letting saliva run down his beard. Achish was so disturbed by David’s display that he had him removed from the kingdom immediately.
Though Gath had not proven fruitful, David went on to Adullam, where he was met by his brothers and his father’s entire household. From them, David formed an army of about four hundred. David was certain that Saul would not rest until he was destroyed. Therefore, David took his parents across the Salt Sea to Mizpah in the land of Moab. He left his parents there with the king of Moab and went back to Adullam, taking his army out into the forest of Hereth.
At that time, the Lord asked David to go and defend Keilah from the Philistines. But David’s men were already afraid of Saul, and asked David not to fight the Philistines at the defense of Keilah. David inquired of the Lord again, and the lord answered him, “Go down to Keilah, for I am going to give the Philistines into your hand.” So David went to Keilah and defeated the Philistines for them.
It is here where the scriptures say that Abiathar of Nob caught up with David, bringing with him the holy ephod. But today’s scriptures make no mention of the little boy that David saved from destruction during the Philistine invasion of Keilah. The “Son of Keilah” joined David at this time as well, and from that point on, was never without the presence of either David or his new priest, Abiathar.
After the events at Keilah, the “little David” and the young priest Abiathar became knit together like two pieces of the ephod that Abiathar wore in his youth. The Son of Keilah loved Abiathar like an older brother, and also clung to David, calling him “Great Father.” David and all the men of the army with him responded in kind, referring to the boy as the “little David,” though his real name would not prevail through memory or record. Whenever someone would ask of his real name, someone would scratch his head in confusion and say, “Is this not the Son of Keilah?” And so they also called the boy Keilah, but this was not the name he was born with either.
When the Son of Keilah could still count his years on one hand, David’s men once challenged him thus: “What place is this for a child, in the battlefield with grown men? Why do you not stop at some safe town along the way and give him up to a good family who can raise him properly?”
David became indignant, yelling, “What do you mean by ‘raise him properly?’” David never entertained the thought of doing what some of his men had suggested, but only rebuked them, saying, “Do not forget what Saul has done at Nob! He is blinded by jealousy, and coming for my head! There are no towns along the way that are safe! On this journey, Abiathar has escaped from death once, and so too the Son of Keilah!”
David continued to tell his men a story that he told very often.
“When the Philistines were finally beaten at Keilah, and the main force turned and ran, there were still but a few enemies left behind in the town. One of those Philistines saw me kill his good friend and became furious at me. I never feared that this Philistine could prevail against me, but in that moment, I saw that he did have the higher ground. So I ran a few steps, to hide inside a doorway where I could take the Philistine by surprise and end him swiftly. I ducked inside of the front door of the first house that I reached and waited for the Philistine there. He did not come, and I then realized that the Philistine must have lost my direction and continued to run off somewhere else. Either that, or another man cut him down from behind, or he fought someone else in my place and died trying to avenge his friend.”
“I then heard a noise behind me and turned to find a man of Keilah who had been a coward and hid from the battle. He crept closer to me with a knife in his hand and a look of murder on his face. Now the battle had just been won, and the news of victory had not yet been announced throughout the town. So I realized that I must have looked like an enemy to this man, and while the man had been too afraid to leave his own house, he set his heart to fight any Philistine who came inside.”
“’Die, Philistine!’ He roared at me.”
”’But I am no Philistine!’ I called out to him. But it was no use. The man lunged at me and I evaded him three times, telling him to ‘Be calm! Be still!’ But in the end, the man who would not listen ran himself into my sword.”
“’Curse you, Philistine!’ he cried, as he fell dieing to the floor.”
“I then heard his wife’s shrieks of terror, and followed the noises of feet shuffling to another room of the house. There I saw a little boy laid down on the table with his mother standing over him. She held a knife high above her head, ready to pierce him.”
“’Stop, woman!’ I called. ‘I am no Philistine!’”
“’LIAR!’ She called back. ‘You have taken my husband! But you will not take my child! Will you raise him to fear God, you sinner? Then he might as well be dead!’”
“I wanted to answer, but her knife had already begun to fall upon the boy. Upon instinct, my sword flew up in his defense... I never should have ducked into that house to start with, for I did to that woman exactly what she thought I would do. But I did it without thinking, only to save the boy...”
And so the Son of Keilah made his home in the war camp, for his tender life had already seen war. Abiathar and Keilah had both escaped death once already in Saul’s pursuit. David would not let either from his sight.
David’s love for these two continued as long as he lived. Abiathar and the “little David” were like his sons in war. Though they were not at the front line in their youths, they both tended camp while David was in battle. The war between the house of Saul and the house of David lasted a long time. David’s house grew stronger and stronger as Saul’s house grew weaker and weaker. While David took his stand at Hebron, a healthy set of blood-heirs was born to him.
