Posted on 25-Aug-2014
The Israelites and the Philistines were like squabbling children. They fought against each other on more than 7 different occasions. On one such occasion, the two armies were perched on opposite sides of the Valley of Elah, a critical location, capable of deciding the war.
The Philistines occupied one hill and the Israelites another, with the valley between them. - 1 Samuel 17:3
However, neither side could make a move without first rushing down the valley and then fighting an uphill battle on the other side. So, the Philistines decided to take matters into their own hands. Sending their champion down, one of the most well-known battles recorded in the Bible began.
Such forms of single hand-to-hand combat were not uncommon, especially before the invention of firearms. From the ancient Egyptians to the not-so-ancient Romans, all the way to the Middle Ages, these battles were recorded in stories. In each, the champion warrior from each side would fight with swords and shields.
What a champion Goliath was. He was a giant, towering at almost 3 meters tall, with 35 kilos worth of armour. In addition to a sword for close range combat, he carried a thick spear.
In warfare, there are 3 basic types of soldiers - infantry, cavalry and artillery. Every battle can be seen as a complex rock-paper-scissors game. Infantry will beat cavalry, cavalry beats artillery, and artillery will beat foot soldiers.
In a typical one-on-one battle, two warriors would fight with swords – the choice weapon of the infantry. David, however, was adept with a sling - he was the artillery, and the artillery would beat the massive infantry of Goliath.
It is strange the Goliath did not realise what was happening, even as David rushed towards him. Even stranger, he instead feels insulted, saying “Am I a dog, that you come at me with sticks?” - David only has one stick, his shepherd staff.
Accompanying this is the fact that he has a shield bearer. Such bearers usually accompanied archers, who had no protection when firing a bow with both hands. A mighty warrior with a shield bearer? How odd.
The most common cause for gigantism is a tumour on the pituitary gland of the brain. This gland, resting near the area the optic nerves connect, controls growth. When tumorous, growth is overstimulated, causing gigantism.
Additionally, the larger size of the gland can compress the optic nerves, which can cause double vision.Perhaps this was why Goliath had a shield bearer - he couldn’t see well. Maybe this was the reason he did not realise what was happening - the world was a blur to him. His very source of strength was also a weakness.
This is not to say that God played no part in this. David only had one chance to fire one shot to catch Goliath by surprise. There were still considerable risks - only not as much as one might first realise.
Our first tendency when looking for Gods help is to expect miracles. Yet whether we realise it or not, God can send his supernatural help in the most natural of ways, regardless of the problem.