Sunday, February 24, 2013


From the time he was a young child, he had always known he was somebody special. He was bigger and stronger than the other children, and he very quickly learned how to use it to his advantage. Girls were scared and stayed away from him, literally running out of sight when he appeared. And boys soon learned that they had to do whatever he wanted, or they would suffer for it. There were advantages in being his friend (or lackey), and most of the children of Gath preferred to play it safe. And, if nobody likes a bully, most of them were smart enough not to tell him so, and the few that made that mistake were soon cowed into never making it again. The people of Gath said, as he grew up, that he must be a descendant of the ancient giants, and he was more than happy to encourage the story.

Of course, when a man’s chief talent is for fighting (and winning), the army is his obvious career choice and, as soon as Goliath was old enough, he joined their ranks. But he did not stay in the ranks for long. He was so big and strong, and so willing to use his strength against others, that he very soon became a very special person, the champion of the Philistines. He had his own armour specially made, since the standard issue was never going to fit him, and his pride continued to grow.

Then came the day that he was called to join the forces fighting against Israel, and one look at their army inspired him with his great idea. “What a pathetic, paltry lot they are”, he said to his commander. “Why should we waste the lives of good Philistines battling against them? I believe I can terrify the whole army of Israel on my own!” And that was what he did: for forty days, every morning and evening, he came and shouted out to the Israelite army, challenging them to let the issue between them be settled between himself and whatever champion they should choose to face him in battle. And, as he watched the Israelites cower in dismay, he laughed and redoubled his taunting of them and their god – for what a pathetic god they must have, he thought, that they were too ashamed to bring his image into battle with them? Surely their god was as pathetic as they were!

Then, one day, it was different. He had trouble believing his own eyes when a young, unarmoured boy stepped out of the ranks of Israel and responded to his challenge. How utterly ridiculous! Was this the best they could manage? In fact, it was insulting that they would waste his time like this. “Am I a dog, that you come against me like this?” he asked, and redoubled his taunts.

But the boy never wavered. Was he too stupid to understand? “You come against me with your spear and sword,” he said calmly, “but I come against you in the name of the Almighty God of Israel. Your sword and your spear won’t save you, for the battle belongs to the Lord!”

Laughing louder than ever, Goliath moved forward to attack him. The sorry joke had lasted long enough. It pleased him that the boy was running eagerly towards him – towards his doom. But as he ran he reached into a bag he had slung at his side, took out a stone and put it in a rough sling, the sort that young boys might use to scare the birds away from the crops. Goliath laughed louder than ever.

It was said afterwards, when the Philistine army fled in disarray, that Goliath never knew what hit him ..

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