David’s firstborn son was named Amnon. David set his hopes on Amnon to become great from the very beginning. Amnon was the son of Ahinoam of Jezreel. His second son was with Abigail, the widow of Nabal of Carmel. This son he named Kileab, for he was younger than his brother Keilah. The third was Absalom. He was the son of Maacah, whose father was Talmai, the king of Geshur. The fourth was Adonijah, the son of Haggith. The fifth was Shephatia, the son of Abital, and the sixth was Ithream, the son of Eglah. These were the children born to David in Hebron.
The war between the houses of Saul and David continued for some time, because David was determined not to lay a hand on Saul, the Lord’s anointed. At the same time, Kielah grew up to be a fine young archer. Once, when David’s good friend Jonathan came to him, he saw Keilah shooting marks from a distance and commented on the boy’s ability. Keilah was happy when he heard about this, and about praises he’d received from other war heroes of his. But more than anything, he longed to be just like his “Great Father,” David.
So Keilah began to practice his swordsmanship, hoping that one day he might wield a sword like the Giant’s Sword, and be as feared among the Philistines as his Great Father. But Keilah had no sword, so he would use whatever sword he could find around camp, and this began to anger some of David’s men. David then gave Keilah a sword, which was light but strong, and ordered some of his men to spar with Keilah once in a while.
The “little David” quickly became a skilled swordsman. And although he was at a disadvantage for being so young, he was very feisty in combat. Before long, there was scarcely a man in David’s camp who wanted to spar against him. Because although he was small enough to be easily dispatched in true combat, he was slow to tire and swift enough to become dangerous to anyone. David then had a special sword made for the Son of Keilah, because he knew the deep desires of his heart.
David had the sword made of the same sturdy metal as the Giant’s sword, and this sword also measured six feet long, like the Giant’s Sword. But the Giant’s Sword was very broad and bulky. It was also very simple in design and lacked any sort of guard. David designed the new sword to be a bit easier to swing, and with an elaborate guard over the handle. He called it the “Six Foot Sword” and presented it to Keilah, whose eyes jumped at the sight of it.
But David knew Keilah could never handle it properly until he was old enough to enter the front lines, so David set the Six Foot Sword aside and told Keilah to stop sparring with just anyone. He then gathered three of his best men: Joab, his commander, Joab’s brother Abishai, and Ahimelech the Hittite.
He said, “From now on, if I am not personally available, these are the men you will fight when we camp. You are still too young to accompany us in battle, so when we are out, you are to aid Abiathar or practice your bow. Do not swing your blade at the air like a child in our absence, for one day you will grow tall and strong, and you will be able to best even these gathered here. Then we will order you into our ranks with the rest of the men, and you will cut down one hundred Philistines in order to earn the sword I have prepared for you. By the time you lay one hand upon it, you will have become a fearsome threat to the Philistines and all who oppose God.”
The Son of Keilah needed no further motivation. From that day forth, he strove every waking moment to disarm one of his father’s champions so that he could join in the army’s ranks and make David proud.
Over time, Saul’s forces became so thin from picking quarrels with David that the Philistine army saw its chance to attack. The Israelites fled before them, and three of Saul’s sons were killed. The fighting grew fierce around Saul, and when the archers overtook him, They wounded him critically. So Saul took his own sword and fell on it, giving in to the Philistine’s inevitable victory over him.
David grieved long and hard over the deaths of Saul and his son Jonathan. But in the course of time, David inquired of the Lord, “Shall I go up to one of the towns of Judah?” And the Lord told him to go up to Hebron, where he was met by the House of Judah and anointed as King. King David then waged war on the Philistines, and because the Lord was with him, he defeated them and built an empire that brings God glory even to this day. The land that the Israelites conquered under David’s reign spread farther than any amount of land they had held before. And during this campaign, Keilah slew one hundred Philistines under the balsam trees and earned The Six Foot Sword from his “Great Father,” David, the King of Israel.
From that day forward, David called him an “Assassin of Philistines.” The Son of Keilah let this go to his head, and when he would fight any Philistines in battle, he would say “Send forth another Goliath, that I may smite him for the glory of God!” Eventually, David and his men took to calling the Son of Keilah “The Goliath Assassin.” David was very proud of his son.
But every man has a weakness, and while David was just the kind of king Israel needed on the battlefield, his children were sorely neglected back at home. Whenever they spoke of their father, their thoughts were rooted in jealousy. “Look at that sword our father has had made for the Son of Keilah! Has he made Amnon a special sword? And look at the new ephod he has chosen for Abiathar! Our father cares nothing for us! Look, he even treats Mephibosheth, the crippled son of Jonathan better than us!”
The hearts of David’s children had become corrupt through the years, because their father was always too busy fighting to be at home with them. Amnon raped Absalom’s sister Tamar, and then refused to marry her. For this, Absalom killed his brother Amnon, David’s firstborn in Hebron, and then ran away to the land of Geshur. So David’s first and third sons from Hebron were cut off from being heirs to the throne in David’s eyes. David began to wonder who would take his place on the throne once he was gone. There was still Kileab, his second-born, but there was also Keilah, who was older and better in battle, and also had become very close to David over the years.
Absalom later returned to Jerusalem and attempted to make his father’s decision for him. He used clever tricks to win the hearts of the men of Israel, and David fled from Jerusalem for a time. The king set out with his entire household following him, accompanied by all the Kerethites, Pelethites, and Gittites under his command. There were six hundred of these Gittites, who had followed David from Gath, but one amongst them was the brave warrior named Ittai.
The king said to Ittai the Gittite, “Why should you come along with us? Go back and stay with King Absalom. You are a foreigner, an exile from your homeland. You came only yesterday. And today shall I make you wander about with us, when I do not know where I am going?”
But Ittai replied, “As surely as the Lord lives, and as my lord the king lives, wherever my lord the king may be, whether it means life or death, there will your servant be.”
David said to Ittai, “Go ahead, march on.” So Ittai the Gittite marched on with all his men and the families that were with him. David found favor with Ittai, and when he ordered his armies to attack Absalom’s, he gave a third of the men to Ittai, and also put Keilah under his command. Keilah and Ittai served together for a long time after that, and became good friends and rivals in the sport of battle. Ittai eventually became one of “The Thirty” of King David’s famed “Mighty Men.” But Keilah, his contemporary, was erased from history by David’s begotten sons.
Absolom’s reign as King of Israel did not last long. Joab killed him and David regained the throne. As King David and Queen Bathsheba’s son, Solomon, came of age, he began to astound others with his talent for songwriting and natural history. He composed 1,005 songs and spun off some 3,000 proverbs. Solomon became king of Israel after David, and received from God the special gift of wisdom. He was called by many the wisest man in the world.
When Solomon became king, his brother Kileab was enraged. For so long, he had thought that he might prevail over Keilah by right of birth and become King in David’s place. But all the way back from the time of Amnon’s death, David had noticed that Kileab harbored a severe hatred for Keilah, who was at that time, the most likely heir. And because Kileab was so obsessed with hating Keilah, he put all of his energies into foolish things, and accomplished nothing great in his life to make him worthy of being king. So David passed the throne to Solomon, not only because he was a great mind, but also in an attempt to diffuse any lingering hatred between Kileab and Keilah.
But David’s plan did not ultimately work. Solomon’s reign still left Kileab feeling as though he had been passed-up. And for this, he blamed Keilah. Kileab imagined that if only Keilah had not been there to distract him all those years, then maybe he would have acted differently and accomplished some things to secure his seat when David passed.
Obsessed by an evil spirit of hatred, Kileab ordered Keilah’s presence in the castle where he lived and worked as an advisor to Solomon. When Keilah came, he found that Kileab had gathered a group of armed men to murder him and dispose of his body. Just then, as they were about to kill him, Solomon came walking down the hallway. Keilah, remembering King David’s, stories about his first visit to Gath, feigned insanity in front of Solomon. He let out ghoulish shrieks and jumped around, letting saliva run down his beard. Solomon ordered him out immediately, and Keilah was sent from the castle gate with nothing but his sword and an old mule named Jasper. Kileab, having been unsuccessful in killing his lifelong enemy, committed suicide later that night.
Even though his enemy Kileab was dead, Keilah never came back to Jerusalem. He never gave a reason, but some say that he simply shunned the lavish life, having spent his entire life on the battlefield. Others say he didn’t trust Solomon or David’s other sons any more than Kileab. Still, there are people who say that he was too embarrassed at the show he made in front of Solomon to come back. Finally, some people have come to wonder if he really did become insane through alienation. But I believe I know the truth...
From David’s hand, through his faith in God, a long time of peace and prosperity had come over Israel. Such peaceful times simply held small demand for a war-hardened warrior like the Son of Keilah. So he continued to prowl the outskirts of the kingdom, maybe hoping to be the first man there when a raiding party arrived from some foreign country. He never purchased any land or settled in a home, and in his letters, he wrote back to me about his lack of faith in Solomon’s military prowess. But he nevertheless conceded that David had picked the better man for interpreting the laws. He felt that as long as he left Solomon to do his part at home, he would serve the kingdom better by keeping a close watch on the perimeter. But as sure as these threads hold fast the front of my ephod to the back, I am still knit to my brother, Keilah.
I mourn for him because he has no family, and will not come back home to those who knew him and were like his family all of his life. And because he is out in the field, he might die without a grave. And even if he had a grave, he has no name, and so there would be no way to properly mark it. So I say unto the Lord of lords in Heaven: “Let your grace be with him and keep him safe from all harm until his swift and timely death. Please do this for the sake of King David’s ‘forgotten son,’ and for the sake of Your servant, Abiathar.” Amen.
David A. Johnstone 9/30/2006
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